Do you know what “linkbait” is and how it can help dramatically increase traffic to your web content? I want to share an outstanding example with you to help you understand what link bait is, and how it can boost your articles’ and blog posts’ traffic.

Yesterday, as I quickly scanned my RSS Reader to make sure I wasn’t missing any interesting news during my busy day, one title intrigued me enough to click through: “Target Stores – An SEO Challenge.” Ian Lurie’s blog, “Conversation Marketing” is one of my favorites already, so that added to my interest. And I was not disappointed.

Ian’s post was a letter to Target Stores’ management with a spot-on analysis of how Target could easily improve its SEO. This was fascinating in its own right, but that doesn’t necessarily make the article linkbait.

Linkbait is web content that is so compelling that bloggers and other web content writers cannot resist linking to it. And did you notice the link in the previous paragraph? Yeah. See, I could not, in all good conscience, not tell you about Ian’s article. That is viral marketing at its best.

Most of you reading this already know the value of unsolicited backlinks and viral content. If you don’t, search Google and learn, because backlinks are a significant tool for promoting your web content. You’ll go nowhere without them.

Back to the article. Ian’s post was a profound SEO analysis. Good for him. But take the time to read it (it’s worth your time, I promise), and you will see why his article also contains all the elements of great linkbait:

    1. Controversy
    Ian called out a major corporation in public. Do you think Target will notice his blog? I’d bet on it. Controversy=publicity. If you don’t believe that, search online to find out what the most popular stories of 2009 were.

    2. Expertise

    Ian’s analysis was intriguing because he not only succeeded in finding blatant flaws in Target’s SEO strategies, but he told them how they could easily fix those flaws AND he did a cost-benefit breakdown that would shame any marketing director.

    Ian owned Target. And who wouldn’t enjoy reading that? I mean, hey, not only am I not the only one who needs to learn better SEO–even major corporations get it wrong sometimes. I feel so much better now.

    3. Value to Reader
    The average reader can learn key SEO strategies from Ian’s letter to Target. There are so many valuable lessons in Ian’s concise instructions to Target’s Internet marketing team that I took notes.

    If you write product copy, you need to take notes while reading it, too. Even if you don’t write product copy, he covers SEO strategies you can probably use to optimize almost any web content.

    3. Entertainment
    Ian’s writing style entertains from beginning to end. It is amusing, tongue-in-cheek, and instructive. He balances humility (okay, pretend humility) with spanking a large corporation in public. Now THAT’S entertainment.

    4. Call to Action
    Ian tells Target to email him for advice at the end of his post. And I think they just might do it, too. But he made ME want to ask him for advice, and you can bet that readers who can actually afford Ian will see the value of his services and hire him on the basis of this one, rather short article.

So now you know what link bait is. I challenge you to follow Ian’s example and create one article or blog post today that will compel everyone who reads it to write about and link to it. And then tell us about it in the comments here and give us a link. Let’s see YOUR best linkbait, readers!

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