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|Prompting sites to reciprocate links|
the all-important follow-up letter
I have recently wrote to 20 related - but non-competing - websites requesting a reciprocal link arrangement. I had taken the liberty of linking to them first as a good will gesture, and had took the trouble to explore their sites and comment upon their content in my emails. The letters were individually tailored to each recipient.
How do I deal with those sites that do not reply - i.e. those sites that have gained a free incoming link and can't be bothered to reciprocate. They might not know the value of a good incoming link but I sure do!
I want to write to them and prompt them to reciprocate but of course in a way which doesn't suggest an ultimatum i.e. I don't want to say, 'if you don't link to us, we shall remove our link to you!'.
BUT, I do want the letter to be effective. I really don't know how to approach this and I'm amazed at the general reluctance to play ball. Our site has a PR of 5 which should be regarded as a good link.
Any ideas, friends?
Stavs, it sounds like you are doing all the right things. For a first follow-up, I'd suggest a note simply stating that you have not heard one way or the other, again pointing out the benefits of mutual linkage, and requesting a reply - whether they are interested or not.
You might also try a different e-mail address - if you got the addresses off the web site, the address may be spammed out and ignored now even if it doesn't actually bounce.
Also, make sure your e-mail subject doesn't sound remotely like spam. For e-mail senders I don't know, I scan the subject and delete most without opening.
I wouldn't recommend getting into technical details like Page Rank - very few recipients will understand this stuff. I would focus on the quality of your visitors and how interested they would be in the other guy's site.
Did you get many of the first 20 to link to you? If so, why not just seek out more new ones.
Some reasons you may get no reply:
- Your email was thought to be spam - deleted on reading of subject
- webmaster doesn't check that email anymore - extended vacation, changed jobs, etc.
- they figured "Hey free link, thanks. Seeya." Assuming you wouldn't follow up.
- they are just plain lazy, or just plain busy.
I would fire off one more email to them, saying something like (use a good non-spammy subject): Since we haven't heard back from you, we will be removing you link by Oct xx (2-5 days). If you may be interested in this link, please reply.
I don't think it matters if you take the stance of "If you don't link, we won't." That's the deal, afterall. Just get to the point, and move on if they're not interested.
On the other hand, if you are wanting links from specific, high profile (and high PR) sites, it can take more work. More than just a request email - you may need to build a relationship first, before any mention of a link.
Check out this thread for more great pointers:
I just finished sending about 23 e:mails to various quality sites. I got 14 immediate responses with reciprocal links. I hope the remaining 9 will respond eventually, but I will try again in about a month if I don't hear back from them.
The letter I wrote is as follows:
I found your site while surfing the internet. Its great by the way and I particularly liked (fill in the blank)! I would love for our site to be added to your links page for (whatever you sell) at [yourlinkspage.com....]
We provide what I think is one of the most detailed and informative sites for (whatever you sell) on the internet ... but then again, as author and webmaster, I have admit to being slightly biased. If you would be so kind as to consider our site for inclusion on your links page, I would be very grateful.
I have already added your link to our site at [myaddresshere.com....] I wrote the description for your site based on the information I found on your index page, please feel free to suggest a change to the description and category.
Our site information is:
Title: Name of Site
Description: 25 or 30 words.
Three of them thanked me for sending them their own url where I wanted my site to be added. Many webmasters deal with several sites and use the same e:mail address from all of the sites they manage. They may not have the time or inclination to go look at your site and figure out where exactly or to which site you would like to be linked. As a result, your request will undoubtedly be trashed.
I also included the description of my site more as confirmation regarding where it should be linked than in any real hope of the description being used. I was rather pleased to see that a few of them actually did use the description as opposed to a simple link, giving my site distinct advantage over some of the others.
Make it effortless for the webmaster and if you are able to include a description of their site on your links page, the reception will be even greater. More often than not, they will be curious to see what you wrote. Adding a description for each of your link partners also helps to affirm your site theme if you are properly linking to sites which compliment yours.
I purposely misspelled a few company names on my links page such as Landsend instead of Land's End ... just to see if they would actually go and check to see if the link was there. They are then pretty much obligated to write to you to point out the spelling error. I changed errors here and there just so it wouldn't be terribly obvious. If people use factual figures such as 15,000 whatevers in our inventory, then use 11,000. They will be sure to correct you. This opens up communication and you politely ask for the reciprocal link if they haven't already added it.
For those who don't respond, wait a month and try again. If you still get no response, remove the link but leave the description. I did this with one fellow and he was on it after the very next SE update. He wrote and said he noticed the site name and description were sill there, but that the link wasn't working anymore. He actually asked me to fix it for him. I replied that I would be happy to ... just as soon as he *fixed* mine and I included all the same info again. It worked!
And if all that doesn't work ... flip them the bird and get on with your life!
>get on with your life!
Nice post, Liane. That's a truly fine punchlist.
>Nice post, Liane. That's a truly fine punchlist.
Ditto, now I know where I am going wrong :)
I really like the bit
|I purposely misspelled a few company names on my links page... |
that is a neat trick.
> I wrote the description for your site based on the information I found on your index page, please feel free to suggest a change to the description and category.
I like this part of your letter, Laine - I shall definately use that in future - as you say it arouses curiousity. My letter is very similar to yours - it starts off the same and I also provide the link so that they can find it easily.
As Rogerd agrees, I chose not to go into technical details about page rank and in fact I didn't even mention any benefits to SE ranking - I did however make suggestions about the crossover of interests of our respective visitors.
One of the sites I wrote to was a gay site with some crossover potential (believe it or not) and I was deliberately camp in my phrasing - he was the first one to write back ;)
In starting this thread, I am jumping the gun somewhat as I only wrote the emails 4-6 days ago - I've had two positive responses so far. So I should wait a while - no longer than 2 weeks I would say, and then hit them with the follow-up letter to keep things on the boil.
I've got plenty more link request letters to send out and I'm being very anal about record keeping - the whole campaign is becoming a full-time job. I played the numbers game before 6 months ago and its a waste of time, you really do need to go for the tailored approach - its mind numbing and tedious but its got to be done.
I'm still unsure of the wording of the follow-up letter. Its got to be a killer or I'll feel as if I've wasted my time with the first one. Do you think I ought to mention SE benefits? the trouble with this is that its hard not to go into too much detail and I don't want to send them an essay.
Use the telephone.
It's very tricky to create the, sometimes necessary, personal touch in an e-mail - and the delete button is far too easy to hit.
Phone them up, ask nicely, follow it up with your e-mail, and Bob's your Uncle.
And if you do get a link remember to thank them.
I have only sent out three follow up letters so far and although a phone call is a really good idea ... I can't really afford to do that from my location.
I've had one successful response, one got no responseand the third responded that he would have to ask their committee as the site belongs to an organization.
I think it is a big mistake trying to tell another webmaster what is or isn't of value to their site. In most cases they are well aware of the value of links. Their lack of response could be an indicator that they simply don't want to link to you and could care less about your link to them. Fair enough, its their site.
My follow up goes like this:
As advised in my letter dated October 3rd, (copy below), we have provided a link and description of your site at [mysitehere.com....] If you'd be so kind, please review the description for accuracy and let me know if you would care to change anything. At the same time, please advise if you are willing to provide a reciprocal link to our site.
Should I not hear from you within the next week, I will assume you are not interested in a link exchange and will remove your link from our site without pestering you again.
You are trying to close a sale. Don't be afraid to ask (politely) for what you want. The worst that can happen is they say no. Conversely, the answer may be yes and you have provided a sense of urgency which requires a response from them. Just ask. You'll likely get at least a 25% to 50% response on the second go 'round.
nice letter. Its basically the approach that I was frightened to use but in a polite way.
> The worst that can happen is they say no
exactly, so nothing to lose.
The telephone is a good idea for some circumstances - I honestly hadn't considered it before. Does it work for you shuffler? I've got a few high (ish) profile sites to target yet which I am leaving untill last. I may just use the phone. One problem that I can imagine is getting hold of the right person - but I'm sure perserverance will overcome this worry.
Thanks all for sharing your experiences - very much appreciated.
Nice work Liane, thank you! (I will have some corrections to do...)
I just want to add some little grain of salt. I include a link to some on site page that describes the benefits of mutual likage, with charts and graphs of traffic gain and position report.
I also want to add to the list Drastic gave us for reasons why we dont get replies: Static Web sites. For some surprisingly high amount of companies, Web sites were purchased and forgotten there. They have no one in house that can modify anything to the site.
Another line to the page mentionned above stating that you can do it for them for free can get you extra links. (not to mention I got 2 new clients this way... )
Wow, nice thread. Great pointers.
As with emails, using the phone works with some people and not others - getting hold of the right person can be issue with big companies, but these are possibly the least likely to help out anyway. It's best to use a combination of emails and phone calls - always following up wherever possible until you get an answer. IMO a 'no' is better than a 'maybe' as it allows you to get on with looking for the next good 'yes'.
As Liane said, you're trying to close a sale.
Think about what's in it for them - tell them about the types of visitors you get, not just the volume.
Great thread everyone!!!
Liane, you covered the topic very well, thanks.
Marketing and advertising is what I do ... and I am happy to help where I can (which isn't very often at WmW) but I was kind of hoping some others who have had a better than 50% response on their attempts to get quality links would be promted to share some of their tricks as well.
Shuffler's phone idea is brilliant and something I never would have though of simply due to cost ... but its a great idea for those of you who are able.
Macguru's point that some websites have (for all intents and purposes) been abandoned because nobody in house knows how to do links is a really good point. Offering to do it for them for free might work well if you are in the biz!
Anyone else have any really good secrets to share?
>I have already added your link to our site at [myaddresshere.com....]
I personally don't do this as it sometimes make webmasters feel that you're trying to put the pressure on, this is also the reason that so many emails go unanswered.
I'll send a personal email requesting a link, giving the url of the page I want my link on etc. I also include the description of our site and logo in HTML format.
I will give a link in return when I'm asked but it isn't always so.
This way works and I've got a very high conversion rate for my clients.
great posting Liane, I will be changing the way I do this from now on :)
I am new to this forum but thought I would try to add my 2 cents in here.
I have an add your url script that visitors can use and I visit each site before adding the link. I also have a banner page that I do manually and it is this one that I request links for.
I have to agree that a lot of these "link partner" request did go unanswered until I wrote a form reply that stated I did not do Link partner but would be willing to link on a last in, first up basis...each site gets their time at the head of the list.
I also don't have a lot of time to add links and give out my awards...I am slow but eventually get there.
I am speaking here from the other side of the coin :) but I was once out there actively searching for links and will be again now that my new Numerology site is up and listed in DMOZ and you guys gave me some wonderful ideas.
I think I am going to like it here. I found out about this board over at Doug's Ihelpyou forums. Which is down for some reason this morning. :(
Cheers, gang, nice to meetcha!
some great pointers here..
Important to recognize too that some sites just dont really need to link to others. For example on two of our developing sites we welcome this, but in another which has good page rank etc. we dont feel further links are useful for readers of the site or ranking, and there are many links from gov, edu sites etc that happen automatically. A few good external links from very high page ranked and relevant sites, in that case, to us is enough..
We receive around 20 to 30 requests weekly for reciprocal links from commercial sites, and used to reply explaining why not, only to get back a rude response So to save time and hassle, the best policy is just not to reply. Maybe different if we had lots of staff but with one or two, its just too much time.
So just to underline dont waste too much time on sites who dont provide reciprocals. They probably legitimnately dont need them, or feel they are useful for their readers.
Very good advice!
We're happy to have you a-board and posting. Just let us know if you need any help with the board.
Everyone, great posts and good topic. Thanks Liane for your well thought out explainations. There's some good meat here.
One thing I add that I didn't see mentioned here is the exact code, in cut/paste form, for my title/description. I let the link partner know this is just a suggestion and as I know how busy it gets keeping an active site going, I only hope this helps ease their work. I've noticed the code is almost always used as I've provided it. This really helps me get the keywords I want in the anchor text.
I understand where your coming from, after you putting so much work into the emails.
But instead of following up with another email, i'd cut my losses.
True you won't have another link to you but the content of your site will have been improved with there being more content.
The thing is though, do you really want to link to the people who don't have the dignity to reply back. Which brings you back to square one.
I think the best thing to do is leave things for a week. If you haven't heard a reply by then, remove the link and get back to your dinner.
Personally, I would give them at least a week if not longer, as I said, even I don't have that much time to answer requests and other emails. Being a staff of one who builds web sites, fills Astrology and Numerology chart orders, update my sites nightly, not to mention trying to have a life :) and keep updated my sons sites and keep an eye on his server while he and wife are on vacation, have less time than anybody I personally know.
I also live alone so have no help with housework, shopping, cooking, etc.
See how it can take some longer than others? :)
i'm a long-time lurker,
hope this is the right place to ask, but if someone copies your image links directly (instead of creating a copy of the image on their server),
will that increase link relevancy because your url is brought up every time that page loads?
That is a good question, but unfortunately the answer in no. It will just slow down your own site.
Welcome to WebmasterWorld. It is always a pleasure to see a long time lurker becoming a member. I remembered some similar topic was discussed a while back. So I used the 'site search' tool to try to find the tread back. People "stealing" your art can improve your link popularity. Google seem to like it.
Here it is.
One additional thought, stavs - be sure to make it super-easy for someone to link to you. Have a page of linkage info, with suggested text links, HTML that can be copied and pasted, banners & graphics, etc.
Some webmasters (using the term loosely) are very non-technical, and the more idiot-proof you can make it, the better your chances of getting a working link are.
I usually check every inbound link when I'm notified that it is up. I've found non-loading graphics, non-working URLs, etc. that I've had to point out to the other site.
Rogerd, you brought up another interesting idea in my head. Some people like to link to the other website first, then request a link back. I think that this is fair, and that it is also fair to remove the link after some time of no response(I mean, you have nothing to lose).
What you might consider doing is making a small error in the original link, for example link to www,domain.com instead of www.domain.com. Or even better, make it actually load a 404 error in their logs: www.domain.com/index.htmk
Its a tad immoral, but can look like an honest mistake. If you've offered to exchange links via an email, they can't really send you a message back asking you to fix the html without addressing the link exchange invitation. Of course, they might ask you to simply remove the link as it is burning bandwidth - which you should do immediately. Or they might get smart and actually generate index.htmk as a server redirect.
Hey guys... new here as well...
One technique in marketing to improve response rate is to make sure & make a call for immediate action.
If you are giving links to these sites before your email goes out, try something along the lines of "we understand that not everyone is interested or capable of swapping links... so, if you aren't interested simply disregard this email and after a week we'll remove your link on our page"
My example sounds kinda harsh, but ya get the idea... your message isn't directed at the ones not interested (they're gonna ignore it anyways), but to the ones that are lazy/borderline... you just told them that after a week, their link will come down, which prompts them to hit the reply button & let you know they are interested.
Now for the ppl who only link after a reply is recieved... lil bit harder, but still make a call for immediate action.... "We are planning on linking to your site, but we understand that not everyone is interested in trading links, so we ask for your permission beforehand. IF you aren't interested, simply ignore this email, otherwise, fire us an email & we'll get your link up today"
Sounds kinda sale-pitchish, but once again... ya get the idea.
"For some reason, a few have requested that we take the link ot their site down... while we really don't understand why, we're friendly people. So, we're cleaning our link list, if you are still interested in us linking to you, drop us a line" - This could be used to your no replies a couple of weeks afterward, for the ones you've already given the link to... they assume its just a friendly email going out to everyone on your link list.
Guess Im rambling.... make a call for immediate action.
Welcome to webmaster World mranchovy, thanks for posting.
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