Link Request Rejections: 6 Ways to Grow from No

During the acquisition phase of your link building project you will receive many rejections. Because the majority of your rejections will occur through non-response, it's vital that you grow any written "no" you receive by email into an opportunity to educate yourself. These written rejections represent an opportunity for you to improve your site's content, your future link building efforts and to better connect yourself to your media space influencers.

In the process of uncovering their main objections you will find yourself building a relationship that will help you in earning links in the future...

1) The Proper Mindset: Gracious, Scientific Curiosity
The proper mindset to take as you form your response is gracious, scientific curiosity. Thank your rejector primarily for the act of responding - acknowledge the value their time has to you. Scientific curiosity, when infused into your writing tone, conveys that you genuinely care about their opinion and that you have the discipline to actually benefit from their further input. If you find yourself angry at a written rejection then you should wait to write your response email until you are cooled off.

2) Keep Your Questions Short and Sweet
Your rejectors are likely to respond in short, quick bursts by email, almost as if they were sending instant messages. Respect their time by keeping your questions short and direct. Avoid gushing at this point and keep out any extraneous chatter or remarks. Your sole focus must lie in understanding why they chose not to link to you.

3) Gently Drill Down Into Core Objections

Their initial response to your questions may not provide enough information for you to make solid changes either to your site or your outreach emails. If this is the case you must ask more precise, specific questions using your gut impressions as a guide. It's quite likely that they don't consciously know why they rejected your link request. It's your job to tease this from them and use this information to improve your current efforts, all while honoring rule 2 above by keeping it short and sweet.

4) Ask Their Expert Opinion Without Surrendering Your Own Expertise
Humility is a virtue, but obsequiousness is not. The person who rejected your link request has expert insight into why your site, article, widget or news item did not make the cut on their site. It's vital that you not relinquish your own "expert platform" when understanding from them why they did not link though. If you find yourself writing things like "we're just getting started," or "we're new to this" you need to take a step back and rephrase your email in such a way that you subtly and contextually emphasize your own expertise.

5) Isolate Their Objection and Adjust Your Future Efforts
Once you've drilled down to their core objection for linking to your site's content you've been handed your "to-do" list for making your future efforts more successful. Perhaps your content isn't different enough from what the rest of your space offers. Perhaps you inadvertently insulted your prospect by appearing over-eager for self promotion. Perhaps they know about you already and have some objection to your organization. Whatever their reason, once you know you can begin making changes that will likely make you more linkable to all your link prospects.

6) A Rejection is the Start of a Conversation...

Your link request email is quite possibly the first this person has ever heard of you or your company. This is often the case in large-scale link building efforts, even for large, well-branded companies. Any links you do earn should be just the beginning of a relationship that you can steer any number of ways. A written link rejection indicates that they're not ready to link to you yet, though links and more could well be in your future for your organization.

Related Resources:
12 Ways to Maximize Your Link Acquisition Efforts


  1. Link building is more about

    Link building is more about selling than it is anything else.

    Your descriptions above are spot on and are really just the repackaging of sales tactics and techniques. That's not a bad thing (I am a sales guy after all ;-) ) but many people don't see te parallels. I think that a good link recruiter for larger concern should be 'commissioned' and rewarded on their success. Of course, success metrics can only be around win / win linking situations but it may help certain people do this who would have never considered it before (i.e the sales guy who is out of a regualr sales job but could find a place in the internet marketing space).

    Anyway, cool post. Keep up the great work.

  1. [...] Link Acquisition Phase

    [...] Link Acquisition Phase Resources: Link Request Rejections: 6 Ways to Grow from No 12 Ways to Maximize Your Link Acquisition Efforts Published by admin, on January 11th, 2009 at [...]

  1. Hey Frank - thanks for your

    Hey Frank - thanks for your comment!

    We've definitely found that employing sales strategies improve link building efforts. You are, after all, motivating others to take action.

    I'd like to hear more about your concept for commissioning sales guys to build links... If you did your link prospect list segmenting appropriately then this could certainly be a powerful method.


  1. [...] of your email responses you’ll either look for ways to maximize your new link relationship, inquire about the reasons for their rejection, or deliberate on a response to their counter-offer. For conversation threads, whenever possible [...]

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