Link Bait: The New Deceptive Advertising

© Pazo | Dreamstime Stock Photos & Stock Free Images
© Pazo | Dreamstime Stock Photos & Stock Free Images

“Link baiting” is an Internet marketing tactic that is used to drive web traffic. Sometimes called “click baiting,” sensational headlines, “breaking” exclusives, popular celebrity names, numbered lists, infographics and controversy—to name a few—are the hook used to pique curiosities and compel people to click. The ultimate goal is to increase inbound links and boost search engine ranking—increasing the likelihood of showing up on the first page of Google search results, for example.

Currently, there’s a major de-bait—see what I did there?—within the marketing community about the validity of click baiting and I have to admit that I’m inclined to agree: Sensational headlines for sensational content and “breaking” exclusives for proprietary new articles are great, because that information probably can’t be found on other websites and deserves the exposure—yes, the fact that information is available other places matters because it often defines the difference between inspirational/exceptional/novel work that creates value for readers, and plain old average content.

Businesses should take notice: Link baiting can be extremely effective and completely harmless when used correctly and responsibly, allowing businesses to attract views and users to easily locate webpages they find relevant and interesting. A well-crafted title that accurately represents its content is what honest and ethical businesses should strive for and what users expect.

However, sleazy companies on the Internet understand the effectiveness of link baiting and often use this technique to trick users into visiting websites that they would otherwise never see. Many of the offenders are relatively benign, leading to low-relevance, off-topic pages full of flashy advertisements for weight loss pills and work-from-home opportunities, but on the worse end of the spectrum, link bait titles lead to dangerous foreign websites that host malware and harvest information for phishing.

Remember, think before you click!

Have you come across sketchy link bait? Share it in the comments.