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Not every link you request requires giving a link back. Sometimes it is cheaper and more efficient to just to go target higher quality links. Sometimes you can just request a link and get it by being personal and empathetic. Other times links may require payment.

Be Personal
The best way to go about acquiring links is to be as personal about it as you can. Look around their web site and try to find personal information. The more you find, the better you are.

When e-mailing them, try to submit it to the person who runs the site, not a general info submission. If you can state where your link should go on their site and how it would improve their user experience, you stand a good chance of getting a link.

Off-topic, somewhat personal statements showing you share similar interests may make you seem more human and more connected with them and will make it easier to get links. For instance, if you found out that I like peanut butter, somehow mentioning that or joking about it in the e-mail will make me far more likely to link to your site.

Proper Link Request Buy Line
Another good idea is to make the buy line of the e-mail appear as a suggestion. If I see the subject line of the e-mail as “SEO Tips Website Suggestion”, odds are that I am going to open it. Feedback is a fundamental part of any successful business so I have to open it.

I like using the word suggestion versus feedback. If you use feedback, they may feel like you are tricking them. If you use the word suggestion, they are highly inclined to open the e-mail. remember, getting someone to open the e-mail is half of the battle.

E-mail to Use
When building links, you are more likely to have a higher close rate if you use an email address with the same domain name with the site for which you are building links. Hotmail and Yahoo! mail type accounts probably do not close as well.

Some people also send their link requests as though they are cute females.

Scouting Out Potential Link Sources
A good way to find candidates for links is to use the Yahoo! link search. Do a search on Google to find your top few competitors. Go down the list and perform a backward link check on Yahoo! for each of them. See the sites that link to them and see if you can get links from those same sites.

Also, look at the categories those sites are in and use the Google directory to get the best sites from those categories to link to you. (To do a backwards link check of a competitor’s web site you type ‘link:’ in Yahoo!’s search box.)

The Cost of Links
Some people are afraid of certain links because they think those links cost too much money. An expensive link can also be a good deal though.

If a link is expensive, or if the cost of obtaining it is a significant amount of effort, money, a long wait, or the approval from a webmaster who is a stickler for quality, it means those links are not going to be easy to get. People who create $5 sites hoping to double their money will not usually be acquiring links that take hundreds of dollars or many hours to get.

As people continue to abuse lower quality links the high quality links will only count more.

Finding Niche Link Sources
You can do a search for ‘ + directory’, ‘ + add URL’, ‘ + submit site’ “¦any of them. Start thinking of ideas like that and finding sources of inbound links should be no problem. You can search across multiple different search engines and even search for various file extensions.

  • If you have a resource about the ASP language it may be a good idea to search for ASP file types.
  • If you have a golf site with a Flash game on it try to get golf links, but also see if there are some game sites or Flash sites that might be willing to link to your site.
  • If you have a beautiful site design or an XHTML and CSS compliant design try to list your site on sites about beautiful web design.
  • If you are a site designer consider creating free open source site designs and promoting them on

Affiliate Program Links
Most affiliate programs redirect your links through third party web sites which prevent the link from parsing link popularity.

In addition, many other web sites use query strings on the links. These typically will not parse PageRank to the destination page. A query string is something like ‘?affil=34565’ at the end of the link. This identifies the affiliate for tracking purposes.

Even if affiliate programs do not provide static text links, they still help raise your brand awareness and build trust in the eyes of your prospective customers. A well managed affiliate program can also mean that some of your affiliates are crowding some of your competitors out of the search results.

You Do Not Need To Reciprocate Every Link
If you have a great resource, you do not need to give a link back every time you ask for a link. If you write compelling content, people may want to link to it free, and that is the best way to get links.

I often group my sites with a couple other similar resources when I ask for free links. This gives me a better chance of getting my site listed because it seems like I am trying to help them improve their site versus just helping myself. In addition, this helps clustering search engines such as Teoma know what sites are similar to mine.

You cannot be afraid to ask or get rejected. Most link requests are rejected or ignored, but if you show that you put a good amount of time and effort in and that you are actually a human who visited their site, then you stand a much better chance of getting a link.

Cheesy Link Exchange Trick
Some people also 301 redirect their new site to an established site to have it show the PageRank of the other site. Since the PageRank only updates every three months, they can make many link trades based on fooling webmasters with the toolbar PageRank from the other site.

Automated Link Exchange Emails
Automation is an extremely bad thing during the human interaction portion of link exchange. There is a program by the name of Arelis which will automate nearly 100% of the link exchange process, and it may be useful to use for most portions EXCEPT the human interaction.

You stand a far better chance to get links if you are extremely personal in your link requests. There are a few linking tools I occasionally use, but keep in mind that anything that sends automated queries to search engines is usually going to be against their terms of service.

Evolving Link Analysis
As Google has moved away from PageRank and anchor text and relevancy algorithms have moved toward things like TrustRank, site age and link authority.

Here are some useful tools to help you measure TrusRank better:

You may want to use Yahoo! Site Explorer to dig up some of your competitor’s top backlinks, but I wouldn’t recommend buying any link analysis tools at this point.

Yahoo! Site Explorer

If using the ‘linkdomain:’ and ‘link:’ features confuses you, then you may want to try Yahoo!’s free link analysis tool. It makes it easy to surf through a site and see what pages have inbound links and what links point at each page.


Greg Boser created a free, lighting-quick link analysis application similar to the three listed above. Tattler is available free. It only works with Yahoo!, but is exceptionally fast.


OptiLink ($224) is link analysis software which can scour up to 1000 different backlinks of a web site and return the results in the order of PageRank. You then have the ability to go through and request links from the most important sites.

OptiLink also lets you know what words are in the different links so you can get an accurate picture of total link reputation and not just link popularity. Link reputation is the combination of link popularity and link text. OptiLink will let you check the backlinks through multiple search engines.

SEO Elite

SEO Elite ($167) is newer software which is extremely similar to OptiLink. It surveys backlinks to find what anchor text is used and linking page PageRank. In addition, SEO Elite will spider the links on your site or page and check that reciprocal link partners are linking back to your site.

SEO Administrator

Their Link Exchange Tool identifies sites where you can publish links back to your site to increase your link popularity. It searches for sites with link exchange submission forms, sites with link exchange pages that have standard names (such as links.html, partners.html and so on), sites that link to your competitors and also creates a general list of resources matching your site topic. It can check reciprocal/partner links for you and provides software to manage your buy/sell/exchange links database.

Web Based Link Analysis

If you do not want to download any link analysis software but still want to analyze anchor text profiles there are a couple free web based link analysis tools.

The WeBuildPages Top 10 Analysis Tool compares a URL to the stats of the top 10 ranked pages in Google. provides link anchor text and PageRank values.

Link Harvester

Link Harvester is a free, web-based link analysis tool I created. Link Harvester will tell you if a site has any governmental or educational inbound links as well as telling you the number of unique linking domains and unique linking IP addresses.

Link Harvester also auto-checks boxes next to each site that links in more than four times so that you can re-query the tool to filter out the sites that link in many time to search deeper through the backlink database quickly and easily. That is something that none of the paid link analysis tools do.

In addition to displaying a link from each of the sites linking in, you can easily export the data to a spreadsheet. It is free, open source, and uses the Yahoo! API so you do not have to worry about the tool getting blocked.


Some people have described GoLexa as a Swiss Army knife tool for SEO It does not give the detailed link analysis data that some of the above tools do, but it does have many useful and interesting features.

Bonus Linking Tip

One of the best ways to use these linking tools is to use them to track the links pointing to a web site which has moved. Alert webmasters to broken links on their sites and let them know that you have a similar site. Many webmasters will likely link to your site, especially if you list multiple, similar, useful sites and they do not think your motives are 100% selfish.

Being Smooth

Sometimes it helps to be a bit smooth. Sometimes I suggest a few resources other than my own. Sometimes I just put my URL under my name as if its part of my signature. Other times I just ask for feedback on an idea. All techniques have worked to get me many quality inbound links in a short period of time.

A non-link-request link request may actually have a higher conversion rate than an active link request with some webmasters. You have to read the motives of the webmaster.

The use of the above listed tools allows me to automate most of the link research process while still allowing me to remaining personal in the link request e-mails I send out.

Example E-mail (sent to a personal e-mail if they have one available)

Hello ,
I have been browsing around photography sites for a couple hours now and just ran across yours”¦it’s awesome.
[stroke their

Wow! Your picture of that dove “blah blah blah”¦bird photography is one of my blah blah blah. [be specific and show you visited their site]

I took this pic of a flying mongoose here: [look we are the same]

<optional>I have already added a link to your site on my cool sites page.</optional> [Pay them if you feel you need to¦link or cash or whatever other offer. If you feel a phone call is necessary, then you may want to give them your number or call them up versus sending an e-mail.]

[you or] Your site visitors may well be interested in blah blah
blah at my site blah blah.
[show them how linking to you benefits them]

If you like my site, please consider linking to it however you like”¦ [Let them know they have choices but don’t come across as ordering them to do something. Also, sometimes just asking for feedback on an idea gives you all the potential upside of a link request without any of the potential downside. If they review your stuff and like it, they will probably link to it. And by asking for their feedback instead of a link, you show you value their opinion not just their link

or with this code. [make it easy for them]

I think my site matches well with the theme on this page:

Either way, thanks for reading this and keep posting the awesome photos. [reminder ego stroke]

Me at MyEmail dot com
My Contact Number


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