Linkbait: The New “Fake!”

by Ruud Hein November 23rd, 2009 



real or photoshopped

The new online citizens are world savvy. You're not pulling one over their eyes – and they're not afraid to vocalize that either.

The obvious concern here is that the value of visual media such as videography and photography has changed if not diminished.

Recorded or registered reality is no longer that; it's merely recorded. And cut. And spliced. Edited.

What's left, somewhat, is the value of a live feed although Just In Time censorship is changing that too.


The copywriter's version of "Photoshopped!" might well become "linkbait!"

I've caught myself thinking that on various occasions this year.

A story that seemed too good to be true, linked to by someone who knows what they're doing; linkbait!

An opinion stick thrown in the hen house; linkbait!


Is Linkbait "Wrong"?

Those who have been around long enough say that there's nothing new under the sun and that what we call "linkbait" now is the "content is king" from back then; the solid 3000+ words research pieces, the backed by research stats, the indispensible resources.

But that's glossing over all the other things that linkbait can be. The FARK-ing of content, let's say.

The word linkbait has grown to leave an increasingly greasy, cheap aftertaste because we use the term to describe content not of a certain quality but a certain intent, making the content good and yucky at the same time.

Its defining quality is insincerity.

The piece was written to get links; the motive is insincere.

The opinion was forcefully stated to inflame and get angry links: the motive is dirty.

Perhaps – nay, most likely, this is something that currently only or mostly affects those in the SEO, SEM and neighboring marketing industries. We "know" what's going on and see evidence of marketing intent perhaps more often than is warranted.

But as time goes by and the next online generation arrives, "linkbait" will be almost as obvious as old-school in-your-face advertising is now.

This will cast doubt on written content the way doubt now exists regarding video and photos.

To the next generation posts like "100 Web Services To Write Better Copy" might be a clear indication at least 2 or 3 money links are hidden in there. Whether those are "sponsored" links or SEO links won't matter to them.

Linkbait: it's the next blasé.

What do you think?

Ruud Hein

My paid passion at Search Engine People sees me applying my passions and knowledge to a wide array of problems, ones I usually experience as challenges. People who know me know I love coffee.

Ruud Hein

You May Also Like

7 Responses to “Linkbait: The New “Fake!””

  1. John Chen says:

    Hi Ruud, I don't think linkbait is necessary evil, but rather just another tool which SEOs can help market their clients product and gain valuable links.

    Viral marketing can be seen as highly manipulative as well, because the end goal is to make consumers buy a product or recognize a brand. Linkbait is the same concept, but the end goal is to obtain links.

    Badly written or un-interesting articles will never make good linkbait, as the linkbait is voted on by people and can not be manipulated. Yes, I agree with the popularity of the linkbait technique we will start to see more and more low quality article spam. Just like back in the days, lazy SEOs used hidden text.

    The term linkbait I agree sounds manipulative, however there is nothing manipulative about creating a great piece of content which leverages the power of social media to build links rather to sell products.

    I'm actually writing a series of articles for SEOs on link bait, your readers might find this a good read.

    Cheers John

  2. There is some obvious junk being put out for link bait but I can see (I'm not savy enough to do it myself) that it doesn't have to be junk or fake. Perhaps a useful little zipcode look up tool or some great photos that are shared, or again, a great article that one might want to refer visitors to.

  3. John Chen says:

    Junk linkbait can have a very negative impact on a websites brand.

    If I clicked on an interesting headline from twitter and land on a junk linkbait. I will make sure to blacklist the domain in my head, and may even unfollow the person that tweeted the URL.

  4. Eden says:

    I'd argue that it's already blase and prevalent in almost every online niche – and getting worse daily.

    The majority of SEO firms recommend link building to generate organic traffic and content as the best way to get inbound links. How many "Top 10 Ways to XXX" and "How to [insert mundane topic that pertains to author's online store]" does the world need and what value are those articles actually providing when the writer's primary purpose is to generate links back to a given site?

    In my industry, the topic "How to Clean Patio Furniture" generates 1,350,000 English pages on Google. Its not like there's real research behind these articles, for the most part they're just regurgitated versions of the same content…

    Outdoor Patio Shop

  5. I am new to the idea of link bait but I consider it something really important for your link building campaign as it builds links almost effortlessly.

    I would like to thank John Chen for his articles. They were quite useful.
    .-= Article Buster recently posted: Steps You Must Follow When Using A PHP Form Generator =-.

  6. […] Linkbait: The New “Fake!” – as many would know I am a fan of link bait… in all of it’s forms. One of the unfortunate parts of the naming convention, is that all link-bait is associated with crap/evil stuff. Anyway, Ruud had a good post lamenting the age of LB pandemonium. […]

  7. […] Kevin outlines, one should never sit on their laurels – search engines evolve, so must approaches.Linkbait: The New “Fake!” – as many would know I am a fan of link bait… in all of it’s forms. One of the unfortunate […]