In link building, getting shot down is just part of the game. We know that going in, but we also try to find ways to hedge our bets. Hence, mass emailing and link exchange spam. The broader the net you cast, the better your chances of catching something, right?
That kind of theory does help explain the lack of personalized emails. Rejection is one thing, but the painstaking nature of sending link requests one at a time and getting nowhere is beyond frustrating.
We can deal with getting called names, like “dirty spammer” or having insults hurled at our sites, our profession and/or our mothers. We can even laugh at it and hang some of the best ones up on our office walls.
But silence is painful. When it seems like all of our emails are just being sent into a response-less void, it’s actually more disheartening than being told to “die a miserable spam-filled death.”
High rejection levels and unanswered emails are two of the biggest deterrents for many people who’ve attempted and abandoned this tactic. But sending personalized, well-constructed, compelling link requests can be a highly useful method of building links. That is, if you nail the finer points.
Creating a successful link request is about more than just using someone’s name because you found it on the “About” page. And if “nos” and silence are all you’re getting back, then most likely, it’s not them, it’s you. Here are only a few reasons why even personalized link requests may be declined.
It Never Got Opened
In all likelihood your email got dismissed without ever being opened. With a poor subject line or an email address that triggered a spam filter, your message may never have passed in front of human eyes.
What you put into your subject line matters. A lot.
There are some really dumb red-flag words you can use (e.g., “link exchange”) but it’s possible it’s also just too generic, or vague. Even seemingly innocuous attempts like “Hey There” or a smiley emoticon are kind of sketchy.
Some websites tell you what to put in a subject line so they will know you're human. But if it’s not that obvious, try responding directly to the title of a specific page, topic, or article. Of course that’s impossible if you’re just sending a mass email from an automated program. And that’s really just comedy for the rest of us anyway, so bully for you.
A Total Lack of Relevance
The biggest reason any link request will be turned down is that it’s just not appealing to your target. Suppose the email does get opened, and the recipient even decides to visit the site in question, what exactly are they going to find? Will they discover that it is, as you claim, “relevant” to their page? Is it really something of interest, value and relevance? If it isn’t, then you pretty much wasted your time and theirs. Drawing cogent connections is probably the most important part of sending a personalized link request.
Obviously the best matches are directly relevant to your site’s overall topic. But most of the time you’ll have to do a little digging and angling to make a convincing correlation.
The best bet is to provide information or resources that support their existing content. Even suggesting new content that will bring value to their readers is a solid approach.
People are only interested in making their own sites better, not the advancement of yours. Show people how linking to you can serve their purposes, and you may have a real chance.
You Sold Out
If a site sold its soul to AdSense, everybody can see it. You may actually have useful content, but the rampant commercialism has made it a little icky.
Nobody is going to condemn anyone for trying to make money off of their site, but there are limits to what most people consider acceptable. If a website is wallpapered with ads like a 13-year-old girl’s room is covered in "Twilight" posters, does it really provide added value?
If you’re asking for a link, content that isn’t “selling” anything is a lot more credible than content that’s buried beneath 25 ads for “Cheap Web Hosting.” Remember, subtlety is important in sales, and link building.
Trying to Beg and Choose
Since we’re on the subject of nuance, sweating the small stuff in a link request can be your undoing. Asking someone up front to use specific anchor text is a little off-putting.
It’s one thing to suggest someone link to your site because it somehow augments their content. But when you try to dictate how they do it, the request reads for the SEO strategy that it is.
Getting links without keyword anchor text or to non-commercial pages may not be ideal, but it certainly doesn’t hurt the global link velocity of a site. However, when you try to set terms or pitch a more profitable, but less useful page, it has the potential to undermine the rest of your work.
Even when you do visit a site, read the content, and humanize your message, your request can still miss the mark. It’s not just taking the time to create the email; it’s making sure the message is intriguing.
Getting an email opened, and presenting your best, most relevant content is crucial. Beyond that, relenting on certain details and ensuring that your site doesn’t scare linkers off and can also help your cause. Sure, it’s a slower, longer, more un-beaten path but, as with most difficult quests, the rewards are worth the journey.