Do You Have “Linkable Content”?

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You know the great thing about Antiques Roadshow? Aside from finding out that grandma’s ugly ceramic cat collection can actually bankroll a Caribbean cruise. It’s the idea that maybe; just maybe somewhere in our lives there are things that, with a little bit of lemon pledge and a new coat of paint, could actually become highly valuable.

The same thing might be true of your website.

The idea of creating great content for links isn’t new; Eric Ward was defining linkable content 8 years ago. More recently, Garrett French made a killer blue print for how to conceive, create and promote linkable content. Moreover, on Search Engine Journal, Loren Baker has educated readers on the importance of building natural links to interesting and relevant content & Ann Smarty has written about attracting links with HOW TO content.

So why are there so many sites that still aren’t buying in?

Maybe the idea of creating a library or searchable database is too daunting? Maybe in-depth research coupled with the time and effort required to create and market great content just seems like too much work. But unless a site features a billion-dollar brand name, funny pictures of cats or the contents of Lindsey’s Lohan’s trash, people probably aren’t throwing links at it.  So what’s a small commercial site to do?

I say, grab a dust rag, head into the basement and see what you already have that, with a few creative modifications, can be turned into something brand new.

1. Product Pages

Most product pages are not particularly linkable. They have prices, specs, not a lot of content and are often buried on dynamic URL’s somewhere in the bowels of a website. But a product page can actually be made into a link magnet.

It helps to have a product which is truly unique, new, funny, dirt cheap or flat-out phenomenal. Take Baconsalt’s Bacon flavored envelopes a totally random but amusing concept. And the product page has picked up about 65 backlinks. Not too shabby, for paper that tastes like processed pork.

Quick Fix:

The best way to make product pages more linkable is to pick 1 or 2 products at a time and focus on those.  If your products are usually presented on dynamic URL’s create new static pages with unique content for promoting your “featured products”. This will help you pass the most link power and avoid canonical issues.

The next step is to tell people about it. Yeah, you could use a press release or an email blast, but blanket communication tends to get ignored and the attention from a press release will likely be marginal at best. You’re better off talking to people on a one to one basis. With a focus on only a couple of products you can spend more time finding people who have written about or linked to similar items. Contact bloggers in your niche, who you genuinely believe would take interest in what you are offering. This doesn’t translate to paying for a blog review or going on a comment spamming spree. This is about research and trying to appeal to people as human beings.  Sure, that takes time but then, all good link building does.

2. About Us/ Company News

Unless you’re McDonalds and your company news is that you’ve merged with GM to build a car that runs on special sauce, people probably don’t care. If you have a company blog which is filled with internal news about products, policies or staff changes is it any wonder there are no comments? It’s not exactly what you’d call engaging. And if your “About Us” page reads like the offspring of your resume and your sales guy there’s not much chance anyone wants to link to that either.

Quick Fix:

Company news which actually impacts people outside the company can definitely be linkable. For example, acts of charity matter to the people who benefit from them. Contests can matter to the people who are eligible for them. Company Awards are also a viable option. (Not your company’s many accolades though; no one really cares about those, at least not link-wise). However people may care what awards you’re giving out… see the difference? Try giving recognition to websites within your industry for their efforts, not competitors if you can avoid it, but quality blogs, hobby sites or informational networks. It doesn’t hurt if “recognition” comes in the form of a badge with a back link to you. If you’ve been thinking about getting involved in charitable work as a company, why not find a charity that has a worthy cause and a website where they acknowledge benefactors?

Also, think about your company’s evolution…not the glossy plastic rhetoric, your real story. If you have a company profile which is a tale of triumph in adversity, then tell it! If your CEO was once homeless, that’s loaded with human interest. Sure professionalism is important, but never underestimate the power of heartwarming narrative or the number of people who might be interested in a true-life success story.

Ok, so not everyone is lucky enough to have a company history that’s as inspiring as “Rudy”. You don’t have to. A company careers page can be linkable too, but not if it simply talks about how great it is to work for you. Don’t let it be enough just to post want ads on your careers page either, take the time to get the word out. Use static URLs to publish job openings and maintain a list of blogs, job sites or social media networks to alert when you have a position available. A lot of people are looking for work right now, and those who have jobs usually want to help their unemployed friends re-discover a regular paycheck. People looking to help others will often be willing to publicize (aka link to) a decent job opportunity.

Oh, and if a job notice does acquire back links, don’t just take the page down when the job is no longer available, 301-redirect that bad boy back to your main careers page. (This also goes for product pages that go out of stock or become otherwise become unavailable.)

3. Links Pages

I’ve seen links pages by a lot of names, in a lot of formats, and very rarely are they anything that could be considered linkable. And when a list of random links does have back links, they’re usually reciprocal from the websites listed on the page.  In fact, if you have the Ellis Island of links pages, welcoming any link that needs refuge, you might actually be doing damage to your site’s neighborhood and contextual relevance.

Quick Fix:

A links page which is a well-researched and well thought out is absolutely linkable. A solid collection of resources is valuable on numerous levels, and can potentially acquire natural links on its own even after a promotional push. For instance, a travel site which links to every country’s customs policies, is offering users a compilation of practical information that might also be worth a link from hundreds of sites offering travel info or advice. Truth is you could already have the beginning of a real resource it may just need a little re-organization, and some spring cleaning. Well, empty the closet. Throw out the garbage, put the good stuff into some semblance of an order, fill in the gaps of what’s missing, and suddenly, you have something useful and linkable.

4. Articles/ Sales Pitches

First, the ground rules, do you have articles or sales pitches? Be honest, does everything with more than 300 words on your site have some plug about how awesome you are? Sorry, but if that’s the case, only your mom would find that link-worthy. If you have created article content that exists purely for educational, reference or entertainment purposes that’s great! You have content, but if you’ve never actively promoted it, then it’s still one step away from linkable. What separates good content from “linkable” content is the same as what separates the single from the “datable”. It must be on the market, accessible and actively seeking attention and new opportunities.

Quick Fix:

If you’ve invested the time into writing articles about your industry, then they deserve to be shared. Do a little bit of reading in your niche, are there others with the same content you have? Do you offer something new to the conversation? If not, you may not have to re-write everything; perhaps all it takes is adding a different perspective, or an analogy which makes a highly technical subject more accessible to laymen. Then, like any other form of linkable content, take your work to the streets. Well, the cyber-streets any way.

So at the end of all this, while it still may be tough to make people feel warm and fuzzy about linking to your home page the good news is you probably have more to work with on your site than you think.  The bad news is a quality content marketing campaign is going to take time; there are no short cuts there. Promoting content will often mean writing to people one at a time, showing a real genuine interest in others, and building human connections even from behind a cold hard screen.  But if you know how to work what you’ve got, then even with limited resources it’s possible to turn an old dusty armoire into a show piece. Or at least something worth building links to.

What are your ideas for updating standard content to make it more linkable?

Jennifer Van Iderstyne is the Online Marketing Director for Search Slingshot, an internet marketing company specializing in SEO reporting and consulting based in Albany, NY. Jen can be found on twitter at

Jennifer Van Iderstyne

Jennifer Van Iderstyne

Jennifer Van Iderstyne is an SEO Specialist at Internet Marketing Ninjas, formerly WeBuildPages. Internet Marketing Ninjas is a full service internet marketing company based out... Read Full Bio
Jennifer Van Iderstyne

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  • Nice job! I had never thought about doing a 301 on old job posts. I was always in the mindset of getting that “old” information off the web, I forgot about using the cred it had built up. Thanks!

  • I particularly believe in writing articles that help people tackle issues they have in their businesses. This will be linked, tweeted, recommended by many to many others.

    As a matter of fact, once such an article is picked by a well-known site and referred to in a post or article published by them, chances are more links could be made back to your linkable content.

    • Hay WPB:

      Absolutely, great point and I completely agree. But for small businesses, with limited resources “content creation” can be a scary concept. And for those that do have articles, they stand a much better chance of getting picked up with active promotion. 🙂

  • This is a very interesting article, a lot of content really is crap nowadays on the internet and it’s hard to find good resources. I know that on my blogs I always provide good content, I don’t want to spoil my readerbase!

  • Jennifer,

    These are all great techniques. Each method shows what it really means to create fresh, quality content with things that would otherwise not be considered. I especially like the way you suggest to focus on one or two products at a time, and creating the static pages for them – that’s a technique I have helped clients with in the past to great success.

  • Thanks for the shout and link love Jennifer. That article from 8 years ago remains my most popular, and resonates more today than ever. What’s always been challenging is getting the client/content owner to look at his/her site through unbiased glasses. Content is not linkable just because you think it is, or becasue you spent a zillion dollars on it, or are a famous brand site, or a nobody. And the link seeking tactics being used for unworthy content has done nothing but create a big spammy mess. Sometimes the best advice a person could hear is “shut your site down”.

    Conversely, some sites are a goldmine of linkable content and don’t see it or know what to do with it.

    It’s in the knowing. Is, was, will be.


  • Alan: I believe in recycling, especially when it comes to pages with back links 🙂

    Eric: Glad to give credit where it’s due. You knew even then that Content would make or break a site. It’s amazing how a lack of objectivity can be the downfall of a website, or a business for that matter. Thanks for the input.

  • Nice article. But I think using blockquote for the Quick Fixes might not have been a good move. Italics are not as easy to read as normal text.

  • great article. links spread the word and equals success

  • Nice Article. I’m not sure if I agree with your comment about Not Having About Us page. Even if your business may not be McDonald but you still need about us page to define who you are as a business in industry.

    How many times have you tried to buy something from a site and questioned yourself again, is this site reliable? let me check about us to see who operates it and such.

    How do you describe your online business? Words have an incredible impact on perception. For instance if you use the word ‘heritage’ that could mean quality, integrity and legacy or it could just mean old. The word ‘innovative’ could mean strong enough to challenge the status quo or it could mean you are fishing for a new strategy with no clear idea of what you’re doing.

    The words we use in sections like ‘about us’ on our websites really do mean something. If you simply slapped a few words together (or worse yet put a statement saying ‘under construction’) and put it on your website in order to have something on that page I might suggest revisiting the page and taking some time to recraft the information to your advantage.

  • Great article for people looking to really make money online! Creating a website that others will choose to link to is the best determinant to use to gauge the potential long term success of a site.

  • i am a firm believer that having unique content means you have linkable content. even if it’s to a very small niche, the internet is big enough that someone will find the unique content interesting and worthy of being linked to. i have just started a cleaning blog, and although we are yet to have a link back, i think that everything is written by myself and i find it interesintg, that others will and hopefully the links will start rushing in.