The term Picture Bait was born on December 30th, 2006. It was coined by Michael Gray, aka Graywolf. Michael Gray has been a full-time SEO since October 2004. Before we discuss Picture Bait, it is important that you have an understanding of its predecessor Link Bait.
According to Wikipedia, Link Bait is “any content or feature within a web site that somehow baits viewers to place links to it from other web sites.” Link Bait, which was originally coined by Aaron Wall (the author of SEO Book), was one of the hottest search engine optimization topics of 2006. Link Bait is exemplified by popular sites like Digg, where the main objective is to craft a piece of content that reaches out to a wide variety of readers to the point that they are willing to give it their Digg (or vote of interest).
Now that you have a better understanding of the term Link Bait, we can take a look at the new concept of Picture Bait. Picture Bait follows the same concept as Link Bait, but instead of focusing on content, it focuses on using a picture to entice the reader to read more of the content. Graywolf uses the example of meme sites which give users the option to post a picture next to a link and description of their content. He theorizes that these pictures can be used to generate additional clicks.
In addition to this concept of Picture Bait, I believe the term applies to two other situations. The first of these situations are sites that use unique pictures as their primary form of content. The most notable example of this use of Picture Bait is http://www.hatbait.com, which was actually created before the term Picture Bait was coined.
I believe the last type of Picture Bait is the use of attractive women. Although this could be put into the previous two categories, I believe the use of attractive women as Picture Bait should be given its own category. This idea has been proven by several experiments, such as Jeremy Schoemaker’s (known in the search engine marketing world as “Shoemoney”) female avatar experiment on Digital Point. He showed that by using an attractive female as his avatar, he significantly increased the amount of interest in his blog and Digital Point profile.
Whether or not 2007 turns out to be the year of Picture Bait, it is important to understand how it can be used to increase traffic to web site or blog (along with proper image search engine optimization).