Link exchange requests that work… or not!

February 18th, 2006


There’s an art to making an effective link request. For starters, you should not propose a reciprocal link, for 2 reasons: 1) the reciprocal nature of the link will basically nullify the SEO benefit you would have gotten, and 2) all the link request spams flooding webmasters’ inboxes are of a reciprocal nature and you need to differentiate yourself as much as possible from that rubbish. Say these sorts of things and rest assured that your link request will go straight into the recipient’s Trash:

  • “Hi, Let’s swap links!”
  • “I’ve already linked to you.”
  • “Great site!”
  • “You already link to our competitor and we offer a better/complementary product.”
  • “Please use the following text in your link…”

When requesting links, think and act like a PR professional or a biz dev director, not an SEO. Or even think and act like an end-user of their site. “Hi, I found a broken link on _____. Have you thought about adding features like _____ to your ______ on your site? BTW, you might want to add and as links.” Just don’t be disingenuous; provide real value with your suggestions. Even suggest links to competitors or sites that you have no vested interest in.

We all get link request spams, even Google engineers! (such as this one posted by Matt Cutts). Here’s one I got recently:

Subject: Quality link request


I found your website on Google.

We have a quality website at that will be well ranked on Google.

We are happy to upload a link onto this website in any way you request in exchange for a return link. I’m sure you appreciate that this would be of great benefit to us both.

To go ahead with this exchange please upload our link information below to your links page.

Please reply to to say where you have uploaded it.

If you would like your return link presenting in a particular way please include this information in your email.

I will then arrange for your link to be uploaded and email you again to let you know.

Thank you.


Please note, the link needs to be set out as below in order for it to be returned.
[rest of email ommitted]

All I’ve got to say to that is, “Yeah, right!”

Eric Ward shared some secrets on how he crafts link requests that work in Thursday’s link building webinar for MarketingProfs which Eric and I co-presented. MarketingProfs will post the archive of the webinar in their Premium Library soon. And for those of you who aren’t MarketingProfs premium subscribers (you should join, btw, it’s well worth it!), I’ll see if I can get permission from MarketingProfs to post an archive of the webinar here on my blog.