You’re Not Ready for Link Building Without Linkable Assets

You can’t build good, relevant links to your website unless you have at least one linkable asset.

In the old days of link building, you could spam directories and engage in every link scheme under the sun in order to increase your search engine visibility, even though you had absolutely nothing on your website link-worthy.

These days, you have to create something worth linking to.

Keep that in mind while you consider the following scenario:

Imagine you’re a model train enthusiast and an exclusive invitation arrives in your mailbox for a private model railroading event. The invite is printed on nice cardstock, and you’re intrigued by what it promises: free hors-d’oeuvres, fancy cocktails, one of the largest model train setups in the country, and a chance to chat with some of the world’s foremost model railroad hobbyists.

When you arrive at the event, it’s not in a hotel ballroom or a swanky bar. Instead, it’s a dingy basement that smells like mold, with a few folding chairs wobbling in each dark corner. There are scattered cans of store-brand cola and some vienna sausages on a three-legged card-table, along with a plastic train someone bought at a flea market.

The only other person in attendance is a marketer in an ill-fitting polo shirt, who looks at you sheepishly.

How would you feel in that situation?

When your site has no linkable assets, that’s the exact feeling webmasters have when they open your outreach, read your link request and then visit your website.

You have nothing to offer them.

Not only have you wasted their time, but their trust has been violated. They’re probably a bit weirded out, too.

Unless you’re a sociopath, you don’t want to make anyone feel like that. You don’t want to waste anyone’s time.

So, what’s the solution?

Creating a linkable asset.

What is a Linkable Asset?

I’m glad you asked. If you don’t already know, a linkable asset is a piece of content on your site that’s worth linking to. Just as most people don’t share photos of their garbage or upload videos of paint drying to YouTube, most webmasters aren’t interested in linking to blank space or junk.

And for the most part, they also aren’t interested in linking to your product or service pages, or pages where you’re telling the world how awesome you are.

Let Jason Acidre explain:

“Basically, a linkable asset is any part of a website or organization that its target audience will genuinely perceive as worth citing/referencing to. It could be people, content, events or anything that can be really interesting to a specifically targeted market.”

In that same post, Jason mentions that linkable assets do the following:

  • They keep attracting links to your website
  • They strengthen your expertise, authority and brand presence
  • They generate an audience, leads and brand advocates
  • They increase your search engine visibility, social media visibility and website traffic

You’re already providing a great product or service and you’re ready to grow your business. You want more leads, and you want to get them directly through your website. That requires traffic, which in turn requires search engine visibility.

Search engine visibility requires healthy, relevant links, and you can’t get those links if you don’t have anything to link to.

You can reach out to other webmasters until your fingers grind your keyboard into a fine layer of plastic powder, but no one’s going to link to you unless your site offers something valuable to your audience beyond your product or service.

How Can I Create Linkable Assets?

If you’re just starting out and your resources are limited, you could start with something relatively simple.

Consider your audience and your customers to discover:

  • What are their common questions?
  • What problems can you solve for them?
  • How can you make them into better versions of themselves?
  • What advice can you offer them?

As Eric Ward puts it, “useful content gets linked” and “the less useful your content is, the less likely you are to ever receive a link to it”. 

Usefulness can include content that is helpful, educational or entertaining. A linkable asset should never be overly self-promotional, which is a common mistake many people make.

  • If you own a record shop or other retail outlet, you could put together a ‘diary series’ chronicling funny, strange and absurd experiences you’ve had with your customers. People love stories. This would fall under the ‘entertainment’ category. If it’s memorable and it makes people laugh, they’ll link to it.
  • If you run an automotive repair shop, you could put together a series of short videos about common problems you see all the time. The kind of stuff your potential customers might be inclined to fix themselves. Those videos would fall under the ‘helpful’ category, and people would gladly link to it. It would also establish you as a generous person and an expert.
  • If you run a veterinary clinic, you could interview a wildlife biologist, zookeeper or a TV personality from Animal Planet. That’s interesting content, and it also falls into the ‘educational’ category. People love interviews, and they love hearing from people with fascinating jobs. People share and link to content that makes them think and teaches them something.

It doesn’t matter what industry you’re in. Start small and create something cool.

Examples of Linkable Assets

We’re based in Lakewood, NJ, so here are a few examples from some local businesses in our area. None of these businesses work in particularly glamorous industries, but they all feature content worth linking to.

Let’s get those brain gears turning.

1) By Design Landscaping has two great linkable assets: an extensive gallery with amazing photos of their landscaping work, as well as a blog that’s actually useful for homeowners.

People love photos of beautiful homes, and they’re especially shareable on sites like Pinterest and Houzz. If BDL found landscaping or gardening enthusiasts, they could easily reach out and request a link. They are, after all, a resource.

2) The Ocean County Veterinary Hospital has a couple of linkable assets. As shown here, they have ‘new pet’ care guides for both dogs and cats in PDF format; this is great content. They also have a “pet of the month” section, which is a great way to attract links and social shares from pet owners.

3) Finally, we have the simplest of the three. Ironically, it’s also the one that might get the most links, shares and traffic. Mulberry Street Italian Food Center features a list of recipes for food they actually serve. That’s it; it’s that simple. People love recipes, especially from chefs, restaurants and caterers they trust.


The bottom line is that you can’t build links unless you have something valuable to link to, but people try regardless. When you don’t have any linkable assets, you’ll spend hours on outreach and promotion without achieving any results.

If you want other websites to link to you, you have to give them a reason.


  1. Great post David. We blog twice a week, but this got me thinking that maybe we should focus more on a really high quality linkable asset instead of posting often.

  2. I did a video showing my plumbing client installing a tankless water heater. Nothing fancy. No sales message. It’s pushing 40,000 views. he’s sold a lot of water heaters because of that video over the past 5 years!

    • Sounds like a cool video, Bob. One thing that’s important to keep in mind is that views don’t automatically translate into links, and for that you’ll need to have an outreach strategy.

  3. This couldn’t be more true. From someone that runs an online marketing agency in Australia I find that clients are still struggling with the need to produce good content let alone linkable assets.

    At some stage in most campaigns it’s likely that some form of offsite or link building will be required and if you have linkable assets it makes it so much easier. I find however that as a third party operating on their behalf you can either a) content mentor or b) content market. If you go option B and do it on their behalf then it’s more challenging to create a linkable asset without the input of the business owner.

    • Good point Byron, creating something worth linking to isn’t a walk in the park, but there really isn’t any alternative to building quality links.

      To those that struggle I recommend starting small and keeping it simple. As an expert in your industry you’ll be surprised how much you can help out others with your knowledge base. You can even just come up with an FAQ page where you list the most common questions you get from your customers and your answers and tips.

  4. I blog once a week regularly. Consistency blog experts say is a must in order to attract loyal readers and search engines. Once a week posting of an article will give you a lot of time to improve any deficiencies your article will have but link is very hard to come no matter how well you put efforts into your articles.

  5. A fantastic post – tweeted, shared on my FB page and Google+.

    In my own business, I’m on a crusade to STOP what I’ve termed “mindless blogging” because I know there’s better way to get qualified increased traffic to websites and a better use of people’s time.

    And I prefer to free people of their editorial calendar because I think that’s been the problem – people think they need to blog regularly when it can do more harm than good.

    The most valuable links and shares will be earned due to deserving content. The problem is most people don’t create “deserving content.” So much stuff is regurgitated and filler content.

    In this era of masses of content and competition, I believe for entrepreneurs and business owners to stand out from the crowd, they MUST produce outstanding, exceptional content. No exceptions.

    • Glad you enjoyed Shae, and thanks for sharing!

      Great comment and I couldn’t agree more, that it’s more about the quality then the quantity. It seems like a lot of people get caught up in this craze to churn out mediocre content just for the sake of creating content or satisfying search engines or some other reason. I look forward to hearing from you again 🙂

  6. Nice post David, and you make good points. The fist thing I’d suggest doing before considering writing a blog post is, ask yourself, would YOU be interested in the post you’re about to write if you found it?! If the answer’s ..erm.. nah not really, don’t write it.

  7. Hi David,

    Great article and I love to reading some of the comments as well. I think a lot of people get advised to “start blogging” as a way to great content but invest a lot of time and effort in content that never makes it to the top of the rankings.

    In my opinion the lack of good keyword research, knowledge of search intents and the lack of understanding the value of linkable content are the main reasons people keep on investing in this type of content. Besides that a lot of people think they keep their website “fresh” this way, although those ranking signals only apply to an certain type of search intentions.

    After reading the article I was wondering, do you link from your linkable assests to the sales pages / the pages with a buying intention as an way to deliver more linkjuice to them? At this moment I do add those links if they seem appropriate, but they always give me the feeling they make my linkable assest less linkable. What’s your point of view on this?

    Best regards,


  8. This article is exactly what I tell clients on a daily basis. I work with local based clients usually in the service industry, so a lot of the industries could be considered ‘boring’ or ‘difficult’ to create content for.

    Informative, how-to content is always great and with a little thought, effort and creativeness, you can always come up with ideas that will work for your business.

  9. Precisely! Once in a blue moon, I get an email asking me to link to somebody’s website. Then I look at the website and can only wonder, “Why?” There’s nothing of value for my users, so why would I do that? How does wasting my people’s time increase my credibility?

    This degree of honesty is what’s killing my own efforts at link building before they start. I’ve got a Resources page, and I happen to think they’re brilliant resources. I wrote them all, so I’m probably biased, but still…

    I know that lack of incoming links are the single greatest weakness in my website. This blog post encapsulates why it’ll probably stay that way. Thanks for writing it!

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