While toiling away trying to unlock the secrets of linkbait it occurred to me that there's something missing from 90% of linkbait attempts (figure plucked from thin air). It might not stop them from being popular, they may well still gain some links but they will be missing out on becoming truly successful.
If you're writing content tying to figure out how to bridge the gap between your cool idea and your target audience then you've probably gone about things wrong. You are missing the yeti of linkbait, the missing link between content and links. The missing link is NEED, or DESIRE. It's not good enough to simply create content which is amusing or interesting (although this often does play well) you need to create content which your audience is actively looking for, searching for and desperate to find.
The concept itself is really quite simple:
##Research the question before you provide an answer
The world wide web is a huge place, it's got so much information out there that you'd think every possible question had been answered. Well you'd be wrong, that's why there's still room for questions, questions and more questions.
These resources are a goldmine when doing research because they provide a snapshot of what questions your audience is asking. What are they struggling with? What are the common questions? Is there one topic which is regularly mis-understood? By digging around (that's digging in the usual sense, not 'digg'ing around) in these sites you can get a good picture of what people are looking for. If 10 people have asked a similar question then you can be sure that there's a significant chunk of your market which want to know the answer to that question too, not just those 10 people.
The basic premise here is that if you discover what content people are already looking for then it becomes much easier to provide them with content that they will love. Discover their NEED and you'll be able to create content which is popular, useful and linked to.
##Tips & Refinement
Ok, once you're comfortable with these ideas here's a few extra pointers:
- Don't always look for un-answered questions, how often do you see answers which are very informative but quote 30 different sites? How about summarising all of the information in one easy to read article?
- In a similar way to above Wikipedia can be a good place to look as well. Look for topics which only have short or inaccurate pieces on them, these often indicate a gap in the market which you can move into.
- Answering a need doesn't always have to be answering a question, sometimes it's providing a product or service as well. Look for 'how do I....' questions as well.
Note: If you don't understand the title then you're probably not a hardcore geek (all fanmail to the usual address please!). You can read more about the reference here (NSFW - offensive language). For those of you who do get the reference, sorry there weren't more pictures of cats (all SFW). And just a big list of cats (also SFW) for good measure.