I was recently reading a great piece over at Search Engine Land about maximising the value of every link opportunity and it got me thinking about what should be done when a link request fails.
I’m a huge advocate of only contacting genuine link prospects. If they are unlikely to link to the target site you’re wasting your time contacting them, and if the link wouldn’t be a valuable addition to their site, there’s a chance you could end up with a backlash like this.
But if you’ve done your research, and you really thought you might be succesful and you fail, what should you do?
Follow-up with a phone call
Too many SEOs are scared of the telephone, but sometimes a quick phone call follow-up can be a great way to see if your email got through. Once you’re on the phone you’ll know whether they just haven’t got around to replying, or whether there are other options like advertising or maybe collaborating on a white paper. I will say though; we’re all busy people, so wait at least a fortnight before following up. Don’t assume that somehow your link request is going to be anywhere near the top of their to-do list.
Ask ‘why not?’
If you apply for a job and don’t get it, most candidates follow up and ask why not; it helps you improve for your next interview and it’s worth taking a similar attitude to your link requests. Find out why your link request has failed; is it just the content, the wording of your emails, maybe they reject all link request because they get so many? If you don’t know the answers to these questions, you’re never going to improve your link building process.
Learn from rejection
It’s one thing know where you went wrong, but the main challenge is actually doing something about it. If they didn’t like your email you need to change it in the future, perhaps they couldn’t see how your site was relevant to them, so you need to offer more explaination for why your contacting. You need to be constantly learning based on actual current experience. Just because certain tactics worked a couple of years ago when you were a smaller agency doesn’t mean they’ll carry on working for ever.
Don’t bother them again
If the recipient of your email sees it as spam, then your are already doing something wrong. Make sure you never bother them again with another email asking for a link from a different client or project. And if the chaps from Raven are listening, you should definitely add a stop list function to your link management software.