Building Relationships is More Important Than Building Links Alone

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In almost any line of business, it is customary to do some sort of background check on a person or company you may be doing business with before embarking down the relationship building and partnership route. The more you know about your future colleague or perhaps adversary, the better you can connect with them on an emotional level. This is one of the cornerstones of networking, and should also be applied to the online marketing world as well.

Take link building for an example. In link building, the core strategy which will lead to success is building a relationship with the key bloggers and publishers in the vertical markets you are targeting. I’ve been asked many times, “How do you email a publisher to get a link?” or “How do you properly approach a professional blogger?”

Being a professional blogger myself, I can speak from both sides of the track as I get just as many requests for links on Search Engine Journal as I do ask for links for my SEO clients on other blogs. Speaking from the perspective of a blogger, I know the emotional joy when a constant reader participates on Search Engine Journal, gets into the conversations, becomes a fan on Facebook, or takes the time to compose an email – either thankful or critical.

By using these same techniques in blogger relationship building, one can cut past the boilerplate emails and link requests, and build not only a business relationship with a publisher, but also a long term friendship. Here are some steps to building such a cohesive connection, which will assist both parties in the long run.

  • First I’d like to say, take the time to read some of the blogger’s posts. This may sound very basic, but the more you read into the blogger and their opinions on subjects that reflect the business your site or your client does, the more you can connect with them. After reading 10 or more posts, then select 3 or 4 that you really identify with and can write an intelligent and heartfelt response to in their comment field.
  • Now write out some comments (here’s a guide on the importance of comment participation) and be sure there is some depth and understanding to them. Use your full name, your correct email and link to either your own site or your client’s site (or better yet, YOUR BLOG) in the URL field. DO NOT use keywords for your name. If you do, then you are a spammer and you will instantly ruin your credibility with this publisher.
  • If the blogger has the option to subscribe to comments via email then do so. This will alert you as to when others reply to the blog post or even your comment. If this happens, be sure to revisit the post to reply to others’ comments. By doing so, you are now actively participating in the blog conversation.
  • By actively participating, you are making the blogger happy for many reasons. Foremost because you are providing content and thought for the blogger, which will assist in more content and perhaps even better traffic and revenue for the blogger, as comments can influence the search ranking of a specific post. Secondly because by your efforts, you are also motivating the blog’s readership to actively participate more also. This can have a snowball effect.
  • Now you are definitely making your mark on the blog and if the blogger responds to you in the comment space, take this opening to continue to build the conversation not only in commenting, but also by communicating with the blogger outside of the blog. Does this mean write an email? Not really.
  • The beauty of Social Media is that we now have multiple inboxes with different levels of intimacy. No longer is my GMail account the best way to contact me. Hitting a blogger up on Twitter, LinkedIn or Facebook by far has become a much more intimate and trusted way to not only contact the blogger, but show them who you are.
  • Most bloggers have links to their social media profiles on their blogs. Be sure to look for these and befriend these bloggers on Twitter or Facebook. Then send them a direct message like “Really enjoying the conversation over on Search Engine Journal. You have a great blog there and it’s now in my RSS Reader forever!” or something like that. When I get a message with so much positivity, it really makes my day.
  • Once the blogger befriends you, check them out. What do you have in common? What do you REALLY have in common? How do they use Twitter? Are they a Twitterholic? Don’t become a social media stalker, but do become an educated friend.
  • Now that you’ve built the relationship, the trust, the status and the credibility of a contributing force to this blogger, and perhaps an actual friend, then take this relationship to the next level by closing the deal : Ask about doing a guest blog post or contributing to their blog in some fashion. By doing so, you will have a much more valuable link on the blog itself, in their blogroll or sidebar perhaps, and also introduce your company to their readership since you will be contributing to their blog as a source of knowledge and a subtle company evangelist.

Sure, these steps can be modified based upon the importance of the blogger and the client. And you’re not going to want to work your way up the blogger relationship ladder to be invited to Thanksgiving dinner by the blogger, only to ask for a link at the dinner table. If you’re just going for a simple link in their resource section, once you’ve made the connection ask for it.

If you are looking to evangelize your brand or your company mission on a credible blog, well taking all of these steps should lead to some sort of strong and trusted long term relationship with not only the blogger, but their audience.

And a long term trusted relationship with a blogger or publisher will always eclipse the value of one link.

Loren Baker
Loren Baker is the Founder of SEJ, an Advisor at Alpha Brand Media and runs Foundation Digital, a digital marketing strategy & development agency.
Loren Baker
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  • Saad Kamal

    Some gr8 advice here.

    Well building relationship can eventually get you links …

  • sally

    Hello Loren,

    Thanks a lot for the wonderful tips.


  • Nick Stamoulis

    Def. taking a quality over a quantity approach will better in the long run. That blast out as much as possible in one day mentality is out the window.

  • Nicole

    By offering to provide a “guest post” on certain blogs, we often open up the opportunity to also get a resource link on their site. Bloggers (who are open to guests posts) appreciate the information and are generally very happy to provide a link in return for the information we have provided. Then we often receive emails from them months later asking for more information! Which, of course, we’re happy to provide since they have posted our link. 🙂

  • Jaan Kanellis

    All very true here Loren. Being part of the community might be more important than anything else when you are trying promote.

  • Marty

    Great post Loren. I just emailed it to our whole staff. Friends are about community and quality, not quantity of folks you shouldn’t know.

    An essential element of social media is preserving the first degree of separation’s authenticity.

  • Singapore SEO Consultant

    Do you guys bother to build links if your competitor has more than 50,000 external links?


    great post it is true i agree you relation is more important

  • ABnCParties

    Thank you, great information. I also went back on your Comment Participation link and read that article. I do have one question…we now sign our name as ABnCParties rather than Judy or Michael (as before). Do you have any pro or con remarks in this regard? Or a post you have covering the subject?

  • Loren Baker, Editor


    I do not agree that using a keyword as your name will assist you with developing a trusted relationship with a publisher, but a handle or brand is ok.

    Take Software Testing Training for example, their obvious spamming and use of keywords as their name is getting them booted from SEJ 🙂

  • Alexa

    While I do agree that making a true connection with the blogger is the correct way to do it. The time spent on trying to get just a few links might not be worth the effort.


  • ABnCParties

    Thanks for the Feedback.

  • Steven Harmision

    I agree with your blogger & to do it.I also went back on your Comment Participation link and read that article.

  • Clarissa McIntosh

    Excellent advice – will start doing this with those I follow! Thanks so much!

  • streszczenia

    Great article.
    It take a lot of time but a good placed link is worth more than 1000 spam links 🙂

  • Inder P Singh

    You have made such a valuable point. By really understanding the content of a blog and building a relationship over time are key benefits that out-value a simple link to the blog.

  • Richard Vanderhurst

    Good point. I agree with you, quality is always best than quantity.