Most emails that are sent from unknown strangers are garbage. Sending a somewhat vanilla looking link request email means people are going to be predisposed to wanting to ignore you.
Seth explains why timely, targeted, and personalized link requests are much more effective than the average link request. (although he is talking about a different topic I decided to try to relate it to SEO) When I was new to the web I worked much harder on link building than I do today. I usually found the best link requests only worked if I took the time to really understand the motives of the webmasters or made it look as though I was just trying to help them out.
An example technique I did, was when a site was taken down and redirected to another site I:
- used a tool similar to Hub Finder to find authority links pointed at the old site.
- manually reviewed the sites to look for their motives and how on topic the page was to my site
- emailed webmasters of some rather powerful websites reminding them that they had an outdated links, told them the new site location, and listed a few other highly recommendable resources (one of which was my own site).
By breaking link to me down into a 4 or 5 step process to highly qualify the leads and make myself look like I was helping them I was much more effective at building links than the random rogue hunting methods.
By making it look like I was trying to help them make their sites better my link conversion rate was like 30% to 50%, and these were for free powerful links.
Around the same time I wrote an article about Google's Florida Update that got to be somewhat well known. Some people want to know your status or whatever, and when some ask I played down any success I had up to that point and said well I just wrote an article a couple days ago... and based on that even more people converted.
Here is another, similar example, that blatently failed. A while ago I used a tools like Hub Finder, Link Harvester (I should soon add a feature to limit the domain type on Link Harvester), and Yahoo!'s Advanced Search Page to find some of the college sites that linked into search engine submission companies years ago.
I wanted to see if I could persuade them that search engine submission was outdated, and that they could keep current with search news by linking through to some of the search related blogs (one of them of course being my blog).
This had horrific conversion rates, and probably was a complete waste of time. Why? Because I was asking people to make multiple changes at once:
- First it requires them to admit that their information is outdated, incorrect, or useless; and unlike a site moving location I did not have blatent obvious proof of this fact assembled.
- I did not sell why they should change the page as mutch as I needed to
- students changing sites need permission to change stuff and
- they have little reason to believe me or care
- most of them get paid next to nothing and would probably rather work on their homework or real job than worry about me
- most professors like to think of their own information as pure and correct.
How could that have been more effective? I could of asked Danny Sullivan or Robert Clough or one of the other authoritative search site owners if they would publish an article about search engine submissions being outdated. I could either write that article myself or pay a friend to ask those people if they can write it and have it published. Then I could have used that article to quote various search reps as saying submission is outdated, as well as link through to other more effective ways to list and rank sites, and then use that as reasoning for people to avoid submissions.
I could also write a part two to the article describing many submission services as scams, going over how they use submit your site buttons to gather link popularity and many of them also are notoriously well known as email spammers.
By sourcing authoritative voices on the topic I, or at least by developing my credibility beyond a random person sending emails, I would:
- better speak the language of academia
- have the opportunity to create targeted content around linking opportunities
- would have had much greater success at link building.
And the other hidden tip sorta mentioned in the post is that while you have credibility, traffic, media coverage, authority, etc etc etc you should work harder at building links or spreading ideas, as your effort will be much more fruitful if launched on the back of some other success. Find a hit and run with it.
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