Link Building – Creating Exceptional Content for Boring Topics

Whenever you’re at a conference and you speak to a Google Engineer about link building, they will almost always default back to “create exceptional content that is linkworthy” or some similar concept. I’ve been speaking with people at conferences, both clients and potential clients, and mentioning the same thing for years. The response I often get back is, “We’re selling blue widgets, but there’s nothing exceptional about blue widgets”. Here’s the thing–almost everything can be exceptional if you look hard enough, or slice and dice it, or present it in an interesting way. To prove my point I’m going to write a simulated piece about the most boring, mundane, and everyday thing: the fast food restaurant McDonalds.

3 Unique McDonalds Across the United States

As a parent, when you travel with your children, you try to make the experience better by eating at local restaurants and exposing your children to different types of foods than they have at home. However, if you’ve had a long, stressful day and the kids are moments away from a meltdown, McDonalds is a necessary evil you can use to keep the peace.

The Only McDonalds with Green Arches in Sedona Arizona

When you build a successful business, one of the key aspects of success is consistent branding so people can recognize you in an instant–sometimes even from great distances. Kids learn to recognize the McDonalds Golden Arches long before they can read the words on a McDonalds sign. When McDonalds started building in Sedona, Arizona, they encountered resistance from the local government who only allowed certain colors on the exterior of stores. Yellow wasn’t one of them. McDonalds fought the town, trying to get the regulation overturned or to get an exemption, but the town stuck to its guns and didn’t flinch. Eventually, someone realized this was a blessing in disguise, and the only McDonalds without golden arches was born.

World's Largest McDonalds in Orlando Florida

Located in the family tourist capital of the United States sits the World’s Largest McDonalds. This McDonalds has four floors where kids can do things they can’t do in your everyday McDonalds like play skee ball, air hockey, or any of a hundred other video games. While this McDonalds has the standard menu, it also offers quite a bit you won’t find anywhere else, like a collection of different cakes and pastries that would put most neighborhood diners to shame. It also has a huge birthday party area.

Southernmost McDonalds in the United States

Located down in the Florida Keys sits the Southernmost McDonalds in the Continental United States. There also happens to be 2 Denny’s and a Burger King on the island if you aren’t in the mood for local cuisine. The McDonalds offers the standard menu, and the decor has a contemporary flair. While the restaurant does face north and not in the southern direction of Cuba, it still has one of the nicest views I’ve seen from a McDonalds.

Is the post the most exceptional post in the world? No. But does it does its job of making something ordinary like McDonalds into something interesting–or so I’d like to think. Is there room for improvement? Sure. How about adding things like the smallest McDonalds, or the absolute most southern McDonalds, or McDonalds within view of famous monuments like the Eifel Tower. The point here is to grasp the concept of how to make something exceptional by looking at interesting aspects of it or in a unique way.

Sure, some of you are sitting out there thinking, “Yeah, those McDonalds were interesting–you just grouped them all together and made them more interesting. But the stuff we sell is really boring.” I still stand by my point that you can take anything, no matter how boring, and make it interesting if you try. For example, take a look at this pasta infographic (hat tip patrick aloft). Pasta by itself is pretty boring, but different types of pasta with flowcharts and pictures becomes a linkworthy execution.

This type of content will require some time, money, and effort to put together. If you need access to local photographs, use services like Craigslist. If you need cheap research, use services like oDesk. The one area I wouldn’t cheap out on is the finished product. Hire a quality writer or artist to put together the final product. Give detailed explanations and examples so that the person understands what you are trying to do with the finished product. The better the final product, the more links your piece is going to gain.

So what are the takeaways from this post:

  • Look for unique or interesting ways to look at your product or related products that makes it more interesting
  • Add visual elements like pictures or illustrations
  • Use well-written, high quality copy. Don’t scrimp on the budget as it will affect the end result
  • Access local services through services like Craigslist
  • Access cheap research with services like oDesk
  • Use the piece as a link hub to distribute the link equity across your website runs on the Genesis Framework

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