Top 10 Linkbaits of All Time

Linkbaiting (aka viral marketing) is the process of creating  content designed to attract loads of natural links from all around the web.  Most linkbait ideas are simple and some are not intended as you’ll see in this list.  The reason they become linkbait material is that they are fresh and someone managed to think them up before anyone else did.


Without further ado, here is my list of the top 10 linkbaits that I think have worked really well and managed to achieve great baclink results. 

1- Zillow House Price Estimator Tool created a tool that allows you to “Zestimate”, an approximation of your home’s market value. It appears in a little pop-up superimposed on a photographic map of your neighborhood. According to a CNN article about the tool “The number might make you smile; it could make you angry”.  Either way, you will link to it!

Result: over 800 links including the one from!


2- Top 10 watched videos on YouTube

A simple list of the top 10 most watched videos on YouTube.  Simple huh? Well as I said before, most linkbait ideas are, you just need to be the first to think them up!

Result: Over 900 links.


3- The Guardian Chalkboard

The idea behind this linkbait is simple.   The Guardian newspaper created a football widget designed to allow users to “analyse player performance the way top managers do for free”.  In a nutshell, it allows you to create your own chalk boards and send them to your mates or post online.

Result: Over 3,000 links.


4- Keyword Discovery Tool

Keyword discovery is one of the premiere keyword research tools in the SEM industry.  The owners of the product decided to offer a free version of the tool for anyone to use and as a result, managed to garner thousands of highly relevant links back to their site as a result of this. 

Result: Over 5,000 links.


5- Beginner’s Guide to Search Engine Optimization

Not sure if this was intended as a linkbait technique but it is a classic example of a website (great one btw) that specialises in a niche (SEO) and has written many best practice douments including this one that other websites want to link to.
Result: Over 11,000 links.


6- Lonelygirl15
This piece of linkbait is probably what brought on the phrase “Hoax marketing”. lonelygirl15 was an interactive web-based video series on YouTube which began in June 2006, and ended on August 1, 2008. The show focused on the life of a fictional teenage girl named Bree wirh the YouTube username “lonelygirl15″, the show did not reveal its ficticious nature and people linked to it because they thought it was real. Read more about this linkbait phenomena

Result: Over 12,000 links.


7- One Red Paper Clip

The owner of this site traded his way up from “one red paperclip” all the way to a house.  While the linkbait idea is genius, not sure many could replicate it!

Result: Approximately 25,000 links.


8- The Million Dollar Page

The owner of this website not only happened to create a linkbait masterpiece but also managed to make a million dollars along the way.  The idea was simple (most linkbaits are).  Create a page with one million pixels and sell ach pixel to advertisers for $1.  Genius!

Result: Over 40,000 links


9) Elf Yourself (by OfficeMax)

OFfice max created a gadget that lets you, well, “Elf yourself”.  Very simple idea but it was a smashhit!  Every Christmas season, you can log onto the site and using a very simple tool, upload a picture of yourself that is superimposed over an animation of a dancing elf!  Fantastic!

Result: Over 116,000 links.


10) Adobe Acrobat Reader

And, my favourite one of all, and one that inspired generations of SEO to be creative with link building, the Adobe Acrobat Reader.  Now this was not intended to be as a linkbait technique but I’ve placed it in this list because I needed to make a point.  The Adobe website is one of the most linked to sites on the web becasue they’ve created a product that requires a link back from any site that installs their product telling users to install Adobe flash if they do not have it.  Unfortunately for them, they’ve used the words “click here” in the anchor text hence why the Adobe site ranks #1 for the keywords “click here” 

Result: Over 20,000,000 links!


The above linkbait examples are the ones that inspired me.  I’m sure there are many other ones out there that deserve praise and more will be created in the future, hoepfully yours will be one of them!  If you know of any other great linkbait ideas please share…

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Omar Kattan is Chief Strategy Officer at Sandstorm Digital, the MENA region's first specialist content marketing agency headquartered in Dubai. His experience includes 10 years in traditional marketing and advertising in the Middle East and a further 10 years at two of the largest media agencies in the UK. Follow Omar on Twitter for updates on the latest in digital, branding, advertising and marketing.

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