The Perfect Link Request Email Template

27 Mar

Over time, people must have asked me over a hundred times what kind of link request email template I use when I contact other websites owners to get a link, or what kind of email format I consider to be the “perfect” link request format.

link-request1

In my opinion, the perfect link request email template looks something like this;

{Greeting} {Name},

{Opening/ Introduction}

{Explanation of why your website is relevant to the one you’re contacting}

{Include WIIFM for the person you’re emailing}

{Close},

{Your Name}

I bet you were hoping for a bit more :) . You were hoping for something that you could copy/ paste and save time with. Well, sorry, but it usually doesn’t work like that :)

The problem with sending out emails is that your contacting individuals. And every individual is different, and therefore requires a different approach. Sure, there are things that you can either automate or templatize, but this is pretty difficult with link requests in general. In most cases, using email templates will result in a significantly lower success or link conversion rate.

When you think about all different factors that come into play, you’ll probably agree with me:

  • What industry are you in? Whether it’s tech, banking or automotive; every industry needs a different approach in email format, use of language and level of explanation.
  • What kind of media are you approaching? Traditional media usually need (or are used to) a different approach than bloggers or other webmasters.
  • What is the profession of the person you’re emailing? Is it a professor, a hobbyist or a school boy?
  • Are you contacting a man or a woman? This isn’t just for the opening (Dear Mr. X/ Hello Mrs. Y), but you can use it for so many other things as well. Leveling, for instance.
  • What’s the age of the person you’re trying to reach? A eighteen year old will probably communicate on a different level than an eighty year old.
  • Does your contact person have any hobbies? Hobbies are excellent for personalization; you show that you’ve been following the person you’re contacting (don’t overdo this in a creepy way, though)
  • What is your proposition? Are you just requesting a link, trying to establish a relationship, or are you aiming at a guest post?
  • Are there other relevant factors you could use? Have you read other articles written by the person you’re trying to reach? Do you have a history with the guy you’re contacting, or are you contacting him out of the blue? What’s the relevance level between your website and the website you want to obtain a link from? Etcetera, etcetera.

If you’re constantly working in the same industry, contacting the same type of men (or women) of the same age, with the same hobbies, then, perhaps, you might be able to create a format that you could use yourself. However, I doubt that that’s your situation.

You could try to counter these statements by saying that sending out a link request is similar to email marketing (I’ve heard this argument in more than one occasion), but this simply isn’t true. When you’re using email marketing as a method of communicating with your customers, you (1) already have a relationship with the people you’re contacting, and (2) people don’t expect your email to be a personal email. Or do you expect that Zappos is crafting each and every email newsletter individually on a personal level? When it comes to a link request (or any other business proposal), people DO expect that the email comes from a real person, not a bot or tool.

Saving time in other ways

In stead of trying to save time by using templates that lower your success rate significantly, there are several other ways you can save time during a link marketing campaign.

> Contact relevant websites only

Lots of people are wasting time by contacting not (or slightly) related websites, in an attempt to obtain a link. Irrelevant websites will be much less likely to link to you, in comparison with relevant or highly relevant ones. So if you want to save time in an efficient way, filter out every website that’s not relevant enough. The same goes for low quality websites, by the way.

> Test your email skills

Although, like I mentioned before, no two websites or webmasters are the same, it still is possible to test your skills. For example, you could try to contact someone you know with a link request without disclosing that the email is yours. Afterwards, you can ask him what he or she thought of the email (or why it got deleted :) ). If the person finds out the email was sent by you, he/ she’ll probably honestly say what he or she thinks of your message. Repeat this a few times and learn from the opinions of your friends.

> Outsource your link marketing

Seriously, if you don’t want to do link building, you’re probably better off not doing so. If seen a lot of link requests in my life, and you can often see if it was sent by someone who’d rather be on the beach, or some place else.

In stead of focusing on link marketing, you could work on your on-site optimization, your content marketing, client acquisition or anything else you like to do. Hire someone to do the link building part for you, or to help you with the process.

You can compare sending out a link request to trying to close a sales deal; it all comes down to liking. And if the person you’re contacting doesn’t like your email, you probably won’t close the deal.

More about link requests at Clickz.com, SoloSEO and SEJ.com.

28 Responses to “The Perfect Link Request Email Template”

  1. Ben Wills March 27, 2009 at 8:28 pm #

    Wiep,

    Awesome article! Sphunn and Tweeted :)

    “Are you contacting a man or a woman? This isn’t just for the opening (Dear Mr. X/ Hello Mrs. Y), but you can use it for so many other things as well. Leveling, for instance.”

    What do you mean by “Leveling” here?

  2. Wiep March 27, 2009 at 10:41 pm #

    What I meant was trying to talk at the same “level”. Talking about women-only things (here’s a shoe shopping tip…) or men stuff (bacon is the bomb!).

    Is it a bit more clear this way?

    Oh, and thanks for the Sphinn :)

  3. Brett Borders March 28, 2009 at 12:31 am #

    Wiep,

    Great insights into what link approaches work best. It’s all about making a personal connections (very, very personal – as it’s certain to get deleted without a second thought if you don’t put passion into it).

  4. Arnie K March 28, 2009 at 6:14 pm #

    Another great article. Summary: link building is still hard work… and it’s only getting harder.

  5. Amy March 28, 2009 at 10:15 pm #

    Sorry, I just have to laugh at the bacon comment two comments up. As a woman, I’d much rather hear about bacon than shoes. :)

  6. Carolyn Phillips March 29, 2009 at 5:36 am #

    Love this article and will send it to many of my clients. I keep telling people that GOOD links represent relationships and isn’t a place to cut corners. Thanks for putting it all so succinctly!

    Also, I don’t care whether someone contacting me for a link thinks I’m a man or woman, I care about their value proposition and their knowledge level about the process… Talking to me on my level means you found out something about my mission, skills, or even noticed that I haven’t written a blog post or updated my website in a LONG time :)

  7. Steen Seo Öhman March 29, 2009 at 12:36 pm #

    Very nice post

    I think a lot of people miss the relationship part of linking.

  8. Shailendra singh March 29, 2009 at 7:42 pm #

    Good post. If every link builder follows these rules they can definitely success. Good luck to link builders.

  9. Dries March 30, 2009 at 11:00 am #

    interesting article !

  10. emma March 30, 2009 at 12:55 pm #

    This is really great for all link builders who participate in link request.

    thank you.

  11. Nick Stamoulis March 30, 2009 at 4:28 pm #

    You have to almost put your self in their shoes and anticipate what that type of person is going to discard or read. It is difficult but you give it an honest attempt you might get more responses than deletes.

  12. simon March 30, 2009 at 6:13 pm #

    do other SEO’s still request links like this?????

    I thought by now everyone would have caught on that requesting links like this is, more often than not, a huge waste of time. Seriously, what’s your average conversion rate of actually getting someone to link to your site by sending out these emails???? I used to do this years ago, but then realized that for every 1000 emails i sent out, I would probably only get less than 5 proper links with the proper anchor text. That’s a 0.5% conversion rate. On top of that, if you calculate the time (money lost associated with that time) it takes to find relevant sites, the contact information for the webmaster or whoever is in charge of placing a link, the time it takes to write out the email, and the time it takes to get the link up…. you most likely have wasted probably at least 1 hour for every 20 emails that go out. So if you send out 1000 emails that’s 50hrs @ your hourly rate (mine used to be $26/hr when i did this) is $1300 to accomplish this task. If you get 5 links, that’s $260 per link!

    On top of that, what if the partner site takes it down after a couple days or puts it next to irrelevant content (which probably happens frequently)? That’s a lot of dough and time to waste on this type of link building.

  13. Joseph April 2, 2009 at 11:47 pm #

    Simon, what do you recommend?

  14. Notnem April 3, 2009 at 9:31 am #

    Another great article and while I take what Simon says it is very easy to create value for a webmaster in a link request email. If somebody thinks I’ve taken 5 minutes out of my day to give them something for free they are more likely to link back and very often emails turn into discussions (relationships).

    I use Xenu (http://home.snafu.de/tilman/xenulink.html) to do a quick report on a site I’m interested in for broken links. The vast majority of the time there will be no shortage of broken links on a site, but if there isn’t I’ll move onto more general SEO advice.

    I pretty much follow the layout Wiep gave in the post with this addition and I find it works. I also add links I want to my site first so they can see the link live and know I’m serious. If they don’t reply they link gets removed after 30 days.

    Obviously this time and investment is not worth it when looking at low quality sites, but while I don’t have any hard stats for conversions, it is probably somewhere between 5% & 10%.

  15. Wiep April 3, 2009 at 11:45 am #

    @Carolyn: I definitely agree with you that the value proposition is a very important part.

    @Simon: requesting links is absolutely not a waste of time, but it really depends on how you do it. That was one of the points I was trying to make with this post. 99.9% of all “Dear Webmaster, …” emails gets deleted, but I’ve seen conversion rates of around 30-50% for intensive, personalized campaigns as well.

    Also, $260 for a (probably permanent) link doesn’t have to be expensive. Some links are worth ten times that amount, depending of the amount of traffic a link sends, the anchor text and/ or the authority of the domain.

    @Notnem: using Xenu to find broken links on domains you’re contacting is a great tactic. Works like a charm :)

  16. Ali R Khan April 3, 2009 at 1:46 pm #

    @simon Your Maths is really Good and I think Link request are still the best way to link building. Though you can buy links on popular site using TLA but manual link building is the best way and worth the time you spend.

    Nice Template share WIEP !! :)

  17. Jeet April 9, 2009 at 3:53 am #

    When I read the title, I was about to say impossible you can’t use a template. And was happy to see that you don’t use one :)

    Bloggers (non internet marketing bloggers) are probably the easiest to ask link from. I have sometimes got blogroll links just by asking (but I commented on their blogs for a week regularly).

    Webmasters who know they can ‘sell’ those links are not easy to get a link from unless you offer them a link or content.

  18. Peter May 8, 2009 at 5:56 pm #

    I usually do not comment on blog posts but I found this quite interesting, so here goes. Thanks!

  19. Sam May 9, 2009 at 7:19 pm #

    Nice advice, thanks Wiep

  20. Yasir Khan June 12, 2009 at 2:35 am #

    Great article! I like the information contained here because I am about to send a linking request! Got to this article at the right time!

    I have also read your other articles. I like your content especially because I am a SEO consultant too.

    Keep up the great work!

    Yasir Khan

  21. John June 26, 2009 at 8:32 am #

    I received lots of email like this, but many of them wasn’t relevant to my site!

  22. John July 16, 2009 at 7:10 pm #

    I really like that idea of using Xenu to find broken links on domains you’re contacting, point out the brokwn link and then request an exchange. Will give that a go for sure :)

  23. VijayRajesh July 29, 2009 at 7:26 pm #

    The concept of mail request is ok.

    Nowadays, i get emails for link request or link exchange. But the problem is most of them are bots. If i reply them it goes nowhere. Sometimes, i get reply asking why i have mailed them and for what domain.

    Also, the link request are totally irrelevant to me.

    It is something like throwing stone to a tree of lots of fruits. There may be some lucky gains, ofcourse

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