Direct Request Link Building from Zero

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Everybody has to start somewhere, and when you’re trying to build credibility and bring people to your website basically from scratch, there are myriad opportunities available to build links around the Web that will make users and search engines, alike, take notice.

Here at Website Magazine, we’ve provided a step-by-step guide to link prospecting for when you’re starting with close-to-nothing (e.g. time, money and resources). However, when all is said and done, the whole reason why we prospect for links is to find those websites that we want to build close relationships with that will be beneficial for both parties.

So, although there are some more “hands-off” techniques for acquiring links on the Web, such as submitting your site to a directory or a local business listing site like Google Places, the best way to go about building quality links is still to seek out quality, authoritative websites or blogs in and around your niche. You should forge a relationship with them through direct requests, or by providing them with contributed content. 

Let’s look at a few of the best ways to build links and, more importantly, relationships with other websites, especially when you don’t yet have the credibility or resources to get your content published in “high-profile environments” that will naturally garner some links. When you’re starting from zero, how can you go about getting good links?

Just Ask

Just like in real life, the best way to approach someone is to be open and honest. Direct requests for links are not only the most obvious way to go about introducing your site and its content to others. And going directly to a website owner to request a link beats asking a group of strangers on a message board, because you have no way of controlling who will respond to you and how worthwhile their website’s will be for your link building efforts.

There are a couple of ways that you can go about getting in touch with a website owner or webmaster, including through social media (although this isn’t recommended) or a website’s contact form, but probably the most effective method will be to simply send a direct request email. However, remember that you’re trying to build relationships here, so if you’re going to send a direct request email, do so in a way that shows that you’re familiar with the website and its work, and explain how you could benefit them, as well.

Start by looking to see if the website(s) you’re interested in link to some of your competitors or not to determine if they’re even willing to link out (some may even have a specific email address listed on their sites for people interested in link building). Then, make sure that your link request appears to be relevant and beneficial to both you and the linker.

Keep Them Updated

One way to prove that linking to your website will also be beneficial to the linker is to provide them with some valuable information or content right off the bat. Perhaps you could initiate your relationship by supplying the other website with a news release about something your company or website is doing, or something happening within the niche that you both operate in. Anything they can use to improve or add content to their websites could be considered “beneficial." It’s all about having your thumb on the pulse of your industry and proving your worth to the desired linker. Services like PRWeb allow users to create and distribute press releases for little-to-no cost.

Again, this can be done through social media or other outlets, but the most direct and effective method is email, and it probably will be for the foreseeable future.

Give Away Content

If you want to get links from a blog, or a website that features a blog, there is no better way to show off your value and provide something beneficial to the prospected linker than by writing up a guest blog post and sending it to them. If they publish it, not only will this automatically give you one link from their website (since they’ll likely link to your website somewhere in the post), but it will also help you establish a relationship with them that is mutually beneficial from the outset, and that will greatly improve your chances of getting links from them in the future.

The main thing to remember is that good link building is about more than just acquiring citations from other websites that are kind of related to your niche or industry; it’s actually about forging lasting and valuable relationships with others. By just taking some initiative and offering something valuable to other websites, you’ll eventually be able to do that, and improve your site’s credibility in the process, even if you’re starting from zero.

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BAILA 04-09-2013 4:26 PM

I'll be honest--I always delete these requests, when they hit my inbox.  I've never had a single person request a link from me that was in a related vocation.  I'd like to hear from others, if they have achieved some success in the manual email request for links.  

Jeff G 04-10-2013 5:46 AM

These are great tips. We are always looking for new ways to get links. We were thinking about creating a helpful piece of software or a great tool for people to use so that they might link back to us. Great article!

ModernM 04-10-2013 6:23 AM

This is a very smart idea although I have my doubts as to whether an email message will work to get through to the site ownership.  Direct mail, possibly including a copy of THIS article could be a powerful strategy. Is a worthwhile backlink worth 75 cents (paper, envelope, stamp)? Sure it is!  Plus the relationship which could evolve may end up being priceless.  

Ole Thorkild HeibergM 04-12-2013 4:44 PM

A great Magasine, Læs selv meget informativ


NewTress Virgin Hair 09-10-2013 3:53 PM

To speak to LB's comment, it makes sense that he would delete these requests because a lazy webmaster makes them both generic and are unlikely to invest the time in finding relative websites. It makes a great deal more sense to invest in locating 10 quality blogs / sites and writing a nice form letter than hitting 100 low quality sites with the stock email. Subject lines help too, so forget the "Interested in Exchanging Links / Content" and try something creative like "Bet You Couldn't Find Seven New Ways to Get These Links".

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