Emails are the main method that my link builders use in order to build new links. It’s how we started doing things, and it continues to work for us. While there are other methods that we’ve tried, emails seem to work the best for us. That could be because for a lot of the industries that we work with, much of the content is not overly conducive to generating its own links, or performing well with social media. Thus, asking for links just happens to work for us.
However, many people think that emailed link requests aren’t the way to go any longer and I can definitely say that we do encounter problems as we go along day to day.
Here are a few of the most common issues that we face, and how we handle them.
Sending unsolicited emails
The risk: they make people think you’re trying to scam them
They’ll blog about it and sully your good name (if you have one.) Then, when someone else gets an unsolicited email, he or she may search the web to know more about you and find this post, then you’ve lost the deal before you even got started. There are so many legitimately scammy people out there that I can definitely see why people assume we’re trying to get them to empty their bank accounts and lose their homes when we send an email politely asking for a link.
However, there are ways to turn the situation around in your favor. If you’re lucky and someone simply emails you back calling you a dirty spammer, then you have a chance to assure them that you aren’t, and that he or she has nothing to lose by giving you a link. That assumes that you’re asking for a truly relevant link that will do no harm to either party, of course.
If you’re trying to buy a link, then don’t lie and say that there’s no risk. Let people know about potential problems from link buys, and let webmasters make their own decisions about what to do. Don’t try and strong-arm anyone or lie.
If someone’s written a post or is on Twitter going on about how horrible you are, and how you’re ruining the internet, then you have to decide whether it’s worth it to approach him or her. Sometimes it’s adding fuel to the fire, but sometimes it does help to say the same thing you’d say in an email.
Obviously, if someone is posting about how you’re trying to steal his or her livelihood, further contact is subject to further public ridicule. However, if you’ve done absolutely nothing sketchy, I’d suggest contacting the person and trying to work it out. Just make sure that anything you say is something that you don’t mind being made public!
The risk: your methodology and private details are subject to being published by snarky webmasters
Speaking of the risks involved with things being made public, if you tend to reveal anything to webmasters that you would not want your competitors, or the general public, to know, you’re leaving the door open for something bad to happen. Some webmasters will go along with you for a few emails, then all of a sudden you get a nice Google alert for your name, and it’s a blog post about what an idiot you are.
Usually, we don’t get into much detail with people until we have an idea of how receptive they are to linking, so this hasn’t been a huge problem but there are some people out there who only want to dig information out and bait you so that they can write a post that brings them some traffic. Unfortunately, if you’re emailing link requests this is a risk that you just have to accept.
Crafting good subject lines
The risk: not knowing which words to avoid in your subject headings, can immediately foster suspicion.
We have found the following subject lines in link request emails to be particularly problematic:
- No Subject
- Cool Site
- Question About Your Site
- Hi, or Hello
- Attention Webmaster
If your subject line puts people off, even if your opening email is a great one, you’ve already lost the deal. Remember that people are very busy and are subject to deleting any unwanted emails, so if you want yours to be read, you need to be very careful.
There are loads more examples of course, such as the common words that will trigger most email spam filters but since so many lists of those abound, I won’t reprint them here.
With so many potential issues, what are the upsides to emailed link requests?
You have a written record of what is taking place so that you can refer back to it if necessary.
The person can open the email and respond at will. Some people (myself included) simply hate to communicate in any other way. A phone call may be too intrusive.
Waiting for someone to pick up your content is too passive a method for some people, and some niches.
Many people (again, myself included) don’t always think before they speak. A carefully crafted email is much easier to control. If you’re asked questions that you can’t answer, you have time to find the answer before replying, unlike you would in a conversation.
If you’re training other people, it’s much easier to show them a successful opening email than it is to talk them through it sometimes. It’s also easier to get someone started if you can provide them with a template to adjust to the sites that they target.
If you haven’t tried emailed link requests, give them a try. If you haven’t been successful, try again, and it just might work this time. I am not one to mess with a well-run system but it never hurts to have one more method to use. Now, I need some help with phone link requests…
Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.