When it comes to link building, the link request can make or break the deal. Webmasters can be immediately turned off by a request just from the introduction. This is because many have been overwhelmed by irrelevant, impersonalized link requests in the past.
This is where using a link building persona can come in handy. It takes a little evaluation of the site you are targeting and the person (webmaster) you are going to email to decide what persona to go with, but if you choose the right one along with a well-composed link request, you are going to stand a better shot of your link.
Photo Credit: Nicolas Nova on Flickr
Here are some example link building personas to choose from, why they work (or don’t), and keys to using them effectively.
The Online Marketer / SEO
Most link builders fit into this category as many people hire out to agencies and consultants for their SEO work. Emails from SEOs are typically more focused on getting the link details down to a point and less focused on building a personal relationship with the webmaster. SEOs usually do not have a lot of enthusiasm for the websites they are building links for, and that generally shows in the email.
The result: Emails from this perspective are ignored by many webmasters. Alternatively, the ones that know many SEOs will pay for a link will respond to the link request by requesting compensation, regardless of whether the SEO mentioned whether they would pay for the link in the request. The overall success rate with this approach is probably lowest.
The Website / Business Owner
Approaching a webmaster as the website owner, business owner, or employee of the website you are building usually has a more genuine feel. Emails from someone directly involved in the website or business are typically more focused on introducing the website / business and why it would be a beneficial link for the webmaster to share with their audience. Great enthusiasm for the website they are building links for is shown in the email.
The result: Emails from this perspective are usually met with a more positive response. Instead of buying a link, you may be redirected to purchase advertising, but it will happen less often.
The trick (if you are not affiliated with the website or business) is making webmasters think that you are. While you can use a generic email address like Gmail, it’s best if you can get an email address from the domain of the website itself (firstname.lastname@example.org). Let your client know that the best responses happen this way. Just don’t do anything spammy with the client’s domain-based email address or you could get them in trouble.
A Fan of the Webmaster
This persona allows you to interact with the webmaster in a helpful manner. It’s a good one to use when you are working on a broken link strategy which entails looking for pages with broken links relevant to the website you are building links for and asking the webmaster to replace the broken link with yours. You can also use it for a regular link request where you simply suggest to a webmaster that the website you are building links for would fit perfectly on a specific page on their website.
The result: Emails from this perspective are usually viewed as being helpful, especially if they are coming from someone who is a fan. Hence, they can be effective. There is little chance that the webmaster will expect compensation coming from this approach.
The key is to make sure that the webmaster knows you are a fan by mentioning something about their website outside of the page you are building the link upon. For example, you regularly check out their site for resources on that particular topic and happened to find another resource that would go great with the ones the webmaster has already suggested.
Do you use personas for link building? What other approaches have you attempted and what have been the results? Please share in the comments!