Want My Link? Learn to Carry a Fishbowl Between Your Legs

Below is a guest post from my good friend Chris Gilchrist who runs an SEO and Web development agency in Dundee, Scotland. He is one of the co-founders of Link Club a Link Building community and monthly newsletter.

Want more links and a higher response rate from your outreach?

Are you prepared to carry a fishbowl between your legs anytime you’re out in public?

A little background

You probably already know that when you meet someone for the first time you make your mind up about them in the first 7 seconds.

Not in 7 minutes. Which is enough time to convince them you’re nice. 7 seconds.

We meet. 1…2…3…4…5…6…7 seconds. That’s it. Time’s up.

My mind’s made up if I like you and trust you enough to believe or even listen to what’s going to come out your mouth next time you open it. Possibly even forever more.

Back in my first job when I sold Gas & Electricity door to door for a local electricity company I took great care to make sure that 7 seconds counted.

No one likes sales people. No one likes people knocking on their doors. Uninvited. Especially at dinner time. After a long day at work. It can bring out the worst in some people.

Which is why we dressed in the same outfits as the meter readers, because who hates the humble meter reader?

For me this meant more than just wearing the same jumper, trousers and jacket.


It meant scuffing my brand new shoes. Wearing a meter key and tools on a chain.

I probably looked more like a meter reader than half the meter readers did. And it worked. Very very well.  around my neck. Having my tie poorly tied and slightly squint. A cheap bic pen behind my ear rather than a favourite expensive one. A pair of trousers just slightly on the short side. I didn’t look up from my notes when I first talked to them, because I wasn’t caring about a sale. I was just a bored meter reader letting them know about some savings they could make on their Gas and Electric. And I certainly wasn’t interested in commission so there was no excitement in my voice.

So the good news is you can influence people very quickly with a first impression.

But here’s the bad news.

Whilst it takes someone 7 seconds to judge you, it takes them just 50ms to judge your entire homepage.

So how long do you think it takes them to judge your short and to the point outreach email? Continue reading

Build Links and Get More Traffic like Derek Halpern


How’d you like to learn great ways to promote your content that get you high quality links and even more traffic?

You’ve heard of Derek Halpern, right?

Derek is the guy behind the popular marketing blog Social Triggers; he is known for writing up psychological research and business case studies to help bloggers and businesses make more money online.

I’ve been reading his blog on and off for about the past 18 months and I’ve found a wealth of great tips and ideas on his site that have given me more insight into the way people think and therefore the best ways I can persuade them to link to my projects.

In this post I’ve curated a list of some of my favourite posts that I think will be of interest to you whether you’re either creating content or contacting people to promote your content; which will hopefully give you an extra little edge over others.


Create an Information Gap

If you want to write an email or a piece of content that draws people in straight away then you need to make the most of curiosity.

The first line of this blog post is just another way for me to generate an information gap to draw you in and read more!

How’d you like to learn great ways to promote your content that get you more links and more traffic?

I just followed Derek’s formula:

[New, Cool, and/or Hopefully Remarkable Thing] [Desirable Outcome][Curious Reader / Viewer]


Quite simply, curiosity, as defined by Loewenstein, is an innate human behavior that’s triggered when people feel there is a gap between what they know and what they want to know. (source).


TL:DR  when you create a gap between what people know, and what people want to know, they feel compelled to fill that gap.


How to email Influencers

You don’t need me to tell you that the key to a great content promotion campaign is getting your content in front of influential people in your niche. Preferably these people will have the ability to spread the content for you online.

  1. Avoid long emails – people are too busy
  2. Create an Information Gap

If you visit this blog post there is some free template emails you can download which Derek personally uses when he is emailing people to share his content or if he wants them to feature on his podcast.


The Drafting Technique

This is the method that Derek Halpern recommends to get press in major newspapers and big blogs.

The name of the technique comes from the cycling term “drafting”, whereby the lead cyclist breaks the wind resistance and the riders following behind can travel at the same speed as the lead rider whilst expending less effort. Some people refer to it as slipstreaming.

There are three simple steps for using “The Drafting Technique.”

Step 1: What will you promote

Step 2: Who is interested in it

Step 3: Persuade them to feature you

TL;DR make the most of trends in your industry to help journalists and bloggers create unique content that features you or your client.


Thinking or Feeling?

In the video below Derek discusses which is more persuasive, I THINK or I FEEL?

You probably don’t THINK this is a big deal but once you watch the video below I THINK you will FEEL differently about the way in which you use these two words in your emails, blog posts or conversations with the people you work with.


The Power of Persuasion

A few days ago I finally got around to publishing my post on psychology and link building. While I was researching and writing that post Derek published a great article on the power of persuasion.

In the post he highlights a theory proposed by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner in Freakonomics.

In it, they say there are just three types of incentive:

  1. Economic incentives – financial gains
  2. Social incentives – looking good in the eyes of others
  3. Moral incentives – doing the greater good

Apparently, when you want to contact someone that you don’t know, with hopes of persuading them to link to you then you should appeal to one (or all) of the three incentives.

There are some great email templates in this post if you want to learn more.

TL;DR  the secret to getting people to do something for you is providing an incentive for them to do it.


How do you think you could implement these tips in your content promotion strategy? Leave a comment. And, if you are already using your own versions of these techniques then please share them too.


PS don’t forget if you’re new here, then sign up to my RSS feed to discover more ways to build links and improve your online presence.

How To Be More Persuasive – Psychology 101 for Link Builders

Over the past few years I have spent an increasing amount of time learning about different psychology theories to enhance the results of my work.

As a link builder it is your role to deliver your content to the communities who are most likely to consume and link to it. To gain an upper hand and get the attention of people who are being pitched to dozens, if not hundreds of times per day, it will often come down to how well you understand your link prospects motivations and mindset.

In this post I hope to give you an overview of a number of theories I have used in the past couple of years in helping me to convert my outreach efforts into links.

Speak their Language

A very powerful way of establishing rapport with someone else is to adopt the language style of their preferred representational system.

Our preferred representational systems are our points of contact with the outside world i.e. our five senses. Every one of us has a mixture of all four representational systems but we all have one that we prefer and operate in most of the time.

When we take the time to learn to recognise other people’s preferred representational styles we can relate better to them by adapting our style to theirs.

Auditory: people with an auditory preference are great story tellers and love to talk. Ultimately they want to have fun and attend “fun” events. They are big picture orientated so don’t require the details so consider picking up the phone and having a chat.

Auditory Digital: individuals with an auditory digital preference are very detail orientated perfectionists, preferring order over chaos and their personal space. When you write an email to them be specific, prepared and precise &offer them plenty of links and references for further research such as charts and data.

Visual: people with a visual style are driven and very businesslike. They don’t want the detail and need the big picture so make sure your communications with these types of people are brief and to the point. These types of people prefer visualisations (infographics and photos) and very much love to win; so think about blogging competitions and ego bait to get this particular groups attention.

Kinaesthetic: individuals who have a kinaesthetic preference are doers and want to take action. These types of people enjoy getting out and interacting so why not arrange a meet-up with other webmasters in their location, pick up the phone, invite them for a coffee or host a webinar.

Optimal Distinctiveness Theory

Optimal Distinctiveness Theory is a social psychology theory which states that individuals work to achieve a balance of integration and uniqueness within social groups and situations. When people feel similar to others, they seek out some way to be different.

When they feel different, they try to be more similar. The Optimal Distinctiveness Theory suggests that individuals are constantly making adjustments to maintain equilibrium between the need to be similar and the need to be different.

This is a great theory that a link builder should be aware of in crafting an outreach campaign. It is human nature for individuals to want to differentiate themselves from a group, but simultaneously wish to maintain a certain similarity with a group.

As a link builder you can design your campaign so that it speaks to these two opposing motivators in a clever way, appealing to a person’s need to be different, by showing them a new angle or offering an exclusive, such as an interview with a senior member of staff.

Yet at the same time, your campaign will need to promote the fact that a person will be seen as keeping up with popular behaviour, because by featuring your content they will be seen to fit in to the trend of the other websites in their niche.

So how does this work in reality?
 “Hi [First Name],

I just read your article on [blog topic] and I would love the opportunity to write more about the subject for your blog.

As you know [blog topic] is pretty hot right now and I have recently written some very popular posts on the subject at [list of websites in their niche], and I notice very few people are writing about [proposed blog topic].

Let me know if it is of interest to you and I will send across a draft in the next few days,



Appeal to their Ego

We all have an ego and most of us don’t mind when our ego is massaged from time to time

Egobait is an incredibly simple and effective marketing tactic to get your head around and is a very good way to get onto the radar of a thought leader in your niche:

  1. Curate a best of post or Top 10 list
  2. Create a badge or award
  3. Mention Influencers in your blog posts (link out)

If you want to learn more about creating Egobait then I recommend this post by James Agate, this post from Anthony D Nelson and there is a great round up from Steve Morgan on Communitybait where you egobait a larger group of people, rather than just focusing on a few individuals.

Create an Information Gap

Most experts think they know a lot about their subject matter area and by creating a need based desire you create an itch that only you can scratch.

In the competitive and ego-driven mindset that most of us have developed we pick up on details and drive wedges between ourselves and others in order to have a clear and distinct position.

Dr. George Lowenstien wrote a paper about Information Gap Theory in 1994 and it works like this:

When we come across something new that is not explained by our previous knowledge or experiences, an information gap is formed, and we have a desire to find the answer. 

This is marketing 101 and yet very few people utilise this in their outreach efforts. I have given an example of this type of email before, but just in case you missed it, here is another:
Hi [First Name],

I came across some research that shows (insert the conclusion of the research)

If you would like me to send across more information about the research let me know, and I’ll happily email it across.

Many Thanks,



This is a great link building tactic I like to use a lot as it means they are asking me for the link to my client’s content and therefore I am not sending the stereotypical outreach email.

Prospect Theory

Prospect theory was developed by Kahneman and Tversky to explain how we make decisions, particularly in the face of risk. It is one of the most direct and strong applications of psychology to business because of the solid research basis.

Continue reading

Setting Up a Write for Us page for Fun and Profit

guest-blog-funAs some of the more observant amongst you may have noticed I have a page inviting guest posters for my site. I have to admit I am very picky about who I do allow to post on my site and to be honest I never accept posts from people I don’t already know from Twitter or Inbound.org for example.

Every day I must receive at least five guest blog requests from dubious guest blogging providers with pitches such as:

“…We may be able to offer you some free of charge content for your website, in return for a link back to our site. We have a dedicated team of professional writers. We can have them (at our expense) research and write some content specifically for you to publish on your web site…”

I don’t need to tell you how bad that pitch is; it screams I’m only here to get the link mate, and we all know that guest blogging is about the relationships not the links – right? 😉

It’s quite interesting to see how many of these people actually include a link to their client’s site within the first email. It doesn’t take a genius to realise if you are pitching an SEO blog for a guest post it’s probably not a great idea to include your clients site in the first one?

Just to show you how prevalent this practise is if I look through the last 20 guest blog requests I received 14 (70%) of them include some kind of a footprint, whether that’s the name of the company they are writing on the behalf of, the url or a link to their last couple of guest posts.

So, I wonder how many people actually check the back link profiles from the guest blog requests they receive to find possible blogs to approach for their own activities. At the end of the day running advanced search queries to find blogs who are open to guest post pitches can be a monotonous affair, so why not let the prospects come to you?

Before you get your frilly little knickers in a twist, I’m not saying that you should chase after these guest posting opportunities entirely, it’s quite easy to see that many of them are just glorified article directories, but there are often a few hidden treasures.

But, with a little time and research you could easily determine whether the blog is a worthwhile candidate or not, and you already know that these sites are pretty open to responding to sloppy guest blog pitches.

Qualifying your Guest Blog Opportunities

Last year I invited a few smart link builders to share their thoughts on blogger outreach and prospecting links. The main elements that they looked for in prospecting for quality partnerships which came up again, and again, were:

  • Look and feel – is the content of a high quality? Is the design of the site fresh? Is the site cluttered with advertisements and affiliate offers?
  • How many RSS subscribers do they have? If this isn’t displayed in a prominent position then have a quick look in Google Reader to get a flavour of the number of subscribers.
  • Do they have an active following on social media? Use Followerwonk to quickly assess their number of Twitter followers and influence metrics or look at Facebook to see how often they engage with their community and how many likes and comments they receive.
  • How many social shares do their posts receive? You can quickly run their last few posts through Social Crawlytics to determine the blog’s social reach i.e. numbers of Stumbles, Pins, Tweets and Likes.

Once you have found your diamond in the rough you have a choice to make – depending on how dark a hat you’re wearing that day:

1)      Engage with the blogger on social media and eventually pitch them an awesome post they will love

2)      Fire off a cold guest blog request, after all the guest blog spammer probably did the same, what have you got to lose?

3)      Email the blogger telling them that they’ve allowed some dirty spammer to post on their site and that they are linking out to a “bad community” – offer to write a new article to replace the spam on their blog

I’d never recommend the last option but I’ll leave it to your own moral compass guide you.  However, I’d expect a very high response rate from these types of sites.

How to Setup your Guest Post Spam Capture Page

So you’ve made it this far, I must have managed to sell you on this shady idea!

This is probably one of the easiest SEO tutorials you’ll read all week.

  1. Create a Write for Us page in your WordPress site – make sure that you include the keywords that relate to your blog as a list of topics that the guest blogger might want to submit. For example I have “Link Building”, “Social Media” and “SEO” on my page.
  2. Create a contact form or email address to go to a different inbox – you don’t want to be inundated with rubbish in your main inbox, we all know that’s used by Google+ for your SEO community invites
  3. Index the page so it appears in the SERPs – we want to make it easy for our guest post spammers to scrape Google and find you. If you don’t want to the page to be in your main navigation use your SEO super powers to make it happen.
  4. Sit back and wait for the emails to arrive, it might take a few days, it might take a few hours it all depends on how high your Toolbar PageRank is as these guys don’t care about anything else.

Caution Penalty ahead!

I’m not in any way condoning these practises and I would never use this as part of a client’s link building campaign. Mr. Cutts has already warned us that low quality guest blogs are under the microscope so be prepared that these types of sites (links) could be devalued in the future.

Until then happy guest posting!

Jon Cooper Interview: Learning, Link Building & Successful Blogging

It’s quite hard to believe that Jon Cooper has only been blogging for the past 2 years! Some of his posts gathered a lot of traction in 2012 and are often cited by other SEO bloggers and speakers – most notably his link building strategies and his most creative link building post ever.

The one thing that I’ve discovered about Jon is he always very accessible and willing to chat with his readers and often goes out of his way for them. So, I recently sat down with him over email and we got to chat about his blog, his course and a few things in between.

1. How did Point Blank SEO get started? What made you think a blog solely about link building would be successful?

Point Blank SEO got started because, after reading through a ton of internet marketing/SEO related content, I thought there was a lot of expertise that was lacking. I didn’t think I was going to fill that gap, but I thought I’d at least try, as well as learn about what a blogger has to deal with on a daily basis so I could better understand that demographic.

I thought a blog on just link building would be successful because, more than anything, that’s the kind of blog I want to read. Link building seemed to be the only thing separating the good from the great, and like anyone, I wanted to be great, so I wanted to see what I could contribute in that area.

2. What are the key things you’ve done to help to build your blog?

As you can see with my latest update, presentation is key to help setting me apart from the noise. I don’t want people coming to my site, thinking it’s just another SEO blog, and not giving the content a chance unless it was something seriously outstanding beyond all measure (which my content seldom, if anytime, is). I wanted people walking into my site thinking that this might be worth listening to, then I’d let my content do the rest.

I also think that would helped me build my blog in the beginning was that I was willing to engage with anyone wanting to engage with me. It’s tough seeing your blog get under 50 visitors a day for 6-12 months, thinking this is how it’s always going to be.

Lastly, content expectations has been huge, and I really haven’t even come close to mastering it. When I relaunched at the beginning of last year, I put in a ton of time into my first few posts, because I wanted people to associate the quality of each individual post with the quality of the blog. When they expected to see something great each time, and as long as they did actually see something great, they were almost programmed to share it, which is how I grew from 100 visitors a day to 1000 in less than a month.

3. What have you learned over the past 2 years of blogging? 

If you’re not different, don’t bother trying.

If you’re going into blogging with the goal of making money, 999/1000 you’re going to fail. The only reason I had success was because I had no expectations for the blog. The success came out of my passion for what I was doing, mostly because I didn’t need some reward of 10000 visitors at the end of the day, just the satisfaction of creating something great that I know I would appreciate.

I also took it seriously as a business when it started doing well. I set goals, I held myself to standards, and I had to turn it from a hobby into a real thing. If I didn’t, I’d still be another casual mid-level blogger, because when you take it seriously, you don’t stop until you succeed.

What’s worked for me, to my own dislike, is long content. Even when I think a shorter post is much, much better, the content I wrote that was the longest was way more shared & linked to. I think this is because of the sharer’s mentality; they want to seem as if they’re sharing great stuff, and if it’s detailed & long, they think they look better.

What didn’t work for me is turning off comments. I did that once on a controversial post, to try and get others to write posts in response and link to mine, but that didn’t work. I just lost a great discussion. I think it can work, but you have to commit and hold to it, even through all the criticism.

4. Why did you decide to create your link building course? What motivated you?
The main reason was because I wanted to train someone, but there was no resource out there to do it with. If I could train someone efficiently, I could increase the workload I could take on for client work, thus making me a lot more money.

The secondary reason was that I didn’t want to do any ads or obtrusive affiliate ads/reviews, so a training course like this could not only help me provide more value for my audience, but monetize my blog in a friendly way that no one would object to.

5. What have you learned from promoting your link building course? Would you do things differently?
I learned that, just like free content, if it’s a good product, people will want to tell others about it, even if it costs money. I know,  I could’ve done a much better job with the course even with the praise I’ve gotten, and I wish I did, because if people thought they were getting $300 or more in value for a $67 course, sign-ups would grow exponentially, outweighing the cost of charging more.

6. Do you think the fact it did so well was down to your personality & professional network or your unique product offering?
I think it had to with both. I’ve prided myself on the relationships I’ve built with influencers, readers, and email subscribers, so when the time came that I needed them, no matter what it really was, they were very willing to help out (especially since the majority really liked it). But I also think the unique product offering helped because there was really nothing out there in terms of a complete resource to learn link building, not even a book, so that really helped as well.

7. You plan to blog more & possibly launch a new info product in 2013, where do you find the time? What’s going to be prioritised to make this happen?
I made time by taking the semester off. If it’s really important, no matter what it is, you’ll make time. I truly believe that. And it doesn’t have to be as dramatic as taking the semester off if you’re in school.

But it’s going to be a ride as I try to juggle even more in less time, so we’ll have to wait and see how this goes 🙂

8. What’s on your recommended reading list for link builders ?
If you haven’t read the Psychology of Persuasion, read it. Everything in link building was brought to this niche because someone applied knowledge learned elsewhere to link building. There’s even some things in this book that hasn’t really been talked about, such as using the rejection-then-retreat technique, in which you ask for something bigger than a link, then when they say no, say “well, then can you at least give me a link?”. Just an example.

I also recommend the Personal MBA to really anyone in business, because process & work flow are becoming two very essential parts of link building as it’s becoming more & more like sales.

9. What are the types of links should SEO ‘s be focusing on building to their client sites this year?
Ones that webmasters aren’t normally asked to give. I think we’ve gotten to a point where seasoned webmasters are deathly sick of us link builders, so it’s going to be the ones who do something truly different and truly think outside of the box to get them to do what you want.

10. What’s your #1 link building tip?

Do everything in your power to not come across as a link builder to webmasters that you email. Once they see you as a genuine, real, and caring person, you’ve got a shot. Word choice does the rest.

Thanks, Jon for taking the time to answer my questions. If you are interested in learning more about link building you can still sign up to Jon’s Link Building Course for just $67, and be sure to follow him on Twitter.

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