6 Ways to Track Your Linkbait Success

By Chris Suppa

After you’ve created stellar linkbait content, tracking its success becomes imperative, but given the variety of links and ways to share content, it can be difficult to assess link building efforts. While tools like Raven Tools and BuzzStream can help you monitor and measure your active relationship building, you’ll also want to assess the viral spread of your linkable asset. From social shares and second degree links to embedded content with deep links, the true range of your link building could become a bit elusive.

However, where there’s a will, there’s a way, and we’ve used the following funnel to identify six types of links. In order to monitor each outcome, this post will outline the processes and tools we’ve employed to track linkbait success.

6. Social Shares That Link to 3rd Party Embed

As social continues to grow, so do the avenues where links are shared and content is discussed. Now more than ever, linkbait has a tendency to get picked up in the social sphere, and from there, it’s out of your hands, making tracking rather daunting. In circumstances where your content is being channeled through 3rd party embeds, it could become even more problematic. This Anatomy of a Job Interview infographic was picked up by Daily Infographic, generating a whole new stream of shares, tweets and links to be tracked.

Solution: Set up social monitoring for the content title and theme. In Google Alerts, create alerts for “anatomy of a job interview” infographic, anatomy job interview, job interview infographic, job interview tips, and how a job interview works.

5. Social Shares That Link to Content

Often times, tweets and shares will link to your content, but neglect to mention or tweet at you. This is another instance where social monitoring will come in handy, and Hootsuite makes this process simple.

Solution: Set up social monitoring for your URL. Open Hootsuite and add a “Search” column with your URL. This will show you all of the people that are tweeting links to your website without necessarily mentioning your Twitter profile. It even works with shortened URLs, and it’s a great opportunity to respond, retweet, and even capture a new follower if you play your cards right.

4. Links to 3rd Party Embed

Each time your content is shared, your backlink profile expands, which means new links to account for. This can come in the form of second degree links, which happens when another website features and links to your content, and other sites link to the 3rd party site as the original source. For instance, this Rise of the Slacktivist infographic was picked up by Cool Infographics, and since the site is pretty popular, chances are there will be many second degree links that credit Cool Infographics as the content creator.

Solution: Set up Google Alerts for the content title and theme. Create an alert for slacktivist infographic. As links start trickling in from 3rd party embeds and inbound links, it might also be helpful to set up Google Alerts for the popular infographic sites, like slacktivist coolinfographics, slacktivist weheartit, and slacktivist holykaw. In about 4-6 weeks, you can also plug the Cool Infographics link into OSE to capture any links you might have missed from Google Alerts or social monitoring.

3. Links Directly to Content

When sites link back to your content directly, you won’t find out about some of these mentions until the next time you dig through all of your referring traffic in Google Analytics. For monitoring links more aggressively, Linkstant is an awesome new tool that is quite resourceful. Linkstant provides real-time updates for new links to your site and content. In order to get Linkstant results, you must first add a simple code to your website (directions here). The tool affords you the luxury of seeing links grow by the minute, and it also detects any issues with inbound links. If your content is being shared and linked to in a variety of ways, Linkstant is effective for monitoring and correcting links while they’re hot.

Solution: Add Linkstant code to your website or blog and watch the alerts roll in. While Linkstant is a great way to monitor links quickly, there are a few challenges. First of all, your Linkstant account is tied to your Google account, which makes sharing the monitoring responsibilities difficult. However, there is also the ability to subscribe to new link notifications by RSS, making team collaboration possible. Additionally, it looks like Linkstant only offers one code per account, so monitoring multiple websites is not currently supported. Finally, you’re only notified of a link if it’s clicked on by a user. However, the benefit of knowing which sites are linking to your site in real-time definitely trumps these challenges, and you should install Linkstant immediately.

2. Embeds of Content Without Link

Unfortunately, linkbait can end up embedded on sites without links to either your website or a 3rd party site. While this isn’t ideal, these shares still help with brand awareness (should you design your infographic properly with your logo in the footer). It also creates a nice opportunity to reach out to these sites and kindly ask for a link, since you’re the owner of that linkable asset.

Solution: Set up Google Alerts for content title and theme. For this infographic, we set up alerts for Ultimate Guide to Business Cards, Guideline for Business Cards, Infographics for Web Designers and Developers, and “Ultimate Guide” AND “Business Cards”. This helped us find the embed without any links on Infographics Posters, and created the opportunity to request a link from the site. It’s also a good idea to browse Google Images and Google Analytics for other terms and titles people are using to find and promote your linkbait.

1. Embeds of Content With Link

Perhaps someone grabbed the embed code directly from your site, giving credit where credit was due: cha-ching! If you’ve set up all of the tactics and tools mentioned above, you’re probably already aware of these links, but there’s one more thing you can do to see traffic to your website from these embeds.

Solution: Use UTM Parameters in your linkbait embed code to quickly track referral traffic from 3rd party embeds. In the urban agriculture infographic mentioned above, we used the following UTM parameters to help us track traffic that came directly from any proper shares:


We also tracked the links with Google Alerts for our infographic topic and title, Hootsuite social monitoring, and Linkstant link alerts.

Bonus: After you’ve spent all of this time monitoring linkbait success, make sure to drop any social mentions into a tool like Storify, since many real-time social monitoring tools will drop data as time passes. Also, make sure to add all of your inbound links to your Link Manager in Raven Tools, so you can quickly export link building reports and pump this knowledge back into future campaigns.

This is our method for tracking linkbait success, but we’d love to hear more about your link building monitoring! Please share in the comments.

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  • Chris, Thanks for the excellent post. It’s helpful to see the linking scenarios and solutions, especially ones that go beyond RavenTools and OSE. This provides a framework to setup tracking for our own clients, and any campaign, from the beginning, which also helps demonstrate campaign success. Again, nice job!