How I Use Content for Link Building

by Jon Cooper

When most people think content for link building, they think “link attraction” (hands off link building that starts and ends with you hitting publish).

Even though that’s a strategy we all aim for (who doesn’t want links to build themselves?), that’s not how I use content for link building.

Here’s my process:

Find interest –> Create targeted content –> Smarter outreach

Essentially, I’m creating content for the purpose of better outreach. 

Here’s a quick, tangible example for revamping old content. My link building strategies post is nothing new; SEW’s post in 2002 (now updated) and Aaron Wall’s in 2006 were both on the same topic.

  1. Find interest – After checking the link profiles of both of those posts, I saw that there was a ton of people who showed interest in the form of links.
  2. Create targeted content – In this case, all I did was update the list, add to it, and overall make it 10x better.
  3. Smarter outreach – All the websites in those 2 link profiles showed interest in those posts by linking to it. When I then conducted outreach to them asking for a link, it was much more successful because I knew they’d be willing to link if the content was good enough.

Here’s another example, but with social. With a quick Topsy search, the most talked about thing in the garage doors industry is a recent story about the Navy reeking havoc on garage doors in Connecticut.

  1. Find interest – Who linked to that story? Who tweeted it? If there’s a lot of people doing both, then you’ve found a good deal of interest.
  2. Create targeted content – I could create an infographic (or video) on the science behind what happened in this particular case.
  3. Smarter outreach – I could then conduct outreach to those who linked to that post or any post on that story, as well as though who tweeted it. For those who tweeted, I could scrape a list of all the Twitter accounts, grab the URLs associated with their accounts, use the Moz API to grab their DA/PA, then sort & prioritize.

Now, it doesn’t have to be as big of a home run like those 2 above.

Here’s an example. Pat Flynn used to list other participators in his niche site challenge (he took down those links recently, but that’s not the point). I noticed this, so I did the challenge myself (it’s lame, I know; it was in my early days!).

I then got in touch with Pat, told him I did his challenge, asked him to list me with the other participators, then boom, I got links to each post in the challenge which also sent ~10 visitors a day.

In this case, the interest I found was just one prospect, but since the value was there and I was sure I could get the links, I went through with it.

The point of this post

I want to emphasize this once more. You can do so much more with content than just creating it and hoping that it will net you some links.

Instead, find tangible examples of people showing interest in your content BEFORE you create it, then once you have something awesome, conduct outreach asking them for a link. They’ve already showed they’ll link to it!

Understand that this strategy is based off hustle. You have to push yourself to continuously look for these content ideas, find them then actually ACT on them, and finally work your ass off to mine every opportunity it opens up that’s worth your time.

Thoughts? Leave them in the comments below.

Want more? Check out my link building course and follow me on Twitter .

This post was written by...

Jon Cooper – who has written 129 posts on Point Blank SEO.

Jon Cooper is a link builder based out of Gainesville, FL. For more information on him and Point Blank SEO, visit the about page. Follow him on Twitter @PointBlankSEO.

  1. Some good points there Jon!

    Another good strategy is to simply have the industry leading blogs in your industry on your RSS reader and then look at the social engagement of their posts. The posts that are getting the most Facebook, Tweets, Pins etc. are obviously the ones resonating with interest for the target market.

    Cheers for the post!

    BTW: How did you add the nifty littl

  2. Jon:

    Another thing you can do besides infographics, videos, etc. is create simple tools. For example, a carpet installer may discover that a lot of people want to know how to calculate how much carpet they need in their living room – and approximately how much it will cost. The carpet installer could have a simple tool created that would calculate square footage and average costs. Consumers love stuff like this and if the tool provides genuine value, tons of website will link to it!

    Travis Van Slooten

  3. Ryan Clark says:

    Another gem to get me thinking Jon! For my clients and my blogs I also like to try and think of what in the future is coming for a product or topic and “guess” what content will be needed on that topic and sit and wait…sometimes with an evil laugh 🙂

    • Jon Cooper says:

      I wouldn’t be surprised if you provide a ton of value that way, because if you can guess correctly and get some of that content out there early on, you’ll probably see a ton of buzz/links. Great idea Ryan!

      And thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment 😀

  4. Baptiste says:

    It’s a good strategy to dig into a niche and find what worked that can be replicated in a much better way. But the vast majority of SEO / site owner / agency will not be able to deliver this work, due to mediocrity in work or lasyness.

    Having a good idea to make a linkable content is already hard, making and promoting it is even harder to accomplish. May look easy when you write about it, but it’s hard for many people!

    • Jon Cooper says:


      it should really be the opposite. The idea here is to create content that’s proven to get links, meaning our outreach will be much more successful (thus the cost of time/resources per link lowers, which will make it easier in the long run) instead of just creating content and hoping it gets links.

      The only way it would be harder is if they weren’t creating any content prior to something like this; if that’s the case, then building any decent links isn’t very realistic.

  5. Marc says:

    Nice article Jon. Question: what tool/method are you using to scrape twitter users and their bio URLs?

  6. Ben Troy says:

    smart strategies, i also use content as marketing and link building, i prefer rewriting technique

    • Jon Cooper says:

      Rewriting can work, but you have to be adding value in some way – whether you’re compiling it all into one place, making it more readable/easier to understand, or whatever other way you can think of.

  7. Great that you always give fresh ideas and insights on great ways to obtain back links and more social reach.


  8. Derek Jansen says:

    As always, great insight Jon. I think that the two main points of failure when it comes to content marketing are (1) choosing a crappy concept (ie, not doing the research you’re suggesting) and (2) not marketing effectively. Its definitely not a “build it and they will come” scenario.

    • Jon Cooper says:

      Totally agree Derek. Not saying it’s easy to find the right content ideas/topics, but we could definitely do a better job. That’s why I think tools like Ontolo’s “Research Top-Linked Content” tool are so helpful because it separates content that gets buzz from those that get links (sometimes they line up as one in the same, but it shouldn’t be assumed).

      Thanks Derek for stopping by!

  9. Jason Nelson says:

    Real nice work here Jon. I like the way your work doesn’t stop once you hit the publish button on your site & social networks. Doing targeted out reach def. can bring a lot of added value to a piece.

  10. Thanks Jon for another good article. As a constant reader of your posts, I have learned a lot. Your strategies are great but I have a problem here. I am not good in writing although I have ideas about what I would like to write about. When it comes to putting it down on paper that is when I seem to hit the wall. I get stuck and could not go on or I mix things up. I wish I were a good writer, wished I had paid more attention during my school days to English which is not my native language.

    Not withstanding though, I will still put some of your strategies to practice as usual maybe just maybe I may succeed one day. Try and try again they say.

  11. First Jon nice post! Thing is that most people don’t have a strategy or process in mind. They just want to get some links. Don’t know how are why but just want a bunch of links point back to their site. Be helpful and solve peoples problems make the content entertaining. It doesn’t have to be the best content sometimes people link to articles that they really disagree with just to point out that they disagree. You want people talking about your post which usually leads to linking. Having great content is only good if people know about it and trust you.

  12. Thanks for the post Jon. I left a comment before but maybe you thought I was a spammer. The problem for most is that they think they can “just write content”. Maybe its the if I build it they will come issue. You have to have a strategy in place if you want to succeed in this or any other industry. Have a plan and valuable actionable content in my opinion is key.

  13. Awesome article. And thanks again for the course. Absolutely incredible. Highly recommend to anyone and everyone.

  14. Great stuff Jon. Before I write something, or before I hit “publish, ” I ask myself if what I’ve written is something I’d be proud tweeting out to someone in the industry or field–if if provides value, entertainment, etc. I recognize that I’m not just looking for a link, but I’m building up both a company and personal brand.

    I wouldn’t produce something I wouldn’t want to do outreach for because I wasn’t proud of it.

  15. Nadeem Khan says:

    On the contrary you can use networks like Techspy etc to both bring in traffic and incoming links.

    You just have to make an awesome post that can interest the audience of that network and then traffic and links would flow in easily !!!

  16. KSingh says:

    Content marketing is dfinitely the best way to build links and attract traffic these days. Old link building methods are dead and content promotion and other inbound marketing tactics are in.

  17. SammDavis says:

    The days of link building just for the sake of link building no longer exist. For the fix SEO strategy, link building with content is the best way forward. Thanks for sharing with me.

How I Use Content for Link Building - Point Blank SEO