Can You Handle Rejection in Link Building?

Link building can be an extremely daunting task. SEOmoz did a poll once asking SEOs what their hardest task was, and link building came out #1 (click View Results). When they asked their readers what they’d like to see more of on the blog, link building again scored high. It’s something everyone seems to struggle with, despite it being such a key part of SEO.

I’ve spoken on a few link building panels at conferences in the past, hoping to inspire new internet marketers in their link efforts. But if I’m not speaking on those panels, I always make sure to sit in on them, as there’s always some nugget of information dropped that I can use. I devour link building articles for the same reason.

Without a doubt, the biggest hurdle I’ve come across in link building is not having good content to get anyone to link to. But once you’ve got that under control, there’s another giant hurdle to leap.


Link building is really all about how well you can handle rejection. And I’ve dated a lot of jerks, so this is one area I’m pretty well qualified for.

You’re never going to get a response to most of the emails you send out, regardless of how awesome your content is, or how relevant it is to that site owner. People just can’t be bothered.

Sometimes they’ll link to you and just not bother telling you, which is one of the reasons I love Raven tools – they automatically check links you’ve requested to see if one has become active. It’s always a nice surprise to get a notification that you have a new link you didn’t expect.

The ones you do hear back from will overwhelmingly say no. Webmasters are stingy with links, as they have every right to be. Some don’t link out ever, and those that do want to be sure it’s right for their audience. You have to respect that, even if it’s less than ideal for you.

Think of this as an opportunity to refine your processes – are you contacting sites that are truly relevant? Are you crafting your requests well? How about that subject line? Should you have maybe called instead of emailed?

And then there are the really negative ones. You will get emails back from people in all caps, with 12 exclamation marks, making rude comments about your mom – or worse, your website. This is when those 3 months I worked in a call centre really come in handy for me: you have to remember, it’s not about you. They probably received 20 emails just like it that day. You were just the unlucky one to push them over the edge. Delete the email, get a coffee, and move on.

Or laugh. I once got an email that simply said ‘No.’ Capitalized, in red, bold, 40 point font. I nearly died laughing. Because clearly? That person has more problems than me.

What makes it all worth it are those times you get a reply saying yes. Saying that they loved your content. That they think your site is a great fit for their visitors. That they would love to give you a link. And not only that, here’s that exact anchor text you wanted. That’s when you hear angels sing, and all those rejection emails suddenly don’t matter. Cuz you got a link!

Photo: fotogail/flickr

About Dawn Smith

Dawn Wentzell is currently working in custom mobile app development as Project Manager, Mobile Technology at SpeakFeel Corporation. She has experience with SEO for both local businesses and national markets, loves to do site audits and hates IIS hosting. You can find her at or on twitter at @saffyre9.

Filed under: Featured, Linking


Brian LaFrance

LOL…I don’t know what dating is like, but it does seem like it probably is a lot like that 😛

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