How Andy Crestodia Earned 5,000 Plus Backlinks Without Ever Sending an Email


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Google almost any SEO related term and you’ll probably see at least some of the information is repeated. 

The problem is that people don’t care about what you repeat. They care about what you have to say.

Andy Crestodina is a master of creating original content and talks about how anyone can find knowledge gaps, create original data (for less than a few hundred dollars) and generate thousands of links without ever asking of one.

He also discusses why keyword research is really a backward way of creating content and how he develops real relationships with people over social media. 

The best part is that you can repeat all of this yourself.


Your conference, Content Jam, just passed. What were some of the biggest takeaways?

They had great speakers like Mark Schaffer, April Dunford, Will Reynolds, and Britney Muller.

Mark Schaffer made the point that a lot of marketing isn’t in our control anymore. We can’t control word-of-mouth marketing and reviews. The best solution, therefore, is to create a small group of raving fans and give them red carpet treatment.

Take a stand and believe in something.


I noticed that you invest a lot in relationships, education, and conferences. At what point in your business did you decide to do that?

He started building websites and after doing that he realized that he needed SEO. Once the customer has a website and basic SEO, they need ongoing content to keep up to date. That’s when he started offering content as well. 

As for events, building websites is a very high trust business, so it was important that there was some face to face interaction. 

He needs a lot of people to know who they are and a few people to trust them very deeply.


When you are first starting out, how do you choose which type of content is right for you?

For B2B, you need more bottom of the funnel content. (Lower volume of higher value prospects). 

B2C, (t-shirts, shoes, etc) (higher volume of lower value prospects) and more top of funnel content. 


B2B Examples:

Blog posts

Lead Magnets





Email Newsletters

Let’s say you just produced a piece of content. 


It’s not so much the format of the content. It’s more the promotion channel. 


Is that piece of content better promoted in search or social?

Great content strategists can look at a headline and determine where it should be promoted, (For example search vs. social).


Are there any social tactics that are working really well right now? (For example, going live).

His favorite is networking. 

There are small numbers of people that have a lot of visibility with a small group of people that could really move the needle in your business.

Talking to people is going to do a lot more than just dumping links on social media.

Don’t use social media to drive traffic. 

Use social media to reach out and network. 

Then you can leverage those relationships and collaborate on content.

Those influencers can then help promote your content.

So for example, he does a blog post once a year that is very deep. To ensure that it is well promoted, he asks major influencers to contribute a quote. Now they know about it and are likely to want to share it as their name is attached to the work as well.


I find that a lot of people struggle to make genuine connections on social media, particularly those just starting out. How do you create real relationships and make sure that the collaboration is mutually beneficial, even if you are just starting out?

It doesn’t have to be a one way street. For example, this podcast is a two way street because I’m getting great content and Andy is getting promoted 🙂 He also points out that a lot of people enjoy giving information.

As for creating real relationships on social media, consider going from an email to a video call with the person. Then you can also connect with them in person or at conferences if they live far away.

Andy puts on a marketing get together once a month in Chicago as a way of keeping those relationships alive. 

The key is to continue to upgrade the form of communication. If you do this, the communication won’t be a one-way street.


I find a lot of people creating content that they think is original, but if you look in the SERPs, a lot of it is repetitive. How do you ensure that you are creating original content and how do you define what is not original?

When you create content, start by looking at where the gap in the SERPs exists. 

Ryan Holiday once said, “It’s a failure of the market that information doesn’t exist.”

An example of this is when Andy wanted to know the average lifespan of a website. 

The information didn’t exist, so hired a VA to go into the top 50 marketing websites on Wayback Machine to see the interval at which they redesigned. She sent back a spreadsheet with the answer. It was 2 years and seven months.

That data didn’t exist before. It now exists in people’s content everywhere. That’s how you know that it is original.

If you are creating an ultimate guide, consider taking a stand that nobody has taken before. Your hand might shake a little before you publish the post because you know that you are giving away so much value for free.


What is the best way to find where these content gaps exist?

First of all, don’t start with the keyword first approach. Consider the content-first approach.

Start with inspiration. Then ask if your idea aligns with a keyphrase.

For example, he once created a 20-minute video because he wanted to show people how he wrote some of his most successful articles. 

It wasn’t until after the idea was formed that he thought about how he could align that with a keyword. 

Inspiration 1st and Keywords 2nd

There needs to be some passion or difference otherwise you’re doing a job that one day a robot will do.


Let’s back up for one second. You mentioned that you created the average lifespan of a website statistic and it didn’t sound very involved. About how much did it cost? Is this something that everyone can be doing regardless of budget?

It was a couple hundred bucks. The VA was about $25 per hour and it didn’t take her that long to put it together.

Another example was finding out how much the average marketer makes. He went to and and looked at the data for the top 7 marketing job titles. He calculated the medium and now had an article that had more data from either of the two sites.

A lot of people have data and don’t know it. He has access to about 700 Google Analytics accounts simply from websites he has worked on and he currently has a VA going through them and calculating the average bounce rate. This will give a benchmark number for certain industries.

Also, this will make backlinking so much easier. We just talked about the two things you need for backlinks:

Relationships with content creators + Original data = Backlinks

7,000 websites have linked to us organically and we have never once asked for a link.


What are some of the most common mistakes that you see when you are mentoring startups? (This is more specific to startups)

Startups struggle to articulate what they do. Write it out in 6 words and make that your headline.

The visitor, oftentimes, can’t tell what the startup does at a glance. So don’t assume the visitor knows what you do.

He does a live website critique and at one of those, he came across the headline:


“Be ready for your next big moment. Try Company Name Today”


Now it says:

“The Number One App for Public Speaking. Start Sounding Like a Leader”


Now the visitor knows what the company does. 


Use the Backyard BBQ test. If you were to describe in 10 words what you do, and I have to ask you a followup question, you failed. 


It should not be a mystery what your company does.


Go get his book:


Content Chemistry: The Illustrated Handbook for Content Marketing


Follow him on Linkedin




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