Mozcon Day 2 Recap: How to Earn Links Without Doing Anything

MozCon Day 2 Recap - How to Earn Links Without Doing Anything Ian Lurie

Greetings from MozCon 2012!  Here’s a brief recap on Ian Lurie’s (@portentint) presentation on how to earn links without doing anything.

Wait a minute!  Earn links without doing anything? Sounds great, right? Sitting back and letting the links just roll in sounds too easy, but Ian says it possible, which brings us to, “How?”

According to Ian, link building, as many of us have known and practiced, has failed. Sure, many of us had a good run doing anything we could to get lots of links, but the party is quickly coming to an end.  Ian tells us the time has come for us to treat link building not like a business strategy, tactic, or technique, but rather as a result that happens when you focus on building an audience


Ian tells us that content is how you build an audience, which is how you build links and shares. There is no such thing as content marketing either. You shouldn’t write an article then carry out a campaign to promote the article.  According to Ian, content marketing exists in the same realm as rainbow-farting unicorns. Marketable content is the outcome of great marketing. So how does it all fit together?


Content leads to an audience, which leads to authority, which leads to growth.

Have you ever heard or read that content doesn’t work? The reality is that not all content does work. So the question is, “How do you make your content work?”

1. Say what matters – say what matters to someone now

Random is the new normal, and with that, it’s our job to figure out seemingly randomly connected things that matter to your audience now. How do we do this? Ian recommends using his concept of the idea graph, which is a huge set of interrelated topics, not because they are related to each other but because people who like one idea like another. Facebook is a gold mine for this type of stuff. By creating an ad on Facebook, you have access to suggested links and interests which shows us what other topics someone who likes SEO or marketing would also like.

2. Get people’s attention and hold it

Say what matters now! (notice a reoccurring theme yet?) Focus on getting links not for your brand but for your content. Do the work – if you don’t execute, none of this matters. Graph to other interests to broaden the reach of your content.

Ian encourages us all to take some time and contribute to The Portent Ideagraph which will serve as a collection and resource of data that shows a topic and related interests. You can find it here:

Keep checking back for more great recaps from MozCon 2012 for up-to-date pro tips and information from leaders in SEO and inbound and online marketing.

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  1. Nu Studio says

    Hi, Although I agree entirely in the post, I do have a question… Most clients are genuinely stuck for decent content. I know that when you write about SEO, social media, movies, music etc. that you have genuinely something interesting to say. However, most clients struggle to say something interesting about their industry. Do you think it is our job as SEO people to become content generators instead of link builders? It’s an interesting departure…??

    • Brian Jensen says

      Hi Steve, thanks for the message and great question. I personally believe it’s our job as online marketers and SEOs to be able to make recommendations and facilitate growth in all areas of online marketing, especially content marketing. I do think it’s our responsibility to start the conversation, especially if the client is not actively producing and sharing content on their blog, social networks, guest posting, etc. Our clients are the experts in their industry and it’s our job to optimize that content for search engines and users alike. You may be correct that the content will only be interesting to a particular demographic within a niche, but isn’t that the demographic we’re trying to target for qualified traffic and leads? I think we need be working with our clients to create content that will attract links, social shares and to establish our clients as leaders and a resource within their community.

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