How Not To Ask For A Link

Yesterday Jennifer Laycock of Search Engine Guide posted about the right way to ask for a link in Link Building As Relationship Building – A Great Example. I thought I’d go the opposite way and share by way of an an example of how not to ask for a link.

As this site has grown in visibility so have the requests for link exchanges. Here are a few don’t from a request I found in my inbox a few days ago.

  1. Don’t send an automated request. When I get email that I didn’t ask for from an automated source I immediately think spam. You’ve lost me before I’ve gotten past your first sentence. And if you are going to send an automated email, don’t send two copies to every email address listed on the site in the span of a minute. Personalize your email by showing me in some way you’re familiar with the site and me. As Jennifer points out in the title of her post build relationships. The web is a social place and you’ll do better by building relationships instead building links with strangers.
  2. Don’t require me to visit your directory to submit my own site. Remember you’re trying to convince me to do something for you and making me work to do you a favor isn’t going to score any points. A better approach would be to add the link to my site first. In fact your whole email could simply be to let me know you liked my site and linked to it. If you did I would certainly look at your site. And if I like your site I’ll link to it without you having to ask. That’s how you benefit from a social network. You do without asking for anything in return. Oddly enough when you do for others they’ll often return in kind.
  3. Don’t expect that I’m going to add a paragraph of description to your link. I have no intention of creating a new page on the site just for your link. Send me the url and that’s it. If you have to, tell me your preferred anchor text for the link, but I don’t need a lengthy description. While you’re at it don’t send me your information in the format you would use to submit to a directory. Do you see a directory on this site? Oh that’s right you used automated software to request the link. I forgot you’ve never visited the site.
  4. Don’t tell me the kind of links you will and won’t accept from me. Again you’re the one doing the asking and hoping I’ll say ‘yes’. The more demands you make the less likely a ‘yes’ will be forthcoming.
  5. Don’t ask unless our sites are topically related. You might have heard that Google frowns on mass link exchanges between unrelated sites. That kind of link exchange can hurt a site more than help it. And why would my visitors find your site interesting? If my visitors won’t find value in your site then no link for you. If our sites aren’t related in some way then stay away from the send button on your email. It’ll save us both some time.

All of the above occurred in a single link request email. An email I get each and every month. I guess one more don’t would don’t send me the same request monthly and require me to opt out if I want to stop receiving your request.

Now compare all of the above to the link request Jennifer received and see if you can tell why that request is a much better approach than the one I received and why it’s more likely to receive a link and perhaps more.

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  1. Some times i read link request emails and have to remind myself that it wasn’t me that asked them for a favour, They are asking me! 99% of the time i automatically bin link requests, Simply because 99% of them are copy/past, Automated or simply rude.

    If someone takes the time to read my site and appear to genuinly believe that a recip link would be good for both sites and thier visitors i am far more likely to put a link up for them.

    The email jennifer recieved was a brilliant email that is far more likely to result in a link.
    And the ironic thing is, The woman who sent it probably didn’t even write the email with that in mind. She is probably just a nice lady who tends to automatically do things the correct way.

  2. Matt isn’t it comical sometimes the stuff people ask when they want you to do them a favor? My guess is most are using automated software that’s advising them to do this crap.

    I do bin most of them too, but sometimes I’ll read one for the fun of seeing what I need to do if I want to help someone. I’ve been tempted to email a few back with some general seo advice, but my guess is the advice would go unheeded.

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