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Baiting for Links with Fake Websites

Fake WebsitesI love original and unique ideas that promote themselves. Creating content that spreads is art and you are unable to generate dozens of unique and catchy ideas weekly: sometimes a person creates something truly unique once in a lifetime.

Still, there are some tactics behind crafting something that becomes viral. One such tactic is making fake mini websites that feature some sensation or weird concepts.

Those websites create their own imaginary world around them (for example, describe the life in a non-existent country) or share some spoofed scientific research or experiments or claim to describe an event that never happened, etc.

The best thing about those sites is that they don’t require much time or effort and are eagerly shared. Very often all you need is to contact a power blogger or even a journalist and share your hoax and it will work like a charm.

Let’s have a look at just a few examples to get an idea and inspiration:

Brand it:

Notice how the Onion, the weekly “satirical” stream of fake news, brand their video category: the logo, video watermarks, and the overall design are CNN-styled. This trick already makes their stream viral:

The Onion - Video Channel

Make it easy to believe:

Male Pregnancy, the official site dedicated to the first male pregnancy, is a great example of how to design a hoax site. Everything here testifies for the reliability of this “scientific experiment”: video documentary, online EKG, magazine cover, etc.

Fake Website: Male Pregnancy

Brainstorm a sticky concept

Some ideas don’t even require any design work or time to develop. Look at Internet First Page and Internet Last Page for example: all they needed was an idea and the domain name for that, and here we go a nice naturally-linked page to transfer link juice wherever you need:

Internet First Page

Internet Last Page

Another cool example:

Grab a sensational domain

Sometimes a domain is what makes a website spread. A great example of that is for the site that claims to deliver exotic animals (like baby seals) meat to American dinner tables. The domain speaks for itself and provokes emotions by combining two “uncombineable” concepts that do not fit together: pets who we love dearly and food which we eat:

Pets or Food

Post image by Capture Queen ™

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  1. 40 Responses to “Baiting for Links with Fake Websites”

  2. Brilliant Ann, love the thinking behind these, very very clever.


    By Linktank on Apr 23, 2009

  3. Wish i had to time to set up another site, my head is spinning now, you still have the basis for a great concept to bait though. How about a 101 of spoof sites for another article (don`t shoot me t`is just an idea)

    By safcblogger on Apr 23, 2009

  4. I love these ideas. Hadn’t thought about this a a plan of attack for SEO, but the client needs to have patience and money for these to pay off.

    I have an idea of a Facebook spoof site that I own the domain name for. I was thinking of using it as a social media lightning rod and then using the authority to link to our clients where appropriate.

    By Shell Harris on Apr 23, 2009

  5. Wonerful Ann! Great entertainment and food for thoughts. Love the “This is the First Page” site.

    By Peter Ulstrup Hansen on Apr 24, 2009

  6. Thanks, Ann! Nice post.
    But what can I do with like site? It’s just for fun.

    By seobag on Apr 24, 2009

  7. This is a great idea. Need to think how we can incorporate this..thanks for the post.

    By Jay Gohil on Apr 24, 2009

  8. These are very cool ideas, but you also have to determine how you will convert the links and the fun-loving traffic into real customer willing to pay for whatever it is you sell.

    By David Leonhardt on Apr 24, 2009

  9. Thanks, Ann for coming up with this great post. I wonder how many will really try to implement ….it’s real time consuming tactic.

    By Afzal Khan on Apr 27, 2009

  10. ha ha ha the pets or food one is absolutely hilarious.

    OK so let’s say you put up one of these sites and everyone links to it, now what? I mean you create links to a hoax site but what are those links good for other than the hoax site being funny. Am I missing something?

    By Gerald Weber on Apr 27, 2009

  11. Hi Gerald :)

    The ways you use this site are multiple actually. You can use it to link to your site or to advertise your (related) products, for example.

    By admin on Apr 28, 2009

  12. Hi Ann!

    What a clever idea!! David is right though, you have to be able to convert to traffic. It would be much easier with a catchy look!!
    Thoroughly enjoyed reading your post and look forward to many more!

    By Dede on Apr 30, 2009

  13. Thanks for a crafty idea.

    I’ll have to start racking my brain to think of what my sensational site can be about.



    By Zafar Majid on May 4, 2009

  14. If you could come up with a catchy name for me as a dating blogger. My site is not as uniquely brandable as I wanted. Didn’t think about that when I set up the url. I could start another one. What happens when you change your url?? Can it be done when the site is new. I don’t have that many links yet.

    By Dede on May 4, 2009

  15. Great post…I am just now discovering link baiting.

    By trosquin on May 5, 2009

  16. I would love to see an article about the ethics of programmers and establishing protocol for them as well as web site owners. You have a great site.

    I know this is off topic but would be a great topic and maybe you could post for suggestions…

    By Dede on May 7, 2009

  17. Hi Dede, I will definitely research this. Any links you may want to share on that?

    By Ann Smarty on May 7, 2009

  18. Ann, this made for a few great smiles. Nice creativity…

    By Erik on May 10, 2009

  19. Very Clever! I had never looked into this before, but I see no reason why this notion wouldn’t be a successful viral.

    The cogs start turning…

    Keep up the good ideas.

    By Mandy Blake on May 13, 2009

  20. Great examples have been potraited to explain how to batte with fake links

    By msanuva on May 14, 2009

  21. brilliant

    By peterbg on May 21, 2009

  22. Thanks for the good post…I do not hesitate to tell you that i came your blog only to get backlink, but you post catched me and I am here. I heard that people make too many blogs on wordpress and blogspot to promote their sites. Is this a good technique? should i make many blogs and put my site link there, even there is no traffic but i’ll get some backlink.

    By patelchetan on Jun 11, 2009

  23. Excellent post Ann – sorry I didn’t see this sooner. Please – when you have such great stuff, lemme know so I can help promote it on Sphinn! This was front page stuff!

    By Gab Goldenberg on Jul 1, 2009

  24. I visit your blog frequently and its very good , I am not a expert webmaster but i like your blog as its very simple and understandable.. please keep it up , 10/10 marks…

    By mohdnaved on Jul 11, 2009

  25. Really i doesn’t like the fake sites in my point of view they are not working or support you long time .
    Keep going …………

    By osc on Jul 16, 2009

  26. Good One Ann,

    I am definitely a fan of your posts.

    This is a good information for us who reads your post, very cleaver thinking.

    Thanks Ann.

    By Bennie Stark on Aug 20, 2009

  27. coooool. thanks for sharing the ideas.

    By imrozz on Aug 28, 2009

  28. Thanks for the post Ann, its really very resourceful and to the point, its really very difficult to track the fake baiting of links.

    By Tag44 on Oct 1, 2009

  29. Stumbled upon your blog doing some fun searches on viral marketing and linkbait. Found a gem at this website today via digg. Really funny, if it’s true then even better lol.

    By Karen on Oct 26, 2009

  30. huh, the site theonion really looks as if its the real one.

    By Guildford on Dec 26, 2009

  31. Hi Ann
    Male pregnancy!
    These days anything is possible.
    Certainly an idea to think about… I’m just thinking, is SEO Smarty real?
    I’m sure it is.

    By Keith Davis on Jan 3, 2010

  32. Thanks a lot ANN, you did a great job.

    By imrozz on Feb 11, 2010

  33. Ilike your attitude and your ideas, and your listbox demo. Keep up the good work!
    My idea for a possible ASP-based demo is an application that would allow a webmaster
    to quickly import user generated text or WORD documents into a database.

    By caritaya on Mar 16, 2010

  34. This post is very clever. I love the onion. Its design is really like CNN. At first I thought it was really a CNN video.

    By kristymartin on Mar 29, 2010

  35. s SEO Smarty real?

    By nike kicks on Apr 8, 2010

  36. Ann, this made for a few great smiles. Nice creativity…

    By aprilli on Jun 29, 2010

  37. fantastic post, also you provide us with some great examples, thanks for sharing this great post

    By LB on Jul 23, 2010

  38. Ann, you always have the best posts!

    By Robert Tolmach on Sep 18, 2010

  39. Love the outsourcing skit the onion do. Well done.

    By Seo on Nov 4, 2010

  40. It’s a trick a lot of web based company do take advantage of and certainly one that google does not favor of. Naverthless it’s a fact and it does work!!!

    By Jeff on Apr 7, 2011

  41. A couple questions on this fake website practice…..

    I believe some of my company’s competitors are employing fake websites to increase their backlinks.

    My first question is: is this legal?

    My second question is: how can I be sure that they are in fact participating in link baiting fake website campaigns?

    My third question is: would the company that designs their “real” website and aids them in SEO marketing participate in the construction of these false websites?

    Please let me know. I am interested in learning more about this practice.

    By Dutch on Jan 2, 2012

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