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Automated Link Generators - Not Worth The Trouble

Written December 7, 2001
by Eric Ward

January 2008 Editors' note:  The below article was written many years ago. I have added new material in red, and it applies perfectly today in the "web 2.0" world.  Auotmated or engineered submissions to social media venues is spam.  

There are many types of software programs that web marketers use to try and promote their sites.  Most work the same way. They automate certain parts of the process that can be a pain to do manually. These first appeared several years ago to make submitting to search engines easier.  Spammers naturally ruined this for everyone, and all these years later, they still are.  Have a look here

The first of these programs would search a search engine for a certain term, and the software visited each site in the search results, combing the HTML looking for email addresses.  Once found, these programs then send an email to every site on which it found an email address. 

You may have seen one of these programs in action. If you've ever received an email that started with something like 

Hi,

I was just visiting your site and think we should exchange links. Exchanging links is a grat way to...


I bet you've received one just like it.

As tempting as these tools may seem, in the end you'll end up with at best a couple of useless links and a ton of spam. 

Automated link generators are useless
Why? It's not because the software behind them is flawed.  It's because the underlying priciple of their use is rude, and hundreds of novice web marketers are using them indiscriminately.  If you don't have the decency to care enough about my site to visit it in person, then why would I want to accept anything you send me automatically? Why would I link to your site about dog grooming? Because I ran a story once about dogs?  I don't think so. 

Link generators have become a scourge. They were never really useful anyway.  They are a classic example of "just because you can automate a process doen't mean you should".

The process of finding target sites for links must be 100% personalized.  I can tell any time I get an automated link request email, and I delete them the moment I see them. 

Any link you get as a result of using one of these tools will be just as worthless as the tool itself.  It's insulting to tell me you saw my site when you didn't. You sent a software program to my site, you never saw it. 

If you had been to my site you would have called me by name in your email. 

If you had been to my site you would have known I don't even have a links page in the first place.

If you had been to my site you wouldn't have sent the SAME email request to all 7 addresses on my main page, all of which come to me in the same inbox.

My advice to anyone using one of these programs is to at least take the time to actually visit any site you are asking for a link from.  Find out who runs the site. Address them by name. Tell them your name. Show them you have seen their site. Explain why you think a link exchange makes sense, and if they have a links page already, let them know you have been to see it. Offer to talk by  phone. 

This may seem like a lot to do, but it works. The goal is to leave zero doubt in the reader's mind that you are a real person who has been to their site and taken the time to evaluate it.  Give me 10 targeted evaluated links instead of 100 junk links any day.

When Warner BROS launched a site about the movie Ben Hur, they hired me to publicize the web site. I went out and looked for Ben Hur related fan sites that had links pages, and --SHOCK-- found some.  I then sent a personal one-at-a-time email to the owner of each of those sites, introducing myself and explaining I was seeking links from them for the Warner BROS Ben Hur web site. 

What happened?  One hundred percent of those sites gave me the link. 

Eric Ward
 

About the Author
Eric Ward founded the first online publicity and linking services, NetPOST and URLwire, in 1994.  Eric specializes in helping companies build links and publicity for their web content, using 100% white hat strategies. His services won the 1995 Tenagra Award For Internet Marketing Excellence, and he was selected as one of the Web's 100 most influential people by Websight magazine.
 

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