Jon Cooper is an SEO consultant and the author of Point Blank SEO. You can check out his blog and follow him on Twitter @PointBlankSEO. Jon is a 19 year old, student at the University of Florida. He has been doing SEO for a couple years now, and from the very beginning, link building caught his eyes. He got his first job doing social bookmarking for his neighbor’s website, and up until that point he had no idea there was a science behind ranking in Google. They set him up with a Hotmail account and a Google spreadsheet and he bookmarked away. About two months into that He picked up a copy of SEO for Dummies, and from then on there was no looking back. He always noticed that there weren’t too many blogs solely dedicated to link building, and those that were didn’t update or post very often. After realizing this, he set out on his blogging adventure in March 2011.
Hello Jon, Can you tell us more about yourself, who you are, where you from and what you do?
I’m a 19 year old college student from Tampa, FL who loves to build links. I go to the University of Florida, but I’m currently taking a semester off to spend 6 months to focus solely on my work, as well as to spend sometime in the state’s capital (Tallahassee).
What is Point Blank SEO and why did you start it?
Point Blank SEO is a link building blog I started in March of 2011. I started it because I was irritated with the lack of new, actionable link building content on the Web. Because I had a few ideas of my own that I noticed weren’t being written about, I decided to give blogging a shot, and almost 2 years later, the blog is home to over 1,000 readers a day (a lot more than I hoped for when I started out!).
How did you learn so much about SEO at just 19-year-old to blog about it?
I focused solely on link building, which allowed me to get really good at one thing. I’m by no means an expert, but not having to focus on any other part of online marketing (up until now really; finally starting to diversify my skill set) was extremely helpful in the learning process because there was a lot less to learn & practice.
What inspires and keeps you motivated?
The children at an orphanage in Nagpur, India that I got a chance to visit over the holidays. Whenever I’m feeling lazy, they usually pop into my head and motivate me to keep working so one day I can spend every day with people in need like them. (Sounds cheesy, but it’s the truth.)
What kind of things that you learned since you started blogging that you wouldn’t have learned otherwise?
The blogger’s mentality. Sometimes we forget to put ourselves in the shoes of the people we’re reaching out to, but after being a blogger myself and having to prioritize, I realized this has helped me a ton in blogger outreach for my clients. For example, if you really want to guest post on their blog, ask them for topics (or say something like “What do you want written on your blog that you haven’t gotten around to yet?”). What do they want?
What is Link building and why is it important?
Link building is the practice of acquiring links from external websites that point to your target’s website. It’s the backbone of SEO, and a site will have very little chance of ranking in Google without some kind of a link profile.
How did you learn to blog and write great posts at such young age?
I learned mostly from failure. No one seems to remember Point Blank SEO in 2011; that’s because my writing sucked back then! But as time went on, I realized my own writing style and how to appeal to my audience.
How do you beat writer’s block or (blogger’s block) and keep writing in dark moments?
I didn’t, because I refused to allow writer’s block to be something that happens to me by totally avoiding it. I didn’t blog unless I felt I had something to say, and I never tried forcing anything (i.e. I never sat down and said “Alright, time to write a blog post”).
How do you come up with great stuff to write about?
Since I read other SEO blogs for over a year almost religiously looking for solely link building content, I knew exactly what my audience would want because I had been in it myself. After that, it was easy choosing topics to write about and knowing which ones to avoid.
What do you think it’s your greatest accomplishment so far as a blogger or SEO Expert?
I’m no expert, but if I had to choose an accomplishment it would be how many links this particular post has gotten. Last time I checked, it was at around ~240 linking root domains.
How do you deal with school, writing new posts and stay on top of SEO and Link building news?
I dealt with school by taking a semester off , and like I said with writer’s block, I never try to force anything. When I do have an idea for a post, it’s not hard to make time for it because it usually doesn’t take me long to finish when I’m passionate about it.
Staying on top of the latest tips & news is a little difficult, but Feedly for the iPhone (an app) has made digesting all my RSS feeds pretty easy, so if I’m stuck waiting somewhere, I can easily catch up on some reading.
What challenges you had to deal with when starting your blog as a new blogger?
I had to deal with not getting any readers for a pretty long time. It took until October, more than 6 months later, to get any real readers to my site.
What makes you different and puts you in position to write about SEO and Link building?
The only thing that makes me different is that I focus on one topic, and that topic alone. Most SEO blogs try to cover it all, but I stick to just link building.
Do you think blogging about SEO and Link building, helps you learn or makes you a better SEO and Link builder?
It definitely has, because I now understand the daily challenges of a blogger and how I can use those to my own advantage when building links.
Where do you see SEO and Link building industry in the next 5 years from now?
It doesn’t matter where it might be. What matters is where your business is going to be in 5 years. Link building might be dead by then, but businesses will still continue to thrive. I suggest diversifying traffic as soon as you achieve any kind of rankings that you think link building might bring you.
Where do you see your blog and yourself in the next 5 to 10 years from now?
That’s a really long time . Who knows? I might have a new blog, or I might become a full time missionary. I guess we’ll both have to wait and see.
If you had a list of ‘best-kept secrets’ [websites, books, coaches] you’d recommend, which would you include and why?
I’ve already put together a list of them right here. I created it because I got this question a lot!
What advice or words of wisdom can you give to young bloggers or Link builder wannabes?
Be different. When you sit back and see yourself as part of the majority, then it’s time to reevaluate yourself. If you really want to be great in anyway, you can’t do what everyone else is doing.
Anything else you would like to say?
Just wanted to say thanks to Buntu for taking the time to put these questions & the post together!