Definitely the best place to start. Take it offline and give your brain a chance to think about it. A blank sheet of A4 or a whiteboard and a few coloured pens. Put your client or keyphrase in the middle and just write down anything that springs to mind.
2. Ask your friends and/or colleagues
We’re lucky enough to have the rest of the Distilled team to bounce ideas off- it’s my favourite way of dropping new ideas into the mix. If you work alone, ask a couple of friends whether they like your ideas and get them to pick a headline that they’re most interested in. This’ll work even if they’re not web-friendly; everyone’s picked up a newspaper having seen an irresistible headline.
3. Social Media sites
Chances are, you’re hoping to make an appearance on these sites with the very linkbait that you’re trying to come up with. Well then, it’s an obvious place to steal a few ideas from. Just do a search for a few of your keywords and sort by number of diggs or reddits (or whatever). One thing you’ll notice is that certain types of linkbait work time and time again across lots of different subject areas and sites. Don’t be scared to use these ‘formulas’ as a place to start in your quest for linkbait.
4. Keyword Research
This tip has three bits:
i) look at the high volume phrases around your keyphrases- that’ll help you come up with ideas that are on topic and useful in an anchor text sense.
ii) look at the really really longtail stuff- you’d be amazed at what some people search for and this can be a great way to come up with some fresh (if slightly wacky) ideas.
iii) do some keyphrase research using a few words like ‘funny’, ‘quiz’, ‘top 10′, ‘jokes’ or ‘tips’ plus your head term.
5. Trend Research
There are loads of places where you can see what’s trending online. Here are 3 of my favourites:
- Google Trends- enter a search term and find out when and where it has traffic peaks, as well as some current news stories that relate to the term. It’s also worth having a quick look at Hot Trends to see if anything relates to your keyphrases.
- Google Insights- again, enter a term or two and have an explore. The ‘rising searches’ in the bottom right hand corner is most useful for trending stuff.
- Twitter Trends- this tool’s best for a very quick glance at the top topics being talked about.
If you can, create fresh content quickly that is related to anything that’s hitting the headlines. Make sure you use the same language as that of the searches.
6. Ask the client
The client is (or should be anyway) the expert in their business. Get their creative juices flowing by throwing them a few headlines you’ve already come up and you might be pleasantly surprised by the results.
7. Headline Formulas
There are a couple of really good posts that list a few of the headlines that ‘guarantee’ success. These formulas are pretty tried and tested so my advice would be do have a bit o’ faith in them. However, these aren’t exhaustive lists. You could put together a list that has worked for your specific industry by pulling data from Di66.net.
Have a look at your competitors and see what content is most popular on their site. If you’re a pro member of SEOmoz you can use their Top Pages tool. If not, do a site search in Google and append an inurl:www (eg. site:seomoz.org inurl:www). This should bring up a sensible list of what Google thinks the strongest pages on the domain are.
9. Look offline
Off-what?! That’s right, go to one of those crazy newsagents with about a million newspapers and magazines and just have a browse. Never forget that offline media has been around a lot longer than online and they’re still using the lessons they’ve learned to very good effect. Even if nothing in your area jumps out at you, the huge range of headlines trying to grab your attention should get your creative juices flowing.
10. Ask Lyndon
Lyndon’s really good at headlines. His new site, Magnetic Web Content, is a bargain at a $50 p/m newsletter; it will both provide and inspire you in your quest for linkbait ideas.