Link requests (writing to another website and asking for a backlink) are some of the most common ways to get backlinks for SEO. They can help build links by using the current content on your site, getting new content published and are a good way to build your brand and gain exposure (if the site has an actual following). The problem is that people don’t always use this technique the right way.
The most common issues are forgetting to include other websites besides their own, customizing them and why this will benefit the website owner. Here are some of the ways that some SEOs use link requests and how you can customize them for link building. There are plenty of other types of link requests for backlinks besides the ones below. If you’d like to share one, please leave it in the comments section.
How to Write to Websites and Get Backlinks.
The most important thing to do when reaching out to a website is to customize the email so that it is relevant to the website. Saying, “I love your post about blue widgets” is great, but that can apply to any website about blue widgets. Saying “I love your post about blue widgets because of XYZ” now makes it specific to that website and shows the website owner that you have visited and read their site. The extra few minutes this takes can make a huge difference in the responses and websites that say yes to your backlink request. You may want to keep that in mind before trying any of the following backlink request strategies.
1. Requesting a link directly.
The easiest, but usually least effective way to build backlinks is a direct link request. It is simply writing to the webmaster and asking for a link. For some people it works well, for most people it doesn’t. With some directories or resource websites you may actually get the links…but for blogs, content sites and high quality websites you probably won’t.
2. Mentioning issues with the website and providing a solution.
This was popular a long time ago. You do a scan of a website and then mention specific errors with the and solutions for them. This can offer value to the website owner because you are helping to fix an issue that they may not know about. When using this type of link request, I usually wait until the second or third email communication before making the backlink request. If you start in the beginning it can seem too pushy. The only exception is when the broken link or page with the issue is the same page I want the link from.
3. Using your content as a source for the content you found.
This strategy for getting backlinks can be good if done right. You write to the website owner and compliment or comment about the article or post you want a backlink from. The other option is to mention the post you found them on, and then bring up the post you want the link from. What you want to look for is a place in the article or post that is relevant for your client or website, that doesn’t currently have a link or source for the topic, and then mention that XYZ could be a good source for the link. You can also take it a step further to help make it not all about you.
By telling them about your website and why it may be a good source for the post (don’t forget to mention how it can benefit their readers), you have now added a reason above being great content. Although this next idea can cause you to lose a backlink, you may want to mention a different website as a source for the same topic (or a different topic). By including another site in your request, you can show that your intentions are too add value, and you are not just trying to get a link to your site.
4. Pitching an article for the website.
This is the same as pitching an article for PR. When you pitch a website a guest post, the trick is to comment about a post that got a lot of reactions or got attention from social media on their website. You then want to make sure the topics you pitch are directly related to that.
If you comment about the post and pitch a few articles or say something generic “I would love to contribute a quality article that is unique and add value” then it will probably get thrown in the spam box. By making your articles relevant to something that got attention, is on topic with the site and could stand out to the webmaster, you may have a better chance at one of them getting picked up or approved. This takes longer than the other methods, but it can also bring in better results with approvals vs. getting ignored.
5. Offering commissions and incentives
Some link builders offer commissions and incentives for allowing posting. This is 100% (just like all SEO in theory) against many search engines’ best practices. This could also require disclosures (ask a qualified and licensed attorney or lawyer before doing this for any risks or potential issues). This strategy can also get your link profile mapped and your websites and clients websites’ penalized. We also do not do this with our link building for SEO. It is a strategy that may work since the end user is now being given something in exchange for the link, but it can also be very dangerous for SEO.
If you’re sending emails to people for backlinks and always getting rejections, or not getting any responses, think about the things above. Is your backlink request email customized for that site and only that website? Have you made it relevant for the webmaster and shown how it will add value to them and their readers? You also need to remember that they may or may not know the purpose so be friendly, patient and always be polite if they reject you. I’ve had some site owners write me later on when they need a post because they remembered our pitch. You also never want to not respond, unless they threaten you or ask you not too.
Getting backlinks takes time and effort, but it can be done. Remember what you read above and to keep track of what works and doesn’t work for you by niche and type of site. If you have your own type of link requests you’d like to share, please feel free to leave a comment below.