Ego Bait Needs a Rebrand

A Guest Post by Gaz Copeland

What is “Ego Bait”?

Ego Bait, for those not in the know is traditionally described as creating a piece of content with the main intention of appealing to a target’s ego and (hopefully) getting a link, share or recognition from them in return.

The target is generally an influential blogger in you niche, a brand or a potential employer. Ego bait is often coupled with another popular link building tactic to ensure maximum effect, ego bait lists, case studies, interviews, surveys and crowd sourced content are all extremely effective marriages.

Here are how others describe ego bait:

“The process of creating content almost solely for the purpose of gleaning links off others” – Ben Norman

“Essentially producing something that strokes the ego of the person/people/company featured.” – James Agate

How have I used Ego Bait?

Personally I have created a number of ego bait pieces over on my SEO blog and in other places around the web, I really enjoy creating this style of post and I guess they have been successful for me over time.

One of my first ego articles was the “Awesome SEO’s on Twitter” it was fun to put together and I felt I was giving a little back to some of my favourite SEO’s who in my eye’s weren’t getting anywhere near enough credit.


“What’s the problem” I hear you ask? “If it works, you’ve done it yourself why does it need a re-brand?” you say..

Good question, I’m glad you asked! Just look at some of the language I’ve used above:

  • Bait
  • Target
  • Ego
  • Gleaning

Hardly “pleasant” is it? And that’s my major issue, ego bait in it’s traditional sense seems to me a very dirty, manipulative and underhand tactic. You are a cold calculated soul, carefully stalking and selecting you victims, your only intention to appeal to their narcissism and to trick them into doing your bidding. In my experience  thankfully that couldn’t be further from the truth.

I didn’t create my “SEO’s who rap” article with the intention of tricking the “targets” into linking to me or sharing my content. (Although that did actually happen) I created it because it was something I had observed and I thought it would be pretty fun to put those guys together in one place.


I’ll tell you straight, I don’t know what the solution is, maybe you can tell me? I’d be really interested in hearing alternative names for ego bait which truly convey the process without such negative undertones.

What I do know is that “Ego Bait” is in dire need of a rebrand. If you are looking to create a piece of content to trick somebody into linking to you, or to blow smoke up their { ass | arse } then you are doing it wrong. It won’t work, they will smell it a mile off and it will backfire, especially in the SEO industry.

To create successful ego bait the first thing to do is stop trying to create ego bait, because that’s not what it is. First and foremost it’s something of value, it’s interesting content, it’s sincere.

Further Reading:

Ben Norman – What is ego bait and how effective is it?

James Agate – A guide to producing effective ego bait

Ross Hudgens – A model for link building

Related Posts:

About Gaz Copeland

Gaz Copeland is the owner and author of the Stoke on Trent based SEO Blog – Stoked SEO
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14 Responses to Ego Bait Needs a Rebrand

  1. James Welch says:

    Ego bait (i agree, i dont like the name) is a very good tactic indeed – if done succinctly, as you suggest.

    Good post, Gaz.

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  3. Gaz Copeland says:

    Thanks James, and thanks again to Chris for publishing my guest post.. I’ve been trying to think of a better name for this tactic but keep coming up blank. I know the word “relationship” comes to mind so maybe “Relationship Bait”, “Relationship Content”?…..hmmm, I give up!

    • Chris says:

      I personally am not a fan of the name Ego Bait and I feel we need to find a less narcissistic phrase, despite the fact we are relying on someone’s Ego to share/link to the content.

  4. Vlad says:

    Writing about a person/company/group to gain a link back = Bad = Ego bait

    Writing about a person/company/group to add value to your website = Good = ‘Quality content’

    I think it’s as simple as that. However if we wanted to ‘rebrand’ ego bait then how about…

    1 – External link building
    2 – New relationship building
    3 – Parasite link acquisition
    4 – Celebrity fishing
    5 – Writing a post about a group of people that I like. Here look at what they have in common.
    6 – A-list attention bomb

  5. “ego bait” is really bad name.
    it’s a good thing though when you create something cool for the bloggers you are trying to have their attention.
    It’s not matter of an “ego bait” … I don’t even like the word “bait” because seems something tricky from the beginning.
    Just do something having fun and passion. Results will follow.

    Good post Gaz, and congrats to Chris for his new blog!

  6. Paul Gailey says:

    karmic content?

    Actually all this classification obsessiveness is a bit…well you know. Pigeonholes generally stink.

  7. Honestly, the use of the term “ego bait” doesn’t really bother me at all. The term suits the technique in a way most people would generally understand.

    The thing that bothers me the most are those who try to use “ego bait” as a technique and create some horrible piece of content on a controversial issue to draw attention to themselves like some link whore. To me, that isn’t “ego bait,” its “trolling” or “phishing.”

    I agree with Sean though, use it to add value. Gaz’s examples of his “ego bait” add something of value to the community and have had some type of entertainment value as well.

    Paul’s comment above, “Pigeonholes generally stink,” gave me a good chuckle though. How about the old saying “no matter how much you polish a turd, it’s still a turd?” 😀

  8. Gaz Copeland says:

    Thanks everyone for the comments, and thanks again to Chris. It seems like we’re stuck with ego bait although I love “A-list attention bomb” as an alternative

  9. I totally see and agree with the point .. it kinda makes you feel icky sometimes. When I picked my domain name, I obviously had lots of feelings about this exact issue.

    What I settled on (for myself at least) is that the name fits, and if we’re too embarrassed even just by saying the word, then we shouldn’t be doing it then.

    If you’re okay doing it, you should be okay admitting it (saying it). I’ve embraced it (obviously) … far as I can tell, it helps everyone involved.

    Having said that, this is my process:

    Would I take the bait down if the person didn’t respond to it?
    If my answer is ‘yes’ then I wouldn’t post it in the first place.
    If my answer is ‘no’, then GAME ON!

    It’s basically just a semi-acceptable (almost incestuous 🙂 way of reciprocal linking … ie, “Hey there friend, your site looks respectable, you seem like a pretty cool cat, and a team player, wanna help each other out?”

    Speaking for (this) total noob, I’ll take any baiting I can get. I don’t know how you guys have time to write posts … I started my site less than a week ago and (thanks to @onreact_com & @StokedSEO et al) I’m having a really hard time just trying to keep track of all the people that have already been receptive and reciprocally generous. I haven’t even written a post of my own yet, it was just an ‘about’ page … thanks to everyone by the way, hope I didn’t miss thanking anyone.

    Lets take heart that most other industries on the planet are constantly hacking at each other with petty shit, we’re all getting along and lovin’ it (baiting and all). What’s a little baiting between friends?

    … I say do it, and do it with conviction, no shame, no remorse.

    scott skinner

  10. Sam Obrart says:

    I totally agree with you Gaz. Like you I’m a huge fan of this particular tactic, however the way it is labelled comes off really bad. Still trying to think of a way to give it a better name for it myself! When done properly this type of content is very valuable for both the creator and those who make the list. Having recently published a Top 50 post on my own blog, while it certainly was very successful as a link building activity, I was also able to make a lot of new connections and relationships with very talented individuals in my niche, while also helping provide them with additional brand exposure and referral traffic – so the value exchange is clearly there however the way this tactic has been labelled makes it seem very one sided!

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