I had the pleasure of conducting an email interview with one of the younger but certainly successful link building experts in the industry, Jon Cooper. Jon is the man behind Point Blank SEO. Some of the work that has made him a go to name in the SEO community includes his link building technique post and The Content Marketer’s Guide to Visualizations.
If you are in the digital marketing industry with a passion for link building, Jon Cooper is a must follow.
Craig: Jon, for those that do not follow you or your work, explain how you became interested in SEO and more specifically, link building? What do you enjoy most about what most SEOs can’t stand or grasp (link building)?
Jon: I first started doing SEO for one of my friend’s parents, just because I needed a job & could type fast. I had no idea what I was doing or what SEO was even about for the first week or two. Luckily, I really started to like the idea behind it, and I managed to get myself a copy of SEO for Dummies. I read it in about 2 days. The one thing that caught my eye in the book was links, because links are really what makes or breaks an SEO campaign.
After I took the Web and tried hunting down every link building strategy out there, I noticed a huge gap between what SEOs were searching for and what blogs actually provided. We all wanted link building content, but there were very few, if any, blogs or websites dedicated solely to that.
Because it was something I really had a knack for, and because there was a very big need for it, I started Point Blank SEO. The rest is history :)
But the thing about link building that has made me enjoy it so much is the opportunity for creativity. When you hear guys like Wil Reynolds talking about creating a national holiday to build links for one of his clients, it’s hard not to get excited about links.
Craig: When did you start building links and at any point in your career, has your age been a factor in landing a client?
Jon: I started a little over 2 years ago, but I’ve focused solely on link building over that time period. Luckily my age hasn’t been a factor, because the only clients I have are ones that sought me out & contacted me on their own terms. They knew ahead of time of my age; if they didn’t, they were more impressed than discouraged (at least to my knowledge!).
Craig: Who inspires you to continue going forward with your link building/SEO career and if you could only follow ONE person on Twitter, who would it be?
Jon: The people who respond to me on Twitter & in the comments of my blog. If I ever even hint at questioning whether SEO is something I really enjoy doing, I quickly remember all the people I’ve met in this industry and how much they’ve taught me even beyond SEO.
I’m going to cheat here: the Inbound account, because all of the best tips & content from the guys I love talking with & following usually makes it on to Inbound.org :).
Craig: Where do you see link building as a digital marketing strategy in 3 years? How about 10?
Jon: The way link building had changed in the past is figuring out different ways to go from Point A to Point B. Point B was always higher rankings, and the different paths we took were different SEO link building strategies.
The future is changing the way we change, because we’re no going from Point A to Point C. I think we’ll start to pursue an entirely different goal altogether; in the past it’s been higher SERP rankings, in the future it will be more direct KPIs like sales and targeted traffic.
The reason I believe this is because the rewards of ranking higher are diminishing, and the difficulty is always increasing as new businesses enter search marketing, but the term “link building” still perfectly fits the future criteria even though we’re not pursuing links for SEO as it was originally defined. For example, we’ll be targeting links in other website’s newsletters; they’re still links, so we’re still building them, but they aren’t meant for search engines.
Craig: What is one link building or SEO tool you absolutely can’t live without?
Jon: Check My Links. For those who don’t know, it’s an on page broken link checker for Chrome that’s by far the fastest out there (here’s my post on how I use it).
Some people regard broken link building as a strategy that’s one in a hundred, but I go so much further with it that it almost drives me insane. If 6% of the Web’s links were broken in 1998, then just imagine how many are broken today. If I remember correctly, Rand Fishkin even remarked at last year’s Mozcon that 20% of content disappears from the web each month. I doubt we’ll ever keep up with that pace, so I can guarantee you we will never run out of opportunity for this strategy.
Craig: What do you plan on studying at the University of Florida this fall and how do you feel it’s going to benefit you as a link builder/SEO?
Jon: I’m looking to dive straight into computer science so I can learn programming. This will allow me to create my own tools that I’ve been dying to see built.
Craig: Outside of your time spent link building (if it exists), what do you do for fun and/or what are some of your hobbies?
Jon: An interesting hobby that might be brand new to some of you is a sport called disc golf. It’s like golf, but with frisbees, and instead of holes, they’re baskets with chains. Not many people play it, but there are 3-4 courses within an hour’s drive of where I live and I love going out there with anyone willing.
I would like to thank Jon for taking the time out of his busy schedule to answer my questions. If you are serious about link building, I highly recommend following Jon on Twitter. You can also connect with Jon and Point Blank SEO on Facebook.