I've had a few conversations in the last few weeks from folks who want to build more incoming links but seem to be having trouble getting a positive response to link requests. While I'm a big fan of linking out and encourage site owners to link out generously to relevant resources, it's important to understand few sites will link simply because you ask them to. Wiep Knol calls this type of link building "push link marketing" and offers up a very simple piece of advice on how to turn those requests into links.

Weip explains:

If I'm not linking to your website, and you think I should, you have to explain why. This sounds stupidly simple, but this principle is the foundation of every link request. If you manage to do this correctly, you might end up with a link.

Generally, when I talk to companies or marketers about the difficulty they are having building links, they're missing this foundation. It's easy for them to focus on why they need links. It's a lot harder to consider why someone else might want to link to them. (This is the same problem companies run into with viral marketing and social media marketing campaigns...realizing "it will help us make money" is not a reason for other people to help promote you.)

The truth is, people DO link and they link often. The entire industry of blogging was mostly built around giving people a platform to link to and discuss things created by other people. If you're having problems getting people to link to your site, you may need to sit down and write yourself a reality check. Find a friend or colleague who is brutally honest and ask them to review your content and to tell you if they'd link to it. (Don't ask your mom, she'd link to anything you wrote and would start a chain mail about it to boot. Ask the friend who isn't afraid to tell you when you have food in your teeth.)

Link building is hard work, but it becomes a LOT easier if you put your focus on building the type of content that attracts links.

As Weip says:

A successful link request email includes at least one solid argument why linking to you is good for me. And, because something that's good for you does not necessarily mean that it’s good for me as well.

December 13, 2007

Jennifer Laycock is the Editor of Search Engine Guide, the Social Media Faculty Chair for MarketMotive and offers small business social media strategy & consulting. Jennifer enjoys the challenge of finding unique and creative ways to connect with consumers without spending a fortune in marketing dollars. Though she now prefers to work with small businesses, Jennifer’s clients have included companies like Verizon, American Greetings and Highlights for Children.


You are absolutely right on how businesses perceive links and link building. Link building in theory, is pretty easy to understand, yet applying the strategies to obtain them are one of the toughest challenges of SEO. Content will win in the long run and with all the google shifts that will never end, having "linkable" content is becoming more of a key SEOs should focus on.

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Search Engine Guide > Jennifer Laycock > Linking Out: What's In It For Me?