This post is a follow up to my creating and managing your link campaign article.
These are not techniques for gaining natural links rather they are methods of contacting other sites about your business and getting them to link to you – without initially coming right out and asking for a link. It occurred to me to add a few links to actual places where you can get free .edu links, however I did that before over at seomoz and the free sources are now useless due to being spammed.
I realize that some of the following tactics could be classified as “dishonest” however I don’t make the rules, I just play the game.
The email address
Before we get into the specifics, I feel it’s important to talk about the right and wrong types of email address to use for link requesting. First of all, I would recommend creating a completely new address for link requests. This is mainly because of all the spam you’ll receive once the address has been out there for awhile.
Also, whenever possible steer clear of free emails (hotmail, yahoo etc) even if they include your business name (i.e. mycoolsite(at)yahoo.com). You are much more likely to be taken seriously if your email address actually comes from the domain you’re promoting (i.e. me(at)mycoolsite.com).
To keep things on a more personal level, try to use an actual name as well. Instead of ‘links(at)mycoolsite.com’ try ‘melanie(at)mycoolsite.com’. Heck, even ‘resources(at)mycoolsite.com’ or ‘contact(at)mycoolsite.com’ works better than mentioning the dreaded “link” word. If you’d like to see people’s butts pucker up tighter than a snare drum though, then by all means use the word “link” in your email address.
Note: This is a bit cheeky but it helps to pay special attention to the type of site you’re emailing in regards to your name. For instance, if I am emailing a blog that is run by a 25 year old male, I am more likely to use something like ‘heidi(at)mycoolsite.com’ or ‘naomi(at)mycoolsite.com’. Hopefully the reasons I do this are obvious (sorry guy’s, you just make it too easy). Heck, even if your address doesn’t include your name, you can still sign your email using whichever name you deem necessary.
Once you’ve got your email address/addresses sorted, you’re ready to roll.
I’ll begin with blog links because of the opportunities for different (more clever!) strategies. Start by choosing a blog from your link campaign list and deciding what your “Link Goal” will be. Do you want a simple comment link? Do you want to be listed on the links page? Do you want to be listed in their blogroll? Would you like your site to be mentioned in a post?
Tip: I always try to shoot for getting my site mentioned (and linked to) from within a post because surrounding your link with relevant text is a big bonus. Plus, blogroll links can be a pain whereas your link is counted on every single page of the blog which can actually be counter productive.
Next, try extremely hard not to make it an obvious link request by resisting the urge to email the blog owner. Instead get friendly with the owner via a mutual interest. Look for anything you may have in common; an opinion on a post, a pet peeve, the fact that you live in the same cities, both pick your noses with left hand etc. No matter how small the connection, it really can give you a better chance at getting your foot in the door (i.e. a valid reason for contacting them).
I’ve found that the best way to open the lines of communication is to first leave a comment on the blog directing it to the author rather than contacting them directly. If your link goal was simply to obtain a comment link then at this point your mission is accomplished.
“I just read your post regarding dog grooming and I found it to be both funny and informative. I was wondering what you used for your images (they’re so crisp and clear) and if you have any specific advice for a wannabe groomer? Also, would you recommend keeping a portfolio of work? Thanks! P.S. Like you, I also am against dog fighting and really appreciate your willingness to speak out”
“I just finished reading your post regarding the pipeline explosion and my heart goes out to the workers and their families. Thank you for bringing this story to everyone’s attention. Do you think this will hamper Canadian oil exports to the US? Also, can you explain why this has caused the price of oil to skyrocket in NY?”
Both of the above comments are likely to get a response from the writer at which point you can build upon your newly formed relationship. This isn’t rocket science here; it’s simply being an intelligent commenter and using a call to action. If your aim is higher than a comment link though, you’ll need to put some more effort into it and follow up with a few emails before you plant the seed for a story/post and hence a link to your site.
I recently used this approach on a blog and when the time was right I emailed the owner regarding a breaking news story we were working on. I gave him the scoop and he used it. I like to think it’s because of the friendly rapport I had built up with him via my comments.
My best advice for obtaining blog links is to be creative, keep your eyes open and jump on any opportunities you see (Twitter is excellent for finding those).
These links are really important but unfortunately are often the hardest to come by. This is because links from authority sites (.edu, .gov etc) are based mainly on trust. They won’t link to you unless you’re established and you can’t truly get established without a few authority links. They also have a sort of reputation to uphold and would never link to a site that wasn’t worthy of it.
I have found that emailing authority sites and directly asking for a link does NOT usually work. The best way to approach these sites is by first complimenting them in some regard and then promoting yourself as a valuable educational research and learning tool.
Basically, bring your site to their attention and then plug, plug, plug.
When emailing them, be sure to include any links to news stories or published press releases about your site and other associations that have already “endorsed” you (i.e. given you a link). Usually if one authoritative site is comfortable linking to you, then others will be too.
Tip: If you are a news related site, ask them if you may keep their info on file in case you ever need an expert opinion or a quote for a story. The prospect of being on the news as an “expert” may entice them to give you a link. I find this works for ALL types of sites though (blogs, informational, e-commerce, personal etc). Who knows, you may actually need a quote at some point.
An example of an authority link request template:
My name is
and I am contacting you on behalf of . We write and produce daily newscasts geared towards the business and politics of the Canadian oil and gas industry. We also offer free resources such as current western Canada rig counts, an oilfield business directory, international energy stocks news and an extensive oil and gas employment directory. We have also been an excellent source for publishing Canadian government press releases and have been endorsed by the as seen here .
It is my belief that we would be a suitable candidate as an educational resource on this page
, under the heading . ßnotice how I never actually asked for a link
I hope you’ll have a look at one of our unique newscasts and determine if your visitors would indeed find our energy reports useful. Please give me a call if you have any questions or require more information while making your important decision. Our latest press release
has more in-depth information regarding how our site keeps students, professionals and the energy community informed.
All the best,
You’re more likely to get a response by adding as much contact info as possible. This helps them to see that you are indeed a REAL person. Yes, it may seem a tad self promoting but I’ve received some good authority links (most recently from the Government of Canada) while using a variation of the above template, so it DOES work. The main thing you want to stress is how linking to your site will benefit them and their visitors rather that you and your site.
That’s the thing I love best about manual link building; that you are constantly evolving and changing to suit your target and their needs. Getting 5 links in one day may require you to be 5 completely different people and sometimes one little sentence can make all the difference. If you respect the ‘authoritah’ of the big blogs and educational sites, you’ll do fine.
If you happen to disagree with any of the tactics I’ve just endorsed, oh well. Like I said, I don’t make the rules, I just play the game. Now, in the immortal words of Eric Cartman... screw you guys’ I’m goin’ home. Or at least to Starbucks 😉
Melanie Nathan is the Director of SEO,SEM and SMM for a popular Edmonton web development company; STATUSfirm. Follow Melanie on Twitter to learn more about her.
Images courtesy of Wonderlane, konch and databhi
14 thoughts on “Link Request Strategies for Blogs, Edu’s & .Gov’s: Respect My Authoritah!”
Nice article, I guess it just comes down to being polite? I do need to build more good links.
FYI, all the emails I get from Heidi and Naomi usually end up in my spam folder. Not sure why 😉 I’m not sure I’d call these approaches dishonest. More like sneaky. I’m OK with sneaky. These approaches might work, but you’d have to try really hard not to be obvious. Most webmasters are already suspicious by nature.
what a great post Melanie! Some really good advice, thanks for sharing!
Just read both parts of your linking articles. I work in an industry in which there are a lot of similarities between competitors, so I am always looking for new ways to promote our site. I really enjoyed your tips on addressing ‘authoritah’ sites. Can’t wait to give it a shot! Hope you continue to offer tips.
I love where you’re going with this. I absolutely love it.
Link building is really an extension of old school PR, and that is what you are doing. Build a rapport with a gatekeeper, prove yourself worthy of a write-up and get the link.
I have a friend that does PR for a t-shirt company, and I showed her how to start building rapport with various t-shirt bloggers (of which there are quite a few believe it or not), and when she did, she got lots of links.
What’s even more impressive is she was able to use her newly acquired ‘web buzz’ to convince both GQ and Maxim magazines to write articles about the shirts.
This is an interesting post because web masters are so different. I agree that it’s important to built up rapport w/ the web master before asking for any ‘business’
It should be beneficial to both parties.
Thanks for all the helpful information. I just started my link campaign this month. I find that if you comment on the actual topic you get a better result than just leaving a general comment and i go back and comment many times to different articles as new ones com available. They are doing you a favor by giving you a link so give them the same respect. You actually get two things a link back and you learn something.
Sometimes people respond better to a lengthy template email like that and sometimes they respond better to a really short and unprofessional quick message because it looks more natural and less automated.
I just read your post regarding link request strategies and I found it to be both funny and informative. I was wondering what you used for your images (they’re so crisp and clear) and if you have any specific advice for a wannabe link builder? Also, would you recommend keeping a portfolio of work? Thanks! P.S. Like you, I also am against black hat link-building and really appreciate your willingness to speak out.
p.s. you knew this was coming,right? 😉
Darn it Pumkin, you stole my thunder there!
I read so many mixed messages about authority links. Some commentators suggest they are the gold dust of quality links, others counter that .edu (for example) is far too hyped.
Anyone care to put me right either way?
Melanie – well said. One point. After 14 years of it, I can say without hesitation or question that the highest value links will not be those that come from any template oriented link request approach.
It is absolutely amazing to me how many template link requests I get per day, and how few ‘real’ requests i get. Maybe one or less per week. So few, that I actually do look up the sites of the few hand written ones I receive. I also do a search on the domain that the email came from first. If I like what I see, I take the next step, otherwise, …delete (and often click the SPAM button on gmail).
We’ve used the same principles for promoting SIA training for SIA license and CCTV Training.
The Issue is the Google still applies the filters.
So it’s all about the wording, and builing a relationship with the owner themselves really.
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