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Link Requests via Email - A Primer With Tips
by Eric Ward | updated 5/2011 | More 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.]
As amazing as it seems, the above link request letter, or variants thereof, land in my inbox every single day.
A link request sent via email should include several elements. Collectively, all of them serve two key purposes: They let the receiver know you took the time to look at his or her site, and they make it as easy as possible for the receiver to make a decision whether or not to link.
1). A subject line that follows any stated directions given on the site you want to link to yours. On many sites that have collections of links to other sites, for example, the About.com guides, the editor in charge of the links section often states that when asking for a link, you should follow certain directions. One of these is typically a special subject line, like:
Subject: Request for review
If you have not taken the time to look at the recipient's site carefully, and you do not follow the link request directions, don't be surprised if you never hear from the recipient again. 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 around the world.
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 immediately in your email, so he or she knows you're not a spammer. Can't find it? Look for a phone number. Call them. Yes, actually use the phone.
In the above link request I received, it was immediately obvious that this person had never been to my site even though the email indicated otherwise. If this person really had been to my site, my name is the first thing he or she would have seen, and he or she would also have known I don't offer a links page.
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 John Smith" tells me that at least this person has taken the time to find out who was running my web site and is nice enough to tell me who he or she is. It also shows me that he or she didn't send that same email to 4,000 other people, unless by some bizarre coincidence their names were all "Mr. Ward."
4). The URL of their site. "On your site I see you have the following content (URL)"
(By now I I know you know my name, my site name, and URL. You obviously are not lying to me or spamming me).
Don't show fake sincerity or imply friendship when, in fact, you've never met me. 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 home page URL. "I am contacting you about my site, called 'SiteName,' which is located at http://www.SiteName.com"
6). The exact URL on their site where you think the link is a fit. "With regard to your page mantiuoned above.
7). A SHORT paragraph that describes your site. Do not overtsell yourt site or gtive them 76 reasons why they need to link to it. If they link to it, it wont be your email that convinves them. It will be when they look at your site and determine whether or not it's linkworthy to them.
8). The exact URL from your site you want them to link to. "Since I have a splash page that has some large images, you may prefer to use this URL for linking: http://www.SiteName.com/home2.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: (put your phone number)."
And, if you are seeking a link on a site where a reciprocal link is required, also include:
11). Confirmation that you have added a link to their site. "I have already placed a link to your site."
12). The URL on your site where they can see the link to their site "that you can see at http://www.SiteName.com/links.html
NOTE: Due to the number of people who have copied, pasted, and then edited and ruined the example outreach email I had included below, I have removed it.
your email doesn't say is just as impotant...
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 any link-request instructions. How else would I have known to put "Editorial submission question" in the subject line?
I didn't send 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 respect the site content by subscribing to the site's newsletter.
I looked at more than just the home page.
I am not
afraid to put my phone number in the email; spammers don't do that.
line is that by recognizing the individuals on the receiving end of your
link requests, and showing them so, 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.
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 publishes LinkMoses Private and writes the LinkWeek column for industry news site SearchEngineLand.com, and has written for Web Marketing Today, ClickZ, MarketingProfs, SearchEngineGuide, Search Marketing Standard Magazine, SES Magazine, and Ad Age Magazine. Eric has spoken at over 100 web industry conferences, and his clients have included Disney, PBS, WarnerBros, Discovery Channel, National Geographic, The New York Times, TVGuide, 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