Ego Bait Link Building Case Study: How I Increased My Links by 310% in 21 days

Ego Bait link building case study featured blog image

Today I’m going to run you through the ego bait content framework that boosted our website's link profile by 310%, produced over 400 Facebook shares and generated a tonne of buzz around our brand.

Here’s the cool thing...

This was all achieved in 21 days on a brand new blog!

In this post I’ll reveal the exact step-by-step process that I used.

Exclusive Bonus: Download the Google Spreadsheet we used to manage the AwardsBait campaign. It covers everything from organising your winners, contacting them, tracking responses, link placements and social shares, as well as additional link building.

The First Time I Heard About “Ego Bait”

Now the ego bait strategy is by no means a new strategy, in fact I think the first time I read about it was sometime back in 2012.

Needless to say, the strategy intrigued me...

So the ego bait / link bait strategy or whatever you want to call it focuses on creating content with the goal of appealing to your target’s ego and receiving either a link, social share or some form of recognition in return.

Typically the target is usually an authority figure, influential blogger or brand in your niche.

Below are some examples of the types of posts used for ego bait link building. You’ve probably seen a bunch of these out there: 

  • Influencer lists
  • Interviews and surveys
  • Crowd sourced content

AwardsBait Content Framework

I recently saw a variation of the ego bait strategy on Brian Dean’s SEO That Works course (thank you Brian, it really does work). Similar to  the traditional ego bait, it taps into people's’ desire for recognition however the unique twist is turning a top # post into an award.

But how do you land links from creating an award?

The strategy behind the award is creating a badge that the winners can feature on their websites. As you may have guessed, that badge contains a link back to your own website.

Here Are My Results From “The AwardsBait”

I first executed the AwardsBait content framework with this post.

Blog header image for the 50 Best Squarespace Blogs
 

Upon publishing the post I sent out emails to all the winners letting them know about the award they had won.

They then began sharing the post like wildfire across all their social profiles, which resulted in a huge spike in referral traffic from social media and social shares!

Website traffic chart showing spike in traffic from blog post launch
 

The page accumulated a ton of new backlinks (12 from super relevant other Squarespace blogs). 

 

As a result of all the newly acquired backlinks, our domain authority increased from 5 to 16 in just a couple short months!

Screenshot of Moz Bar domain authority for the Atomic Marketing website 

The 3-Step Process to Landing Links and Social Shares With “The AwardsBait Strategy”

It’s a very effective process which follows these steps:

Step # 1: Choosing a topic and finding your winners

Step # 2: Creating the AwardsBait content

Step # 3: Promoting the AwardsBait content

Here’s why this content framework is so effective:

First, this is a pretty sure fire tactic.

Normally creating content requires a lot of in-depth research which may or may not be a success.

Fortunately with this framework the main focus of your post is your winners, therefore it has MUCH higher chance of success as it appeals to them as well as those interested in your chosen topic. 

Second, it is easy to scale the post 

As the main content is made up of your list of winners, you can include as many as you like - the more the better.

Simply write up flattering bios for each winner and a small introduction + conclusion and you're all set.

Third, your content will instil positive emotions.

Everyone likes winning and telling others about it. As soon as you publish the post and start notifying the winners they will share the news with all of their followers and do most of the promotion for you!

Twitter mention from Paper + Oats thanking for inclusion in 50 Awesome Squarespace Blogs post.
 

With that, let’s get into the step-by-step process…

Step #1: Choose a Topic and Find Your Winners

The first step is to find a topic.

The key to this is making sure it is:

  • Specific
  • In a niche with at least 100 other blogs

As we are big fans of the website CMS Squarespace, we chose it as our topic. It also has a pretty substantial following and number of people who blog about it, so it was a great fit.

Note: Had we of chosen Wordpress, I know we may have had to focus on a particular area of it such as plugins as it's such a big topic.

The reason you want to choose a specific topic is because it has a higher perceived value and is more likely to get shared as people have a better idea of who to share your content with.

Finding Your Winners

Once you have chosen your topic, it's time to find your winners.

Note that your winners do not need to write exclusively about your topic, as long as it is covered a handful of times you are all set!

We set a target of 50 websites. Remember... more websites = more links and shares!

Google is your best friend when it comes to doing research to find websites for your list. These are some of the search strings we used:

  • "Topic + Blogs"
  • "Topic + Websites"
  • "Topic + Tips"
  • "Topic + Roundup"

Get creative with your search strings, every niche is different. Also be sure to check the "Searches related to" at the bottom of the search results. This is a great source for finding additional websites.

Screenshot of Google's searches related to feature
 

Depending on your topic, Pinterest can also work as a great tool to prospect for potential websites for your list.

Squarespace Pinterest board
 

Organizing Your List

Managing a list of 50+ websites, email addresses, social profiles, bios and email statuses can cause similar emotions to what my man Denzel Washington is feeling.

Gif of actor Denzel Washington hitting a desk in frustration

But don't worry, I've got your back.

I'm sharing the comprehensive spreadsheet I created to manage our ego bait campaign.

It will help you manage literally EVERYTHING from:

  • Organizing your winners
  • Contacting them & tracking responses
  • Landing link placements and social shares
  • Additional link building

From this point onwards, as you are building your winner list it is REALLY important that you record all of the following in a spreadsheet:

  • Website URL
  • Email address
  • Contact name
  • Twitter profile
  • Domain Authority (download Moz Bar Chrome extension)
  • Profile photo (name this appropriately and put them in a folder)

It will save you a bunch of time, trust me... I learned the hard way on a previous campaign.

Tools to help you find email addresses

Next up it's time to begin putting the page together.

Pro tip: At this stage of the campaign, we began following all of our winners on Twitter and even sent out a few tweets and retweeted their content to help establish some early connections.

Step #2: Creating the Ego Bait content

Once we collected all our winner details, it was now time to start creating the content for the page. It all begins with the title.

Creating a Captivating Title

A successful title should encompass 2 key things:

  1. The number of blogs on your list
  2. A benefit / superlative

Start out by writing the number of blogs followed by a superlative such as "top", "best", "awesome" etc. Next, use your chosen topic to describe the blogs. 

This was the title we came up with: "50 Awesome Squarespace Blogs You Should be Following"

Writing the Ego Bait Introduction 

It's really important to spend time crafting the introduction, as I guarantee you ALL the winners will be reading it. So it is very important that it appeals to them.

Here are the steps we used to write our introduction:

- Congratulate your winners (briefly)
- Show the winners some love
- Emphasize the exclusivity of the list
- Discuss some of the topics the blogs write about

Here’s a screenshot of the introduction we used for our post which contains all of the elements above:

Screenshot of the AwardsBait introduction we used for "50 Awesome Squarespace Blogs" post
 

Ordering the Winners

You don't need to worry about organising your winners in any particular order. However, we decided to include some of the higher authority websites up at the top (tends to help with harder to please website owners).

If you are using the Google spreadsheet we created, you can easily filter your winner list and organise them in order of highest domain authority.

Screenshot of Google Sheets ego bait management spreadsheet

Writing the Winner Listings  

Coming up with 50+ bios and making each listing sound unique will require you to do your homework and put the work in. Here are the 4 elements your winner listings should include:

- Their name / blog name
- A flattering bio
- An image
- Link to their website / social profile

Winner bio for Hoot Design Co. on the 50 Best Squarespace Blogs post
 

Bios can be pretty short (I aimed for 50-100 words). The key is to explain who they are and want makes their blog / content unique. A lot of our winners focused on tutorial based posts, others had video walkthroughs, we were sure to mention these in the listings.

As long as you are complementary, and detail what makes their blog special you are all set.

Creating the Awards Badge for Your Winners

It's time to design a badge that your winners can show off that they won and encourage them to share the good news.

This badge is also our opportunity to landing links, so we included an embed code that our winners could use to easily feature the badge to their websites.

Here's the embed code:

Our winners were all made up of design conscious bloggers and designers so it was really important that our badge would appeal to them.

We contacted one of winners who was a designer to create the badge for us. We felt this added an element of credibility to the award and would help encourage others to use the badge.

Designing the Banner

Having a legit looking banner or featured blog image to go along with your post is essential for a couple reasons:

  • It makes your post look official 
  • Eye catching and attractive for social sharing

This banner really goes a long way, especially if your website is pretty new or not many people have heard about it - this was the case for us!

Writing the Conclusion

The conclusion can be pretty short, as long as you encourage people to share and comment on the post you are all set!

Pro tip: Be sure to include any social sharing links at the bottom of the post so that readers can easily share it on their various social accounts.

Step #3: Promoting Your AwardsBait Content

Once the post goes live it's time to begin promoting the hell out of it. It all starts with telling your winners the good news.

Reach Out to Your Winners

The goal of this email is to make your winners aware of your new post, encourage them to share it via social media and get that badge placed!

Compared to other email outreach, you can expect a ridiculously high response rate (ours was around 85%) as everyone will be excited about being on the list. 

Here’s the exact email script we used that yielded a 85% response rate:

Hey [NAME],

I just wanted to give you a heads up that [WEBSITE NAME] has been featured in our most recent post "[AWARDS NAME]":

[POST URL]

Congratulations and keep up the amazing work! If it is in line with your content we would love it if you shared the news on social media :)

Cheers,

[YOUR NAME]

PS: One of the designers from our list kindly designed an awards badge for the post which you can use to show your readers that you’ve been featured. We've seen a bunch of people who have already added the badge to their footer or sidebar!

EMBED CODE

Here were some of the responses we received:

Response from Squarespace blogger Roxy

And this...

Email response from Kirsten Brown 

As you can see, people were thrilled to be included and were more than happy to share the post!

BUT...

While everyone was happy to share the post, few people actually mentioned the badge in their replies.

So we followed up with another email mentioning the badge again:

Ego link building awards badge response

We landed 4 out of 12 badge placements from this exact follow up email - sometimes a friendly reminder is all it takes!

Keep track of all the emails you send using the spreadsheet. Here you can effectively manage the status of every winner, record if they shared the post and track if the badge went live (clients love this).

Screenshot showing ego bait spreadsheet email status

A lot of people on our list never emailed us to let us know they placed the badge so be patient, trust in the process and then follow up again if needed.

Monitoring Your Links

Use Google Search Console to check for newly acquired badge placement links:

Search Traffic > Links to Your Site > Your Most Linked Content

This lets you view newly landed links based on individual URLs.

Screenshot of Google Search Console, newly acquired links from Ego Bait link building

Once you locate your links, head back to the spreadsheet and add them to the live links tab. This is great way to record your results.

Live link results from the ego bait link building campaign

Ready to Give Egobait a Try? 

Click the link below and enter your email to get access to our spreadsheet that we used to track, measure and manage our campaign.

I gotta say, I am now an official advocate of producing egobait content, and not just for link building.

It attracts the attention of industry influencers, puts your blog on the map through social media mentions + shares and most importantly opens up new relationships and opportunities worth exploring in the future.

I would love to hear your thoughts on egobaiting as a content tactic. Have you tried it? Was it successful? Or maybe you have a question about something.

Be sure to leave a quick comment below