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Private Linking Strategy
Requests via Email - A Primer With Tips
by Eric Ward |
Have you ever received an email asking for a link that looked something like this one below?
Thursday, November 9, 20xx
Dear site owner,
I was looking at your web site and think we should link to each other. If you are interested, please add the following code to your HTML:
[Insert HTML gibberish here.]
The above link request letter, and/or variants thereof, land in my inbox every single day. I receive about 150 link requests a month.
A link request sent via email should include several elements. Collectively, these elements serve two key purposes. First, they let the person you are contacting know that without a doubt you took the time to actually look through his or her site, and second, make it as easy as possible for that person to make a decision whether or not to give your site a link.
1). A subject line that follows any stated directions given on the site you want to link to yours. On many sites with collections of links to other sites (for example, some of the About.com guides), the editor in charge of link evaluation/selection often states that when asking for a link, you should follow specific directions. One of these directions is typically a special subject line, like:
Subject: Request for review
If you have not taken the time to look at their site carefully, or even if you have, if you do not follow their stated link request directions, don't be surprised if you never hear from them and don't get the link. If no exact instructions are given, then you have a bigger challenge. My advice is do not put the word link request in the subject line, simply becasue there are probably about 100 million emails with that exact subject line or something similar hitting inboxes and getting deleted every day.
2). The site owner's name. It seems simple, but take the time to look through the site where you want the link, and find the site owner's name. Address this person by name immediately in your email. To begin an email with "Dear webmaster" or the above "Site Owner" is to be deleted immediately (see LinkMoses Linking Commandmentment IV). Can't find a name on the site? Look for a phone number. Call them. Yes, actually use the phone.
In the above link request I received, it was immediately obvious to me that the sender had never been to my site even though their email indicated otherwise. If this person really had been to my site, my name is the first thing he or she would have seen. My logo is my name, and my URL is EricWard.com. If you have been to my site, you could not possibly send me an email that starts out Dear webmaster.
3). Your name. Again, it's just common courtesy. The person requesting a link is a human being and so are you. A first line like "Hello, Mr. Ward, my name is Bill Thompson" tells me that you have looked at my site, and respect basic human conversational etiquette. It also shows me that you didn't send that same email to 4,000 other people, unless by some bizarre coincidence their names were all Bill Thompson.
4). The URL of their site. "I see that on your site you have the following content at the below URL".
(By now I know you know my name, my site, and a specific URL. You obviously are not lying to me or spamming me).
Don't show fake sincerity or imply friendship when in fact we've never met. Be professional, courteous, and to the point. I really get turned off by email from people who act like we are buddies.
5). Your site's name and the URL you are hoping they will link to. "I am contacting you about my site, called 'SiteName,' which is located at http://www.SiteName.com".
The exact URL on their site where you think the link is a fit. "With
regard to your page located at http://www...
7). A SHORT paragraph that describes your site. Do not oversell your site or give them 76 reasons why they should link to it. If they link to it, it wont be your email that convinved them. It will be because they looked at your site and determined whether or not it's linkworthy to them based on their criteria.
8). The exact URL from your site you want them to link to. "Since I have a splash page that has some Flash elements, you may prefer to use this URL for linking: http://www.SiteName.com/noflash.html"
9). A valid email address and response to any requests made to that address. "If you would like to contact me about this, please feel free to reach me at my personal email address below." (Put your email address.)
10). Your phone number. "Or, if you prefer, you can also call me at this phone number...
And, if you are seeking a link from a site where a return link is required (I don't but many do), also include:
11). Confirmation that you have added a link to their site.
12). The URL on your site where they can see the link to their site.
Below is a sample of what a full link request email might look like. It's from a long ago client but it is nearly identical to what I use today.
(Address withheld as a courtesy)
My name is Eric Ward, and I am contacting you regarding your Birding site at (URL removed as a courtesy to site owner)
I'm working with (URL removed as a courtesy to client) to announce and link a new section on their site called (URL removed as a courtesy to client)
Per the link request instructions on your site, I would like to request a link to our homepage in your Links to Birding Web Sites section located at (URL removed as a courtesy to site owner)
Please feel free to let me know if the above provides you with the information you need to review and consider our site for linking. I can be reached via email at email@example.com, or, if you'd like to talk about this by phone, my direct number is (865) 637-2438.
your email doesn't say is just as important...
I took the time to actually look at Bob's site. How else could I call it by name?
I took the time to find out who runs the site.
I reviewed the site for appropriateness. How else would I have known he had a "bird links" area?
I followed his link request instructions. How else would I have known to put "Site submission" in the subject line?
I couldn't have sent that same email to 25,000 people.
I value Bob's time by making it easy for him to know just what URL I wanted linked, and where.
I looked at more than just his home page.
I am not afraid to put my phone number in the email; spammers don't do that.
There are many more subtle points to this exercise, and many additional things I might need or have to include, but these are not right for every scenario, so let's keep things as simple as possible for now.
The bottom line is that by recognizing the individuals on the receiving end of your link requests, you immediately move out of the spam realm in their minds. When I receive link letters, I look for telltale signs that I was not singled out individually. If I spot an obvious bulk link seeker, I delete it immediately.
Yes, this means you cannot automate this process, and, yes, this means you have to create and send each link request one at a time. As you should. Sometimes each site takes an entire three clicks and two minutes. Big deal. This is a lifelong link you're seeking.
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|About the Author|
|Eric Ward is recognized as the web's leading expert on content linking strategies. Nicknamed LinkMoses, Eric has been involved in online marketing since 1993 and founded the first online based public relations and web promotion services, called NetPOST and URLwire, in 1994. Eric's company was hired by Jeff Bezos as the online publicist for Amazon.com's debut. Today, Eric helps companies create and execute linking strategies, and teaches others his techniques. In addition, Eric is the Chief Link Evangelist for AdGooroo, writes the LinkWeek column for industry news site SearchEngineLand.com, and has written for Web Marketing Today, ClickZ, MarketingProfs, and Ad Age Magazine. Eric has spoken at over 125 web industry conferences, and his clients have included PBS.org, WarnerBros, The Discovery Channel, National Geographic, The New York Times, TVGuide.com, and Weather.com. In 2009 Eric was one of 25 people profiled in the book Online Marketing Heroes from Wiley and Sons. Eric's full bio | Contact Eric|