One way to get links pointing back to your website is by link begging—basically, asking someone to link to your site from theirs. People beg for links by sending an email, making a phone call, or messaging someone over a social networking site like Twitter or Facebook.
Recently, I wrote in a blog post about link building myths that I believe link begging is a waste of time—it's just not scalable.
However, some search marketers swear by link begging. Is it a workable strategy, or a bad idea? To help you make an educated decision about whether to engage in link begging, let's consider the practice's pros and cons.
Here are some of the pros of link begging:
- Link begging can, in fact, get you links. Link begging is a way of alerting people to your content. Especially if you're just starting to build links for a relatively new blog or website, this can be a valuable way to get the word out about what you're producing. It makes sense: If people don't know the resource you're offering exists, their chances of linking to it are zero. In the early stages of your business, link begging can be an aspect of PR and brand building.
- Link begging can be the start of a long relationship. Link begging can get you more than an immediate link. It can put you on someone’s radar for the foreseeable future. If people think your website has a lot to offer, they may check back regularly for new link-worthy content. In other words, link begging is a form of community building.
- Link begging can improve your industry knowledge. In order to link beg effectively, you should look for target sites that are both authoritative and relevant to your industry. That’s because these types of sites can bring you a high amount of qualified traffic. Think of this as competitive research that can simultaneously teach you how your offering differs from that of your competitors and can help you improve your marketing pitch.
What about the cons of link begging?:
- Link begging is time-consuming. It can take hours to develop a list of trustworthy industry sites and reach out to each one of them with a personalized message—a generic request isn't likely to get much response. And even if you take the time to craft a personal email for everyone, it’s not guaranteed that any of them will link to your site, let alone read your message.One could argue your time is better spent creating SEO-friendly content that thousands can potentially find with search engines, whether it's linkbait, comprehensive guides, or guest posts for authority sites in your space.
- Link begging can suggest your content lacks value. Some people are turned off by anyone asking for a link. It can signal that the content has not yet achieved or can't achieve the desired level of traffic on its own. Publishers may assume your content isn’t worth linking to without even reading it. People may be more likely to check out your site if they hear about it from an unaffiliated third party.
- Link begging messages can appear spammy. People might reject your link begging communications from the start, thinking they're spam. Once they see an unfamiliar email address and the subject line advertising your great content, they might automatically hit the delete button. This problem can be avoided by begging for links from people you already know and avoiding subject lines that are overly self-promotional. Of course, the problem here, again, is scalability—sooner or later you'll come to the end of list of people you know that run relevant sites. And then you'll need to pursue other strategies for building links.
- It's better to give than to receive. Asking for favors before you build a relationship doesn't seem right. Instead of asking for a link, why not say, "I like your articles—would you accept a guest post?" This is more link nurturing than link begging. Another idea is to tap your linked-in network (no pun intended) rather than beg from strangers. If you already have a relationship in place, I don't really consider it link begging.
Do you link beg? Do you respond to link begging requests? Is it worth your time or are you sick of the whole practice?
Photo credit: Dendroica cerulea