Do You Want To Rank For Large Fish?

I was lucky enough to have coffee with Todd Mintz and his wife recently as they passed through town on their way to somewhere better, with air conditioning and less of a bloodhound smell. He said something that struck me…”I’ve only had one professional link building request.” I could be paraphrasing here, even if I am taking the liberty of using quotes, because my memory is fuzzy and it fits my damn blog post.

Anyway, I started thinking about the link requests that I get…

First of all, I’m annoyed by the link requests that reference my site in some way, then go on to explain why link building works and how to do it as if I am a total idiot who has no clue. While I can easily admit that my site sucks a duck’s ass, I do know that it makes what I do for a living fairly obvious. If you’re going to take the time to personalize your link request email, do more than simply insert my URL and call me ma’am. The best email ever was the one asking if I wanted to rank for the term “large fish.” Um…


Secondly, I am getting incredibly tired of unsolicited email, period. This of course does not conflict with the fact that my link builders send out thousands of unsolicited emails, of course. I’ve seen their emails, and while they are unsolicited, they indicate that yes, they’ve seen the site and they realize that it’s relevant for what they’re marketing. However, I definitely understand the mindset of people who see an email they didn’t ask for and get miffed. I do not understand the people who flip the hell out about it though, and reply with some truly nasty things that they plan to do, should we ever meet up. I also don’t understand middle-aged Caucasian males with dreadlocks who write nasty blog posts about how unsolicited emails are responsible for killing dolphins and wrecking the psyche of humanity.

Knowing how almost everyone views unsolicited emails, particularly emails in which they are asked to do something, how should you successfully craft a nice opening request?

If you’re buying links, you might assume that money is going to knock down all of those barriers, but that rarely happens. In fact, sometimes mentioning money in your initial email has the same effect of using the wrong fork at the country club. People gasp and turn away in disgust. If you can establish a connection and get a response, then you can work it into the conversation. We have had success with being very upfront and indeed mentioning money first, of course, but many money-related keywords trigger spam filters, so be careful. Sometimes it’s just…tacky. If tacky rears its head in the form of my dead gran’s silver sequined disco belt, I like it. If it’s just vulgarity, I don’t.


Please, please don’t call me sir. If you’ve found my contact information that clearly has my name in it, there’s no excuse for this. Julie is not a man’s name. Sure, my daughter has a male name and there are men named Nancy I imagine but it’s not statistically high enough to warrant making this mistake. I understand that if you can only find an info at address, you may not know the gender of the webmaster, but if that’s the case, don’t assume it’s a man. I know it’s hard to believe that we do things other than vacuum and giggle but it’s true.

Pretend that you’re writing to your high school English teacher who isn’t the fuddy-duddy that you remember, but a hip techno-geek who likes the appropriate use of a semi-colon and also is aware of how to use a computer. Nothing annoys me more than a very poorly written email, especially when it contains glaring errors such as using your when it should be you’re. I imagine George Bush saying new-ku-ler when I see this and immediately discount the sender as being a moron of..well, Bush-like stature. If your command of whatever language in which you’re writing is poor, for whatever reason, please ask someone who’s a bit smarter than you to review it and correct the errors. It will save you loads of time spent reading insults about your mother.

No one wants to read War and Peace in the form of an email so don’t go on about all the reasons that you love my site, including its utterly mind-blowing design and amazing content. Don’t tell me that it’s relevant to your site about Viagra, because I will comb the damn content looking for injected code and that wastes my time and makes me mad and then I’ll knock an employee down the stairs. Accidentally. I’ve seen some beautifully written emails that are lengthy, and I’ve scanned, and deleted, asap. I don’t have time and I doubt you do, either. I would ask that you don’t simply email with a caveman-like “Give me link!” though, although that will get a laugh.


Here’s what I hate the most, mainly because of its creep factor. Please don’t figure out who a site owner is, look said person up online, and reference something you’ve found on Facebook or elsewhere. If you happen upon an article written by a webmaster whom you plan to contact, that’s a legitimate thing to mention in my opinion, but if you’ve read my horrible blog and can reference the time when I attended a pig’s birthday party, well ick.