Requesting Links is as much of an art as it is a science, especially in order to get that sought-after link from an authority site. When thinking about how to write a link request, I pay attention to two factors: AIDA (Attention, Interest, Desire, Action) and WIIFM (What’s In It For Me?). Keeping those in mind, the rest is all in the semantics of what not to do, and how to to tailor the request to the particular industry or vertical you’re targeting.
So to make things easier, I’m going to provide you a link request template that you can customize to your fancy. All I ask is that you email me at dev[at]devbasu.com to let me know if the templates have actually worked for you. First, let’s look at the psychology of a link pitch, and then follow up with how you can use the same principles to influence your desired action from anyone you wish to pitch or approach.
1. WIIFM – What’s In It For Me?
It’s the first question that comes to mind when you’re approached by anyone hoping to get you to do anything, so it’s important to answer this question from the get go. Generally speaking, most benefits fall into the following categories:
- Resources – Do you provide a resource that would be valuable to the readers, subscribers, or site visitors of the link target site.
- Association – Will the link target achieve stronger association by linking to your site? Eg: A dentist may have increased association with other dentists if they were to link to a local association or directory of dentists.
- Recognition – There’s a good reason why why top 10 and top 100 lists are a perennial favourite of the creative link builder. People are much easier to convince if you tickle their ego.
- Reciprocity – I’m not speaking of standard link spam reciprocal links, but rather of reciprocal links that are relevant and built moreso for traffic than SEO. Think about strategic links between content portals such as MSN and YellowPages or between other such completary websites.
2. A.I.D.A – Attention, Interest, Desire, Action
The AIDA principle walks us through the process of engaging your link prospect to closing the interaction with them, which if successful will result in them linking to your linkbait. Here’s how it works:
Attention – The objective is to stand out from the other hundred link requests, subscription requests, newsletters, and junk mail that your prospect receives. Some important steps towards engaging the prospect’s attention include
- Being Personal - Use your contact’s real name and not their designation throughout the email.
- Don’t be Boring – If you sound just like the last 5 emails your prospect has skimmed over, your’s will be tossed into the trash can.
- Stand Out - Utilize the subject line, opening and closing paragraph to your advantage. These are key areas to make your mark.
Interest – The objective is to get your link prospect to read through the meat and potatoes of your email, all the while increasing their interest to link to your site. Here’s how you can be interesting:
- WIIFM - Answer this first by utilizing the points discussed in the section above.
- Focus on Benefits, NOT Features – Who cares if you’re the next best thing since sliced bread? Appeal to how your resource solves your prospect’s problems, or those of their readers.
- Appeal to Their Ego -If your linkbait appeals to the prospect’s ego or awards them with recognition of some sort, then spell out exactly where they rank in your list
Desire – Once you’ve got interest, its important to create desire, or your prospect will not act upon your request. Create desire out of interest by baking in the following:
- Give Them What They Want – Does the link prospect have an e-book, newsletter, or RSS feed they want people to subscribe to? Let them know that you’ve subscribed to their offering, and that you look forward to receiving their material. The prospect has automatically gained a subscriber, and is more likely to reciprocate.
- Make Yourself Available - Want to make your prospect feel special? Make them feel like they have your direct line in case they need to contact you. It may be as simple as offering up your office telephone number of your actual email email@example.com instead of firstname.lastname@example.org
- Remind Them Why They Should Link To You – Reinforce your initial benefits proposition by quickly summarizing why the prospect benefits from linking to you.
Action – Don’t make them think. Instead, give them code they can copy paste to make the linking process easier. In the case that your prospect is code savvy, give them the choice of either using your cut and paste code, or ‘announcing’ your resource to their readers at their own discretion.
3. Putting it All Together in a Link Request Template
Subject: <Name>, We’ve got a <Category> resource we think your readers might like…
Hi <Insert Name>,
My name is <Real Name> and I’m getting in touch with you regarding your <Insert Category> site/blog <Insert Blog/Site Name>. I’m currently working with <Insert Client Site Name> to announce their new resource <Insert Article/Linkbait Name>, and thought this might be of interest to you and your readers, as it provides an easy and intuitive way to <Insert Benefit Here>. You can review the article at <Insert URL>. If you find the resource to be of value to you and your readers, I’d appreciate it if you could add it to your <links page url> or announce it to your readers at your own discretion. Alternatively, you can utilize the customized badge or link code provided below:
<Insert Badge or Anchor Text Optimized HTML Code>
As someone has an interest in <Category>, I’ve signed up to your site’s <newsletter/rss> and look forward to learning more about your business. Please let me know if the above provides you with the information you need to review and consider our new section for linking. I’m available Monday to Friday 9am-5pm EST, and can be contacted via telephone at my direct line (905) 420-1234 and also by my direct email <email@example.com>.
<Real Name>, <Client Name>
Dev Basu is a regular contributor to Search Engine Journal. He owns Powered by Search, a full service internet marketing agency located in Toronto, Canada, and blogs about online marketing for small businesses, search marketing, and all matters in local seo and social media. Catch up with him at his blog, twitter, or connect on Linkedin.