Skip to content
Mike Lieberman, CEO and Chief Revenue ScientistThu, Jul 12, 2018 13 min read

How You Can Leverage Clickbait, Linkbait, and Viral Content in Your SEO Campaigns

{}How can I rank at the top of Google’s search results?

How do I create viral content so that my website will get more views?

How do I get other blogs and websites to link back to me?

Any of these questions sound familiar to you? Most websites, if not all, have the same goal: to attract as many visitors as possible. More views mean more potential customers, which means more profit.

But with over a billion websites on the world wide web today—yes, that’s right, 1.3 billion websites as of January 2018—how do you stand out and rank highly on Internet searches?

That’s what the practice of search engine optimization, or SEO, is all about. No doubt you’ve already come across this term, especially if you already have a blog or website.

There are lots of strategies to optimize your website for web searches. The most popular one is perhaps using keywords specifically to target common search terms that people are using. This can work for you, but then again, out of a billion websites, you probably have more than a few competitors.

Other strategies you can consider is to use clickbait, linkbait, and viral content for your SEO campaigns. But how exactly do you use them so that they actually boost your SEO?

What are clickbaits, linkbaits, and viral content?

Before we go further, let’s define what clickbait, linkbait, and viral content are, just so we’re on the same page.

Clickbait refers to a hyperlink that is written in such a way that it entices a reader to click on it to read more, hence the terms “click” and “bait.” Good clickbaits will be catchy enough that readers do end up visiting that link and reading through the post. However, if the reader feels that the title does not match the content or they did not get what they wanted out of the post, it will cost you the reader’s trust.

Linkbait is similar to clickbait, only it refers more specifically to content that is designed to attract backlinks, or people linking back to it. The content is so good, that other bloggers or websites use it on their own pages as a hyperlink.

Viral content is probably the most familiar term. It’s content that has spread rapidly online like a virus. Most viral content triggers an extreme emotion, like joy, anger, sadness, and even awe.

All three types of content are used to generate more shares, boosting a page’s SEO. If you want to create shareable content for SEO purposes, you will need to learn about these three.

When is it effective and strategic to use clickbait, linkbait, and viral content in my SEO campaign?

If it’s your first time coming up with an SEO campaign, you’ll probably be eager to try out these strategies to jumpstart your campaign. After all, who wouldn’t want their content to go viral?

However, it’s important to realize that SEO should be done strategically, or else you will just be wasting your resources and effort.

Rand Fishkin discussed these three SEO strategies in one of his online videos on Moz. According to him, websites that are already popular and already have lots of backlinks do not need clickbait, linkbait, and viral content. On the other hand, websites that need more brand awareness—such as start-ups—and websites that need more visitors and more overall links will benefit more from an SEO campaign that is focused on viral and shareable content.

How can I make my content go viral?

Unfortunately, not all posts that were created for viral purposes will go viral. But only a handful of viral content spreads like wildfire accidentally. Most of the time, viral content is created with specific features to make it shareable.

Here are some tips to create a post with a high potential to go viral. This is not foolproof, but it will give you a little edge over your competitors.

  • Use numbers in your headline. Numbers give your post a 36% increase in clicks. Interestingly, odd numbers tend to work better than even numbers.
  • Add images. They boost content credibility by 75%, and professional photos do better than amateurish ones. They also get 94% more views on social media. Additionally, colorful images make people 80% more likely to read the accompanying content.
  • If you’re writing a how-to post, infographics can help you get 2.3x more shares.
  • Use hashtags. They’re not just for show; hashtags boost a tweet’s retweet rate by 55%.
  • Short paragraphs and bulleted lists make your content more readable, and therefore more shareable.
  • Consider emotions. Almost all viral content evokes a strong emotion in readers, strong enough to share them. Content that evokes awe, surprise, or anger is almost 30% more likely to go viral.

Why is it an effective tool for SEO campaigns?

So you’ve gone viral. How does it help your website in terms of search ranking?

Google’s algorithm for determining who appears first for a particular search depends in part on a website’s perceived legitimacy, authority, and credibility. If there are dozens or even hundreds of people who have linked back to your site, it signals to Google that you are a credible source, thus boosting your SEO.

Also, there’s what Fishkin describes as the “linkbait bump,” where you get a thousand-fold increase in visitors thanks to a piece of content that went viral. Most of these new hits will be one-time visitors, but the bump can bring in some who may be interested in future posts from you. As a result, your average number of visitors can still increase even after your viral popularity has waned.

How can I use these to my SEO campaign’s advantage?

Not all linkbait bumps will guarantee an increase in subscribers and average daily visitors. To maximize your viral content in such a way as to generate more loyal visitors, you have to consider other factors:

  • The quality of your content

Viral content will draw visitors to your site, and if they see that you regularly produce good content, you will have more chances of getting more followers to your website.

Additionally, your content must have unique value, in that it stands out from your competitors. What can you offer that other sites don’t? Your uniqueness will be a huge factor in getting people to share your content.

This is where the niche market comes in. You don’t have to target the entire population to gain a lot of followers. Sometimes it’s better to target specific groups of people who share the same interest as you. This way, you can create a viral campaign that is sure to resonate with a particular group of people, instead of a viral campaign that may or may not affect the general public.

Take mothers, for example. Mothers are not the majority of the public, but if you create a viral post about the joys and hardships of taking care of newborns, it will resonate well with every new mother and they might just be compelled to share it.

With these in mind, it’s important that before you create a viral campaign, your website should already have quality content. It will not be wise to create a viral post as your first post. Why? When people check your website after a successful viral post, they need to see what other kinds of content you have produced. If they see nothing of value to them, then you lose them as potential subscribers.

  • The user experience

The best SEO practices consider the user experience. This involves being able to step in your users’ shoes to see how they experience your website. These days, most online content is consumed using mobile devices. So to boost your SEO through shareable content, you have to make sure that all users have an easy and smooth time reading and sharing your content.

You also have to consider what takes away from the user experience. Too many pop-ups, hard sells, and promotional messages for unrelated products could all turn off a visitor. This includes clickbaits that are glaringly just clickbaits; meaning, the headline does not match what the content provides. As what we mentioned earlier, this will cause the reader to lose trust in your website, and you end up losing a follower.

To avoid this, make sure that your headlines are catchy enough to grab readers’ attention without presenting false information. Do not write “5 Shockingly Simple Ways You Can Earn Up to $120,000 a Year” when your article is about the highest paying jobs on the market right now.

Always be aware of what your website users may experience when they visit your site, from content to design. Optimize your site for both desktop and mobile users, giving them a positive experience on your website so that you increase the chances of them coming back for more.

  • The little details

Sure, your content has gone viral. But has anyone searched for your brand afterwards? Has anyone signed up for your newsletter?

When creating content, make sure that you include the little details that would help boost your SEO. Include your website, your logo, and your contact details. This will help your brand become more familiar to users, and you’ll get free advertising when people share content with your name and logo on it. Urge them to share the content, and make sure that it is easy for them to share it (Facebook and Twitter “Share” buttons prominently displayed at the top or bottom).

The most important thing is to have a compelling call-to-action (CTA) at the end, encouraging visitors to read other content, or to sign up for your webinars or mailing list.

A call-to-action leads users to the next step easily. Effective CTAs that generate leads are action-oriented, addresses the need of the user, have strong visuals, and create a sense of urgency. You have to persuade the reader that they can’t miss out on what you’re offering. If done right, your viral content plus a compelling CTA will generate you a lot of leads for your business.


Effective SEO practices take time and effort. A lot of the time, content that was meant to go viral does not, but it’s part of the process. Along the way, you’ll learn what strategies are effective for your business, and which ones aren’t. Allow room for mistakes, but make sure that you learn from them, and try to figure out where you went wrong so you can improve. It’s tough work, but once you hit the jackpot, it will all be worth it.


Mike Lieberman, CEO and Chief Revenue Scientist

Mike is the CEO and Chief Revenue Scientist at Square 2. He is passionate about helping people turn their ordinary businesses into businesses people talk about. For more than 25 years, Mike has been working hand-in-hand with CEOs and marketing and sales executives to help them create strategic revenue growth plans, compelling marketing strategies and remarkable sales processes that shorten the sales cycle and increase close rates.