Digital Insights

How to Earn Inbound Links by Building Relationships


Published: September 24, 2014

Just as a “not interested” response to a sales pitch doesn’t necessarily mean that a sale won’t be made, receiving a “no” to your request for a link doesn’t mean that you won’t eventually receive a link even from webmasters who have previously turned you down. It all depends on your relationship-building skills, presentation ability, and degree of persistence.

The new era of link building is all about using your people skills to build relationships not just for the moment but for the long run. Link building is no longer something that can be churned out overnight: it requires time, patience, and a certain flair for basic people skills.

relationship building not link buildingNever Assume the Worst When You Receive a “Not Interested” Response
Think of yesterday’s rejection as the first step toward tomorrow’s acceptance. How you handle that rejection will determine whether or not you get a second chance with another pitch. Be courteous and respectful at all times. If the webmaster gives a reason for denying your request, take it to heart and learn from it. Use that feedback to improve your chances of getting another request accepted. Above all, remember that your odds of acceptance will improve significantly if you take the time to establish a relationship and build rapport with a webmaster before you make a link request.

Research and Create a List of Link Prospects
Identify the key web resources that cater to your particular industry or niche. These could be trade or association websites, blogs, and sites in other industries that are closely related to your field.

  • Get started by conducting a Google search for your niche.
  • Look for link prospects that feature well-written articles about your niche that attract relevant and insightful comments.
  • Create a spreadsheet to help keep track of your prospect’s details and submission history.

Start Building Awareness with Your Initial Contact
Once you have a list of link prospects, pick a recent article from the site and read it. Make a relevant and insightful comment. Don’t worry about getting a link at this stage; the idea is to start a rapport with the webmaster/blogger.

Follow up your comment with a brief personalized email that references the article. Ask a pertinent question or raise a relevant issue. Again, don’t mention guest posts or links: you’re simply reaching out.

Wherever appropriate, mention and link to the article in question on your own company blog. Don’t be afraid to ask questions or offer your opinions. Remember that you already have something in common with someone who is active in the same niche as you are. Find that common ground and make a connection.

Continue Building the Relationship
Follow up on your initial email without making a pest of yourself; mention the article that you’ve already linked to on your own blog. Don’t panic if you don’t receive an immediate reply; your email may have simply gotten lost in the shuffle or your prospect may be swamped with work. Wait at least a week before you attempt another follow-up, which should be kept light and friendly. Don’t abuse your budding relationship by making an issue of your prospect’s failure to reply.

Once the ice has been broken, stay connected with your link prospect by reading their blog, commenting, and emailing your thoughts and observations. When you do make a pitch, just make sure that your content is as informative and unique as possible; the effort you made in establishing a connection will give you a significant advantage over your would-be competitors who mass-submit their material.