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.

    I Visted Your Site Today, And Really Liked It…

    For those of you that have been in the game (Internet marketing/SEO) for a while, just reading my title will be enough for you to guess what this post is about. Yep, you guessed it – Reciprocal linking emails and other link building offers you get in your inbox. I get these everyday too, almost as much as the spam I get on my blogs!

    The reason I wanted to do a post about it is because of an email I got from a client, who happens to be a really smart guy (a contract lawyer in fact) but still to new to Internet marketing to have a clue about the things to embrace and the things to toss out. He received the usual email that started off “I visited your site today, and really liked it” – and went on to flatter more – then the question came to me:

    We got this early this morning and thought it was cool but do not want to make any mistakes. Should we link to people like this or is it to risky? I will look at his site today but don’t know if he is trying to help us or just promote himself or both. What do you think and how does this work?

    The fact that he even mentioned it might be to risky (red flags flying around) makes me know that I have been teaching him well, but it also worries me that he’s so confused what to do. (hit delete key now)

    A Voting System

    Voting compared to linking
    Voting compared to linking

    I do not, and never have preached (or practiced) reciprocal linking, but that does not mean I don’t have some reciprocal links in certain cases. I try to help people understand linking as a voting system. If I vote for you and you vote for me, our vote cancel each other out (in general). This would be the rules I follow for the practice of – “general reciprocal linking” by gaining a ton of links that are not related to your site or content through reciprocal linking programs or email spamming.

    For the most part the sites that are contacting you via email to reciprocal link, are sending the same email to thousands of other people that don’t have their permission either. Most of these links are not targeted either, and the sites they want to put you on don’t have any pages indexed in Google. It does not mean all opportunities are bad, but you just need to do some research and be careful.

    How To Test

    If you want to be sure, or test if the link might do you any good, just take the URL to Google and first, see if the page is indexed (just type in the actual URL in Google – does anything come up?), and then find out what the cache date is (go to the Google search bar and type in, and that should give you a pretty good idea if you want to pursue the link. If the site is legit, looks legit, is targeted, or close to your industry and has many pages indexed in Google with recent cached dates it might be worth getting.

    The Problem

    Most of these businesses (marketers) who are emailing you for a reciprocal link, own sites that are not worthy of linking to, or getting a link from. In fact in some cases if they have linked to you, I would (and have) reply back and ask them to kindly remove the link (especially if it seems spammy). Just look at the site, and use your better judgment – its not rocket science!

    Now if CNN offered me a link on their homepage, and all I had to do is link to them, I would do it in a heartbeat, but lets be honest – that will NEVER happen! Just think about quality people!

    The point here is to be choosy about the reciprocal linking you do, and remember to try and get as many votes for your site as possible without having to vote for someone else. Also make sure that you are focusing on the quality of those links because its not who has the most links, but who has the most quality links.

    In conclusion

    I do not think you should be greedy in linking out – that is different then reciprocal linking, in fact I recommend it in a site co-citation way, but that would include linking out to big players in the industry that are related to what you are doing in the post, article, press, web page etc. This will for sure help you in your efforts. Hopefully this gives those of you who are new to the game some tips or things to look for the next time you get email offers of reciprocal linking.