Here in the Link Week column, we mostly discuss intermediate to advanced linking related subjects, but I’m compelled to cover a very basic topic this week. Link requests. The link builders are out in force this summer. The proof is in my inbox. Over the two weeks since my last LinkWeek column, I’ve counted the number of link requests I’ve received. The total? Forty-two.
This is both funny and tragic. It’s funny because I do not give out links, I do not swap links, I’ve never had a links page, and the only place I’ve ever provided outbound links is within my LinkMoses blogscroll, and even that is limited to about twenty-five other sites, all of whom are run by people I know and have great respect for. So any link builder seeking a link from me has either not visited my site, does not know me, or does not care who he/she spams. Funny!
It’s tragic because you would think that with all the attention link building has received over the past few years, people would better understand the right and wrong way to ask for a link. For me, the single most important rule of all is to realize you must respect the person on the other end of your email. You must send a different link request to each person based upon the site and context you are seeking a link for. I don’t send a casual all lowercase email to a college professor and I don’t send a formal three paragraph grammatically perfect email with a Microsoft word attachment to 14 year old blogger. But the links from each are just as important.
There are many ways to screw up your link requests, but I’ll start with the following four Deadly Sins of link request emails. Why are they deadly? They are deadly because they each occur before I’ve even considered reading the body of your email. You have treated me like I do not matter before you have even gotten your URL in front of me. That’s deadly.
Deadly Sin #1
The email address you used to reach me does not exist anywhere on my site. Since my server is set to catchall, I get every email sent to my domains. However, there are only 3 or 4 specific email addresses to be found on my site. If you sent me email to an address that is not one of those addresses, then you’re a spammer, and you have been deleted.
Deadly Sin #2
Your subject line has an exclamation point in it, usually “Check out my site!!!!!”
Deadly Sin #3
Your subject line does not have an exclamation point but says any of the following:
Deadly Sin #4
Your email begins with:
Dear Webmaster… or To Whom it May Concern…
or, as Mike Grehan has said many times, Dear Mr. Inquiries…
Deadly Sin #5
You apologize in the first line of your email, and/or write this:
I apologize if you are not the correct person to handle this inquiry. Please forward it to the proper person.
That’s five Deadly Sins—and I haven’t even started reading your email yet.
Eric Ward has been in the link building and content publicity game since 1994, providing services ranking from linking strategy to a monthly private newsletters on linking for subscribers. The Link Week column appears on Mondays at Search Engine Land.
Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.