I’m a big believer in the old fashion link request. Other tactics may be scale-able or just more fun to try but sending a well targeted email to a hot prospect has worked for years and will continue to work as long as links are part of the engines algo.
But if you are sending out these email link requests how can you make them more efficient and more likely to turn into that killer link that will send your rocketing up the results?
Contact less people – it may seem counter intuitive but the less people you contact ultimately the more links you’ll build. I think you need at least three visits to a site before you can be sure whether you should contact them. The first to see if they are similar and on topic, the second to make sure they are the type of website to link out and the final time to understand how to frame your request.
So be certain that they will see the value of your request before you fire up Outlook.
Find someone’s name – if you can find a personal email address or at least the name of the person most likely to check the generic email you’ll already have moved your request above 99.9% of the link requests sent this year. It’ll show you’ve spent some time on the site and that you’re a human being, vital given most of the webs’ slowly souring relationship with email.
Make sure your phone number is on your email address – you’d be surprised how many of our link requests are followed up over the phone, in fact for certain clients’ phone works better than email in the first place. Again for everyone involved it gives the process a personal touch. If you’re concerned that by doing this you may be inundated with phone calls I’d suggest you may be contacting too many people.
Keep the email short and simple – I’ve seen some link requests which if you printed would take three pages of a4, I can’t help but think that is over kill. The most precious commodity to everyone in business is their time, you don’t want people to waste yours so you shouldn’t waste theirs either.
If people have questions they’ll ask, there’s no reason to engulf people on the off chance they may be interested.
Follow up any responses as quick as you can – if a webmaster has taken the time to read your email and then reply with a follow up, you are really close to getting a link. So don’t sit on the reply for 24 hours by then something else may have come up in the office of your contact and you miss your chance. So reply as quickly as you can, it’ll move the process along and increase the likelihood of success.
Sweeten the deal with content – this is something we are doing more and more frequently rather than just email someone for a link we ask whether we could write a guest post, or attach a whitepaper they might be interested in or suggest a new page they might want to introduce which we might be able to contribute to. It’ll take more of your time but will increase your chance of getting the link plus it will make the eventual link much more valuable as it’ll be contextual and editorial.
Be patient – you’d be surprised how long it can take some times to respond to a link request. You know what it’s like, a small task can sit at the bottom of a to-do list for months. That’s where your link request may be. Our current record is eighteen months but it was a high page rank link on an academic site so was well worth the wait!