Based on the information collected in the data-driven approach to link prospecting published last week in the Web Success Weekly email newsletter, those responsible for SEO can finally start initiating relationships with others - the groups, enterprises and individuals capable of helping actually execute the inbound link building strategy.
To build links to a Web property however you must first make your presence known - how could someone link to you if they don't know you exist! Publishing content (whether in the form of articles, videos, surveys, infographics, applications, etc.) in high profile environments, which naturally spur Web citations, is the ideal way. There are of course other methods (e.g. asking on message boards) but the primary choice for many is through direct link request emails.
When using email in link acquisition campaigns, the aim is to not simply to just "get on the radar" but to get others take action on your behalf. That's not always easy to do and there are no guarantees it will happen. If you are interested in using email to facilitate your link building efforts here are a few ideas to improve you chances of success.
Point Out the Obvious
Even when it seems like a link request seems relevant, it is unlikely you will be the first to ask. If the target website already links to several competitor websites, the chances of getting them to link to you improve dramatically. If your target currently links to no one, there may be a good reason (they just don't link).
For example, in an email to a prominent industry blogger you might point out the presence of their recent coverage of a trend, event or company and directly request a follow up which could or should include a link to the target destination.
Keep It Relevant
The problem is that most link requests are simply irrelevant. If you're going to ask for a direct link to your website, and through email nonetheless, then it only makes sense that it be relevant (or can be made to appear so) to both parties (the linker and the linkee). For example, let's say you are a real estate agent.
Requesting links from car dealers to your real estate website doesn't make sense (for users or search engines). Requesting links from a local events website to your website does make sense. Easier said than done? Maybe not. Let's say our real estate agent is having an open house and that house or its surrounding neighborhood has a unique history.
Offering up this information in an email provides new content for the local blogger and with any luck a link to your website.
Provide a Benefit
If there is one thing that moves people to action it's the benefit they can gain. If you're coming to the "link building table" with nothing more than work for the other party, then the chances of success are extremely low. So ask yourself what it is that you have to offer others and what others might be interested in receiving.
It may be something as simple as a social gesture such as linking from your social profile to theirs. If you provide a product, contact the targets formally and offer to provide a sample for a possible review. If you provide a service, share survey information, an infographic or a short form educational video you created, and provide it to them exclusively.
When it comes to link building it is better to give than to receive so if you are confident in the quality of your products, services or information let others benefit from it directly.
Acquiring Links via Direct Request Email
Direct link requests get a bad wrap as they are used (and often used poorly) by those that either don't care or don't know any better (believing inbound link volume outweighs inbound link quality - which it doesn't).
It should not have to be said but know that email link requests do not typically work when they are misdirected or provide no immediate or long term benefit to those providing the link. Indicate your familiarity with their work, keep requests relevant and provide a benefit and you will see more links over time.