Jonathan Leger – SEO And Internet Marketing Blog Internet Marketing Blog


Get reciprocal links by not asking for them.

After proving that link exchanges really work to help search engine rankings, I was bombarded with requests asking about my successful method for getting reciprocal links. Instead of answering each person individually, I decided to put up an article that will help everyone who is strugling with getting responses to their link request emails.

And that's the big problem with link exchange requests, isn't it? They are often ignored. If you have the words "link exchange" or "reciprocal link" or anything like that in the email subject, the email will be unceromoniously deleted by 95% of webmasters. The other 5% probably aren't worth trading links with.

Why is that? It's because thousands of webmasters are using automated tools to crank out the link request emails, trying to get links to junk sites that have little real content and even less value. Because of this, webmasters have been conditioned to ignore link request emails.

First, Don't Ask For Link
Pay A Compliment and Give a Link

I solved this problem by not asking for a link in my "link request" email. In fact, I don't even mention a link at all!

Does it seem counter-intuative to not ask for a link request in my emails which are designed to get a link to my site? It probably does. But if you ask for a link, you'll just get your email deleted, so you need to take an alternate route.

My subject line is usually something like:

"I'd love to add your site to my directory!"

Then, in the message body, I tell the webmaster what I like about their site and ask them to add their site to my directory. (Note: You should always pay the webmaster a personalized compliment so that they know your request wasn't cranked out by a machine.)

Wouldn't you be much more motivated to open up an email that says the person would love to add your site to their directory than to open one that says "Link exchange request" or something impersonal like that?

They Add Their Link To Your Directory, And Then ...

Once the webmaster adds their link to your directory, only then do you ask for a link back. Once they've already been given a generous link by you, most often those same webmasters will return the favor. In fact, I generally see about a 70% reciprocal link rate.

For the other 30%, they are still a valuable addition to my directory, so I keep them in there, but I mark their links with the rel="nofollow" attribute so I don't lose any PageRank for a webmaster who won't return the favor.

Do The Math

In the typical, unproductive scenario, you might send out 100 emails asking for a link back. You might get 10% to open the email at all, and of those who do only 20% actually swap links with you. That's 100 emails times 10% who open, or 10 people who actually read the email. Of those 10, 20% swap links with you, so you end up with only 2 links. Ouch!

Using my method, I get a solid 50-60% who open the email, followed by 70% who swap links with me. So I end up with 100 times 50%, or 50 email readers, times 70%. So I end up with 35 links. That's more than 17 times as productive as the clunky old method.

But it still takes work, which is why I recommend using SEO Elite to automate the process of finding and emailing potential link partners.

Related Internet Marketing Q&A

Comments (20) Trackbacks (1)
  1. Oops lucky I checked the url link in my blog username. One to many http’s. Here it is again.

  2. Hello Jonathon.

    This blog is all about reciprocal links and people can actually go one better and post their article on my website and achieve a one way non reciprocal link.

    I love win/win scenarios. What do I get out of the deal if there is no linkback? The answer – good quality fresh content.

    The website can be accessed via my blog name above I should let you know that it’s only available to Australian residents or else any other countries who have an article specific to Australia. I will soon have an international version where everyone can post their article with a linkback

    Thanks for your continued excellent content Jonathon and we hope the readers enjoy our free resource

  3. Hello Jonathan,

    I have been building links for my website and found it a little frustrating when I only recieve a few responses. Your suggestion makes so much sense.

    I will be giving this approach a real work-over in the next few weeks.

  4. I have a couple of niche market content-heavy sites and i get TONS of link requests. just about 100% of them are for sites which have nothing to do with the topic of my sites, and also very often these sites are one page pieces of garbage with no real information on them, just tons of ads. these are not the sort of sites i need to be linked to. the advice about to actually visit sites you want to exchange links is good. and try making sites with actual quality content on them.

  5. Dear Jonathan ,
    You are full of great and latest information on
    the most relevant subjects of today’s internet.

    We wish we had a JV with you on some of our products . We greatly value your talents and the grip on these subjects .

    We hope you will continue your good work for the benefit of your world wide fans .

    Be Blessed

  6. Try
    it automates everything so you don’t waste time on checking your link partners etc…

  7. is there a software package which anyone here could recommend which adds the “Submit a Link” feature to your site(s) …

  8. Everyday now I am getting requests from sites asking me to give them a link. They actually want me to link to them first and then they will return it. (Delete) Are you kidding? If you want a link from me the least you can do is link to me first. I’m one of those who has started ignoring the majority of link requests. I do like the method Jonathon has laid out. Seems like it would be much more effective.

  9. I agree with needing to make it easy for people to link – I get link exchange requests most days and most of them aren’t from sites related to mine. On the rare occasion they are I send them a standard email asking them to link via my links page that was set up with the guys at Link Metro.

  10. My personal word of advise to those of you trying to sending out ANY link request email (whatever way you choose to do it), is to PERSONALLY visit the site you are trying to get a link from. We get dozens of such requests everyday and without fail, I delete all of them without even opening the emails at all. Reason? We have a link exchange page on our site which can be found easily! If you just make a little effort visiting our site, you would have been able to submit the link exchange request directly.

    I won’t bother responding to lazy webmasters who don’t do their home work, and I believe many site owners feel that way too.


  11. I find it easy to be genuine in the request emails gets
    a huge response from sincere words and a specific reference to the reason and relevance of the the links and why you are seeking the links work well for me.
    we get better than 90% positive response by simply
    targeting one page rather than the domain alone and
    using SEO Elite to find the most relevant sites to link with rather than shotgunning for links helter skelter.
    Most people miss the point in linking strategy in the first place, I know I made those same mistakes of trying for any links bit it will bite you in the butt later so don;t waste time, do the home work as SEO Elite will hellp to sort out what sites to target. We even managed to get PR6 sites to respond who usually would not bother as they don’t need links from a PR4 website.
    So how do you get a higher PR? simple, weed out all your irrelevant PR0 links that have not made a move in PR ot alexa rank in months and start looking at the most relevant keywords and only and I mean only request a link with a site of PR3 and better that is absoloutley relevant to your page you are promoting. I find that just going for domain links is a waste of time and brings little targeted traffic unless you home page is quite specific, most of us try to cram in all manner of keywords and content in our index pages, don’t bother.
    better to make your home page a navigation portal to the speicifc keywords and relevant content with snippets to the pages in question.


  12. Brian Carr:

    That 70% figure is not from sending a follow-up email, but from asking them on the thank-you page for the link-back.

  13. Jonathon,

    That’s just flat out smart!

    “Hi, let me add YOU to MY directory”

    Who could refuse that offer?

    And then to ask for the reciprocal link?

    Why, of course!

    I LOVE you showing it worked 1700% better!


    Now, I’ve got to get to WORK!!!


    Andrew Larder

  14. On average, how often do you think people automatically include your link on their site without you having to send a follow up email?

  15. P.J.:

    It is asking for links, but not in the initial email (thus the title).

  16. “Once the webmaster adds their link to your directory, only then do you ask for a link back.”

    No offense, but how is this method not asking for links?

  17. Thanks for the great post.

    Just last night I sent out about 25 emails to different bloggers asking them for links back to my site. I even used the dreaded “Link Exchange” subject line.

    I wish I would have read this article before wasting my time!

  18. SEO Elite lets you send out one customized email at a time in addition to being able to send the same message to all of the potential link partners it finds.

  19. Hi,

    I also have SEOElite but I never use the mailing feature, because I thought sending out identical e-mails to hundreds of webmasters wouldn’t work.
    Bascially you are also saying that it doesn’t make sense to send automated link requests.
    That’s why I didn’t get why in the end of that post you recommend SEOElite, because it seems to be the exact opposite of what you were trying to tell.
    I usually write personal e-mails. I comment about the site etc. I cannot do that with SEOElite. So how are you using it to implement your strategy your described above? Are you using it to automatically generate link directory pages and send out some generic nice comments, then somehow memorize the ones that responded and then automatically send a second mail them asking for a link?