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I have a bad attitude about low quality SEO. I view it as one of the lowest forms of human behavior, mostly because I see this activity as undermining my profession. Therefore, I tend to respond to link buying requests pretty forcefully. A recent request sparked my interest, however, because it looks like something an SEO rookie might try and do. In an effort to help this person improve her process, I’m going to share her request with you, some pointers, and then my response.

Here’s the email I received:

Good Morning, We’ve recently reviewed your blog site http://www.tundraheadquarters.com/blog/ and believe that your readers and visitors might be a possible advertising venue for us. Basically, we are potentially interested in a 250-500 word written article about our site, with a link using one of our keywords, posted on your main page permanently. Would you be willing to write the article about our site? We are willing to pay $25 for a 250 – 500 word article. Please let me know if this works for you.

We are serious buyers and we can pay via PayPal.

This is the site we are promoting: (link to site that sells motorcycle parts)

Thank you for your time and consideration,

Christine (last name redacted)

What follows of what this person did well and what they could have done much, much better.

Why This Request Isn’t So Bad

1. The person found my business email address, which is mildly impressive, as I don’t have my business email address anywhere on TundraHeadquarters.com. They could easily snag it from the Whois record for that domain, but still – better than some.

2. This person told me the site they were promoting as well as their full name, both of which lend credibility to the request.

3. It’s a link buying request, but at least it’s disguised as a “paid feature article” request. That’s a bit better than a flat-out “we want to buy a link from you” email.

Why This Request Sucks

1. It’s not personal. This person went to the trouble to find my SporkMarketing.com email address – why not address me by name in the email?

2. It’s insulting to offer $25 for a permanent homepage advertisement on any website, let alone a site that has 150k+ homepage views per month…and that price must also compensate us for the time it takes to write an article. If this type of placement was available (it’s not), it would be sold on a monthly basis for a much higher price.

3. It’s a paid link request. Paid links are bad for publishers and bad for the people buying a link, as both risk a Google penalty by participating. What’s more, it’s incredibly easy for me to report this request to Google (spoiler alert – I totally did).

4. Disregarding that this is an advertising request, where’s the media connection? As a blogger/publisher, I’m not convinced that there’s a connection between my audience and the motorcycle website. There’s nothing in this email that would convince me that TundraHQ’s readers want to learn about motorcycle parts retailers.

5. Saying “we are serious buyers” is unecessary, as it’s expected that I would take this offer seriously. By saying “we are serious,” you make me doubt the validity of your request. The email also says that they’re “potentially interested” in buying an article – what does that mean? If you’re only potentially interested, why are you wasting my time?

Lessons We Can Learn

1. Don’t include a dollar amount in your initial link buying/advertising request, at least not without saying something like “I must be honest that I don’t know what this type of opportunity is worth, but my hope is that we can work something out for (budget amount).” That way you don’t insult the site owner/blogger/publisher.

2. Address the site owner/blogger/publisher by name. This tip has only been offered about a million times, and yet I still get “dear webmaster” requests despite the fact anyone who spent just 20 seconds on any of my sites could find my name. I’m not exactly hiding, either.

3. Don’t offer to pay for something that you could get for free just by being interesting. If Christine had taken the time to create some content I could use on TundraHeadquarters – say, some pictures of a cool customized Tundra paired with a custom motorcycle – she would have gotten her link for free in a featured truck story. Her only cost would have been creating those images.

If images are too hard/too expensive for her to create, Christine could have written up a clever or interesting article that somehow connected her site with my audience and pitched that article to me. I’m not saying I would have published it, but it’s not that hard to get me to link to something…we link out on all the sites we control pretty freely. If you’ve got something interesting related to the Toyota Tundra – or the Toyota product in general – I want to link to it.

4. Don’t make paid link requests, as they can blow up in your face. Some really mean people like me just might report this incident to the big G.

Like I say, all Christine had to do to get a link was be interesting. It’s not easy, but it’s not hard either…