The Good, The Bad & The Ugly Sides Of Link Baiting

“You’ll Never Believe This Amazing Fact Once You Click On This Link!”

This is link baiting at its worst. This should really just say, “You’ll Be Sorely Disappointed For Clicking On This Link To Crappy Content, But Oh Well You Clicked On It, I Win.” But not all link bait are created equal.

Link baiting, also known as click-baiting, is the specific practice of attracting readers to click and share content on your site. It’s often viewed as negative because it can be sneaky or downright obvious that it will disappoint on the content. However, any content that can inspire links is link bait regardless of who posted it. That article about edamame you shared on your vegan roommate’s wall? The article breaking down your Fantasy Football league’s draft picks? This is considered link bait.

Everyone wants to create viral content (or at least content that is widely shared). Whether it’s a shareworthy video, a nicely crafted infograph, a list or a blog post, publishers love to see people view their stuff.

Craft better headlines with Quietly Insights.


No matter what the form, link baiting is often accomplished by manipulating headlines for marketing purposes. Here is a general formula for link baiting:

[(Number between 5-23) + Reasons/Ways/Facts/Steps to (a strong action word like avoid or increase) (flowery/informal adjective like spectacular and awesome) (noun that sums up the article)]

Link baiting is formulaic in nature, but it is how you choose to market it that can make the difference between killer and overkill. Good link bait is associated with good original content, which is marketed in a way that relies on how good the content is. If the article is sensational, the marketing can be sensational because it follows through on that promise.

But it’s the bad link baiting that gets the bad rap, and for good reason. The grabber “You’ll Never Believe This Amazing Fact Once You Click On This Link!” exemplifies bad link baiting, which involves any negative practices where the sharer is sneaky or deliberately misleading to get a click. It’s where the “baiting” part comes from. If a creator promotes their work with negative means, this is link baiting. For example, posting controversial content meant to anger the readers that will encourage them to click on a blog. Bad link baiting relies on the marketing instead of the content, which is practically sacrilegious on the internet.

It’s important to remember that any time you are tempted to use negative link baiting practices you’re not necessarily creating awesome content just to generate links. If it is good content paired with good marketing, the links will come. As a publisher and industry leader, content creation and marketing shows expertise and value and it is important to keep a positive, long-term reputation.

We’ve made this list to clarify the best and worst bits of link baiting:

The Good, The Bad, & The Ugly: Linkbaiting

By Emily E. Steck

Link baiting is one controversial topic among bloggers so we've made this handy list of what's considered good, bad and ugly.

  • The Good

    By Emily E. Steck

    Link baiting good content is always good, especially if you can share it. The most important asset for good link bait is timeless content like ["9 Quotes That Are Actually Misquotes."](http://http//

  • The Bad

    By Emily E. Steck

    Bad link baiting is anything that is incredibly misleading. The "12 Celebrities With Hotter Siblings" type articles. Sure, it's timeless, but does it deliver? Is it good content? No and no.

  • The Ugly

    By Emily E. Steck

    Anything that is wholly negative is ug-uh-ly. Sharing content and then trolling everyone is a GIANT no-no. Articles like "You'll Never Guess Which Celebs Have Been Arrested" can provoke anger.

 Image Credit: betablogga via Flickr

Understand and deliver better content marketing with Quietly Insights.

Understand how Quietly can help play a role in your content marketing efforts.

Speak to a Strategist Today

Get a free consultation for your content marketing strategy.

Speak to a Strategist Today