The SEO Project

The “Ranking for Links” Technique

Joshua HardwickJoshua Hardwick

Journalists and bloggers often need references when writing articles and usually – as long as the reference is reputable – they’ll naturally link out to it.

Ranking for links involves creating a piece of content that specifically targets keywords bloggers and journalists are likely to type into Google when searching for content to reference.

Here’s how the process of finding a reference might go:

  1. A journalist/blogger for a large publication (e.g. begins putting together a piece about Facebook advertising
  2. She begins the article with an introductory paragraph talking about Facebook’s huge userbase
  3. She knows that Facebook is used by millions on a daily basis, but isn’t quite sure of the exact number
  4. She heads to Google and types “Facebook statistics” into the search box
  5. She clicks one of the top few results, which – in this case – happens to be a list of up-to-date Facebook statistics
  6. The page contains the figure the journalist was looking for, so she includes it in her piece (and links to the page she just found via Google as the “source”)
  7. The person who created the content about Facebook statistics gets a juicy link

Here’s how to do it:

Finding your initial query can be done with a brainstorming session – simply think about what journalists and bloggers in your industry write about on a regular basis.

Note: As Matthew Barby states, “how to”, “what is”, “list of”, etc. keywords work best for this technique.

When you have an idea, type your keyword into the Google Keyword Planner to see how often it gets searched for each month:

If it’s gets at least a few hundred searches, its probably a good keyword.


For example, “facebook statistics” gets searched for 5,400 times per month (on average), which means a lot of bloggers/journalists are likely searching Facebook stats each month.

Next, create a piece of content around the keyword, such as this piece by Zephoria:


Note: This piece of content actually has almost 2,000 links from 600+ referring domains, which certainly proves just how powerful this technique can be when used correctly:


It’s then a case of building a few initial links to your content using other techniques to get your content ranking.

Once you’re ranking in the top 3-5 for your chosen keyword, you should see links naturally trickle in each month.

Note: Don’t go after super-competitive keywords, as you’ll struggle to rank initially and therefore won’t ever manage to “rank for links”.

Comments 2
  • Pete McAllister
    Posted on

    Pete McAllister Pete McAllister

    Reply Author

    Fantastic method, I’ve never used this before myself but will definitely build it into my campaign strategy – especially for informational/service businesses!

    • Joshua Hardwick
      Posted on

      Joshua Hardwick Joshua Hardwick

      Reply Author

      Glad it was useful, Pete! 🙂 If you like this, I’d recommend reading more of Mathhew Barbys stuff, he’s the man!