Link bait inspirationOne of those tactics that keep working for me is creating viral pieces (like long lists full of cool images) that attracts thousands of visitors and dozens of links. People seem to never grow tired of “20+ Weird Something” (I myself am guilty of regularly sharing these types of content with friends via IM and social media). So why not try them if they work and entertain people (looks like a win-win to me)?

As I’ve been playing with them for a while, I decided to go ahead and share my sources of link bait inspiration (in a hope you’ll share yours in return).

1. Google Search

Good old Google search is quite understandably my first source of inspiration. Here’s one trick I’d like to share that always works: Google wildcard search. Just insert * anywhere in-between your topical search phrase and you’ll get plenty of suggested term variations right within SERPs:

  • [amazing * swimming pools] for more ideas on swimming pool designs;
  • [“what kind * are you”] for more viral quiz ideas;
  • [weird *] just for something bizarre.

Google inspiration

Quick tips:

  • Use usual “viral list” cliches to get more ideas (amazing * word, awesome * word, weird * word, bizarre * word, etc). Note: in case Google decides to drop the word as being “descriptive and unimportant” be sure to place plus sign (+) before it to force Google to include it;
  • StumbleUpon addon installed with search integration activated helps much to quickly make judgments as to how popular each article might be (see the stars indicator in the screenshot above)

2. Google Images

I use Google images more and more lately. Most importantly, it allows great visualization: you almost always can predict which type of content each listing represents: an ecommerce shop, “viral” blog post or any other. Thus, you only click through if it looks like something worth attention (=saves time a lot) Look:

Google images inspiration

Besides, Google images search seems much more straightforward than general search: those images that are linked to, contain search terms in alt text and file path are usually ranked higher. So first pages will contain plenty of images from viral pieces like you do (other types of content seldom put so much emphasis on images).

3. Digg Search

I hadn’t used it before it was improved so it is hard to tell how much better it became but now I just love it! Here’s a quick guide:

  1. Go to Digg;
  2. Provide your base search term and include +p to make it show only those stories that hit the front page.

That’s usually enough to get an idea of what type of topics end up going popular on Digg.

Digg search inspiration

Here are a few more useful Digg search filters:

  • Narrow search by media (stories / videos / images): search sidebar option;
  • See only popular stories on your topic coming from one particular site (;
  • Add +b to see buried stories (another very essential option for your topic analysis).

4. Flickr Groups

Flickr is an awesome source of inspiration. Last year I did a detailed post on Flickr search tools that make searching it much easier. Another useful tip that always turn effective for me is browsing through Flickr groups that unite photos on one particular topic.

While I didn’t have much luck finding really cool Flickr groups through its built-in Groups search option, I came up with an alternative way:

  1. Search all images using your base term (and probably using one of the tools mentioned above);
  2. Look which “pools” most popular / commented / favorited images belong to. Chances are, you will find many quality relevant Flickr groups this way:

Flickr Groups Inspiration

5. Inspiration “Lucky” Buttons

Oftentimes. you just don’t even know the base words: you just need something awesome to write about. Or you’re just stuck and need something completely new and fresh. Or you have much free time (which is unlikely, I know).

In all those situations, just clicking through random links and scanning everything that comes up is the best thing you can do. Here are a few tools that will help:

StumbleUpon ToolBar “Stumble!” Button

  • Just click it and you will be shown most popular stories that are likely to appeal to you (based on your preferences and SU browsing and thumbing history).
  • You can also customize it to show (a) pages from one of the channels, (b) pages thumbed by your friends, (c) pages related to the term you specify:

Stumbleupon button inspiration

FriendBar “Lucky” Button

FriendBar is a FireFox addon that aggregates your Facebook and Twitter accounts allowing you to track updates in both social media networks. One of its features is a “Lucky button” that shows you a random story currently popular on Twitter.

Yoono “Surprise” Button

Yoono is another FireFox addon that creates a handy “social” sidebar in your browser aggregating your Twitter, Facebook, Piczo, Flickr and Friendfeed accounts. By clicking a “Surprise” button at the bottom of the widget you will be taken to a random page.

  • The button sows the most relevant page based on the content in your bookmark folder.
  • You can also ask for a “surprise” based on one of your bookmark folders.
  • You can check an option to have a surprise each time you launch your browser.

Digg Random Story

Digg FireFox Extension (among other cool features) shows “Random” Digg story to diversify your browsing experience. This way it give some SU feel to Digg which can also turn useful at times.

Any inspiration tips to share? Share them in the comments!

Post image by naama

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I am the owner of this blog as well as Brand and Community Manager at Internet Marketing Ninjas and Founder of MyBlogGuest, MyBlogU and

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  1. google search option is really fantastic…

  2. Mundir Razik says:

    I am using google images a lot too nowadays. Even I look for the Top 20 list posts everywhere. Most of them are informative.

  3. Danny Ashton says:

    Hey Ann

    Great list – we follow a similar one when we we create new bait.

    I would also reccomend checking out deviant art – it can have some great images that most people have not seen before.


  4. Great Post Ann! Very useful now that I’m blogging in a more organized fashion. I would also add forums in your list, by browsing the most popular threads.

  5. Just found your blog through Sphinn. Great stuff! Keep up the good work and blog on!

  6. These are very interesting methods of gathering inspiration. I often times find myself really trying to reach for material to write about. These methods should pull up some very interesting news topics.

  7. Thanks for the inspiration. 20+ weird lists are something very useful and fun to make.

  8. Very great tips, i have tried it and digged my post, i got over 40 diggs in about an hour 🙂

  9. Hey great idea!! I’m going to bookmark your site.

  10. Thank You! Killer tips! We sell a rather boring product you’ve just given me the inspiration and the tools to help make marketing them more exiting!

  11. annabelt @ Ebusiness Technology says:

    Nice ideas – I like the picture examples. I’ve seen a lot of those ‘What Kind of X are you?’ titles on Facebook, so I guess you must be right!

  12. Noah | WealthNet Partners says:

    Very helpful guide. I really don’t do link bait articles as much as I should, but with this I think I’ll start getting into it much, much more.

  13. Thanks for the post. A lot of great tips and good advice for finding the right “stuff”. 🙂 I also liked the way each of your suggestions attacks the problem from a different approach.

    Thanks for the help,


  14. Hi Ann,

    Great post! I use the Shareholic add-on for Firefox, and it has a Buzz feature showing trending topics on Twitter, the web, etc.

  15. Case Ernsting says:

    Seems like you got your wish! So many trackbacks. I get inspiration from monitoring Twitter feeds in my pre-chosen “niche” of journalism in the US. If you can find that enough people are asking the same question…answer it!

  16. Patrick Murphy says:

    Really like the top 20 list, think it is a great idea!

  17. I like the part about Flickr Groups. It gave me some good ideas. Thanks.

  18. search engine optimization marketing says:

    thanks that was a great read…

  19. Josh - Phoenix SEO says:

    I wrote a small “how to” write linkbait guide on my site as well. I focus on a more “holistic” method, but certainly looking to what has worked before is an important skill to create relevance.

    Nice write up,


  20. SEO experts says:

    Getting quality back links is essential form seo point of view.very useful i am getting good traffic and back links with the help of these link building techniques.

    Thanks for sharing your knowledge.

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  22. Great work! Tip for google search is very useful. Thanks!

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  24. Alok Kumar says:

    great information. really informative on detailing out search information and info on attracting visitors

  25. interesting stuff. i had not thought about this before. thanks for sharing this.

  26. Google images do bring loads of visitors to my website and blog,, nice suggestions mate..

  27. Same fore me. Nice ideas. Pictures kinda rule these days.

  28. Very great tips. It gave me some good ideas. Thanks for sharing this.

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  30. I’m glad to read this post. Actually there’s so many advantages of link baiting although not everyone is actually aware of it and how to do it correctly. I’m happy to find blogs that focuses on teaching and inspiring us bloggers to try different kinds of seo strategy, but of course the white hat techniques.

  31. John Munns says:

    Got some great ideas for making my images more interesting and using flicker. Digg it too, Tricks are helpful. Thanks

  32. Interesting read, will try if this works for my german audience too. Thank you, Hanna

  33. I am continuously impressed by you Ann! I originally learned about you through SEOMoz and then was fortunate enough to land an interview with you through! I got the impression that you were a little hesitant to share some of this info, but I am so glad you did! I’ve been blogging 5+ years now, and it’s refreshing to learn some new tricks! Again, thank you so much!

  34. @P.F.Blogger, honestly, I share ALL I know in public. I have no secret strategies at all!

  35. Great article. I never thought pictures as a good link bait. Usually im looking for high quality content. I spend like a week to think of something and then take another week to write it. This strategy is quicker and probably even more inspiring.

    Wow thanks for showing me how to think outside the box. These are very good lessons for me.

  36. Jim Jinright says:

    Great tips on how to make the process more fun for finding inspiration on link bait. It seems the image search method would be very efficient!

  37. Great list, very useful!

  38. Hi,
    This is kind pratical guide of link bait I was looking for … thanks

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