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Linkbait [ lingk bayt ] SEO noun: the process of creating and promoting content that's primarily designed to attract links.

Standard form: "we need to create some linkbait".

Active form: "that's an AWESOME piece of linkbait!"

Passive form: "...the client's just been sold three pieces of linkbait per month".

Modern form: "It's not linkbait anymore man, it's all about Likebait now". 

Here's some more detail on this swearword...

Origins:

A word that has its linguistic roots in the dark, one-dimensional realms of traditional SEO, where traffic's not important, shares aren't important, discourse isn't important. But links are almost as important as life itself.

Current Use:

This term's still frequently used but should be going out of fashion, not because the idea behind linkbait is a fundamentally bad one but because of the tunnel-vision that the term communicates.

Content shouldn't be created just to get links. That's short sighted, surely?

Maybe not in the bad old black-hat days, but definitely now.

It could be argued that linkbait isn't just about links anymore: but that's a bit like the fragrant denial of saying SEO isn't about search engine rankings anymore. If that's the case then isn't the term redundant?

Issues:

  • It's all about Likebait now. It's not all about links anymore.
  • 'Bait' is plainly patronising and manipulative.
  • The announcement of linkbait usually precipitates a hastily prepared infographic or eBook.
  • Cliches are annoying. And it's a cliche.
  • The words inevitably conjure up unwanted imagery of fishery, or mammal traps.

Questions: Does the term still have value? Should the term be replaced with something else? Is it all about Likebait now? 

Michael Wilkins

Published 27 April, 2012 by Michael Wilkins

Michael Wilkins is a freelance Online Consultant and a contributor to Econsultancy. You can contact him on LinkedIn.

9 more posts from this author

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Alexandra Gaiger, Digital Marketing Architect at ThoughtShift Ltd

Haha! Great post. Its definitely NOT about 'Likebait' - you just pointed out all the negative connotations associated with 'bait'!

Whilst the terminology is undoubtedly redundant the principle still applies: create good quality, high value content that people will want to read, link to and promote to/share with their network.

about 4 years ago

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Mark Gavalda

Newest swearword seems to be "penguin". IYKWIM ;-)

about 4 years ago

Chris Knowles

Chris Knowles, Web Developer at The Business Octopus

I'm glad the internet is slowly changing for the better and that Google is making the dark side of the SEO industry cry a little more with each passing week.

Here's to worthwhile content *clink*

about 4 years ago

Stephen Logan

Stephen Logan, Senior Copywriter at Koozai

"Create linkbait through quality content" probably about the most redundant, yet unfathomably popular phrase in the SEO's lexicon. Linkbait, just awful. "Quality content" means absolutely nothing. Together, it's a jargon car crash.

It's probably one of the more unnecessary and offensive words used, so absolutely agree with you Michael. Any play on the word "Pinterest" such as "Pinterested", "Pinteresting" should also be thrown into the mix along with any post explaining how it's the 'future of everything'.

I'm not sure it needs to be replaced by anything though, as I'm sure any replacement would be equally devoid of meaning.

Anyway, that's quite enough, enjoyed that a lot - thanks for the read.

about 4 years ago

Michael Wilkins

Michael Wilkins, Freelance Digital & Content Marketing at Freelance

Alexandra, agreed, and glad you enjoyed. Perhaps "Organic Likebait?"

Chris, I like worthwhile content, although I'm sure a lot of linkbait is actually worthwhile too. It's just that the measurement and expression shouldn't be purely based on links.

Stephen, thanks for the input again. I had a good chuckle at that response.

about 4 years ago

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phil ohren

Either way this was the worst like / linkbait I ever saw. :P

about 4 years ago

Michael Wilkins

Michael Wilkins, Freelance Digital & Content Marketing at Freelance

Ah, Phil, the inevitable accusation of creating linkbait about not liking the word linkbait. That was bound to happen at some point.

Thanks for the input.

about 4 years ago

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Kral Pop

Newest swearword seems to be "penguin". IYKWIM ;-)

about 4 years ago

James Perrin

James Perrin, Digital Communications Specialist at Feefo

Great post, and totally agree. It conjures up a horrible feeling that content is systematically created just to get a response, whether it's to provoke or antagonise. It's like within newspapers with the columnists that deliberately write something to get a rise; there's better content than this within the paper.

As others have mentioned, content is much more than this. It should be written and created based on what people want, and then shared naturally. The cream always rises to the top, and so if the content is good enough, it will gain the links. The term linkbait just doesn't cut it any more.

about 4 years ago

Michael Wilkins

Michael Wilkins, Freelance Digital & Content Marketing at Freelance

James, glad you enjoyed. The word doesn't cut it anymore, like you say, even though the general idea isn't always a totally bad one. Agree on all counts.

about 4 years ago

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phil ohren

Fear not James. Twas merely a humble atempt at some Aussie banter. I actually enjoyed your post, will there be more of these chronicles?

P

about 4 years ago

Michael Wilkins

Michael Wilkins, Freelance Digital & Content Marketing at Freelance

Thanks Phil. There will, perhaps, be another of these. Any suggestions of dire words or phrases to cover?

about 4 years ago

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Koli Ambalaj

great post,and totally agree.It conjures up a horrible feeling that content is systematically created just to get a response, whether it's to provoke or antagonise.

about 4 years ago

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Mukavva Kutu

Content is much more than this. It should be written and created based on what people want, and then shared naturally.Thanks for share.

almost 4 years ago

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