The term “linkbait” is used to describe content on a website which is designed to generate incoming links from other sites. Some people disagree with the use of this term, since it sounds pejorative, implying that all linkbaiting is bad, while other people think that the term is perfectly accurate, even with the negative connotations associated with the word “bait.”
Almost every website participates in linkbaiting. Most people design websites with the intention of attracting readers, and as a result they try to generate material which is picked up and linked by other sites. However, there are varying degrees of linkbaiting, ranging from writing a useful guide to something to deliberately baiting the owner of another site by launching a personal attack on him or her. Some people who support the concept of creating linkbait frown on more aggressive tactics.
In addition to typically immediately increasing traffic to a website, linkbaiting also drives a site up in search engine rankings, as most search engines look at how many links a site and uses these links to assess the value of a site. Therefore, a piece of linkbait can also benefit a site in the long term, by moving it up in the ranks so that it will appear when people search for related terms. Webmasters must be cautious when trying to increase their links, however, as some search engines look at the authority of the site issuing the link and factor that into a search result; in other words, not all links are good.
There are two basic categories of linkbait: positive linkbait, such as a resource which other web users may appreciate, and negative linkbait, like attacks on other sites. Positive linkbait can come in a variety of flavors; it could involve something new and interesting, it could provide an incentive for visitors like a contest, or it could simply be insightful or intriguing. Many web developers, for example, write applications which serve as linkbait, because other web users link to these applications and their developers by extension. Negative linkbait, on the other hand, is focused on controversial or contentious material, and it can be highly effective, although some people find it distasteful.
Some people believe that effective linkbaiting is a great search engine optimization (SEO) tool. This idea has become so widespread that some SEO firms offer linkbaiting services, along with tips and tricks to increase links and traffic to the websites of their clients. Many bloggers especially also work hard to create linkbait in the hopes of making their sites profitable.