The last couple of weeks, I've used these linkbait posts to feature sites that have done well by creating content that their existing users love. MacLife and Outdoor Online are two great examples of this. However, content that your users love isn't necessarily content that the rest of the internet is going to link to. In fact, in an interesting example that Will brought to my attention, sometimes the exact opposite can happen. Eharmony.com wrote a piece called 20 Movies That Make Men Cry. It only got 1.3 stars out of 5 from the internal voting system (for which you to be a paid up member). But it's one of the strongest pages on the site, with tons of links and about a gazillion comments, (read: 1237).
If you get new linkbait ideas from looking at successful old stuff, whether it's your own site or a competitor's, you should be aware of this 'phenomenon'. Rather than just using internal metrics (most starred or whatever), to get ideas, think more about what gets links.
Will found that eHarmony post using SEOmoz's Labs tool Top Pages (only available to pro members- sorry!) and it got me thinking about how we could use it to make our linkbait more successful.
Pick a niche, any niche. No wait, scratch that. Pick your client's niche. I'm randomly going to chose lifestyle blogs (researching SEM tends to get a bit self-reflexive in this sort of endeavor). Now identify some top players in that niche. I used Technorati, but feel free to determine your top competitors however you want.
These are mine: (I've linked to the 'moz Top Pages tool reports because I know a lot of our readers are Pro Members any way. Sorry if you're not! Hopefully, the post will still be useful)
Living Life Abundantly
Five of the pages in the top ten advise on earning or saving money. Tips on how to earn or save effectively within your industry is a great idea for some linkbait. It falls under the 'resource' hook and can be surprisingly easy to research and write. Say, for example, your client has a website that sells lamps. How about something like 'Shedding light on surviving the credit crunch'.
How do you go green without sacrificing style?
No single obvious theme sticks out as clearly within the top ten pages on this site. There are three stories that talk about food and health- each giving advice of some sort. Four pages reference 'science' or 'expertise' in their title and five have a number in the title (three of those are lists). Recipe for success? Top 10 Healthy Beds, according to our Experts.
A place to share inspirations and ideas.
These sites are both beautiful design blogs. There are no common themes among the top ten posts (that I could spot anyway) apart from the fact that most of the posts were very short and simple. A prominent image, or collection of images, was used to tell most of the story. There were also a couple of 'How To' posts that did very well (another kind of resource). If your niche is design heavy, there's a real chance that simply sharing beautiful images that you find will bring in links.
I'll definitely be using this tool to help me come up with linkbait ideas in the future. For the record, my over-riding impression is that the most linked to pages are the ones that fall under the 'resource' hook.
One last note: as Richard Baxter pointed out in his youmoz post, there are loads of useful things you can do with this tool, one of which is to find strong pages that 404. I'd like to hold testament to this; I found a surprising amount of 404 pages in the top 10 lists of lots of sites. Definitely worth an explore through your own domains.