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How to make a link request

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So you’ve found some great link prospects. And you’ve created some great reasons why someone should link to you. Now you want to make an approach and craft a great link request. But are your link requests missing the most vital ingredient? Ken McGaffin asks the question and gives the answers.

A few years back, it used to be that a polite email would set you off on your link building. Often it was the email equivalent of a ‘cold call’ – you had no contact with and you probably didn’t know too much about the person you were targeting.

The fact that you didn’t know too much about the person was a real problem. Because it is not websites that give you links, but the people who are behind them that decide that you’re worth the effort and go ahead and give you that link.

That was just something we had to live with back then, but now on a web dominated by social media, we don’t have to. Indeed, you need never make a ‘cold call’ link request again.

Through effective use of social media we can get to know people before we make a link request. And that’s the vital ingredient – getting to know the person behind the site you want to approach. Social media makes it really easy.

Instead of spending time writing the perfect link request email, spend time getting to know the people who could give you the links you’re after.

The important lesson is this: NEVER send a link request if you haven’t done your preparation. Spend some time getting to know your prospects – that’s the vital ingredient.

“But where do you find the time?” I hear you ask.

The answer is that you must make the time. Concentrate on the quality of your approach, not the quantity. If doing proper preparation means you only get through a tenth of the prospects you’ve got, then so be it. Your results will be so much better in the end.

Earlier today, I interviewed Andreas Kambanis of the London Cyclist blog and we talked of one link building campaign where he achieved an 80% success rate – because he did his preparation (you’ll be able to read the interview next week).

You no longer have to make cold calls. Not only can you find out a lot about someone but you can make contact directly. And once you’ve made contact it’s a lot easier to get a link.

Here’s what you’ve got to do:

  1. Find your link prospects.
  2. Identify the person behind the site.
  3. Find out which social networks they take part in and either follow them or become a friend.
  4. Now look at the types of things they write about. Look for opportunities to agree with them, add to their opinion, recommend or retweet them.
  5. Link to them from your own site. And provide them with a quality link using good linking text – the sort of link you’d like to receive yourself.
  6. That should bring you to their attention or even better start a conversation.

Now you’ve made a good contact – that in itself can be valuable enough, but if you then have something you’d like them to link to, they’re very likely to respond positively.

Few things in link building are easy, and they can take up a lot of time. But whatever you do, don’t skimp on preparation. It’s one of the things that will make your link requests stand out from the rest.

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About Ken McGaffin

Ken McGaffin is a writer, speaker and trainer in online marketing. He provides webinar and video training in link building, online PR and content marketing on his site at LinkingMatters.com You can join him at Google+ or on Twitter

He wrote The Definitive Guide to Successful Link Building with Mark Nunney, and has created two in-depth online courses, 'Get Links: 7 Weeks to Link Building Mastery' and 'Broken Link building Video Course', both with Garrett French.