Two of the most popular buzz words in the online marketing realm right now are link baiting and viral marketing. These two tactics are a great way to build links and to build branding when constrained by small marketing budgets, but there are several things you need to remember when planning these types of campaigns.

In this ten part series, I'll be covering many of the things that you need to take into consideration when planning a link baiting or viral marketing campaign. While there's no need to integrate all of them into every campaign, understanding what they are and how they work can go a long way toward helping you plan an effective launch strategy.

Today, I'll be digging into the need for an eye catching title. While you should be writing great titles that incorporate your keywords and help encourage click-thrus for any content you create, it's especially important when it comes to link baiting and viral marketing.

On the Internet, you have a very limited amount of time to catch someone's attention. Since your title is likely the first thing that they'll look at, this is your chance to catch their eye. A well written title can increase your click-thru rates and your link rates exponentially, especially when compared to a plain title with little personality.

While it's no secret that I firmly believe that Digg is not a marketing strategy, I do like to refer to Digg listings as a great example of how to write a compelling title. Take the following examples:

Original Title:
They Didn't Study

Diggified Title:
What You Always Wanted to Write on Your Exams, But Couldn't

Original Title:
Division II Basketball Championship ... Barton vs. Winona State

Diggified Title:
The Most Shocking Ending in Sports History

Original Title:
So What Really Is in a McDonald's Chicken Nugget?

Diggified Title:
You'll Never Guess What's in McDonald's Chicken McNuggets!

Can you see how the Diggified title makes the story sound more compelling? Even the last example's very slight title change goes a long way toward making you more likely to click on the link.

I used this type of tactic when I wrote my own link bait story at The Lactivist about the pork fiasco. While I could have simply titled the post something like "I'm being sued" or "You Won't Believe This," I got specific and worked up a pretty eye catching title: "Overzealous Big Pork Stomps on Breastfeeding Blogger." It certainly got attention.

So how can you put this into play on your own site or blog? Well, for starters, just try getting a little creative with your title. Play off humor, play off scare tactics, go a little overboard (but not too overboard.)

You can also try the Copyblogger Headline formula. (Don't miss the follow-up post with 7 more headline formulas either.) Basically, Copyblogger gives you a great list of headlines where you simply fill in the blank.

Here are just a couple of the suggestions:

Who Else Wants [blank]?
Here is a Method That is Helping [blank] to [blank]
Little Known Ways to [blank]
[Do something] like [world-class example]
Have a [or] Build a [blank] You Can Be Proud Of
See How Easily You Can [desirable result]
The Lazy [blank's] Way to [blank]

Want to see them in action? It's pretty simple really...

Who Else Wants to Start a Blog?
Here is a Method That is Helping Small Businesses to Increase Rankings
Little Known Ways to Link Build
Blog with Humor and Wit like Lisa Barone
Build a Blog You Can be Proud Of
See How Easily You Can Increase Blog Traffic
The Lazy Blogger's Way to Write Titles

With a little bit of effort going into your headline, you'll find your articles and blog posts doing much better in terms of pass rate, search rankings and social media traffic.

In part two, I'll explain the need to make things easy to spread. I'll also offer up several examples of companies that are doing this well and a few suggestions of how to put this into play on your own site.

April 23, 2007

Jennifer Laycock is the Editor of Search Engine Guide, the Social Media Faculty Chair for MarketMotive and offers small business social media strategy & consulting. Jennifer enjoys the challenge of finding unique and creative ways to connect with consumers without spending a fortune in marketing dollars. Though she now prefers to work with small businesses, Jennifer’s clients have included companies like Verizon, American Greetings and Highlights for Children.


Having some kind of controversial title, even if the content itself is not controversial can be very beneficial to going viral.

John from antivirus 2009 removal

A nice catchy title speaks for its own, and its a great way to attract visitors.. so we really need to think of a good one.

Link baiting is one of my favorite strategy, creating a great article or blog entry will drive us more traffic and also our website may also be featured on other relevant sites, its like building links without doing anything.

I do agree that a title can be the difference between high retention rate versus high bounce rate. Keep it coming.Thanks

Thinking about it, it's pretty amazing how advanced linkbait copy has become over the past couple of years. Where in niches like the "make money online" and general Internet marketing, this type of copy has been slowly decreasing in effectiveness due to overuse, there are plenty of other "untouched" markets where this type of marketing will simply put you ahead of the entire pack (I try to practice the same with my Vancouver junk removal service for instance and it's working pretty well so far)

I have used this unknowingly for a while when writing articles, I found relating my article content and title to a very current or controversial news article helped generate lots of clickthroughs, and links to be placed on other sites.

Comments closed after 30 days to combat spam.

Search Engine Guide > Jennifer Laycock > Making Link Bait and Viral Marketing Work - Part One