What "Sandra Bullok" Taught Me about Building Links through Email

Sandra Bullock at the premiere for The Proposal

Image via Wikipedia

This is a guest post by Brandon Hopkins

When I first got the email from “Sandra Bullok” I was excited. Did she want me opinion on Jesse James? Was she looking for a movie recommendation? Did she want my opinion on Beiber??

Unfortunately, it wasn’t the real Sandra Bullock, just a spammer. However, for the record I think Beiber gets a bad rap!

Just like anyone who owns a website, I get emails from “professional” link building companies every day. As we all know, they’re scraping email addresses, filling out comment forms and generally spamming in any way possible. Since it’s obvious that these emails are completely spam, we can use them to as a “What Not To Do When Building Links” guide. Here are some observations about building links through email.

1. Don't be Generic.

If you don’t use my name, I won’t be reading your email. You will earn extra points and probably even a contact back if you use some other personal piece of information beside just my first name or email address. All you would have to do is read the “About Me” page to find that piece of info. Anything from a hobby to children would work.

Sandra’s Email Fail: Dear Webmaster,

2. Use a Company Name.

“SEO Company” isn’t actually a company. Instead use either your own name or a company name to make your email a little unique.

Sandra’s Email Fail: I am Sandra from SEO Company

3. Use Correct Capitalization and Punctuation.

Certain words, no matter how important they are, should be capitalized. Here is an easy to understand guide of capitalization instructions.

Sandra’s Email Fail: We are looking as a long term Link Exchange Partner with your team of link builders.

4. Features and Benefits

Since you’re essentially “selling” yourself and your website, you should know something about the sales process. One of the strongest sales tactics is showing the features then benefits of your product or service. In this case, the feature would be “You will be providing your website visitors with a website that will help them with XYZ.” The benefit would be “This will help them remember that your website gave them exactly what they were looking for, so they’re more likely to remember your website in the future”.

Sandra’s Email Feature Fail: I am excited to offer you a very good back link (no site or page was listed, we all know it’s going to be on a links.html page buried on some junk .info site registered yesterday)

Sandra’s Email Benefit Fail: none.

So how do you write a good email asking to either buy a link, or get a free link? Here is a template you can follow.

Hey Brandon, (never use "Dear Brandon," or "Dear Mr. Hopkins," or "Sir", only spammers use those terms) I wanted to let you know that I really liked your latest post about Twitter. I really liked the part about building a strong twitter following. That's much more important that the total number of followers. The reason I was emailing you was to see if you wanted to sell some advertising on the page, http://www.example.com. I have a website that would fit nicely and give your readers some additional information about Twitter resources. My budget is fairly small, I'm just a guy with a website :). Let me know what you think. Thanks! Alexander Dombroff (don't use a celeb's name...) p.s. your daughter is really cute! How old is she in that picture on your site? My daughter just turned 3 last week, they look about the same age.

There is a reason that buying links under the radar is so expensive, it takes a lot of time! All of this doesn’t include the actual cost of paying for the link, which is generally $20-$50 depending on the site. That is the same reason that people don’t mind spending money on a few high quality web directories like BOTW, Ezilon, and Yahoo! Directory.

Brandon Hopkins runs a team of freelance link builders with the one goal of getting your website to rank #1 for your terms. Contact Brandon at brandonchopkins@gmail.com to discuss link building!

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Stephan Miller

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Kansas City Software Engineer and Author

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