Get Your Link Building Requests Answered

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
  • 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 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.