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Guidelines on How to Ask for a Link

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Last week I did a post on Search Engine Watch about 11 guidelines for pursuing authoritative links. This post on SEW provides an overview about pursuing the highest value links from sites as part of a long campaign. And this is a great approach to pursuing links.

However, there are other times when you do start the dialog with a site by simply asking for the link. I am not talking about those dreaded link swap request emails that we all get. I am talking about an email to tell another site owner about the great content you have on your site, and asking them to link to it. Even though we are starting the conversation with a request for a link, we are still targeting higher value sites.

Here are 10 guidelines about how to put it together:

  1. Select all sites you choose to contact manually. Do not use automated means to decide who to contact.
  2. Approach only those sites that will find your content relevant to their users
  3. Keep in mind that you are asking for something for nothing. You want the party receiving your email to give you a link. You are offering nothing in return (you are NOT offering a return link).
  4. Hand craft all communications to the people you contact. Automated email contacts will yield very low results with sites that can provide quality links
  5. So why would they link to you? The answer is simple: to benefit their users. You need to keep this in mind at every step of the process.
  6. Given that’s the case, highlight the content that benefits their users most. Identify that content prominently in the email you send.
  7. Be courteous. You are asking for something for nothing. They owe you nothing.
  8. Keep if short. Your email is not something they were expecting. So don’t expect them to want to read a long email. 4 to 5 paragraphs at most.
  9. Don’t be afraid to resend the email if you don’t hear back from them. The great majority of these emails are not opened the first time.
  10. Last, but absolutely not least, be 100% in compliance with the Can SPAM act. This is not optional. You don’t want trouble here. Learn what the guidelines are, and make sure you comply.

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