Build Links Like You’re Popular–and Get Popular

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Build LinksWe all remember what it is like to either watch the cool kid in school or even be the cool kid. You remember high school when the cool kid rolled up in their BMW, was surrounded by the most beautiful of ladies, and always threw the most talked about parties. Well, today, you are going to realize how emulating that kid (that you could have very possibly loathed) can be a great philosophy when it comes to building links and reputation on the Web.

So why do we want to be the cool kid?

Well, think about it a little bit, the cool kid has all of the assets. He has the car, the car gets him the girls, the girls fight over him, and even though a lot of people don’t like him, everybody talks about him. He is the star athlete who teachers let off the hook, and life is easy.

It takes work to get popular

Although it may not seem like it from time to time, it takes work to become a social phenomenon. While some people have the advantage, others have to work from the ground up to go from rags to riches. So to start, we need to look at the qualities of the cliché Homecoming King.

1) The Likability

Here’s where we stop talking about high school and start talking about links. Whether people like you because you are smart or good looking, people need a reason to like you. In order for people to like you, you need to possess a quality that makes you stand out from the crowd.

So what can we do to take this step? The first step in this process is to create great content. Don’t create copycat blog posts from irrelevant sources, or think that content means posting updates on news that those in your community find useless.

In order to create likable content, you need to study your competition and make sure the content you are providing builds upon industry knowledge and is presented in a manner that stands out from the crowd. Whether you are sharing internal data to create priceless information to the public, conducting an interview with an industry expert, or simply taking an existing post and making it better, do it with thought and creativity.

Mike King once told me in a brief conversation to make content that doesn’t exist yet, or emulate existing content and make it better. This can be a pretty simple rule to live by.

2) Communication and Social Skills

You may look cool, but you will never remain cool until you develop some communication skills. You need to be able to communicate with people from all walks of life. You also need to be able to manage relationships. Let’s look at outreach as an example.

Say you have a list of 100 prospects, and you are approaching all of them with a customizable template email. You are going to need to use that customization to reel them in. By knowing a little bit about your prospect ahead of time you can give yourself a good idea of how to approach them. Switch back to cool kid mode for a second:

  1. Should I tell this girl she is beautiful?
  2. Should I talk to this girl about art and music?
  3. Should I talk to this girl about our chemistry homework?

The answer lies in the person. If she is materialistic and egotistical, telling her she is beautiful should work quite well. If she is beautiful, but is always dressed down and has her headphones in, you may want to talk to her about art and music. You get the point.

I cannot state enough how important it is in link development to refine your outreach process and take the time to really get to know the people you are targeting. Remember, you should already have the attractive content so now you just need to show some patience and be personable.

3) Persistence and Sensibility

How far are you going to get if you give up after your first try? Persistence is a necessary trait if you are going to break through and build relationships that would have otherwise been unavailable.

In my lifetime, three of the best life opportunities I have been given are because I made sure to follow up and then to follow up again. Yes, sometimes people are going to be annoyed by your persistence, but you will never know unless you try.

Sensibility is a key trait as well. You need to be able to react to any response a person may have. Does the cool kid in school freeze when his ex-girlfriend pours a beer on his head? No! He raises his glass and builds excitement in the room.

Knowing how to act and react to different responses from your outreach efforts is key. Sometimes you may start with a response that sounds like a clear “no” but could be turned around in a few steps if you work hard and pay careful attention.


I know this might not be the most amazing comparison of all time, but gosh darn it, it’s true! Confidence, likability, communication, persistence, and other associated traits pay dues in your link building and outreach efforts. Remember that it all starts with content, which is your likability factor. What are you offering to your audience is key, then it is all about personality and flair.

Image Credit: Shutterstock / Dmitry Berkut

Jeff Bedford

Jeff Bedford

Analytics & Optimization Specialist at The New Group
Jeff Bedford is an Optimization & Analytics Specialist at The New Group, an integrated digital marketing agency in Portland, Oregon. A graduate of Indiana University,... Read Full Bio
Jeff Bedford
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  • Brittanie

    I’m glad you’re not here telling everyone that it is super easy to do this. It seems like that’s what everyone is saying, but it’s not, it takes a lot of work. I like your persistence point. There have been times when I get frustrated and want to change my plans because they are not working right away, but if I stick with it, it often works.

    • Jeff

      Hey Brittanie-

      I’m glad you appreciate my viewpoint. Link Building can easily be one of the most tedious and frustrating SEO practices there is, and it is more important than every to really keep your head up and not give up.

      Sometimes it can look attractive to give up, and I highly recommend trying to fight through that temptation when you can. I have even failed in the past being persistent, but I always enjoy the closure at the end of the process and that fact I know for sure what worked and what didn’t.

  • Sergey

    I would agree with the comment above and say that persistence is the key. But what also matters is knowing how to react to different responses. And this point might be even more important then persistence because you have time when you create content, I mean enough time. But when you answering someones’ comment under your post, and if it’s a challenging one, it requires you to really turn on your brain and creativity – that’s when you can show how cool of a kid are you.

  • Jeff


    Thanks for the comment my friend. Being able to react in the proper manner is a huge advantage to have as a link builder and a content creator as well.

    We saw a good example during the Super Bowl when Oreo reacted to the power outage with a creative web based image ad.

    • Sergey

      There are actually a couple of great examples like Walgreens promoting their candles and lights or even TIde. It’s just amazing how these brands having absolutely no straight connection to the Super Bowl are still taking as much advantage of it as possible. That is what I call a skill of keeping up with everything latest and being able to turn it the way that benefits your the most.

      • Jeff


        We may have just witnessed a major shift in how brands approach live events…

  • Guy

    Think like the cool kid, great tip to apply to my free t-shirt design site is one of the new cool kids on the block, hope others also think he is cool? he doesn’t have a lot of content, but alot of potential.. to inspire others..