10 Reasons Why Your Content Doesn’t Attract Links

So we have all heard time and time again, “to attract links you need to build great content“. But very few actually talk about what good content looks like. That’s because good content can come in many different forms. But bad content (that doesn’t attract links) usually follows some of the same patterns. Below are 10 reasons why your content might not be attracting links.

Bad Title

A bad title is often times the first barrier to attracting links. The title pulls the audience in and makes them want to learn more. Without a good title most users won’t even click. Also good titles can set the tone for the rest of the content and define what type of back links you want. For example if you are looking for the term “tennis shoes” to be used as anchor text in back links, you better make sure to include it in your title. People that link out pull from the original content for ideas when linking, so include all the right terms in a snappy title to attract the right links.

Bad Design

I know you are probably confused with this one, but the truth is, pages that have bad designs or poor user experiences attract less links. People usually only link to pages that have an established sense of authenticity or trust. Bad designs destroy a user’s trust. User interfaces that have clean white space and well-formed navigation tend to attract more links.

No Hook

How do you pull a fish out of the water? You use a hook. You can also use hooks to pull in links. A hook is anything that peaks a readers interested to learn more and share it with their audience. This can be talking about a new idea, taking a controversial stance, or telling a good story. Either way without a hook most won’t link out.

No Point of Difference

So you wrote a post about iPhone apps for real estate? Awesome! The only problem is that so did everyone else. If you want your content to attract links you need to make sure there is a clear point of difference. This means offer something that no one else does. An example would be for this iPhone real estate post would be to ask a handful of successful real estate agents their favorite iPhone apps, compile their responses into an interview style post. Now when someone is looking for a post about iPhone apps for real estate, they are likely to choose yours because it’s different.

Too Long

We now live in a world of 140 characters and text messaging. Unfortunately, our attention spans are dwindling and as a result it is incredibly hard to attract links to content that is overly long. Now, don’t get me wrong if it’s well organized and all really good quality, then long content can attract links. But if you have little to say then brevity is key.

No Social Traction

“If you build it, they will come.” No, you aren’t Kevin Costner standing in a corn field! And because of that you need to start driving traffic at your content if you want links. Having great content alone won’t build links, you need to also make sure it has traction in social media to get it in front of the right people. Otherwise it will sit on your blog unread, and invisible to those that link out.

No Unique Voice

If you have ever read anything by, or spoken to Lisa Barone, you know she has a unique voice in her writing, and her speaking. This unique voice is in part the secret to Lisa’s success. Her ability to write in a way like no one else captivates her audience, and builds a brand that people regularly link to. When creating content, if you can sustain a familiar “voice” coupled with high quality, readers are more likely to link to your content because you have built a familiar trust.

Bad Topic

Do you know how many people are talking about Doctor Who online? A Lot! And how many are talking about “Cat Organs“? Not very many people at all. Therefore, you would have a much better chance attracting links with a post about Doctor Who, then a post about a creepy instrument made out of cats.

Not Engaging

Which post do you think would get more links: “Joe Hall Eats 23 Hot Dogs in One Day” or “How To Eat 23 Hot Dogs In One Day”? Unless you know me personally, then you are likely not going to care very much about reading the first blog post. But the second post is engaging because it teaches the reader how to do something. Engagement is all about making your content personal. Talking about yourself or your company doesn’t engage anyone. Engagement = More Links.

Not Focused

Have you ever read a blog post title that reads like a random list of words? For example, “What Skittles, The IRS, Katy Perry, and Jazz Music, Taught Me About Breast Feeding”. Seriously? If your content reads like a free flow of your inner thoughts no one is going to link to it and very few are going to read it. Content that gets linked to is focused on one, or two topics.

One last final point that needs to be remembered: If you are writing content to attract links, focus on giving bloggers a reason to link to you. If you can zero-in on a specific reason, and leverage it correctly, then building links should be easy.

About the author

Joe Hall

Joe Hall runs a link building agency. Through his work he has experience on both the national and local levels around a variety of diverse topics and technologies. Joe's work has garnered the attention of some of the biggest technology publications in the world, including white papers from MIT and The Department of Homeland Security.


  • I think unique voice is hugely underrated and perhaps more of a hat tip to those who truly enjoy writing/posting.. Indeed, one’s voice does penetrate through; I believe the ‘voice’ is one of the leading reasons of return readers.. We all sometimes fail on chosen topic; but, if readers enjoy the ‘journey’ the provider takes them on, even if the topic is not of immense interest, the provider will make it more enjoyable methinks. For instance, I read Joe Hall. If Joe posted about eating hot dogs, I would most definitely read. I’m already a Joe reader.. (guess that’s more of a flip side to the ‘not engaging’ topic.j

    Hook definitely is largely underrated too. When I taught, the first few moments of lesson were CRUCIAL.. If I didn’t hook those teens from the start, it could spell trouble for the lesson. Huge difference in “What do you think of Othello, students?” and “Janice, how would you feel if one of your trusted friends tried to ‘hook up’ with your boyfriend?” The latter immediately draws people in, making them make personal connections

    • Couldn’t agree more. Even a boring topic written about by a truly gifted story teller will grab my attention much more then a completely relevant, yet boring article

    • Also agree wholeheartedly with the article and Anthony’s comment about the “hook” not sure if I would file that under “hook” or knowing your audience which I think is also critical, but either way great stuff. Thanks.

  • Writing good content is important however if you don’t have an audience who will read it then good content goes to waste.

    Social media allows us to build an audience quickly and you can create personas on more than one niche. They key is to think about sharing and commenting on other peoples content first within a particular niche that you want to start writing about…….then once you gain followers and trust you might consider sharing some of your own content.

    Your content is more likely to get read and linked to after your followers see that you are actively sharing and commenting on topics within your niche

    • Hi Joe Hall
      Good to be here via a friend’s (NRao Blogs) blog about the notification of this post in his blog.
      I fully agree with you in almost all point but a bit doubt about the one on the Unique Voice, this may not be practical with most of the bloggers.
      I fully agree with Nathan Smith: Posting comment on other blog post will definitely catch the attention of the readers I am a living example to this, in the beginning i created many post without much response from readers, but knowing this i started posting attractive comments to blogs on my interested subjects. people started noticing my page and many turned in and followed. But here one thing should be noted, that is, one need to read the content well and stick to the subject while commenting. your unique comment will catch some attention and people will turn to you.
      About title This post’s title is a unique one, and people who involve in blogging will definitely jump in. A simple example is this Mr Narayana Rao noticed this page and he created one note and thru his post I am here, Now I am going to leave a note about this wonderful post in my blog 🙂 Thanks for sharing these valuable tips
      Keep inform
      Best Regards

  • An interesting read, and diabolically clever trap set by the author who has clearly been scanning the PR wires on a lazy Sunday and caught this aimed at the medical profession:

    Waukesha, MI August 19 2012.
    GE Healthcare Announces Medical Technology Breakthrough: New hybrid MRI and CAT organ scans could double major surgery success rates.

    Things are not always what they seem … hands up everyone who also thought the Lab Report was given out at the end of dog obedience classes?

  • I agree with Vic. Your article provides broad ideas. However, you need to give specific examples, that elaborate what it might look like, for each of the 10 ideas. Doing so will allow the reader to know exactly what he/she could do to make her/his article content attract links.

  • Loved the post. I laughed at the Kate Perry keyword stuffed title. What stood out to me the most was the importance of writing in your own unique voice as a way to further engage readers. I would love to read a post on how to do that. Great post overall thanks.

    • As an email marketing software company, I can recall once when a large PR firm warded us away from starting a blog that was to be written by our CEO if he wasn’t going to personally author every single article. They specifically said that the consistency of voice was crucial. What would also be interesting is to see an article that gives examples of some different types of “voice” and what makes them successful or unsuccessful.