A Comprehensive Guide To Attention Hooks

An attention hook is a piece of content built for the sole purpose of attracting other people’s attention. A properly crafted attention hook consists of a short succinct title with at least one compelling image.

To an SEO, an attention hook is known as a link hook because people link out to the piece of content right after it captures their attention. I’ve taken the liberty of renaming the “link hook” to an “attention hook” because it makes better sense to the mainstream marketing community.

In keeping with tradition, I’ve recreated the original list of hooks, cited prior authors and have added an additional three hooks.

Prior articles and authors:

  1. The Art of Linkbaiting by Nick Wilson
  2. The Linkbaiting Playbook by Todd Malicoat
  3. The Ultimate Guide to Linkbaiting by Andy Hagans

News Hook

Quick up to date information in your niche with copy written by journalists or bloggers. Examples include: Huffington Post, New York Times and Search Engine Watch. Go on Google Trends and look at what’s trending and build content around that topic to help capitalize on growing search volume.

Contrary hook

Write a counterpoint that refute’s someone else’s post on the net in a polite way. Example topics  include the Black Hat vs White Hat, Paid Linking vs Natural Linking or downright disagreement of nonfactual content in someone’s post (but said nicely).

Attack hook

Flat out disagreement used in the most inflammatory language possible. Ever seen an internet troll? Behave like one.  A great example is when Kris Roadruck wrote the post called “White Hat SEO is a Joke.” The post elicited many responses from the SEO community and went viral on the net with mainstream news coverage from like Forbes and Huffington Post.

Resource hook

Create a piece of information with high utility. For example, if you work in the computer server space like ASA Computers in San Jose then you might write a page about “How to Select the Right Computer Server for your Needs.”

Humor hook

Self explanatory. Create memes or pictures with captions. LOLCATs are particularly famous, however, you can utilize anything but be careful that you don’t use religious or racial humor as these hooks may backfire on you.

Ego hook

Ever reach out to an influential person in your niche or someone so high up the corporate ladder that you offered to write an interview with them on your blog? That’s an ego hook in play. Good examples are interviews in your niche or #tweetchats or asking influential people to review your book and become featured.

Incentive hook

Give an incentive to people who undertake a action during a specific time-frame. A good example is “happy hour,” people come in at a predefined time  to take advantage of cheap drinks. Another good example is Farmville, if you don’t log in at the right time then your crops may wither.

Picture hook

Share a fascinating photo. If you are into nature, use the National Geographic Instagram account as inspiration.

Video hook

Create a video on a topic. It can be entertaining or a source of information but make it compelling. Then go share that video on a social media platform where the consumers’ attention span is short and see what happens.

Sex hook

As much as I hate to put this particular content hook here, the reality is that sex sells. If you put a provocative picture of a babe or a hunk, believe me when I say that your click through rates and open rates will be a lot higher.

Tool hook

Create a tool with a high utility and embed it on your website. Some examples include an infographic creator, a word count tool, a domain availability tool or even a baby name creator. If its useful enough then people will link to it and share it with other people. Just don’t make something tacky that serves no purpose.

Award hook

Make an award in your niche and publicize it. If you play in the baby care space then you might create an award like the “Top 100 Mommy Bloggers in the World” or the “Most Well Dressed Toddler in the United States.”

Giveaway hook

Create a giveaway and publicize it on social media platforms. For example, Scott Brand recently partnered up with Nascar to give away two $25,000 free bathroom upgrades, among other things. The lucky winner will also win a weekend pass to any 2015 Nascar race. How cool is that?

Statistics hook

Research is huge among marketers and people who love facts. Compile a list of statistics about your space and share it in the social media space and people will eat it up. If you have a picture with stats to accompany the post, you will get more shares and mileage.

Challenge hook

This is an extremely fun hook to use. Basically, create a challenge or a contest and combine it with the incentive hook to bake in a viral component. If the prize is big enough and the challenge is perceived to be easy then you might have a winner on your hands.

Audio hook

Record something for the mobile phone. People don’t listen to audio unless they are in transit and its usually on their phone.

Rumor hook

Apple is famous for these. How many times have you seen leaked photos or prototypes of the iPhone? Start a rumor in your niche by leaking photographs or concepts as a ghost writer. If you seed it in all the right places then it has the potential to drive viral traffic.

Location hook

Exotic travel companies are the most effective at this hook. How many times have you gotten emails or seen content with catch lines like these: “Where the Locals Eat in Paris” or “10 Restaurants Worth a Day in Europe.” The key is to use a geographic location in the hook’s headline as a play on the reader’s inner desires.

Combination hooks

This concept was coined by Todd Malicoat of Stuntdubl fame. Essentially, you can take each hook and combine them to create new forms of content. For example, if you combine an ego hook and a resource hook, you’ll get authoritative interviews.

  1. Picture + Humor = Memes
  2. Attack/Contrary + News = Editorials
  3. Resource + Incentive + Ego = Awards

What are some hooks you’ve seen in the wild or utilized for your own purposes? Let me know in the comments.