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How Not To Get Links

Every day I get emails from people asking I go look at their blog, or swap links. Some work and some do not. This post is about why.

Actually let’s take a step back. The first type of request says “please look at my blog” but actually means “please link to me”. I can tell the difference because when people really want me to look at their blog they are actually interested in my thoughts rather than firing out a million identical emails hoping someone will be suckered into linking to them.

So OK, how do I tell which are real and which are spam? I am not perfect but I have a system; if in doubt, delete. That’s the bar I have set. I recommend you do the same.

Real emails read like real emails. They are not pro-forma-fill-the-blanks. For example:

Hi webmaster,

I write about the same industry as you write on ur site. Your site is cool and excellent. I have been reading ur site or forum for many years.

Please take a look at my site http://pills.casino.enlargement.biz/

I have already added a link to your site that you can see here http://pills.casino.enlargement.biz/links/page14.html

I hope you will link to my site here http://free-macbook-dancing-teens.info

with best wishes

Splunto Filthmonger Honesty Paradigm

See what I mean? Red-flags …

  1. Faking and flattery – if it is obvious you have not ever read my stuff don’t even bother.
  2. Vague Generics – “Site”, “Industry”, “A While”, “Topics”, “Very Nice” … if your email could apply as easily to Spluntos blog above as mine then you are on the wrong track.
  3. Neediness – “gimme-gimme-I-want-I-need”. No.
  4. Link Me – asking for links is like asking me for cash. I’m not just going to dish out Β£10 notes, therefore I am not just going to give you a link.

How to get me to link to you

  1. Be human – Talk to me as a human being because I am a human being and deserve that much
  2. Be truthful – Don’t lie and say you have loved my site/forum long time. If you do actually like it tell me why. Even better tell me how you would improve it (without being insulting).
  3. Be specific – The more vague you are the more likely I am to not believe you.
  4. Be polite – Demands do not wash.
  5. Be interesting – You have to sell your proposition.
  6. Be deserving – Harsh but true. Would you write about something nobody will find interesting or useful?

The key point is number 5. What about this proposition ought I find interesting? “Because I asked” doesn’t work.  I can’t write a post that says “Splunto asked me to link to him. End of post”. I do not have a links page or blogroll. You need to have an interesting story to write about.

Would you approach a potential date by saying “your features are pleasant. it is enjoyable having this chat. let’s go back for coffee”?

Would you pitch your story to a newspaper or magazine editor with “please write about me, I already wrote about you!”?

Keep it real, be specific, keep it brief without being rude and state the hook, idea, angle or benefit. I guarantee you will get much better reaction.

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Comments

  1. This post reminds me of the time when I was working in Public Relations. The angle and story hook is VERY important.. no amount of flattery or bribery alone would get the journalists I worked with to publish my story.

    But if I provided a talent or exclusive source which complimented their niche and column focus.. wham! I’ve got my client’s project/event mentioned in the next day’s news.

    Observing what the blogger in question links out to and tailoring your pitch to accommodate his/her interests is the easiest and most reliable way to get a link.

    I’ve done it several times and it almost always works. πŸ™‚

  2. This post reminds me of the time when I was working in Public Relations. The angle and story hook is VERY important.. no amount of flattery or bribery alone would get the journalists I worked with to publish my story.

    But if I provided a talent or exclusive source which complimented their niche and column focus.. wham! I’ve got my client’s project/event mentioned in the next day’s news.

    Observing what the blogger in question links out to and tailoring your pitch to accommodate his/her interests is the easiest and most reliable way to get a link.

    I’ve done it several times and it almost always works. πŸ™‚

  3. Exactly! Without belabouring the point, you have to always write to your target audience πŸ™‚

  4. Exactly! Without belabouring the point, you have to always write to your target audience πŸ™‚

  5. “# Be polite – Demands do not wash.” –
    You might want to check the typo. πŸ˜€

  6. “# Be polite – Demands do not wash.” –
    You might want to check the typo. πŸ˜€

  7. Typo?

  8. Typo?

  9. I thought it should be “Wish, do not demand”. When I read it fast.. I thought you must have typed ‘wash’ instead of ‘wish’.

  10. I thought it should be “Wish, do not demand”. When I read it fast.. I thought you must have typed ‘wash’ instead of ‘wish’.

  11. Oh right, I meant “wash” as in “not work”

  12. Oh right, I meant “wash” as in “not work”

  13. Take part in the conversation…the links will follow. Rocket science it ain’t.

  14. Take part in the conversation…the links will follow. Rocket science it ain’t.

  15. I’m wondering, what about the “can we exchange links” types who seem to be indiscriminately link-hungry but more, perhaps, naive than scummy? Should one (okay, should I) reply to them and explain that there’s a rationale behind chosing blogroll links – “if you like me, you may like these blogs that I enjoy” – or just hit the email delete? I do so hate to be rude (except to the truly blatant spammers) by just ignoring a link exchange request, and it’s flattering in a way, but… It’s becoming such a time-sucker for li’l ol me, I do have to wonder how the ‘cool kids’ deal with the well-meaning but misguided?

  16. Very little comes easily or quickly. Taking part in the blogging world seems to be like going to a party where you know few people. You can’t stand up in the middle and call out “Be my friend! Pay attention to me!” You have to get known slowly and gradually, participating where appropriate, but spending more time observing and learning. It requires an investment of time, effort and sincerity. You can’t become an instant celebrity. People want to see what you can offer first.

  17. I’m wondering, what about the “can we exchange links” types who seem to be indiscriminately link-hungry but more, perhaps, naive than scummy? Should one (okay, should I) reply to them and explain that there’s a rationale behind chosing blogroll links – “if you like me, you may like these blogs that I enjoy” – or just hit the email delete? I do so hate to be rude (except to the truly blatant spammers) by just ignoring a link exchange request, and it’s flattering in a way, but… It’s becoming such a time-sucker for li’l ol me, I do have to wonder how the ‘cool kids’ deal with the well-meaning but misguided?

  18. Very little comes easily or quickly. Taking part in the blogging world seems to be like going to a party where you know few people. You can’t stand up in the middle and call out “Be my friend! Pay attention to me!” You have to get known slowly and gradually, participating where appropriate, but spending more time observing and learning. It requires an investment of time, effort and sincerity. You can’t become an instant celebrity. People want to see what you can offer first.

  19. I wrote about this recently and equated it to the guy at networking functions that shoves a business card in your face and moves on.

    A good conversation or relationship never starts out that way.

  20. I wrote about this recently and equated it to the guy at networking functions that shoves a business card in your face and moves on.

    A good conversation or relationship never starts out that way.

  21. Yup got to agree folks. This is similar to the analogy I use. You have to get to know someone first, anything else is pushing your luck πŸ™‚

    @Jen – most of them will not even read your reply, they are playing a numbers game hoping a tiny % stick

  22. Yup got to agree folks. This is similar to the analogy I use. You have to get to know someone first, anything else is pushing your luck πŸ™‚

    @Jen – most of them will not even read your reply, they are playing a numbers game hoping a tiny % stick

  23. Thanks very much, Chris. When one has been uber-trained to ‘good manners’ it helps to get a little 3rd-party perspective on what that obligation entails. Love the ‘club blogosphere’ analogy!

  24. Thanks very much, Chris. When one has been uber-trained to ‘good manners’ it helps to get a little 3rd-party perspective on what that obligation entails. Love the ‘club blogosphere’ analogy!

  25. Hi Chris will you please visit my blog, I mean, link to me. I think you are the best.

    No really, everyone here has provided some good thoughts. I especially like the idea of comparing the blogging world to how you make friends. I joined a MOMS club last summer and took almost 5-6 months to really start making some real friendships. I don’t see how it could be any different with blogs.

    But, ultimately being nice, approachable and yourself goes a long way.

  26. Hi Chris will you please visit my blog, I mean, link to me. I think you are the best.

    No really, everyone here has provided some good thoughts. I especially like the idea of comparing the blogging world to how you make friends. I joined a MOMS club last summer and took almost 5-6 months to really start making some real friendships. I don’t see how it could be any different with blogs.

    But, ultimately being nice, approachable and yourself goes a long way.

  27. Hi Chris,
    I usually read your posts in my Google Reader, and don’t visit your site often. I am always impressed with the amount of content you push out though, as well as your Killer Flagship eBook. I read it cover to cover, and will be using it for some of my clients. I was motivated to come to your blog today to read people’s comments on what you wrote about why you link to other blogs. Anyways, I run a small blog , Utah Valley PR, it’s really niche obviously by the title. Would you check it out and rate it for me: headlines, usability, whatever else you use to rate a site? I have been too afraid to have people tell me what’s wrong with it so far in case it’s not very good.

  28. Hi Chris,
    I usually read your posts in my Google Reader, and don’t visit your site often. I am always impressed with the amount of content you push out though, as well as your Killer Flagship eBook. I read it cover to cover, and will be using it for some of my clients. I was motivated to come to your blog today to read people’s comments on what you wrote about why you link to other blogs. Anyways, I run a small blog , Utah Valley PR, it’s really niche obviously by the title. Would you check it out and rate it for me: headlines, usability, whatever else you use to rate a site? I have been too afraid to have people tell me what’s wrong with it so far in case it’s not very good.

  29. @Jen – politeness is good but there are limits πŸ˜‰

    @Sarah – In real life I am particularly shy around people I don’t know, I am sure it would take me a heck of a lot longer πŸ™‚

    @Adam – I need to start doing some critiques, I promised one guy ages ago. I’ll add you to the list, remind me if I forget?

  30. @Jen – politeness is good but there are limits πŸ˜‰

    @Sarah – In real life I am particularly shy around people I don’t know, I am sure it would take me a heck of a lot longer πŸ™‚

    @Adam – I need to start doing some critiques, I promised one guy ages ago. I’ll add you to the list, remind me if I forget?

  31. This post cracks me up. I’ve been emailing people such as yourself (including yourself)asking for feedback and I’ve found that folks LOVE when I’m really candid and straight forward. It actually seems that the more quickly I get to the real point, with lightheartedness, the more willing they are to help.

    I just thinks funny to hear your perspective, as I haven’t thought of it before. How would I react to my own emails? LOL, I might mix things up from now on.

  32. This post cracks me up. I’ve been emailing people such as yourself (including yourself)asking for feedback and I’ve found that folks LOVE when I’m really candid and straight forward. It actually seems that the more quickly I get to the real point, with lightheartedness, the more willing they are to help.

    I just thinks funny to hear your perspective, as I haven’t thought of it before. How would I react to my own emails? LOL, I might mix things up from now on.

  33. This is a great post, I normally don’t reply to these types of emails, but I may now respond with a link to this post. Who knows if they follow all those steps, they might even get a link πŸ™‚

  34. This is a great post, I normally don’t reply to these types of emails, but I may now respond with a link to this post. Who knows if they follow all those steps, they might even get a link πŸ™‚

  35. Too hilarious! I had a really good laugh when I read your mock letter, which is definitely based in reality! I’ve gotten my share of those, and it’s amazing how they don’t make an ounce of effort to hide the fact that they are spammers.

  36. Too hilarious! I had a really good laugh when I read your mock letter, which is definitely based in reality! I’ve gotten my share of those, and it’s amazing how they don’t make an ounce of effort to hide the fact that they are spammers.

  37. Funnily enough since I posted this I have seen an increase in these types of emails πŸ™‚

  38. Funnily enough since I posted this I have seen an increase in these types of emails πŸ™‚

  39. Hi Chris,

    Interesting and sound fundamental advice. I am not quite sure why still there are mails (and comments) of this nature. Almost everyone who sends such a mail should know that this does not work anymore.

    Hope such ‘spammy’ emails and comments decrease.

    Cheers!

  40. Hi Chris,

    Interesting and sound fundamental advice. I am not quite sure why still there are mails (and comments) of this nature. Almost everyone who sends such a mail should know that this does not work anymore.

    Hope such ‘spammy’ emails and comments decrease.

    Cheers!

  41. I don’t participate in link exchanges, and I cringe at every mybloglog message inviting me to join a community.

    I’m much more likely to read someone’s site if they’ve left a comment, or at least subscribed, to mine. The people who add to the discussion on other peoples’ blogs are generally the ones who have the best content on their own.

  42. I don’t participate in link exchanges, and I cringe at every mybloglog message inviting me to join a community.

    I’m much more likely to read someone’s site if they’ve left a comment, or at least subscribed, to mine. The people who add to the discussion on other peoples’ blogs are generally the ones who have the best content on their own.