Blog For A Cause Or Fabricate A Story

Bloggers UniteToday in partnership with Blogcatalog and Amnesty International, bloggers Worldwide are blogging for human rights.

As I usually do for each Bloggers Unite initiative, I am taking part, but as usual I want to at least try to keep on topic, so I can connect with my readers better.

Good Linkbait

How would I define good linkbait?

It is the kind of linkbait that gives you that warm fuzzy feeling that you did something to make a difference, provided a useful tool, some great content that people found exceptionally useful, or when you invested a huge amount of time researching a story so that you could break real news before anyone else.

The guys at Blogcatalog and their army of bloggers genuinely believe that through blogging they can make a difference to the world, and the links they gain to a subdomain on their site dedicated to promoting good causes are well deserved.
There is no “bait and switch” they drive traffic and juice to the Bloggers Unite subdomain, and whilst there are links from there back to their main site, and their blog, there are also plenty of external links as well.

It is a genuine effort to promote good causes, and Blogcatalog reap the reward of constantly growing traffic and mindshare.

The bloggers involved can even benefit from it.

Today, 2 bloggers were highlighted on CNN

Dead Rooster is a humor blog and blogged about helping the victims devastated by Cyclone Narigis in Myanmar.

Likewise Kevin for once wasn’t writing pointless banter

Both were mentioned by Veronica De La Cruz in a special segment on CNN all about today’s blogging for human rights.

What can both of them do? Well now they have both been featured on CNN, why not make use of that fact for some social proof and create a simple “As seen on CNN” badge, and link it to the posts they have written celebrating the appearance.

So that was doing things right, what I look on as “Linkbait for Good”.

Bad Linkbait

I am using the term “bad” because it is the opposite of good, not to make any kind of specific moral judgement, though ultimately doing something that is linkworthy for a charity is always going to end up being more morally uplifting than doing something which is self-serving.

Just over 20 years ago a newspaper launched in the UK that took the tabloid press in new directions, the Sunday Sport. The current owners don’t seem to have much of a website, in fact I had to lift that link from a Reuter’s press release.
They could do insane traffic in the web’s current climate, even just doing a rerun of the “best of” articles.

At the time I was working in a pub at weekends, and I can still remember some of the headlines from around their launch date.

“Double Decker Bus Found On The Moon”
“Woman Gave Birth To A 12lb Trout”

You see as a feature of Sunday lunch at the pub, around that time, along with the heavily salted roast potatoes on the bar as snacks and a few pints, a group would gather around the pub manager going through the headlines, or occasionally one of the other regulars. One copy of the paper effectively passed through 50 pairs of hands in a 2 hour period, and it wasn’t for the T & A.

There are quite likely very similar newspapers in the US, and I hear Fox News has some similar characteristics…

This was/is entertainment, it is not meant to be taken seriously

Stories such as this make exceptional linkbait, especially in niches where it is hard to otherwise accumulate quality links.

If you are looking for something like that, you need a linkbait specialist. Lyndon provides ample proof that this works.

It generates laughs, it is entertainment, at times it can spread like a wild fire even if it is untrue (especially if it is untrue), but whilst I appreciate the humor, and especially appreciated it in my youth, it leaves me with that empty feeling.

The same happens when people generate fairly mediocre lists of items, pretty them up with interesting pictures and screenshots, and proclaim them as the very top X blah blah blah.

I know this stuff is popular, I know it works, I know it generates links and for some that is the sole purpose of the endeavour.

Links = SERPs = Traffic = $$$

Ultimately the rich get richer, and then make large donations to charity for the tax benefit

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  1. says

    Good post, Andy. The Lyndon linkbait episode is also causing me to think deeply about where the line should be drawn in the battle for link building.

    I was also an avid Sunday Sport reader in it’s heyday. In fact, my flat mates and I used to spend Sunday afternoon dreaming up the most bizarre possible stories to send into the letter’s page. But the sport was clearly fake. There was never the possibility that the stories contained within could be mistaken for fact. (My favourite – “I married a Dalek!”)

    The same can’t be said of Lyndon’s piece, which has become syndicated around the world. The seeming plausibility of the story moves it from obvious satire or clearly flagged newspaper joke into a very ethically grey area where the reader is unaware of the fiction. I am sure if The Sunday Sport started running stories that could plausibly be true, they wouldn’t have survived as long as they did.

  2. says

    Myself, I can’t wrap myself around “good” link baiting. If it is quality content, education or a tool … it is just quality that attracts due attention. It doesn’t seem right to me to call something of vaule … bait.

    The bait part of the term just leads me to think that more effort (or lack or true effort) has been put into a headline, a twist, the buzz or gawk-ability. I hope this makes sense. :)

  3. says

    I understand your point – that the term ‘linkbait’ implies a gimmick rather than quality. But it has become a commonly used term to describe any piece that has the potential to attract a lot of the right attention. A highly informative piece at seoMoz can be just as successful at attracting links that the latest Digg fun over some stupid bit of video, but they both count as linkbait.

  4. says

    Andy I agree with you to a certain respect. While positive Link Baiting is not even link baiting but providing a service of useful information.

    Entertainment Link Baiting is entertainment, 4 meeters man seen walking on Times Square, with a picture of the giant, is fun to read about!

    But, I disagree telling a lie story that seems so real that people believe! We are not April Fools society!

    President Bush got shot by a Terrorist is not something I want to read as a Link Bait, unless it was the real story!

    So, no lying to make a Sale.

  5. says

    I agree Igor, lying is lying, flat out. How does that constitute a successful link bating campaign? Sure you got links, but the potential for harm is too great. What about the amount of bad press you could potentially get back for such a scheme?

    No way this type of thing would work with 99% of my clients. Why would any of them want to host news articles that simply lies?

  6. Chris Goward says

    Lyndon removed the posting where he explains how he originated the story, but you can read a copy here:

    • says

      If Lyndon decided to take it down, I don’t think it is very polite to have a full copy published elsewhere without express permission.
      I am sure those who are desperate for a lesson in good/bad linkbait can track it down.

  7. says

    its all about ideas. people on the web are mostly saturated with exaggerated content, they usually turn down on these link baiting. most of the time, i only use facts and not having to exaggerate on my resource box texts. but anyway, its their own style, as long as i don’t care, why should you too. just my opinion anyway. :) good luck.

  8. says

    i back you 100% on this andy. blogged and stumbled.

    btw, thanks for the links to dead rooster and kevin. i had not heard of dead rooster before. will check it out. it’s nice to see kevin blogging out of usual character as well. (although i love his humor!) ;-)

  9. says


    Great insight on link bait.

    IMO, the ‘bad’ link bait you mention will not last for long. The good one, however, prevail and will drive constant traffic.

    Moreover, fabricating a story is not ethical blogging!

  10. says

    Hi Andy,

    Well, I’m a novice in all this blogging ~ in contrast to you, who seems to be quite the expert, so I have a question for you.

    I run a blog with an initiative of We Are One World Healing, which is an initiative whereby anyone can join our monthly group meditation sessions to help heal the world. We connect in spirit and send out unconditional love/healing Reiki energy to all of humanity. 1 hr each full moon.

    We are growing nicely from session to session, but as my target is 2 million more participants, I would love some advice to you on how to create that linkbait that you’re talking about. I feel that my entire blog is a link-bait kind of site, and traffic is quite ok, but we’re not anywhere near the 2 million yet…
    What to do about it?
    Am I doing something something wrong here?
    Or should I simply have more patience?
    Any suggestions, ideas, tips, hints welcome…

    Thank you so much in advance!
    Namaste, A

    • says

      One thing I noticed is you need to make it easy to subscribe to your newsletter, and probably stop using feedburner for you email subscriptions to the blog. This is a little “Do as I say, not as I do”, as I still have feedburner, but a Good autoresponder such as Aweber will be a much more powerful tool.

      As for linkbait, think of what you can do to leverage interviews with famous people with similar beliefs.

      You might need to think of the best forms of social media for promotion, whether it be reating a group on Facebook, or maybe a concerted effort to encourage use of Delicious among your readers.

      You need to find your audience and approach them, not approach the masses and hoope that they will accept you.

      I would also try to leverage various social calendars such as Upcoming.

  11. says

    Wow, Andy,

    That is more than I could hope for. Great ideas!!!

    I actually already have aWeber for people who join the initiative, but am not doing my daily RSS with them. So, point taken.

    I like how you are putting it: the concept of ‘finding the audiences and approach them’ vs. ‘being found’. Right now I’m doing both.

    I have a Facebook group already, and am posting at like-minded groups there. However, as per your suggestion/comment, my Facebook, Blogcatalog and Delicious’- efforts are patchy and not as effective as could be, probably. Given my limited time: any suggestion which would be best for this kind of audience?

    Last but not least, I was unaware of ANY social calendars, and will explore that right away. Excellent idea!

    Again, thanks so much for your suggestions, Andy. I’ll report back with you how things are going in a little while!

  12. says

    Nice post there. I am not sure how or where I would catagorize myself there.

    But this post sure makes me think a lot more about the small things I do without much attention. Thanks!