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Where the Majority of Link Juice Is On The Web

by Jon Cooper
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Bear with me as I try and introduce this brand new concept.

Let’s be honest. We all like getting big, juicy links, but they’re far and hard to come by.

It’s also frustrating to see blogs like my own that gets linked to naturally from other blogs, because that’s extremely difficult to do (and if you aren’t frustrated, you should be!). But it’s not because I write great stuff, or my blog’s design, or anything else that we talk about often for that matter.

The reason my blog posts, and other blogs on the same subject for that matter, attract links is because the topic of my content appeals to the techie population that makes up the majority of webmasters and bloggers

Think about it. Why do you think my blog in 12-18 months of sparse writing can attract 10x more links than your well established, 5 year old home improvement website with outstanding content? Why do you think Ross talked about Hacker News as a goldmine at Linklove 2012?

There’s a huge, underlying concept that we’ve failed to come out and say. It’s the concept behind why insurance companies write content aimed at small businesses, why there can be so many “social media experts” online, why sites like Problogger will get more social interactions on their posts than yours, and why any half decent tech news site won’t have to struggle when it comes to links.

So, for those who don’t quite understand me too clearly: write content that in some way targets the same audience on the Web that is responsible for actually putting links up on websites.

That’s why any SEO blog can get a few links their way, because the majority of its readers have the potential to link to them from a website or blog of their own. The same goes for any other topic that’s Internet, IT, programming, social media, or blogging related (there are other topics, but those are the most notable).

This concept explains why your content that’s targeting plumbers attracts almost no links, because how many plumbers operate a half decent website on the side?

This concept explains why a crapographic on Twitter & Facebook will get more links than an above average infographic on the concrete or roofing business.

But now that you understand this topic, don’t get frustrated. Get excited, because there are way too many people who have yet to realize this.

So here’s a little cheat sheet type list to go down when you decide you’re going to invest in trying to create something that will attract a few links of its own:

  • Try and make it appeal to the techie/online population in some shape or form
  • Target a large, broad audience with it (i.e. try football, not water polo)
  • Make it as easy to understand as possible; if your potential linkers can’t understand it, they won’t link to it, so avoid fancy jargon (or help them understand it)

I know I just mentioned a few other things outside of this concept, but my main point is thus:

Kick ass content (in terms of attracting links) is nothing if you don’t target the right audience. 

So next time you invest some dough into link attraction, try to create something aimed at internet users, webmasters, or bloggers. These are the people that are going to link to you in volume.

Note: This concept goes far beyond just content, but you get the idea. I’ll give some highly specific strategies on this topic very soon, so stay tuned!.

I don’t like writing short posts, but your time is precious & I have nothing else notable to say. With that said, what do you think? Your comments are HIGHLY appreciated, and I do my best to respond to as many as possible (although I’ve been slacking lately; that will change ASAP!!).

Thanks for reading, and make sure you join my mailing list. Seriously. Something huge is about to happen in the next few weeks, and email subscribers are getting first dibs.

This post was written by...

Jon Cooper – who has written 119 posts on Point Blank SEO.

Jon Cooper+ is an SEO consultant based out of Gainesville, FL who specializes in link building. For more information on him and Point Blank SEO, visit the about page. Follow him on Twitter.

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62 Comments
  1. mj monaghan says:

    Great post, Jon. You bring up excellent points about links and getting to your audience.

    The comments added tremendously to your thoughts, as well.

    Gaz hit it perfectly: Right content + Right Audience = Links (and shares)

    And what I think you’re saying is you have to expand your audience or no one ever sees your content.

    Loving that I found your site through a “Danny Iny” search. Great interview with him back in January, BTW. I left a comment there for you.

  2. Anthony Pensabene says:

    Hey Jon, immediately I’m happy to see a good amount of conversation on the post and I celebrate your diligence in getting back to your readers..

    Secondly, I don’t know if camp is done, but if so, I hope it was epic (Bill Murray in Meatballs style- before your time, Jon :) – but I know you like Bill)

    Hmm.. I’m going to say being more engaged with the tech space is not a bad idea.. (if you write a sports blog but take interest in marketing blogs for instance…- I mean, it WOULD make sense for any brand to take interest in SEO bloggers…if anything, you may pick up something for your own brand)..

    I can’t I link out to as many non-industry sites, but, that’s because not as many non-space people engage with me.. If someone was to read my blog/engage me, I’m more likely to check them out… I may find a concept on their blog, not directly related to the space, but related to a marketing point I want to convey in some way.. then, I would be likely to link.. (moreso than randomly finding a post that may relate to the tech space)

    This is not practical for some brands, but is for others… even a guy/gal who does some ‘off work,’ engaging at nights, reading one or two tech bloggers per week, could start making notions toward making relations (and I guess linking too- but that’s never given :) , which is a good thing)

    • Jon Cooper says:

      Thanks Anthony! It was awesome; first time in a while I got the chance to disconnect.

      But yeah, I see what you’re saying. I guess all I can say in that regard is not to take it to an extreme – i.e. a sports blog talking about code or something like that. Rather, try and mix the two in some way so you can tap into both the sports community (your main audience) and the link-happy tech community. Finding a nice medium between the two for certain posts is the point I’m trying to make.

      Thanks for stopping by Anthony!! :D

  3. Sean Smith says:

    Hey Jon!

    Great post! Short and sweet.

    The idea of targeting webmasters and techies is a great universal rule of thumb, even offline they are the ones who will take the content online. From a purely viral standpoint anything that is going to be properly controversial is going to get traction, one way or another. Controversial link bait coupled with link bait that is targeted towards webmasters and techies has more chance than any other to go viral if done correctly.

    Great post man, looking forward to seeing your more in depth examples etc.

  4. I hadn’t realized this before, but it makes total sense! That’s probably why nerdfitness is so successful, lol.

  5. Alexander says:

    Hi Jon,

    Nice post! This reminded me a bit to the “linkerati” concept that Rand used to talk about 6 yrs ago http://www.seomoz.org/blog/identifying-the-linkerati, which basically advises to create good content for the people who generally can put links on the web (Bloggers, webmasters, etc).

    It’s quite interesting to me that some concepts that were mentioned back then still apply and work today.

    I’m looking forward for the specific strategies you come up with as a continuation on this topic :)

  6. Joe Robison says:

    I have an answer that might appeal to more people who don’t like the idea of crafting their content for a bunch of uber nerdy web masters and techy types.

    So we want to target the Linkerati, but they don’t have only an interest in technology and SEO. Humans are not one dimensional robots, all of these high volume linkers have interest in things other than the newest iPhone or tech IPOs.

    There are a lot of Linkerati that are also outdoor enthusiasts, DIYers, avid travelers, hipsters, photographers, design lovers, and foodies. Those are big interest areas that I’ve noticed that are not in the Star Wars and Linux servers spheres.

    So using the plumber example, I imagine if you spun your content to target DIYers, that would get shared a lot more because you’re targeting linkers with a DIY slant. Create an infographic/instructographic showing DIYers how to fix or upgrade simple plumbing things in their home. This also follows Jon’s advice of appealing to a large demographic (homeowners) as well.

    Rand Fishkin is a social media giant firing off Tweets all day and he has heavy influence in the SEO world, but he is also an avid traveler and a huge advocate for Oyster Hotels and Hipmunk for example.

    So when crafting content, and I’m just having this realization now, target the Linkerati but dig a little deeper and find out where their interests overlap outside of their tech world job that relates at least peripherally to your industry.

    This is half experience and half philosophizing so shoot any holes in this perspective you can!

    • Jon Cooper says:

      Joe, you just hit the nail on the head.

      I’ve actually done this a few times for clients but never put it in such a clear way before, and now it all makes sense. Really appreciate your 2 cents on this one :)

  7. Vince Lin says:

    In the style blog industry, linking is done mostly via images. In legal. it is SO competitive that webmasters have to do a lot of digging around for legal related sites, or even partner up with existing law firm sites. Depends on the industry.

    Heh. In the dating niche (PUALingo.com) everyone is in bed with one another on the SERPs, with all the top gurus talking to each other and exchanging link love. Sounds gay I know :)

  8. Great Post, I agree with you. Technie and webmasters spend most of their time online. I would consider them to be soft targets LOL

  9. Patrick says:

    Good stuff, John. Those who walk the fine line of keeping relevant while broadening their reach by good content marketing are quite creative and brilliant. They are the ones who really hit the “sweet spot” and are able to make things happen. And even if something isn’t totally relevant to a particular niche, I do think that it sticks in persons mind if it’s really catchy and their subconscious brings it up when its time for them to consider shopping for whatever you’re peddling. I mean – Yo Quiero Taco Bell, Obey Your Thirst, and Wasssssssup! The stuff you are marketing should be relevant at some point in time of the reader’s life, and if you are now part of the “contents of their head”, you’ll get a buy later down the line. What’s a dog got to do with Tacos, or some lizards or even horses to do with beer?

    • Jon Cooper says:

      Wow, I really like how you applied this to broader marketing Patrick, you’re spot on!

      I definitely agree with you when it comes to finding that sweet spot. It’s never black or white, rather a shade of grey somewhere in between.

      Thanks for the comment!

  10. Dustin Heap says:

    Nice post Jon. I was going to make the same point as several others that it’s not just techies who link. There are definitely other niches that link a lot as well. For the niches that don’t have people who link as much you just need to be creative and think like a marketer in order to get those natural links. It would be even better if G could objectively take this into consideration and weight links less in niches that are not so prone to high amounts of linking. Or maybe they already do and that is why on-page is so important. Maybe they do have some form of classification systems for different types of verticals and how much weight links matter in that niche based on how active that community is.

  11. Mac says:

    Your point is well taken. Its too true. And for that reason its gonna change. Its gotta change. At some point Google is going to hold its head with both hands and burst out laughing at what fools they have been. And at that point, a super penguin will swoop down and ravage any link-building for these industries. Instead, what is going is going to count is the signals the best plumbers actually have – maybe casual references in a google+ conversations, maybe the number of directories they are in, maybe the amount of advertising they do in the yellow pages. So long haul I wouldn’t bet on any flashy moves like making your plumbing business attractive to the SEO crowd.

  12. Eric Ward says:

    Hi Jon – great stuff here, and I agree with your overall thesis. There’s a subtle strategy change that has to happen though, if you’re doing active link outreach. One of the key questions I ask myself is “Who controls the page on which I want a link?” Sometimes it’s more than one person, and sometimes it’s not the same person/people that make the editorial decisions about the page content. Some smaller companies don’t touch their site’s html, they have a web hosting company that makes edits based on what they tell them, and, ironically, larger sites often have a maze-like gauntlet between the link seeker and the link granter. For me, link attraction tactics are active or passive, and at times, both. Keep up the great content! -Eric

    • Jon Cooper says:

      Thanks Eric for dropping by!

      You definitely just brought up a great point. Even sometimes for me, I’ve found that a webmaster might be able to control the page, but they’re not always the right person to pitch (they just want to fix things on the page, and don’t really care about putting up a link to someone new, especially if they don’t feel as if they have the authority to make that decision; this is the case with a lot of .edu’s). So, even if they control the page, I might go elsewhere to pitch someone else to make my point as to possibly why they should be linking to me. Then, I could do something like CCing the webmaster if that person agrees.

      Hope that makes sense. Cheers Eric! :)

  13. puya says:

    Another amazing blog post Jon. I had a client he specialized in process heating and getting links was just near impossible. Until I did an outreach to other similar SEO’s that were struggling with tough subjects and guess what? They were completely open to exchanging links with guest blogging.

    Just reach out to our own industry first, then branch out to other relevant and similar sites and you should be just fine.

  14. Donna Duncan says:

    Hi Jon,
    Great post as always! Kudos to Joe Robison too. I like his point about speaking to the Do-It-Yourselfers in your vertical. It gets at – if someone is reading your blog, most likely they have some problem they want solved. Figure that out and give them the answer. Visitors to a plumbing site might have a broken toilet, but equally important, they might have little money to spend or time to research solutions. My advice to social media clients is to always ask why people are calling on you; what problem are they trying to solve? You have to dig. It’s not always there on the surface, waiting to be picked up.

  15. Taut Web says:

    Amazing! Straight to the point… I love it and I do agree. Content quality matters, but niche does more… I have had little case study and analysis about kinds of content that attract many readers and the result is many people are now hungry for “techie” content. Nowadays, internet and technology (to be more specific: gadgets, computers, web 2.0 (esp social media), blogging, online marketing, online business, SEO, daily quick tips for technology application, and such) are the highest terms people are searching for. As of 2008/2009, in my country (ID), the rating for such content gets higher and higher. You need to be “techie” to know what they want, at least you have to learn to understand why they need such content and how to provide it to readers.
    Thanks, sorry for my poor English :)
    I have subscribed to your new updates and newsletters. Thanks for the great content.

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