Podcast #1: Fail-Proof Content for Killer Link Building

by Jon Cooper

It’s been a little frustrating for me having to read the majority of SEO blogs lately – everyone’s talking vaguely about content.

“Want links? Create great content!”

But honestly, 95% of the type of content you’re being told to create does not guarantee links in any way; sure, we get reminded that “nothing is certain” and that we need to take risks, but you know what? Screw risk. Let’s take that out of the equation with our content when it comes to link building.

So I’m going to break down how some of the top most ranking sites are getting links as a result of fail-proof content; content created for the purpose of getting links, and as a result, arbitrage is no longer a piece of the puzzle. So without further adieu, here’s the first (and very cut & dry) edition of the Point Blank SEO podcast!



Below are links mentioned in the podcast, as well as the topic matter written out. I do not have ANY affiliation with the examples being mentioned.

The first example in the podcast deals with this article by MortgageLoan.com. It’s a home & loan mortgage/buyer’s guide for people with disabilities.

This is a perfect example of fail-proof content because they already identified multiple high authority pages on the Web linking out to various web resources on this topic (ex. 1 & 2); all they had to do was create content on the topic, conduct some outreach, and collect their winnings.

The key, however, to it being perfect is the fact that it found the sweet spot between authority & relevance; for example, that website creating content on chemistry might qualify for links from academic websites, but it’s not at all relevant. On the other hand, creating another loan/mortgage resource might be highly relevant content, but it doesn’t fit the mold of subject matter that you can easily conduct some outreach & get links to.

The second example in the podcast deals with this halloween costume retailer. They created fail-proof content on the following topics:

While this fail-proof content does fits the mold in terms of authority (there are plenty of university websites linking to content on the Byzantine Empire and the Renaissance), it’s not particularly relevant; sure, this content works and will continue to get the results they want, but they run the risk of creating irrelevant content, which won’t lead to the desired results (i.e. Google sees them as experts, but on a different topic).

The potential downfall of fail-proof content is two-fold; (1) webmasters catching on and seeing commercial sites creating a lot of mediocre content on topics they link out to, and (2) Google potentially not giving as much weight to those links ONLY IF the content is irrelevant enough (people gaming solely for authority).

One last example I didn’t mention in the podcast

Being that it was my first podcast, I knew I’d forget something. What I forgot was this example that articulates a VERY important rule of thumb when creating fail-proof content. Here’s the link:


At first glance, this section of their website looks like garbage, but in reality, it’s genius. To understand why, compare this with one of their product or category pages; on one side, you’ve got commercial intent everywhere (they’re trying to sell you products), and on the other hand, you’ve got a very simple page template with just text.

Notice that there’s no commercial intent on this section of their site; they use it when pitching for links, because they don’t want people to not link as a result of them being a business. They know this because they look at what they’re already linking to (most university resource pages with hundreds of links look like text was slapped on to an ugly HTML template), and that’s the key; just see what high authority sites are linking to (both topic matter and page layout) and replicate that.

My link building course

As mentioned in the podcast, here’s a link to my link building course.

Main takeaway

The main takeaway of fail-proof content is that the equation “targeted content + targeted outreach” is what makes up a highly successful manual link building campaign (again, not talking about “viral content marketing”, because it’s not a sure thing). Also, this type of link building should compliment your overall strategy; it shouldn’t BE your strategy.

Thoughts? Takeaways? Extremely upset because I used real examples of sites, and possibly gave away their secret sauce? I’d love to here them in the comments below. Make sure you follow me on Twitter @PointBlankSEO.

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.

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  1. Mikael Rieck says:

    Hey Jon,

    Any way to download the file. I want to listen to it while on the go.


  2. Jamie Knop says:

    First off I think the pod cast is great and you should certainly do more! Secondly http://www.mortgageloan.com/disabilities/ is a true example of how link building should be done, the links they are getting to that guide are gold. It looks to me as if this was a big broken link building campaign. If not prospecting all them sites would have taken some time….. but who cares it paid off!

  3. Billy Murphy says:

    Great tip on the video transcriptions Jon

  4. Looking forward to listen to it. Will the podcast be available through iTunes, or can I download it somewhere?


  5. Hello Jon,
    Thanks for the post/podcast. I really appreciated it. Good stuff. Hey can I ask you something!? Do you do this sort of stuff for clients? Meaning: would you be able to tell me: hey Davide give me $1K and I will worry about link building for you. I see you have a course going on but don’t have time.
    You have to understand I am the only content creator at Writeca.com and really don’t have much time to do anything else.

    I hope you understand my meaning.

    If you wish you answer, you can use info@writeca.com if you prefer.

    Again, well done. I shared your post on all my networks.


    Thanks Jon

    • Jon Cooper says:

      Thanks Davide! Unfortunately my time is limited and there are a few who have bigger budgets, so unfortunately I can’t offer this to you 🙁

  6. Cady Haren says:

    That last example that you mentioned of http://www.1800wheelchair.com/news/ literally blew me away. Hadn’t thought on those lines.

    It shows that you dont always have to follow what the experts or the industry is saying. They themselves have experimented and maybe failed many times before reaching those conclusions. Our field is one where testing and being open about new techniques is very important.

    I agree Jon, you gave away their secret sauce 🙂

  7. Adam says:

    Hey Jon,

    Great post and congrats on the first podcast!
    Would be insterested in know your process for finding the examples you found above. (They are so varied and so i wonder how long it took you to find them) 😉

  8. Amber says:

    Hey Jon,

    As I am writing my tesis on external link building I find this podcast and your information in general suuuper helpful and it always hits the right answer to my questions. So thanks!

    Another thing, like some have already asked, is there somewhere I can download this file.. in case this will be deleted and I can’t listen to it anymore? Also, do you have some kind of transcript of the podcast, that would be really helpful for some citations or references..

    Keep up the good work!

  9. David says:

    It all sounds good sense and an extension of the idea of writing about things that people want to read.

    Suppose I am writing about subject ‘x’.

    How would I go about finding sites that rank well and are relevant to subject ‘x’ in the sense that they are likely to want to link to content about subject ‘x’ ?

    That seems to me to be a lateral thinking kind of search that I have to do personally, but perhaps there are tools that ease the process along?

    How would I go about finding out what the sites that I would like relevant links from actually link out to at the moment?

    • Jon Cooper says:

      As I mentioned in a comment above, I’d be practically holding your hand when it comes to finding these topics. You just have to use a little thinking. Just expand your niche’s keywords (i.e. instead of searching “real estate web resources”, search “business web resources” or “economics web resources”). It just takes a little time of searching, and nothing more.

  10. Marie Haynes says:

    Hey Jon!

    This was pure gold. I am not normally a fan of podcasts but I’m glad you took the time to record this. (You sounded great btw.)

    My question is the same as a few others have written. I was wondering if you could share with us the process that you use to find these .edu’s that will willingly link out. I am building links for a real estate site and I have found that all of the government resource pages I can find only seem to link out to established organizations and would not link out to an individual realtor’s site.

    I love the idea you gave in the text below the podcast where the wheelchair site had a page that was stripped of commercial content which in turn helped to attract links. I’m going to use that.

    Thanks for doing this!


  11. Adam says:

    Hi Jon,
    I agree, it would be great if you could put the file up so people could download while listening on the go. Although, making people listen on your site sure helps time on site 🙂

  12. Gina Jennings says:

    That pretty much sums up what I’ve been thinking. The more more tightly targeted your content is to the person’s page, the better.

  13. Adam says:

    Just thought you should know… your email mentioning this podcast has a link to a site that measures how spammy your site is. Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like it scores many sites very well. Yours didnt score that great either, it says “You should get rid of this link. This page has been naughty.” Ouch!! My guess is, this tool is pretty useless. Just an FYI

    • Jon Cooper says:

      Agreed it’s useless for now, but Ian Lurie the guy who created it probably won’t let it be in that state for the time being – I’m guessing there will be drastic improvements coming in the near future. Again – just worth keeping your eye on.

  14. Joel K says:

    Jon – well done on your first podcast, buddy. Needs a theme song and some sweet old radio noises.

    But does it not feel just a little bit cheesy/out of character for a costume shop to be creating content about the Byzantine Empire? Yeah, people will link to this, but this does absolutely NOTHING to directly drive a sale or build out the Costume Super Center brand. I guess there’s obviously a case to be made for creating resources outside your nice for the sake of trolling for links, but this just feels.. awkward.

    Am I really going to cite a costume shop when I’m doing a research paper on the Empire? Just feels wrong.


  15. Joel K says:

    I mean, I guess you can’t argue with results (Links from Cornell.edu, NHD.org, NationalHistoryDay.com, historyday.org) – I’d just be hesitant to tell my clients to build something this unrelated to their primary offering before considering other options that accomplish the dual function of building their brand AND garnering links.

    Should we really be rewarding, say, a scaffolding website that builds info pages about the Fall of Rome? Even if Rome had really awesome plumbing?

    This works as a tactic – we can advise it as such. Like I said, the results stand for themselves. I just sort of think time might be better invested into creating content a little more on-brand. Again, your thoughts? Should everyday companies do more things like this, solely for the link value?

    • Jon Cooper says:

      I absolutely 100% agree – I used them as an example that hit the nail on the head with authority, but did a poor job on relevancy, which might cost them.

      Overall I think we’re on the same page :). You just hashed out the details of why exactly it’s irrelevant and potentially costly.

  16. Joel K says:

    Yeah – listening back, I can hear we’re more aligned than I might have assumed. I can just see people kind of glazing over at the opportunity for a big sexy .edu link and forgetting that they’re pretty much just contributing to the awkward “baby wearing adult clothes” feel of the “content marketing” that’s happening out there.

  17. Alex Koontz says:

    Seems like this could work great for certain silos of semi related information, like in the first and last examples. The second example though is where I see some potential problems. The content they published has nothing to do with their business or industry, its not even semi-related (unless they sell Sherlock Holmes costumes). In this case I am surprised about two things. First that sites will still link to this content with that flashy Costume Store Banner across the top. Second, I am surprised they are having it on their site, putting their brand on it etc. when it has nothing to do with their business. I know it would be impossible for me to pitch that to some of our clients. Also, there didnt seem to be any direct nav to those pages, meaning their entire purpose are to gain links (which is fine) but this just seems, in this type of case, to be something Google will identify in the future as not cool. I LOVE the idea. It’s creative, and in certain cases can really have a big impact. I just dont see it as a standalone link building strategy applicable to all types of clients and businesses. But hey, maybe I’m just not thinking creatively enough…

  18. Gaz Copeland says:

    Hey Jon,

    Great podcast, keep them up. One thing to help scale this tactic would be screaming frog. If you want to pull down all the external links for your local university has already it’ll do that for you in seconds. Drop into excel and see what they like.


    • Jon Cooper says:

      Wow, so that tip is awesome – I might do a follow up post analyzing some top linking sites about exactly this. Thanks amigo!!

      • Gaz Copeland says:

        No problem Jon, always finding new uses for Screaming Frog and it’s perfect for scaling this. Let me know if you don’t do a follow up, I might do one myself in that case. If you do, you know where to send the link, right? 😉

  19. Thanks for the post, Jon.

    It’s my understanding that you’re over-optimizing for your brand name as anchor text. Is that really possible? Not that I’m having a similar situation, but I’ve never heard about such an issue. 🙂 What makes you think it can be a problem for you?

    • Jon Cooper says:

      I think it might be an issue just because there’s so many branded anchors (IMO should be more wide spread & diverse), but who knows? I’ve never seen any repercussions of this.

  20. Ad says:

    Thanks Gaz just what i was looking for. @jon Please do follow up with that post, would be reet useful.

  21. Robert Braun says:

    Sorry to sound persnickety, but one of your posts suggests correcting grammar in exchange for a link.

    It’s not “without further adieu,” it’s “further ado.” (Shakespeare)
    It’s not “compliment your overall strategy,” it’s “complement.”

  22. Robert Braun says:

    Great strategy, but you leave out leave out the key question: how do you find the high authority sites that are linking to relevant topics?

  23. Adam Rowles says:

    Great tips.

    I’m currently reviewing my content strategy and believe it is going to become even more important in the NEAR future to focus on quality viral content.

    Many SEO agencies play the quantity game, which may initially work for their clients, however in the long term the value of these links disappear and possible affect their linking profile.

    Can you to write an article on your content creation process?

    • Jon Cooper says:

      Thanks Adam!

      But sorry, you’ll never see a post from me on content creation; there are a gazillion posts on this topic created daily, don’t want to add to that noise.

  24. Thankfulness to my father who stated to me on the topic of
    this blog, this website is in fact amazing.

  25. What did you use to create the podcast?

  26. Hurrah, that’s what I was looking for, what a stuff! existing here at this weblog, thanks admin of this web page.

  27. Thoufeeq says:

    This is quite a golden nugget of wisdom… The examples say it all.

    Thanks Jon

Podcast #1: Fail-Proof Content for Killer Link Building - Point Blank SEO