8 things linkbuilders shouldn’t do when asking for links

Linkbuilding, we all know its one of the, maybe even the, biggest factors in SEO. Get enough quality links to your website and you will automatically start ranking. Well, almost. There are a lot more factors to consider off course. But fact is that links matter. A lot. And thats why the art of linkbuilding exists. And its truly an art I would say. Especially if you look at those who can’t do it.

Getting links can be done in many ways. The best way (writing good content) takes up a lot of time. Therefore people tent to aim for the less time consuming efforts. And the best way to do that? Just ask! But come on people, if you ask for links, please think before you pop the question.

As a site owner we will probably all be getting link (exchange) requests. As an owner of sites like State of Digital and in the past State of Search and Searchcowboys I might be getting even a few more. And to be honest, most of them are worthless crap requests. I thought I would share some with you. In this post you will see how you know you will NOT be getting that link. In this other post I tell you what will get you the links

Don’t be impersonal

If you want to get a link from me you should do your research. Which means you have to know who you are talking to. I get many request for links from people addressing me with “Dear webmaster”, “Hi”, “Dear owner of #website#” or even “To whom it may concern”. These annoy me hugely. If you want to get my attention, first of all try to find out who I am. If you are impersonal, sorry, straight to the bin.

Read the f*king website

Do you know what my website is about? Its about search marketing and social media. Thats the first thing you should know when you are trying to get me to put up a link for you. I write about search, not about for example cars. Still there are many ‘linkbuilders’ out there who believe a link from my site to a traffic reporting site would be interesting for my readers. Uh no…

Before you ask for the link you have to know what kind of topics I write about. Believe it or not, I actually have gotten e-mails from linkbuilders saying “I see that you are writing about the topic “Internet”….

Don’t force me into it

Recognize this: “We’ve already placed a link to your website along with a description at our site on the page…. Please note that if you don’t place a reciprocal link to us somewhere on your site, the link to your site will automatically be removed from our directory”? What?? You’re trying to force me to put up a link or you will pull down yours? Well, sorry, I’d rather have no link than being forced into linking back…

Don’t think I’m stupid

Search engines (such as Google, Yahoo) prefer sites that are linked from other related sites”, is a way many linkbuilders start their e-mails. They must think I’m stupid. In the first part of the mail they all try to explain how important links are to SEO, some even try to explain the importance of SEO. Oh come on! I write about that stuff, don’t you think I KNOW that? How stupid do you think I am?

If you want to buy links from me…

Sorry, I don’t sell links (not for money 😉 ) on State of Search. But still there are those out there who will keep on trying to wave money in my face. And even if I would be interested in that they get it all wrong. The worst one I ever had was one who actually gave me two options: for a review written by them, 2 links on a reviewpage and a link on the homepage they were willing to pay 25 euros. If I were to write the review they were willing to spent some more money: 32 euros… Oh and maybe I should tell you, those were one time-fees….

Stop repeating yourself

There are many linkbuilders out there who just don’t know when to stop. Its ok to send a repeat-request (as long as you don’t do all the stuff above that is) but stop spamming me. If I do not respond after two e-mails chances are you won’t get the link. Why send five or six e-mails with the sentences “haven’t heard back” and “let me know asap” several times written in them?

Learn how to write

Granted, this one usually happens with the “Indian” linkbuilders, but there are many out there who just don’t know how to write. E-mails full of spelling errors, website names spelled wrong, I’ve even seen “Google” spelt  spelled incorrectly…

Don’t be an ass, show some respect

Finally, one of the biggest annoyances when it comes to linkbuilding requests: do not be such an ass! Why is it that so many linkbuilders think they ‘own’ the world of linkbuilding and that if you do not respond or link back they can become rude? Or even before you responded? You are not the king, you are asking for something, act like that and don’t be the ‘popular’ guy out there who in the end turns out to be just another ass.

So, these are 8 “no no’s” when it comes to link requests. Tomorrow I will write about the things I am sensitive for when it comes to link requests. But in the mean time I’m very curious about some of the requests you have had. What’s the worst link-exchange request you ever had?

Bas van den Beld

About Bas van den Beld

Bas van den Beld is an award winning Digital Marketing consultant, trainer and speaker. He is the founder of State of Digital and helps companies develop solid marketing strategies.

47 thoughts on “8 things linkbuilders shouldn’t do when asking for links

  1. heh. >>Don’t be impersonal<<

    That's easy for you to say… I know you 🙂

    Try finding the name of a person that has hidden their whois data!


  2. Dixon 🙂 On the “about page” it says “This website, founded by Bas van den Beld and co-founded by Lisa Myers”. Odds are pretty good you will get one of these two right ;). And on the bloggers pages we have even named all the bloggers.

    There are more ways of finding out more information about a site than just the whois 🙂

  3. There is a saying about growing oranges in Nova Scotia. It does apply here to us. For some reason sites with zero traffic and PR want to trade links with me. Also, they want to stick my link at the bottom of their LINKS.HTML page.

  4. Excellent recap. Being nice and asking politely often helps me, when hunting links.
    Unfortunately many people misses that part – I have seen several instances of the “you write about SEO – so it would be relevant for you to link to my dog site” -case too. Please do your homework before you hit the send button 🙂

  5. very good article!! I haven´t received any weird or strange propositions for link interchange, usually it´s me who contact people for interchange, and, even though I follow your advice, some people think they r better than you just for the fact of having PR2 in the website. I update my blog everyday, I work a lot in the content, it´s an original, interesting website about travelling, with no PR yet…. but some people are just rude. Like:

    “You have to study a masters for offering something worse than that”

    “You are crazy if you think I am going to interchange links with your shitty PR0 website”

    “obviously I am not interested in a PR0 site, I don´t see any benefit for me on this”

    Maybe it´s just me, and I am too sensitive, but website owners are rude and mean. (Don´t want to generalise, I know not everybody is like that, and I found very nice PR5 nice website owners!! ) And besides, people who just think about PR have no idea of SEO, am I right??

    It would be nice if someone here see my blog and give me an opinion on how bad it is, or it looks, beacause it´s in Spanish…. I am starting to doubt about the quality!


  6. I get some really crazy link requests come through my email. On a flip side, how about SEO companies that send other SEO companies emails soliciting their services? Seriously?

  7. Cecilia, I like your site. I think it is good. Not only because it has articles about Croatia (well, I am from Croatia). I have several web sites, and I don’t usually ask for links. On one site I have PR3 with only several blog comments, without link building intentions. I even was penalized by Big G for pushing my main keyword, (that’s one of the reasons why I don’t do link building). But I write good content and people like it. Yes, I needed a year to reach it (even less, but on the last PR update I didn’t get a higher PR). So, don’t get discouraged by people saying bad words about your site, keep going. After a year, you will be one of those who will be getting mails for a link exchange. (I don’t get them for my personal site, but my niche is not interested for people).

    So, to say a word about writing mails. Like I said, I don’t build links for my site(s), but I work at the SEO company so this is a part of my job. But I suck in requesting for links. I agree with most of the tips mentioned in the article, but some of them depend on a webmaster. Some like short mails, because they are busy and don’t want to waste time on long e-mails, some like nice words, some don’t, because they assume that when I request a link, I am not being honest if I say how great his/her site is. Their attitude is like: “Just ask for a link, will ya?!” So, this is like a gamble, some will respond to your mail some will not, even if your mail is great. Different people require different approach, so it is a little unreliable to stick to someone’s tips. BUT…

    It is crucial to learn how to write, to learn some grammar, to investigate a site you want a link from, because in that way you meet a webmaster and you learn how you can approach (to write a short mail, or to write a longer one with plenty of praises?) Surely, never, ever do what’s described in the third tip, especially if you are writing to a SEO guy/girl.

    I know all this but still I stink. It’s easier for me to go to a forum where I contact people for a link exchange than to write mails which is time consuming with a little benefit. But on forums I meet tons of self-called SEO experts with blogs that have a default WordPress About page, who I should avoid so I come back to sending mails. Why I have such a small “reply rate”, I don’t know. Maybe I am contacting wrong people…?

    Anyway, thanks for reading my comment 🙂

  8. Oh, I was talking about learning some grammar, but my comment above has some mistakes, like “my niche is not interested for people”! Ha, ha, nice… 🙂

  9. thank you guy from croatia.. I think you are right… it´s exactly what we say in Spain (literal translation) It never rains as much as everyone would like…. meaning… it is hardly possible to please everyone

    regards to everyone!!

  10. Nice one Bas! I get shitty requests all the time, from SEO folk that haven’t done their research. My website & associated traffic is tiny in the great big scheme of things, but I have become quite a snob at accepting, or mainly rejecting, link requests.

    You think your bathroom website would be a good link? Think again. Your website has ‘amateur’ all over it, not least because it’s unfinished & full of ad, you mix up ‘your’ and ‘you’re’… I could go on. Needless to say, I’m way, way down on Google’s listing! But that’s okay.

    Thanks Bas for a great post.


  11. One thing I would love to this list is for people to be ready for a conversation; and as said, that better not be in “Indian” English. I get/see way to many requests for links that expect for it to be as quick as a McDonalds drive through. Link building is about building relationships with people of similar interests who are also interested in a longer friendship with you. Not just a one night stand.

  12. to be honest , i truly believe that the whole linking thing by google is stupid. not only you have to get links but you also have to do it in a certain way. so for example. if people link to you using your site name, it will mean nothing other than a page ranking. what are the odds that people will link to you using a keyword that you want to rank for. what if you are providing a service and you do not write content. i totally understand your frostration who keep on sending spam comments like i love your site. and they have never even took the time to visit your site. but again, most of these guys are seo companies that service their clients and will never have the time to get to know more about u before they send a request for a link. I just think google is really stupid for putting this is the main 90% criteria for ranking. this is my 2cents.

  13. Great article, I am always impressed by some of the “seo gurus” out there and some of the drastic measures they take to try and build links. I can’t wait to read part 2 on what ways work. Please don’t judge my sites low PR, it’s just a playground for development and portfolio samples. 🙂

  14. Just wanted to point out you blurred the url of the email sendout you received (about traffic reports) but the websites name was still on the email LOL. 🙂

  15. And I just want to point out that if someone who is not spanish, try to interchange links with my website, writting in Spanish, I appreciate the effort, I don´t criticise it!!

    I don´t know why upset you all so much people from other countries trying to write in your language, I think you should be grateful… Honestly, I can´t see the reason why it piss you off so much. i know my english is not perfect but at least I try… 🙁

  16. Hi Chily,

    I think that is a bit different from those just copy-pasting the Google translate and hardly making an effort to understand who they are targeting. Not perfect English is not bad, but you do need to see if somebody tried or not. Most to be honest don’t and just translate bulk mails…

  17. These are very good tips, Bas (I used your name 😉 ). We’ve expanded our approach a little bit further by guest blogging. That way, you establish relationships and ensure quality content. I can’t tell you how many times people have written articles and they came back auto-generated. I mean, to the point where the words are so scrambled in the sentence that you don’t even know what they’re talking about.


  18. Funny thing about the spelling issue is that both Chrome and Gmail have a spell check that allows you to fix them before sending them… but yes i hate the generic “im yet to hear back…” sent sometimes by 2-3 people from different email addresses but with the same template email.

  19. @David: Even with the google spell check you can still make some mistakes, though probably less.

    Anyhow, sometimes it is really hard to find a name linked to the website, and in that case there is no other alternative then to adress them by dear webmaster. In my opinion, this has to be compensated in the message to show that you actually care about the website.

    kind regards,

    Stijn Driessen

  20. Great post – I don’t know if the completely-unrelated-subject-obviously-automated link exchange requests or the I’ve added-a-link-to-you-unless-you-add-a-link-to-me-in-24hrs-the-world-will-end type links are worse. It shocks me that anyone bothers with these approaches still?

    The best linkbuilding method I’ve found is to spend longer thinking about your approach and personalising your request, preferably offering something unique that will be of benefit to not only the website owner but their audience aswell, like some great onsite content. You will contact less people but you’ll get a much higher response in the same amount of time. Plus you build great contacts for the future :0)

  21. “Dixon 🙂 On the “about page” it says “This website, founded by Bas van den Beld and co-founded by Lisa Myers”.”

    I can tell Dixon didn’t get as far as the second point on here 😉

  22. Dear Webmaster,

    Love your site and this article on webdesign.

    Even loved it so much I placed a link on my website to it, with a description of your site, on the page ohohchersoh.nl/links.

    As you might have heard, Goolge, as well as BING! (BING BING BING!) appreciate sites that link to each other, as linky links make teh internetz go round. So, you might want to link back to me, and you could use the following sentence for it: “Link the link for Gogle and BING! (BING BING BING!) because we all love OH OH CHERSOH!”.

    I will pay you 6 euro if you rite a review on our site with the link in it, of course.

    BTW, I would appreciate your answer within 4 hours of placement of this reply, but don’t worry, I’ll contact you shortly after that if I haven’t heard back from you.

    Now, hurry, place the link to us, otherwise we might just remove OUR link with lots of importance to you!

    K THX BYE!

  23. Bas, I am amazed at how many people ask for links and in the process of the e-mail insult the person they are asking. Sometimes it is a language barrier, sometimes it is a lack of professional courtesy. Often, it is just someone who is too busy chasing rainbows to pay attention to their script.

    We recently ran into a case where a local “web enthusiast” for lack of a better term, began e-mailing businesses to create reciprocal links since he created links on his page. (his name dot com). He’d lift your logo and place your phone number on his page. Futile effort perhaps? 🙂

  24. You nailed it right on the head when it comes to how not to link build. My site is new and already I’m getting people being rude demanding I backlink to them, or spam emails that get sent to my junk folder faster then I can blink. If they just spent 5 minutes and looked at the sight and used some manners I’d probably link to them

  25. I think website owners/ bloggers also have a part to play and are guilty of having a mentality that they “own the internet”

    For Example, I’ve approached bloggers in the travel industry before with some really awesome content that their readers would crave for. The site is “all-right” for a link, has “some” back links, you’ve approached them with a personal email but they’ve come back to you and it’s clear as day all they’re after is your money. After a while you accept the fact that the only way you’re going to get a link off this site is by paying them and they come up a sum of money that is stupidly high and say something absolutely stupid like “I know what I can get in my market” I mean there are sites out there that only have about 300 backlinks and wanting people to pay £250 for a “guest post”

    Is there any tactics of cutting down these tall poppies and tell them that they’re ripping people off and getting away with it???

  26. Hi Bas,
    Amazing how much we all have in common with website owners/bloggers from Croatia, Nigeria, India and Cupertino. Thanks for the link-building tips and caveats.

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