Building links can be a tedious and difficult task and the rewards are uncertain at best, but we chase the hope of those links changing our rankings, our traffic, our lives. Sure there are plenty of cases arguing that links can boost you to the top of the SERPs, and I am not here to disagree with them, as my job is to build the best links I can possibly find.
One of the particularly interesting things about my position is that I am privy to the minds and emotions of the webmasters I contact. I read their blogs, surf their social media accounts and hunt down their email addresses all in the pursuit of that boost. The anonymity of the internet is a funny thing though, and sometimes webmasters cling to that anonymity with everything they have and speak their minds via an email message that comes out sounding very interesting, to say the least. Now, I have no idea how often these particular people are emailed asking for the type of relationship that I am asking for everyday, but I like to think it isn’t that often. The most common response my team actually gets is no response at all, and we take that as a firm “no.” So without further ado, here are six types of responses my team and I get from webmasters, and how you can respond if you find yourself in a similar situation.
1. Flat Out Rejection
In response to a request for a Guest post, this blog simply told us:
“No one can do what we do.”
Others have said:
The moral of the story here is that their blog is very special to them and we should above all else respect that. There are a few indicators of those who will accept a post, but many site worth asking do not have such indicators, and hence, we sometimes encounter these kinds of folk.
How to Respond: In this instance, it will be hard to form a meaningful relationship, since the webmaster thinks that you are clearly not worth their time. I would advise my team to send a polite follow up email which offers a thank you for their response and to not contact the blog for another year.
2. Hesitant or Uninformed
Offering a guest post to a not so pleased blogger:
“If I was your boss I would not be paying you to waste time on dead ends like that. Good Luck.”
A team member reached out to a blogger and asked her to include a link to a resource page in her article:
“I don’t understand…. What exactly are you asking?”
I can see this as a positive response for the industry in some way. This person clearly hasn’t been inundated with requests like so many others who are jaded by the experience now, so maybe in a year or more of requests he or she might be interested once they understand why we do what we do.
How to Respond: This is the perfect opportunity to educate the webmaster. Explain why working together could be beneficial and include how it might help his or her website immediately and in the future. This situation can turn ugly quickly because people don’t like to be made aware of what they don’t know, so proceeding with caution here is key. In the past, I have included articles for them to read about how to edit WordPress code or why links are actually beneficial to websites and not repeated my request to work with them until they circled back to it.
3. The Profiteer
While asking a webmaster to please link a branded mention that was written on the site with no mention or implication of money from the team member:
“How much are you going to pay for that link?”
Some webmasters are wise to link building! This is an evolved webmaster who has put his blog in the hands of the SEO Universe online, and there are more of them than you might think on the internet.
How to Respond: Unless the site has a pagerank that rivals Google and traffic to match, skip it. Send a polite response saying that you are not interested in paying for a link on the site and thank them for responding. The reason to avoid this blog stems from the upfront response: if they are too easy to hawk out a link to you without knowing anything about you or the link they should place, they are probably willing to do it for some less reputable people as well. You should avoid a potentially seedy blog that may face future penalization.
4. The Informed Blogger
I personally reached out to a website about being included in their vendor directory:
“I’m not going to lie—I did a little stalking of Vertical Measures and you—Brynna!”
Bloggers and webmasters are just as likely to do some creeping on us, just as we have to them in order to find them. Hopefully we had a great blog post up that day!
How to Respond: Be flattered! This webmaster obviously takes pride in his or her blog and judges those who approach it for business purposes for the betterment of said blog. This blog is probably well maintained and does not link out to just anybody. If anything, this should make relationship forming easier since they are already familiar with whom you are. An appropriate response is to thank them for taking the time to check you out and see if they had any questions about what they found. Make sure to return the favor and mention something interesting you found out about the website or them personally (maybe that article they posted to twitter or the off the wall traffic they got last month). It shows that you also value them and what they have to offer while steering the relationship back to professionalism.
5. Dazed and Confused
One of my personal favorites, the reply that was accidentally forwarded to my team member by the contact:
“bah, this guy works for an online marketing company and he specializes in link building and SEO. You will see that a lot of people try to get ‘guest blog posts’ or want us to publish their material on our blog so they can rank higher in the search engines.”
We’ve all hit “reply all” on accident before, it happens. It was nice of them to still publish the post though, even though they were savvy enough to know what we wanted!
How to Respond: The approach we took to this particular email was a little bit different, as we didn’t want to embarrass the contact. We simply waited to see if he would email us back on his own accord, and he did the next day saying he’d be happy to place a post. We didn’t point out his error and he may not have even noticed it happened, and that’s okay because in the end he still worked with us and was polite in his communications. Had he not emailed us back on his own, we might have done a standard “reminder” email, simply stating that we’d still love to work with the person and if they had any questions on what we communicated earlier to please let us know. If they don’t respond to that, let it go, they don’t want to play anymore.
6. Eager to Please
Sometimes webmasters who work in the industry can get a little over eager when pitching to you:
“OK! I’m ready to work with you according to your own wish. I’m also ready to reduce the prices, this time you’ll set the price for every post according to your budget and I will happily accept your decision. You’ll be like my boss, is that fine now?”
After this email, we decided this blog wasn’t quite right for the client after all. If it seems too good to be true, it probably is!
How to Respond: It’s hard to say no to someone when they offer to be your best friend, but the chance of them only being your best friend is very slim. We don’t want to risk our clients being put on blogs where just any link is accepted, so we sent off a simple thank you to this person and told them that we had found an alternate placement and we would keep them in mind for the future if we had anything that might fit on that particular blog. In reality we probably won’t contact them again, but we try to strike a line between being polite and breaking this blogger’s heart in addition to not hurting our clients. Sometimes you just have to walk away!
Now that you’ve heard some of the things webmasters say in their reply to us, what are some of the most interesting, illuminating, or just plain odd responses you’ve ever received back? How did you handle it?