Today I received what seemed like a fairly generic email from the website Dummies.com. I won’t republish the email (I’m not into that) but it was a fairly generic ‘could you link to our website’ type email asking for a link because they’ve redesigned their site. It even included a suggested link/code.
My reaction was not positive – in fact within a few moments I’d tweeted that I’d had the request and wasn’t overly impressed.
This post is not about Dummies.com – it’s about asking for links.
I have no beef with Dummies – they produce some great books by some amazing authors. This post isn’t about them. It’s about asking for links.
You see I get quite a few emails asking for links like the one from Dummies but they’re not always from big well known brands, they’re more often than not emails from bloggers. In 99% of cases the email ends up in my trash folder in Gmail but occasionally I not only read the emails but I link to the persons site.
Why do some emails generate links and others don’t?
Following are 11 suggestions for those wanting to email a blogger to ask for a link (whether they be big brands or bloggers):
- Write something worth linking to – this is a no brainer but so many people don’t get it. In the same way you wouldn’t successfully pitch a TV news service or newspaper a story like ‘I’ve got a newly designed website – it’s got videos’ you’re not likely to get much success with a blogger. The best way to get the attention of a blogger is to write something useful, entertaining, controversial, helpful, informative, intriguing…. etc. Check out my series on LinkBaiting for more ideas on this (particularly the post 20 Link Baiting Techniques).
- Suggest a Link to a post not your site – don’t ask for a link to your site – suggest that they check out a link to an individual page or post that you’ve written. A blogger is much more likely to run with a story linking to a post about a specific topic relevant to their topic than adding a link to your site.
- Develop a Relationship – cold calling a blogger that you’ve never interacted with before asking for a link is not the best way to start off a relationship. It’s like in real life – would you walk up to a stranger and immediately start asking them for favors? Get to know the blogger, their blog and let the ‘favors’ emerge out of that.
- Demonstrate Knowledge of the Blog and Blogger – building upon the ‘relational’ aspect – use the blogger’s name, show that you know what their blog is about. You don’t need to write an epic introduction that proves your knowledge – but a polite and not overly familiar approach can do you wonders. Also – introduce yourself to the blogger you are pitching to. You might feel like you know them but they could be in contact with many people – a quick reminder of who you are and what you do could help.
- Research – sometimes it can be worthwhile doing 5 minutes of research before you email another blogger. Look back over their last few months of blogging. What is their topic? Do they link to other blogs? What kinds of sites/posts/topics do they link to? Do they interact in other mediums (ie perhaps Twitter could be a better place to contact them)? The more information you gather the more able you are to tailor your pitch to them appropriately.
- Add Value – a blogger is unlikely to link to you unless there’s something in it for them or their blog. I’m not talking exchanging of money or even reciprocal links when I talk about value (although for some bloggers those will be motivating factors) – I mean the page you’re asking for a link for should be something of value that will actually enhance their blog. I can only speak for myself but I know that if someone pitches me a link that I’ll link to it or at least tweet the link in a heart beat if I think it adds value to the lives of my readers or followers.
- Stay on topic – this really is an extension of a couple of the points above but it always amazes me how many emails I get for people asking me to link to their ‘golf’, ‘stock market’, ‘book review’ and ‘kids fashion’ sites (they were just 4 requests that I got today alone). If you’re pitching a blogger to link to something you wrote make sure that the blog you want to appear on has relevancy to your topic. For starters it increases the chances of a link, it increases the chances of a reader clicking the link and it increases the power of the search engine juice that you’ll get from the link.
- Be selective in what you promote – we all like to think that every post we write is worthy of links from thousands of other blogs but the reality is that some are more likely to be linked to than others. Pick your very best posts to promote in this way and keep your requests to a minimum.
- Reciprocate – I want to be clear here that I’m not talking about reciprocal links. ‘Link to me and I’ll link to you’ doesn’t really hold a lot of value in SEO any more from what I can see. What I am talking about here is being willing to be generous TO the blogger and not just expecting them to be generous to you. Shane Gibson described these emails on Twitter yesterday as “we Win you Lose invitations” – I think that sums it up nicely. See the relationship as being like a bank. You’ve got to put in to get something out. If you take too much out the relationship will be bankrupt. I’m not just talking about giving the blogger links – you can reciprocate in many ways including by writing them guest posts, sending them small gifts, sponsoring a project that they’re running, promoting them to your own network…. etc
- Build on the Experience – no matter what the bloggers response is – you can learn from and build upon the experience. If they do link then there may be opportunity to deepen the relationship in some way. If they respond angrily, you probably don’t want to send them links again. If you get silence, don’t take it personally and continue to find ways to build relationships with the blogger.
- Be Link Worthy – let me emphasize this again. The best way to get linked to by a blogger is to produce a page or post that is link worthy of the link.