How to Avoid Link Builder's Block with Chunking (and 6 Other Tools)

Guest post by Kieran Flanagan, of SearchBrat SEO Consulting Services.

I have a friend who is a film writer. When discussing work, he never understands what I do. I could give a 30 minute presentation detailing each client I have worked on and everything I did for them, but it makes no difference. One day he was filling me in on a horrible case of writers block. He was out of ideas for a film he was writing. I told him I often get “Link Building Block”, I go through competitors links, produce content, guest blog and run out of ideas for that market. I explain when this happens, I use an NLP technique called “chunking.” He didn't understand, but at least we share a common problem to discuss over coffee.

What is Chunking

In NLP 'chunking up' refers to moving to a more general or abstract piece of information, 'chunking down' means moving to a more specific (niche) or detailed information. They help you think laterally fast.

Ideas for your Chunk

When about to brainstorm (chunk) a market, there are a couple of tools, which can help the process. Google trends, Alexa.com and Quantcast will all show relevant information about your market including audience demographics and other sites they may like (other than yours). The examples below is for the online fashion store Karmaloop.com and shows key information on their target market:

Take some key notes as they will be helpful during the next stage.

Thinking Laterally

I want to run a campaign for a site that sells “hightop sneakers”. My results from quantcast are near identical to Karmaloop (to make things easier :)). Here are two example chunks (questions required to chunk are described in this post):

1. First using the question, what's this an example of, I chunk up:

  • Sneakers (Hightops are an example of sneakers)
  • Clothes (Sneakers are an example of clothes)
  • Fashion (Clothes are an example of fashion)

>> I now chunk back down as Fashion is too abstract using “What is an example of this?:

  • Hairstyles (Hairstyles)

Ok, I now brainstorm for an idea that would appeal to both audiences. For example, a nifty widget that will allow someone to upload a photo of them and it will match their hairstyle to a pair of hightops: “Get Your Ideal Hightops With This Hair Raising Widget” (need to work on the name).

2. Next example I use the question, “for what purpose”, and chunk up:

  • Skateboarding (Hightops are the sneaker of choice for the skater crowd)
  • Tribalism (Skaters hang around in groups, share fashion trends, music tastes and spend a lot of time falling on the floor together).

>> Now I chunk back down again using the question “What is an example of this?”

  • Music (is an example of Tribalism)
  • Hip Hop (is an example of music)

Ok, I brainstorm again and come up with an infographic. Using celebrity hip hop sneakers it will chart the evolution of hip hop from Run DMC, to Jay-Z to whoever the kids listen to these days !!!

Tip: Bubbl.us is a great tool for mind mapping this stuff.

Popular Content & Start Building Outreach List

You now have two possible link bait ideas that should appeal to a multitude of market segments. The next step may or may not be of help, depending on how far you have chunked down. For my examples above, I will do this for the post related to mens hairstyles, but not for the infographic on the evolution of hip hop (too general).

1. Get 10 – 15 of the biggest keywords around mens hairstyles
2. Run the SERP Dominator report for the core keywords. This used be a manual process (check out the full Link Builder's Guide to Analyzing SERP Dominators for Link Opportunities) but can now be automated with Ontolo's SERP Dominator tool

3. From those, I would concentrate on the top 3 and top 10 dominators and follow a similar process to this described by Ken Lyons in “How to Build Amazing Backlinks”. It will establish the most popular content on those sites with the biggest SERP share of voice (for keywords listed by you) and who links to that content. Take Notes.

Establish if you can incorporate any of this information into your link bait idea or content used to promote your link bait idea i.e. guest blog posts etc.

Now Build your Campaign

The great thing about these campaigns are you are going after a bunch of sites that competitors may not have touched. Building the qualified outreach list is simple with Ontolo's tools. For this campaign I have decided upon:

  • Guest Posts (on relevant hip hop / hairstyle blogs)
  • Blog Comments (on relevant hip hop / hairstyles posts applicable to my link bait)
  • Roundups

These are all built into Ontolo (with a lot more):

For a more detailed post on this step, make sure you read “Automated Prospecting for Guest Posting Opportunities with Ontolo

The Results

The above should help you with those “Link Builders Block” moments. It will get you thinking laterally pretty fast and may open your eyes to other markets, which you can attract links from. This process is more suited to link builders who are working for big clients, as it can be time consuming (lots of research), but can also be of help in niche marketing when you have run out of ideas on how to generate links from your own sector.

About the Author:

Kieran Flanagan is currently SEO Manager for EMEA at Salesforce.com. He also provides SEO consulting services on a limited basis at Searchbrat.com and runs a number of his own sites.


  1. Good techniques

    I like the technique, although at first I found it a little abstract. After looking at your examples, I soon saw the benefits. I think lateral thinking like this is the best way to come up with good links and interesting link bait, especially from usually mundane topics.

    I'm going to bookmark your post and give this a go soon :)

  1. Kieran's Link Building with Chunking Tutorial

    Hi Kieran,
    thanks for this post. Sometimes I take a break from link-building (I know...!) so learning from you was definitely appreciated. I really liked the first section discussing planning out link bait material.
    Thanks Kieran!

Post a New Comment