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  • Get Your Link Building Requests Answered

    Link Building  

    Oct 12 2009

    I got asked the question below after a link building webinar I did this week.  It is a great question, and one that is asked to me often by many people.  I thought I would take the time to really answer it, and provide some useful tips for overcoming the link building block that we all hit.  I even got some link building ninjas to help me answer this, so sit back – buckle up, and get ready for a great ride!

    Question Asked:

    I’ve contacted some of the sites that have linked to my competitors and requested that they link to me, but have never heard back.  What do I do?

    My first answer to this is actually in the form of a question – How many link request did you even send out? Typically if sending out a hundred or so requests, be prepared to only hear back from 1 or 2 people (and in turn only find a few good links out of every few hundred or so out of those). So, if you are not having any luck and have only sent out 10 or 20 emails then you have only begun to scratch the surface with link building.

    I would also ask what the exact technique of finding your competitors links you were using, because there are many techniques of finding good links via the competition. If you are just going to YSE and exploring the URL of your #1 competitor and going down the list of results, and emailing all of then, I am not surprised by your results. I would use a lot of those results as guides only. If you find a review site, don’t email them and ask them for a link (with a review you already have written), talk to your customers and see if they would be willing to go to the site and submit a review for you. Don’t tell them what to say, just ask them if they would be willing to go to “review site a” and leave a few comments about what they purchased from you.

    Here’s an idea that works!

    Letting people know where they can find you online (via your website) is a must too. How will people know they can leave a review on Yelp or Google Maps, if you don’t have a link on your site somewhere that says “Learn more about us on Yelp”, or “Find more pictures on Google Maps”? So again, use the above suggested methods to see (research) what the competition is doing, but use this technique to actually get the link. You are not breaking any terms of service because you are not giving people compensation for their reviews.

    Are you being yourself?

    If you are sending the same mass email out to everybody you find, then I understand why you are not having much success. You need to find ways to connect with the site owner where you want a link. What can you do for them? Do you have a site where giving them a link might be appropriate? Can you suggest any changes that might help their business? Could you offer to continue giving them content which would help enrich the visitors of their site? Sure, this process can take a lot longer, but the results (links) you get with it are going to do much much better for you in the long run and pass the most juice!

    I think back to once when I found a college professors students “curriculum” page, where they had included resources to other websites for the kids. I had an article that I thought would be a perfect fit. I emailed this teacher and explained who I was, and that I thought I had something that might work well on this page. I also told her I would be willing to do an interview, or talk to these kids via Skype etc. (answer their questions) She ate it up, and I helped out her kids, and now have many valuable .edu links because of it. I would have never got this professor if the email had started out “Dear Webmaster”.

    I also think that many “new to link building” individuals are afraid of being told “no”, or they think the person they are trying to get the link from knows what they are up to (or that they are trying to be a sneaky SEO). I am amazed at how many trusted sites, passing amazing link juice are ran by people who don’t have a clue what they are sitting on. If you find ways to connect with these people on a human level, they will link to you, and you will have success!

    I went to Twitter and posed this question to my followers and asked for my link building NINJA friends to chime in.

    Here is what they said:

    Follow Melanie Nathan on Twitter

    Follow Melanie Nathan on Twitter

    First Link Building Ninja Up: Melanie Nathan – (Melanie Nathan specializes in creating custom inbound link building campaigns for her clients at CanadianSEO).

    Assuming the question revolves around a person emailing all the sites their competitor is linked from and getting no response, here is what I’ve learned from my experiences:

    First of all, what kind of links requests were they (reciprocal, editorial, paid etc)? How many emails did they send out? Were they all at once or scattered over a period of time? Did they all have the same subject and email body content? Did they not get ANY response from ANY of the sites?

    It could be that they’re too busy to respond and your email got buried; maybe the person who handles it is on vacation or sick etc etc etc. I believe though, that the two main reasons you don’t get a response to a link request are either a) your email was flagged as spam or b) they didn’t like the pitch.

    Of course, you can’t really know definitively, but there are a few common sense things you can be doing in order to combat the above:

    • Don’t include any hyperlinks within your email. Not even your own site url or the url of the page you want a link from (that comes after initial contact).
    • Email them from a professional domain based or non-spammy email address (i.e. not linktome@hotmail.com).
    • Word your email carefully. In the real world, you wouldn’t walk up to a total stranger and immediately ask them for something. Emailing a link prospect should be looked upon the same way.
    • Make each link request email unique instead of generic. Show your personality!

    Too me, the first email should be about opening up the lines of communication and making them feel safe enough to even respond to you. Not bombarding them with how awesome your site is and what you want them to do for you (Note: I’m not saying this person did so).

    In any case, a follow up email is definitely a good idea. I generally forward a copy of my initial email (assuming it was well worded) and include a note, something like:

    “Hi again, I didn’t get an answer to my initial email. Just wanted to make sure you’d received it. Looking forward to your response. Cheers, ”

    If they don’t respond after that, then they’re probably not interested so I wouldn’t advise emailing them a third time or you’d really be spamming them lol.

    My last piece of advice is to only email a couple of sites at a time. This way you can test out a few differently worded emails and techniques, seeing what works and what doesn’t, before you waste every good prospect on one bad pitch.

    I’d like to get a look at the actual email they’re sending out/technique they’re using. I’d probably have some more tips for them.

    Follow Debra on Twitter

    Follow Debra on Twitter

    Next Up, Link Building Ninja #2: Debra Mastaler – (Link Building Services – Link Building Training by Debra Mastaler of Alliance-Link)

    I think you have a number of options:

    1.  Write back and ask again, preface the email with a “don’t want to be a pest but would really appreciate it” type comment
    2.  Write back and apologize saying you forgot to mention the compensation/incentive offer/giveaway you have to send in exchange for the link
    3.  Go find their blog and start commenting. When you feel confident they’ve noticed you there, write again, point out your participation on the blog and ask for the link.
    4.  Sign up for their newsletter. When you write back be sure to flatter the newsletter and then ask for the link.
    5. Combine answer 2 and 3 and ask for the link
    6.  Backlink the competitor site and get links on all the sites linking to her/him.
    7.  Forget about it and move on. The time spent thinking and rewriting could be put to use elsewhere.

      Follow Arnie Kuenn on Twitter

      Follow Arnie Kuenn on Twitter

      Now Up, Link Building Ninja #3: Arnie Kuenn – (Arnie Kuenn & his team focus on link building & higher rankings at Vertical Measures)

      My initial reaction was to say “find another job”. Not because this link builder is unsuccessful, but because they actually asked this question. Clearly this is their fourth day on the job and they have no one training or coaching them.

      Let’s break this down.

      “I’ve contacted some of the sites that linked to my competitors…” SOME of the sites? That sounds to me like something less than 10 sites and if you have already given up and are puzzled as to why this isn’t working, you might polish up your resume.

      “…and requested that they link to me,”. Hmmm. REQUESTED that they link to you? Do you give them an excellent reason to? Did you make a fair offer to them? Or did you just request a link because they were linking to your competitor?

      “…but have never heard back.” If you are already disappointed in the fact that no one got back to you, you have many discouraging days ahead of you. Again, you might want to rethink your career choice. This is a numbers game. Even if you have a great offer, you are trying to sell someone on the idea of giving you a link. Expect the vast majority to ignore you.

      “What do I do?” If you haven’t already quit your job, you might want to evaluate your approach to potential link partners. Make sure you can clearly articulate why someone should want to link to you. Did you take the time to make a personal contact? Did you make a great offer? What is the compelling reason someone should want to link to you? Also, if you haven’t already, consider other methods to gain links. There are dozens of ways to do it, but they all require hard work and a bit of a salesperson’s mentality.

      Follow Dan Patterson on Twitter

      Follow Dan Patterson on Twitter

      Final Ninja of the day #4 Dan Patterson – (Dan Patterson is account manager at SEO.com and has a keen eye for link building).

      First of all, how does the subject of your email read? If it sounds like an obvious “I want a link from you” title, you can assume that most people are just deleting the email without even opening it. You really have to be able to offer something good and beneficial in return if someone is going to act on your request.

      Second, how does the body of your email read? I’ve seen some emails that are so long I’m not going to read them, and neither will anyone else. But I’ve seen some that were only two sentences. Also, don’t just use a template for every site. Come up with something unique for each site so they don’t feel like they were just spammed.

      The third thing is follow up. Chances are that one email isn’t going to do it. People are used to getting link request emails and just deleting them or ignoring them. But if you make a good request or offer, but then follow it up a time or two you may actually get a response.

      Thanks guys & gals! This is some great advice, and answers the question perfectly. When you hit a link building roadblock, as the individual on my webinar did, I think you need to take a step back and first, evaluate what you are doing, take a closer look at the techniques you are using, then read over these suggestions offered here by our link building ninjas.  You do this, and I know you will start to see more successful results with link building.

      • http://www.interactivecleveland.com Sean

        Nice article, some good tips. I have had some luck with more informal requests, opening up a dialog before requesting a link.

      • http://www.dreamsystemsmedia.com/mat-siltala.aspx Mat Siltala

        @Sean
        Agreed, I have found the more YOU that you are, the better response you will get. Thx for dropping by

      • http://searchenginesemseo.com SEO Marketing In Singapore

        Do you guys entertain link building requests or treat them as spam? I am asking because I am running more than 100 websites and 99.99% of the time I’ll ignore the request as I don’t have the time to add the links to my sites.
        .-= SEO Marketing In Singapore´s last blog ..Google Launched Next Generation Satellite =-.

      • http://www.dreamsystemsmedia.com/mat-siltala.aspx Mat Siltala

        @SEO Marketing In Singapore
        I can’t answer for the others, but I think you can tell the difference in your inbox between the normal link request spam, and the informal email from a person who “gets it” and is willing to connect with you first, and then let you see what they have to offer (or want)

      • http://www.prospectmx.com/blog Blue Word Maker

        Some good tips here. I would recommend maybe picking up the phone every once and a while, too. E-mails can only go so far. But sometimes, if you catch someone on the phone at the right time, you can save yourself a lot of time by “kicking it old school” and just negotiating an arrangement via telefono.
        .-= Blue Word Maker´s last blog ..3 Golden Rules of SEO (for the Tech) =-.

      • http://www.dreamsystemsmedia.com/mat-siltala.aspx Mat Siltala

        @Blue Word Maker
        very good point! I’ll make sure and add that to the upcoming list of “Offline link building tactics!” Thanks,

      • http://www.mesrianilaw.com/ Jerome

        I think you should make the request letter personal. Use the name of the contact person if available instead of using Webmaster or SEO. Express that you are also interested in building a relationship with them and mention how they can benefit from linking to your site instead of just sending a link request. And I agree to do follow ups to know the status of your email.

      • http://www.seo-doctor.co.uk/ SEO Doctor

        I think just plain link requests looks spammy – you need to give them a reason to link to you. Link to them, 3-way, give them an article…

      • http://www.seobyhand.co.uk Wes – SEOByHand

        It’s true in link building and in life – you don’t get anything for free! Make it worth their while and you’ll surely get a response. A simple please link to me is surely going to lead to dissapointment.

      • http://www.viteb.com/blog/rss/ josh

        @Blue Word Maker I do agree with you but again, we must have solid reason to give a call for links. There are various factor that need to consider before calling any party.
        .-= josh´s last blog ..Good Web Design Practices =-.

      • Seo London

        Some tips are really great but are not easy to implement but instead of mailing too much its better to go for a live chat you will get better and quick result.

      • http://www.i-com.net baddt

        I’ve found that, when possible, get on the phone. It may be difficult to target as large an amount of people, but if you can target sites whose readers would be genuinely interested in your product that’s half the battle.

        Students are blogging a lot these days as well, if you are looking for a niche area and students are studying for that area (medicine, law etc) they are interested in linking as it raises their status in the blogosphere.

      • http://www.i-com.net/blog Paul Greenhalgh

        Thanks for the tips. Getting on the phone is definitely a good idea as you can get an immediate response. However, speaking directly to someone means that you really do have to have your pitch together and be good at thinking on your feet.
        .-= Paul Greenhalgh´s last blog ..Peter Crouch and how Google doesn’t always get it right =-.

      • http://www.searchengineoptimizationjournal.com Nick Stamoulis

        It really is a numbers game. You need to take an approach that shows personality too. Can’t have canned emails. Blog see right through that approach.
        .-= Nick Stamoulis´s last blog ..Different Ways Can You Build Links =-.

      • http://bayuratri.com Dream House

        hi. I agree with you. being my self. just write what you want to write. content is the king. but, a good content without even a single reader, its just a piece of shit. isn’t?

      • http://www.jeffwendland.com Jeff

        I’m curious what Dan considers “making a good offer”. Does that mean cash or does it mean making a good case for why they may want to link to you. Many of my clients have a very small SEO budget so buying links is not an option as of now.

        Great topic.

      • http://www.seo.com Dan Patterson

        @Jeff
        Hey Jeff,
        Cash is always an option, but making a good case is something you should always do and that’s really what I was referring to. Just be sure that your request doesn’t sound whiny or like you’re begging because you won’t get a good response that way. Compliment them on their site, and then explain why they would want to link to you. If they ask what’s in it for them, you could counter with a link from another site or cash. But that depends on your client :)
        .-= Dan Patterson´s last blog ..10 Tips For Video SEO =-.

      • http://www.seochampion.com SEO Champion

        Really great points. Better to join some groups like Where more no of people will participate and send invitation for link building… :)

      • http://www.biggerpockets.com/renewsblog Joshua Dorkin @ BiggerPockets

        I’d be interested in hearing from the ninjas what kind of response rate they get from these email solicitations? Personalization is absolutely important and will certainly increase the odds that someone will not trash your message immediately, but of course, it won’t guarantee a response.

        What kind of numbers are we talking about, guys?
        .-= Joshua Dorkin @ BiggerPockets´s last blog ..WHY do YOU Invest in Real Estate? =-.

      • http://www.seofocused.com/ Anwar | SEOFocused.Com

        Most people make one common mistake, they send the request to sites that directly compete against them. Where in reality, they should be sending out requests to site owners who’s sites complement theirs. aside from that, I agree with you as to “How many link request did you even send out?” its the number game and get used the fact that you only get answer to a fraction of the email you send out
        .-= Anwar | SEOFocused.Com´s last blog ..Article Writing Service | Unique Copyscape Passed Article Writing =-.

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      • http://www.ericward.com Eric Ward

        The degree of success you will have using email as a method of contact will depend on MANY factors. I’ve had projects with 100% success rate using email alone. Yes, that’s right, 100%. That’s easy to scoff at, but now here’s why. The content was from National Geographic, it was about a very narrow vertical, and there were less than 25 crucial targets I’d identified that were the most potent targets for that particular content. Now all of a sudden that 100% success rate makes perfect sense. I’ve also had projects where I needed to use the phone just to find a contacts that could help me. And yes, I’ve had projects that failed. The point here is that it isn’t email itself that does or doesn’t work. It’s about the merit of the content, the merit interests of the target, and the ability to reach them respectfully. It’s worked for me for 15 years.

        Best,

        Eric

      • http://www.dreamsystemsmedia.com/mat-siltala.aspx Mat Siltala

        @Eric Ward
        Thanks Eric, I think what you are saying is to not limit yourself to ONLY one technique – every industry is different and I think you need to explore all avenues. Thanks for sharing!

      • http://www.brooksdigitalmarketing.co.uk Jason

        I find that good research in the first place narrows down the amount of targets and formulating a really relevant, compelling offer then increase the success rate. I’ve found that offering discounts, links to genuinely relevant content gets the best conversion rates. Hitting the phone is also a good tip and separates you out form the email brigade as a real person!
        .-= Jason´s last blog ..BBC News – Google to limit free news access =-.

      • http://www.joeperri.com Joe Perri

        Thanks for writing this article. I will be using some of these techniques with a website I am working on marketing. I was getting alright results with exchanging links, but I do think some points you and your NINJAS made will help to improve my results.

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      • Thomas

        Arnie Kuenn literally tears up every word in this poor person’s question; it was someone at a webinar, not necessarily somebody who calls themselves an SEO. It might seem like common sense but not everybody has a great affinity for and understanding of the internet. I doubt Arnie would tell a client asking stupid questions to quit their job or go polish their resume.

        I like Melanie’s answer.

      • http://online-marketing-course.org Anne Marie

        I agree with Anwar, you can’t send requests to direct competitors. This happens so often. You must send requests to sites that compliment your site, not compete with your site.

      • http://www.LinaBruzewicz.com Georgeann Lehto

        Great article and straight to the point. I am not sure if this is actually the best place to ask but do you folks have any thoughts on where to employ some professional writers? Thanks in advance :)

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      • http://www.charleselena.com.au/melbournegraphicdesign.html Charles

        This article is very very helpful to me for improve my knowledge. Thanks. I really like Debra’s answer because she had simple and easy explained. I think one other benefit is you grow new business relationships with other webmasters.

      • http://monstergalaxydatabase.blogspot.com/ John

        @Sean

        Agreed, really well written and helpful article. Glad I came across it. Thanks!

      • http://www.rankingbyseo.com Lalit Sharma

        @Eric Ward
        It is a great pleasure to comment on your feedback. In early days of my link building career, I was really frustrated by the results and output. But a day, searching for some useful link building tips, I landed on your blog post “http://www.ericward.com/bestpractices/2008/04/farewell-linkmoses-hello-link-building.html” which really changed my life and given me a better way to move forward with link building. I recommend all my link building friends to read it once.

        Now back to the point, I agree that link building is really tough if you are running after competitors back links and also agree that most of them will not love to link back to you. But, what we can do to improve our ratio of replies:

        1. Never keep your mail Subject/Title as “Link Exchange”, “Link Request” etc. rather use something like “Business Partnership”, “Be a Business Partner” and so which better fits the sites business. It seems a little Spam but at least site webmaster will give a try to read it.
        2. In body of the mail like Dan mentioned, make sure to keep the matter short and eye catching. Don’t forget to give a reason why you want them to link to you and keep this part in BOLD, COLOR and CAPITAL letters so that the webmaster can understand what the mail is about really. And, in the end don’t forget to say sorry for your FALSE subject matter of your mail.

        In my opinion, along with following competitor’s links, we should arrange some other great links and how I do is, please visit my blog post:
        http://link-popularity-india.blogspot.com/2009/12/convert-mails-into-links-and-make-link.html

        I am sure, my blog post will help such link builders who don’t know how to arrange good links via mails.

        Regards,
        Lalit Sharma

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