When I entered the world of SEO a mere 6 months ago with little prior knowledge of the industry, I found it overwhelming to say the least. I spent my evenings after work voraciously reading my way through SEO related RSS feeds, trying to soak it all in and convincing myself that I was actually making progress. This carried on for a couple of weeks, until I realised that this really wasn’t the most efficient way of doing things.

Don’t get me wrong, reading is great and I still read 90% of posts that cross my path, but I found out pretty quickly that the best way to pick things up (for me) was to actually do them. I created a blog on a subject I was vaguely interested in, and managed to achieve a nice balance between reading and attempting to implement what I had read.

It was during this stage that I came across a term that instantly piqued my interest, linkbait. After delving deeper into the subject, it became apparent that I had subconsciously fallen victim to linkbait multiple times during my various years on the internet, and I was thoroughly impressed when I looked at it from my new found SEO perspective. I shifted my focus to finding both good and bad linkbait examples, and learning from their mistakes and successes.

For those of you who aren’t familiar with the term, linkbait is a piece of content created purely to attract attention, with the ultimate end goal of enticing links. They can take on many forms, whether it’s a fictional news story or highly useful tool.

I thought it would be great to show some of the best examples that I have come across thus far. I’ve included metrics and share counts where possible, that are accurate at the time of writing (of course, take these with a pinch of salt).

Number 10 Experience

710 Total Facebook Shares, 510 Tweets, 25 LRD

Wish.co.uk may have already popped up on your radar recently, as they seem to be churning out great linkbait like it’s going out of fashion. They specialise in gift experiences, which quickly became a very competitive and over saturated market with big names such as Virgin leading the pack. So how do you get noticed with minimal investment? Simple, come up with a killer linkbait idea, and that’s exactly what Wish did.

For a mere £250,000 you can take a visit to 10 Downing Street, netting you benefits such as using the toilet, meeting the big man himself and even the chance to ‘Convince him to steer policy in a direction of your choosing.’ Sounds like a bargain right? It’s all tongue in cheek of course, but it was enough to get noticed by Stephen Fry who thought it was worthy of a tweet. This alone sent over 20,000 visits in a matter of hours, gaining some great links in the process.

They have since gone on to have even more success with their zombie themed experience days, again netting some celebrity tweets and oodles of links.

Replica Iron Throne

3,800 Total Facebook Shares, 121 Tweets, 11 LRD

HBO’s on screen adaptation of George R. R. Martin’s fantasy novel series, Game of Thrones, has built up a loyal following due to its great reception across the globe. If you are a fan of the series you can own your very own replica Iron Throne for the measly sum of £20,000, which even includes free delivery! Regardless of whether or not Firebox expect to sell any of these, it racked up impressive amounts of social shares as well as attracting a handful of linking root domains.

Apocalypse Kit

46,000 Total Facebook Shares, 1240 Tweets, 550 LRD

The Apocalypse Kit is a genius idea from Gerber, who sell a range of camping, hunting and survival gear. Each one of the ‘Apocalypse Survival Tools’ is available for purchase individually, but bundling them together and advertising them as a zombie survival kit transforms them into an effective link magnet.

This particular example not only attracted the second most links, it completely rocked the social shares, racking up 1048 +1s (wow!) and 1552 Pins on Pinterest.

Canned Unicorn Meat

19,000 Total Facebook Shares, 1450 Tweets, 530 LRD

For those of you who aren’t familiar with ThinkGeek, they offer an abundance of geeky gifts and gadgets, the majority of which are more than worthy of a link. One of their most linked to products is 14 ounces of succulent Unicorn Meat, netting 527 linking root domains, 44,500 combined Facebook shares, 600 tweets and 1,544 Stumbles. Before vegetarians and unicorn fans alike are offended, the can geniously contains a dismembered stuffed Unicorn.

Groupon Names Your Baby

5,000 Total Facebook Shares, 270 Tweets, 41 LRD

Groupon also boarded the linkbait train when they offered an exclusive opportunity to let them name your baby. Five vouchers were available to purchase for $1,000 each, all of which surprisingly sold. The PR stunt netted them some great links from the likes of Mashable, Huffington Post, Business Insider and The Inquisitr, as well as generating a buzz on social media platforms.

Project Utopia

7,800 Total Facebook Shares, 383 Tweets, 52 LRD

Once again we take a look at another baity Firebox product. How does your own floating island named ‘Project Utopia’ sound? Perhaps you could man the wheel sat atop your £20,000 Iron Throne you also purchased from them? Unfortunately the 100m long ‘yacht island’ exists merely in the form of 3D pictures, and is a far from subtle attempt at gaining some publicity. Unsurprisingly it succeeded, gaining over 50 links and nearly 8,000 social shares.

Are you getting the hang of how easy this linkbait business is now?

Harry and Kate Mug

28,500 Total Facbook Shares, 4,800 Tweets, 579 LRD

In the run up to the Royal Wedding, Guandong Enterprises jumped aboard the souvenir wagon and released a one of a kind ‘Will and Kate’ mug. Instead of portraits of the smiling married couple to be, Kate was joined by none other than brother-in-law Prince Harry. The mugs erupted over the web, scoring links from major news outlets and spreading across social media platforms like wildfire.

Complete with ‘Engrish’ description, it was first believed that the Chinese manufacturer had botched the wedding mugs. However after discovering that the Guandong Enterprises was actually registered in Britain, it became clear that it was a genius publicity stunt. The spoof scored them over 30,000 social shares and nearly 600 linking root domains, although it still isn’t clear who exactly was behind the whole ordeal.

Giant Swiss Army Knife

4,500 Total Facebook Shares, 200 Tweets, 385 LRD

The penultimate product in this list is another survival tool, this time made by the world renowned Swiss Army Knife manufacturer, Wenger. Measuring 9 inches in length and weighing 2 pounds it’s hardly the most portable of tools, but it boasts 87 different instruments and gets a 10/10 on the cool-o-meter.

An impressive 385 domains found it worthy enough of a link, with 4,500 combined Facebook shares and over 200 tweets further bolstering it’s popularity.

Giant Monster Foot

Plenty of links and brand awareness

MonsterSlippers, a company who manufacture novelty footwear, graced the pages of all the major UK news outlets when a customer claimed they had accidentally sent him a 7ft slipper. The Times, Telegraph and Daily Mail all took the bait, and BBC London Radio even interviewed the claimant in question. It was then noticed that the supposed customer bared a stark resemblance to MonsterSlippers’ very own Web Manager, and the whole thing was revealed as an elaborate PR stunt.

The shenanigan resulted in some highly authoritative links and an unmeasurable amount of brand awareness. Links of note include ABC News, The Guardian, Huffington Post and The Telegraph. They later auctioned off the slipper, raising an impressive £1,500 which they donated to charity.

Summary

Of course, not everything goes to plan. While compiling this list I came across just as many linkbait attempts that unfortunately didn’t take off, because they either weren’t strong enough or were poorly executed (perhaps this is another blog post!). I can’t help but wonder why people don’t adopt this tactic more often, there is minimal investment and if you really put your minds together the payoff can be huge.

If you do decide to give it a go, be sure to exploit your social media channels to put it on people’s radars. If it really is a good idea it should do all the hard work itself, allowing you to sit back and reap the rewards.

If you can add to this list, don’t hesitate to get involved in the comments.

Mark Porter (3 Posts)

Mark is a self-confessed geek who has always had a love/hate relationship with blogging, coupled with an addiction to buying domain names. Outside of SEO, Mark loves Manchester United, gadgets and games. If anyone can beat him at FIFA he will happily buy them a drink.