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The Wrong Way to Build External Links for SEO

Anyone who's worked on search engine optimization (SEO) for any length of time understands the importance of building relevant external links to a website. But whether you do choose to SEO internally, outsource it domestically, or offshore the effort, it's important to get this process right. If you're doing it internally, follow established best practices for this effort (including the information below). If you outsource your SEO, ask your vendor exactly how they perform their SEO work.

I frequently receive reciprocal link requests for Some of the requests are well-written, some inelegant, some spammy. But I recently received the following message, which was among the worst I had ever seen:

    Subject: Link exchange

    Dear Webmaster,

    My name is (name), and I run the web sites.:>2)>3)

    I recently found your site and am very interested in exchanging links. You can add yours link there:

    As you know, reciprocal linking benefits both of us by raising our search rankings and generating more traffic to both of our sites. Please post a link to my site as follows:

    Title: Online aptitude and psychometric tests.
    Description: Job skills and personality profile assessments to determine your employees capabilities and minimise human resource recruiting costs.

    Title: Accountancy and Tax jobs in UK.
    Description: ClickAJob Job Centre UK - search for jobs in education, marketing, engineering, it, medical, banking, finance and other sectors

    Title: SEO services, Web Audit.
    Description: FreshPromotion is a web marketing agency that specialises in assisting companies to maximise the sales potential of the internet through promotional activities focused upon delivering new customers.

    Please, email me the location of the reciprocal link

    Best regards,

How many errors can you spot above? I should also mention that this message was sent to a group of site owners—and the entire email address list was exposed. Here was my response:


    As an agency marketing executive who implements SEO programs for clients on a regular basis, I'd like to give you some advice:

    - First, send link requests to one individual at a time. You not only sent this message to a group, but you exposed all of the recipient email addresses in your message. This raises the risk of all of the recipients on the list ending up on a spam list somewhere, which I'm sure none of us appreciate.

    - Second, when you send individual emails, use the person's name whenever possible. My name (Tom) is very easy to find on Addressing me as "webmaster" when my name is very easy to find makes it appear that you are lazy. (I don't mean to be harsh, it just does!)

    - Third, send requests for individual site links one at a time, not in groups. And make sure that each site for which you are requesting a link is relevant to the recipient and his or her website.

    If you are willing to take the time to do this right, I believe you will find that you have much more reciprocal linking success.



You may find additional missteps in the original message (and I may have been too polite in replying, but that's just the way I am).

My point is not a blanket condemnation of offshore SEO vendors; many are reputable and do solid work. Rather, it's that if you outsource your SEO effort, and particularly if you offshore it, check out the vendor thoroughly. Make sure that they use only professional, "white hat" SEO tactics and never shop on price alone—in SEO as in everything else, you get what you pay for.


Contact Tom Pick: tomATwebmarketcentralDOTcom


This comment has been removed by the author.
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