Now a search marketing consultant for SEOmoz, Rebecca has spent the last year building a presence in the SEO blogosphere and conference circuit. Although she is still constantly learning new SEO techniques, she has quickly become well-versed in link building, keyword research, generating link bait, and performing site reviews. Rebecca believes that anyone with a desire and passion to learn can grasp SEO and pick up on it quickly.

1) What’s the best way to approach a complete stranger for a link?

It is a huge turn off to get a generic email from a complete stranger who writes something like “Dear Webmaster, I think you have a unique site and would like to exchange links with you. We are a blah blah blah and would like you to put our link on your homepage.” These emails are insulting–they clearly show that the person who emailed you put absolutely no effort into getting to know what your site is, who you are, or what you do.

The best tactic is to put a little effort into your request–check out their site, try to find an actual contact (or at least personalize the email as much as you can), mention a few specific things you like about their site, etc. You want to create a rapport–you could even ask the contact that, since his or her site is an authority, to look at your site, read one of your articles, test one of your tools, etc, and provide some feedback or suggestions. After a comfortable relationship has been established between you and the contact, then it’s more appropriate to request a link.

2) What’s the best way to judge the success of a linkbaiting campaign?

There are a lot of ways to measure the success of a linkbaiting campaign. A major thing is to track the buzz of your campaign. See how many Technorati links you’ve gotten. Submit your linkbait (if it’s appropriate) to Digg,, reddit, etc, and see how many votes it gets. Check how much traffic is being sent to your site. Compare conversions before and after the launch, whether that be signups, add to carts, number of comments left, etc. One of our clients recently had a story make Digg Popular, and the next day their site had forty new members sign up. The bottom line is that there are multiple ways to measure a linkbait launch’s success, and it’s important to judge several different factors. Don’t assume that it’s a success based on a single factor.

3) Why should I spend lots of money on link development when I can get 50,000 links for $29.95? When you hear prospects say something like this, how do you explain to them why such spammy services don’t work?

My coworker, Jane Copland, put it best when she said, “Some links are Benjamins. Some are Washingtons. Some are pennies that, even after a year, a whole collection of them will only get you a couple of bucks at CoinStar. It isn’t hard to tell the difference.” Basically, links can vary in value. Thousands of irrelevant links pointing to your site aren’t worth nearly as much as a few dozen high quality links from relevant, authoritative sources. Search engines are pretty savvy–they’ll notice if a bunch of completely unrelated sites are linking to you, and they can deduce that maybe your site isn’t quite as authoritative or trustworthy as others in your niche.

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