Sending Link Requests
Sending link requests can be soul destroying. You study and find 100 possible link partners, send them out your standard link request email and you get between 3 and 5 back. The second time around, you may get two link requests that successfully lead to a link exchange - all that pre-supposes that you are offering a quality link in the first place!
I found the following article, originally written by Kristi Hines of Kikolani fame, which I feel hits the nail on the head when it comes to sending link requests - as ever - quality, rather than quantity!
Imagine that you are a salesperson for a shoe store. There are three potential customers in the store - an athletic male, a professionally dressed female, and a rugged outdoorsman.
Approach #1: You tell all three potential customers that you have 100% authentic Australian made Ugg Boots at discounted prices.
Approach #2: You tell the athletic male that Nike running shoes on sale. You tell the professional female that designer pumps are on special this week only. You tell the outdoorsman that hiking boots are on clearance.
Which of the following approaches will get the most sales when writing link requests? And what does this have to do with link requests?
You have seen them. The cookie cutter link requests that are probably sent out to hundreds of people with the same anchor text and description. More often than not, the links themselves have nothing to do with anything on the website. Since these link requests are sent out in mass, they probably do get some results. But are the results high quality and relevant?
Sending Link Request Sales Pitches
Consider link requests like sales pitches, with the webmaster as the potential customer. How can you customize your pitch to fit each customer?
Analyse the Website
First, take a good look around the website. Is it personal or professional? Is it directly or indirectly related to the link I want to have added to their site? The ultimate goal is determining how the link request will benefit their site and their visitors.
Find a Contact Name
Good salespeople like to address their potential customers by name. So look for the name of the website owner (if possible) or find a directory that lists the name of the person who runs the website. This way, instead of “Dear Webmaster” you can send something more personalized and direct.
Preferred Contact Method
Each website has a preferred method of contact, whether it is by email to a specific department or through a contact form. If the page you would like to have your link added to has contact information for someone who maintains that page or directs you to their contact form, that is the avenue through which you should request the link.
Study the Link Format
When crafting the request, look at how links are formatted on the page your link would be placed upon. Are they using URL’s, company names, or anchor text? Do they have a short or detailed description, or additional information such as address, phone number, etc.? However they link to other sites is how your link details should be formatted. If the link details you send do not fit the mold, and the webmaster has to contact you for additional details, then chances are they are not going to respond at all.
Prove the Link’s Value
The thing that closes the sale is making your product valuable, and this can definitely be said about links. The link you want to place has to be a valuable to the website owner and their visitors. So if you have the option to add a description to your link, make sure the description is something that is enticing to the website’s visitors. Otherwise, be sure to emphasize how the link you are submitting is valuable to the website’s visitors in your link request.
Check for Broken Links
Now, for that little something extra. If there is one thing webmaster’s despise, it’s broken links. There is a Firefox plugin called Check Page Links, and all you have to do is right click on a page and run the plugin to highlight broken links. Typically, there is at least one on the page to which you want to be added. Letting the webmaster or site owner know that one of their resources is no longer available means they are more likely to take the time to edit the page. While they are there, they might as well add on your valuable link, especially if it’s a good replacement to one they just lost.
Is it Worth It?
Does this sound like a lot of extra work when sending link requests? Maybe. But you have to look at it this way. As a link builder, you could spend a lot of time seeking out a large quantity of sites, send a pre-formatted template, and receive positive responses from only a small percentage of those sites. Or, you could take a little extra time with each request you send out to higher quality sites, and receive a larger percentage of positive responses from a smaller amount of requests. Also, if you personalise the request, it will be less likely to be reported as spam than the generic sounding requests.
Thanks for an excellent article Kristi. In the UK, we don’t have to worry about sending so many link requests as our American cousins, as a handful of good quality links, combined with good source code and well optimised pages, is enough to do well on the UK search engines. This being the case, you have the time, when sending link requests, to follow the steps above and land the sort of links that you need for your web pages to become more relevant to the search engine spiders.
Kristi Hines is an Internet Marketing Specialist with Vertical Measures focusing in link building services, and author of Kikolani which covers blogging and social networking.