Do you feel there are limited link building opportunities for your business or client?

Or perhaps you’re bored to death because you have to churn out the same type of link pitches to the same type of prospects all the time?

Every one of us can fall into the habit trap – doing the same as we’ve always done. To break our habits we need something that will shock us out of our routine. Something like ‘A Whack On The Side Of The Head’, as the writer, Roger von Oech calls it, in his book of the same name.

It’s a book about the ‘mental locks’ that prevent us from being more innovative – and what we can do to open them. And Majestic too, can give us a great whack on the side of the head and I like to dig into the tools – particularly Topical Trust Flow – as a regular creative exercise.

In this article, I want to give you a simple way to use ‘Topics’ to get creative ideas and go beyond the usual – and I’ll give you 6 examples of great content that attracted some terrific links.

I’ve also created a video based on this material:

This is part of the growing collection of resources on our free video course, Getting up to speed with Majestic (now 25 lectures).

What we can infer from the source URL and target URL

The process of link building comes down to a simple interaction – pitching a great idea to someone who will take the time and effort to give us a link. And Majestic lets us see the results of this type of interaction many millions of times over – and those results are something we can tap into to give us that whack on the head we need.

The result of these interactions are shown in each backlink on the database, giving the source URL – the page on which the link sits, and the target URL, the page to which the link points.

Here’s a diagram of what’s going on:

The source URL:

And the target URL:

We can’t of course eavesdrop on the interaction or negotiation that has gone on, but we can infer what has happened. We can look at the source URL to understand why the publisher decided to give the link…

…and we can look at the target url to see the content that was good enough to attract the link.

This is a window into the interaction and Majestic gives us millions of such interactions at our fingertips. And when we do infer what happened to get the link, it prompts us to think, ‘how can I do something similar?’

Not in the sense of getting a link from the same website (though that’s always nice!). But in the sense of getting inspiration that we can apply to persuade our own link prospects in a similar way.

Previously in these columns, I’ve looked for inspiration in how Government websites earn editorial links with creative campaigns and Finding inspiration for a non-profit campaign with Majestic. In the third and final post in this series, I want to explore a relatively small UK-based publisher, who have made a significant impact worldwide.

And here’s the healthy link profile in Majestic:

When we dig into these backlinks, we’ll see many of the types of link you would expect…




…and so on.

But I want to get some inspiration that might take my link prospecting to the next level.

Here’s a screenshot of the Topics tab for, and as you can see the site gets links from a wide range of topics. It’s here that you can find inspiration – all of these sites took the active decision to link and it’s worth digging into the results.

The important column for me is ‘External backlinks’ Click on any of the numbers in this column and the top 10 links that carry that Trust Flow will appear – and you can download the top 100 links.

Here’s a screenshot:

This can be a wonderful way to discover unexpected links and this can lead to unexpected niches that could provide nice links.

So below, I’ve picked out six links that I’d consider unexpected and looked at both the source URL and the target URL. Here’s what I found

6 Unexpected links to

1. Society / Religion and Spirituality

The Center for Parent / Youth Understanding “helps parents, youth workers, educators, pastors and others understand and reach today’s youth culture”.

It’s not exactly the type of organisation that you’d think would link to Creative Boom, yet they found an excellent photo essay, ‘The Teen Years: Fascinating photographs that explore six decades of adolescence’:

2. Education get an educational link from The University of Derby’s Fashion and Textile Department in the Science / Educational Resources Topic in Majestic:

The link points to an interview with design icon, Matt Giordano-Bibby, ‘Matt Giordano-Bibby on iconic design, pubcasting and following your heart’ in which he says that he choose to develop his career at the University of Derby. (Yes, and that is ‘pubcasting’, not podcasting!)

The link probably would not have happened without a mention of the University in the article.

3. Recreation / Travel

And here’s another surprising link from the travel site,

The Cardiff site links to an article on, that lists the city as the 6th most creative in the UK:

4. Travel Magazine

And the Italian edition of CondeNast Traveler picks out, and links to another superb photo story:

The story on is well-written and beautifully presented, Mirna Pavlovic documents the abandoned affluent homes of Europe’s wealthiest families:

It’s the quality of the photos that really make this article stand out – and earn the link.

5. Local media

And provides quality content that makes journalists want to share the original sources. Like this Guide to Liverpool’s Baltic Triangle, published in the Liverpool Echo:

The guide links to another classy piece on about affordable office space in garden sheds:

6. National media

Taking part in events – whether physical or live online chats is a powerful way to engage with people, get editorial coverage and – if you’re lucky – a nice editorial link. Katy Cowan makes the expert list in this Guardian article on Building freelance portfolio careers in the creative industries:

Final words

I find the topics feature in Majestic fascinating, not just for the most popular topics, but for the topics that get me wondering, “why is that topic relevant to the site I’m analysing?”.

Thirty minutes or an hour just scanning through these topics can give you a whole new perspective on your client or your competition – and a whack on the side of the head that can stimulate your own creativity.







  • Mr Jazzy


    April 26, 2017 at 7:57 am
  • Ozair Akhtar

    Hey Ken, Really a nice video. I think this is important to blog about things that attract other people to link back your content from their own websites.

    But what do you say about other traditional link building methods? Can you explain what are the good ones?

    April 29, 2017 at 9:42 am
    • Ken McGaffin

      Hi Ozair,
      I’m glad you liked the video, and your question about traditional link building methods is a good one!

      I think that in this industry, new methods come and go – infographics for example used to be all the rage and now are not so popular. YET good infographics still attract links… and many other tactics that have gone out of fashion still work on occasions.

      That’s because the important thing is not to focus on the tactic, but to focus on the audience – if your content offers value for the audience, then it has the potential to attract links.

      I’ve written about the 3 pillars of value here: which you might find helpful.


      May 3, 2017 at 12:31 pm
  • Simran Kathuria

    Great Ideas and a fresh perspective at Link Building

    May 1, 2017 at 6:34 am
    • Ken McGaffin

      Hi Simran,

      I’m glad you found the ideas useful. Creativity has always been at the heart of good link building and I think that will be even more important in the future.

      Best wishes,


      May 3, 2017 at 12:35 pm

Comments are closed.

If you have any questions in the meantime, please contact
You have successfully registered for a Majestic Demo. A Customer Advisor will contact you shortly to schedule a suitable time to connect.