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I'd like to suggest that a link campaign that starts with the attitude of "begging" is somewhat damaged. A large part of an unsuccesful link request can be put to exactly that attitude. You can see it in the generic quality of the email, the lack of enthusiasm at finding your site, their inability to express what makes their site such a good link candidate...
A link campaign is very much like any courtship or seduction- and there are those who prefer to skip the communication altogether and pay some teenage kid for PR. Well, I'm not inclined to pay for...
When you find a site with quality/relevant content that appears to be updated fairly frequently, it's possible that you have discovered a website that has frequent visitors who will be interested in visiting your own website. This is something to get excited about.
Targeted traffic lays the foundation to a grass-roots traffic campaign. Don't write off the word of mouth traffic- anyone who has ever received a chain petition in the email can attest to the power of exponential growth.
Are you interested in me or just my big PR?
Most people don't like to feel like objects, and webmasters are no exceptions. Make some effort to explain what you like about their website, how your website visitors would enjoy visiting their website and vice-versa.
Have you ever seen an elderly lady on the bus, the kind with the blue hair and the little white gloves and the pink rouge dusted on her cheek? Well, many website operators are twice as vain and perhaps even more susceptible to flattery. It pays to click through a website and familiarize oneself with the content. But it also pays to familiarize yourself with the name of the webmaster and use it when communicating. I've extracted some great links (from the homepage no less) by explaining why I like their website so much.
There's no harm in asking
Hey, you're going to get rejected. Unless you look like Johnny Depp or have a PR8 reciprocal links page, you're going to taste the bitterness and anguish of a telephone that never rings, and an email inbox with no replies.
Ok, you can put on a Leonard Cohen record and mope :(, or you can get off your butt and send out some more emails ;). You will find your link soliciting skills improve with each website you study and each email you craft. Keep copies of the good ones.
Getting slapped in the face...
There's no harm in asking. To paraphrase what a serial dater once told me: "You gotta get in there and be forward. Sometimes you get slapped on the face, and sometimes you get kissed on the face."
Same thing with a link building campaign. But never look at this as "begging for links" otherwise you may be setting yourself up for a late night with Lenny Cohen.
Anyone else have tips for the budding link campaigner?
I always prefer the personal approach. Even I have over 100 domains to run links campaigns for.
You find a good site, ask for a favour, return the favour, be a happy partner. (I know this might seem a little over-enthusiastic for most of you.)
I know most of my link partners. I know their names, where they live, whether they are posting here at WW or not. I keep contact with some of my partners and discuss SEO issues, PR levels, or market related questions. Or just general ideas about setting up a business, tax issues, anything.
It's not just gaining as many high-PR links as possible, it's like collecting business cards in a way. Some point me at other usefull sites about SEO, some help me out with affiliating, etc. Sometimes you come across a DMOZ editor, or a lawyer.
It's not that I won't link to a site with an automated service. I'm just trying to point out the importance of good contacts.