As an SEO and webmaster, I get a number of emails each week asking me the same silly question, “Will you please link to my website?” And honestly, I read every single request for one very selfish reason- I want to see if other SEOs have come up with clever ways to request links from strangers. Almost always, I am disappointed.
In the past, the SEOs at SEObook and SEOmoz have written pretty solid posts about constructing effective link request letters and also avoiding common mistakes. They list a few guidelines that can go a long way:
- Send link requests only to relevant websites – Seems obvious, sure. About 3 people a week mess this one up and ask me to link to their auto parts e-commerce websites.
- Personalize the link request – If you actually visit the website from which you are requesting a link from and take time to learn a little about it, you can make mentions of the website’s content, tools etc. in your request. This will show the webmaster that you’re actually paying attention and that you care about his/her content.
- Be professional – Show respect to the recipient of your letter and clearly explain your proposition. Don’t make up stories about google magic and improved search engine rankings. Just be straight-forward and honest.
- Add value – Will the webmaster that you’re contacting actually benefit from adding a link to your website? Do you really have content that their visitors will find useful? If not, don’t waste anyone’s time. The Web is already full of garbage, please don’t add to it.
While there is no one right or wrong way to request a link (even the worst requests probably yield some results), there is a general rule that can be followed to ensure better requests-
BE HUMAN! When constructing a link request letter, pretend you’re going to actually have to read it to the webmaster that you’re sending it to. That’s right, pretend you are going to have to approach this individual on the street, at a convention or in a bar and actually request the link in person. The point of this exercise is to help you gain perspective of how good or bad your request actually sounds.
For example, if you run a website which sells red bunny rabbits, would you really walk up to the webmaster of a sports-related website and ask for a link? Or, would you feel like a complete ass in doing so?
The shotgun approach of mass link requests through email is not only ineffective, it also contributes the garbage which fills the Web around us. Stick with a “human” approach to link requests and you can’t go wrong.