28 Oct 2008

How Getting a Link is Like Picking up a Woman

In a conversation with Jim and Pat, it occurred to me that a lot of the techniques that are useful for picking up girls are also useful for getting links. Both enterprises are a delicate art which rely on equal parts luck, timing, product and skill. Here are a few of the ways in which getting links is a lot like getting… a date.

Your opening line is everything

They say that a woman decides within 30 seconds of meeting you whether or not she’d go out with you. Well, a webmaster decides in .30 seconds whether or not to open your email. If your subject line includes the phrase “link exchange” it may as well read “love rocket”, because you’ve just won a ticket directly to the trash. Throwing out opening lines like, “I like your great resource site [insert URL] which I went to today…no, really, I did, I’m not a spambot, I swear.” is about the equivalent of waiting for a woman to swoon over tacky lines like “Did it hurt? When you fell from heaven?”.

When initiating a conversation with a woman, you always stand a drastically better chance by opening with a question or making a witty observation. Offering something that is genuine and personalized will get you much further than something generic and forced. The same holds true with webmasters. You’re much more likely to get a response from an email when you have actually visited the Web site you want a link from and are able to include a conscientious remark about its content. It may take more time, but it’s worth the effort because even one smartly acquired link beats the hell out of 100 deleted link requests. And like with random women at the bar, if after a night of ineffective lines and face slaps you do eventually find a taker, odds are that’s not the kind of link love you’re after.

The right circumstances are crucial

Most men recognize that in a social situation it’s much easier to meet a woman who is alone than if she’s surrounded by a gaggle of girlfriends, with another guy, or undergoing some other mystifying female-style drama that involves running mascara and fleeing to the restroom in packs. Similarly, recognizing the right sites to get links from is another essential element of actually obtaining backlinks.

The same way some guys can get a woman just by showing up, established sites with money to burn have a much better shot of getting a link than your average, blend-into-the-crowd guy carrying $40 in his pocket. This special type of guy needs to find a woman who is accessible, sitting alone, or struggling to get a drink at the bar. Likewise, for most sites on a limited budget and without a ton of name recognition, finding a Web site that is right for your link takes a little more finesse. Sites run by corporations, direct competitors, and major publications are probably out (unless you can get into the habit of making or breaking news, but that’s a completely different post). In general, the trick to getting links is to look for a small, accessible site that needs your link and just doesn’t know it yet. Sites run by individuals, duos, or small groups are much more approachable and likely to give you a link. Sites created for informational purposes and with a track record of linking to other sites in their industry are also great candidates. (Not on link exchange pages, though. Link exchange pages are like call girls. Beware!). If you have something relevant to offer (and lets assume you do, otherwise it’s like walking into a gay bar to scout out the “wrong” sex) your odds of getting the placement you want is much better. Bonus points may be awarded if its in the perfect neighborhood.

A little insecurity goes a long way

Ok, I admit I learned this in part by watching The Pickup Artist on VH1. But basically the gist is that by using an indicator of dis-interest or some other disqualifying tactic (like telling a hot brunette that blonds are more “your type”, for example), you can actually increase a woman’s interest. Yes, by making her think you are less interested in her, you actually bait her interest. (I know. I’m sorry, ladies, this is a cheap trick). This approach helps mask the scent of desperation in the same way that hunters use deer urine. One can apply the mentality behind this method to getting links in a couple of ways.

First, this works with people who have created natural resource lists that are valuable to users and which reflect genuine effort (again, not to be confused with paid directories or link exchange courtesans). It can also be used on sites that link to competitors. By indicating that a webmaster “missed” or “forgot” a crucial link which just happens to be yours, or by implying a lack of content on a page or site, you can create a tinge of insecurity and appear to be helpful as opposed to in need. Offering to then provide the absent content (which will include a few relevant links, of course), makes you a giver and a webmaster thankful for your interest. And what webmaster isn’t practically begging the general public to help them stay on top of broken links? By catching a broken link, you have both a great conversation starter and an opportunity to offer up a relevant replacement… how very kind of you.

Prepare for rejection

A lot of men credit their hesitance to approach women in social situations to a fear of rejection. But I don’t believe it’s rejection itself that instills the real fear.

Is the word “no” ever going to cause any kind of permanent damage? No. I think a man’s reluctance really stems from a fear of wasted time, money and energy, compounded of course by a fear of a bruised ego and public humiliation. The manifestation of these fears is far more more obvious in bars and at parties than in Internet marketing because it’s hard to be wounded by a “no, thank you” email.

But with link building, preparing for rejection means accepting three basic truths:

  1. Building links is a long, tedious, never-ending process.
  2. There will be setbacks.
  3. There is no shame in it.

Once you can come to terms with the painstaking and sometimes fruitless nature of the process and push on anyway, you will quickly understand the benefit. Link building may also require a certain submission of pride, but nothing can tank a company faster than misplaced vanity. Link requests needn’t represent an inability to acquire natural links, but only a desire to actively engage a broader audience, be it for click-throughs or SEO. Remaining complacent, feeling warm and validated by your glorious content without any effort to promote it, will likely get you as much attention as sitting alone in a dark corner of a nightclub in your best suit. If you don’t put yourself out there, you won’t be getting any. Links, that is.

So whether you are practicing the art of seduction or the art of link building, remember that at closing time, the score is only as good as the effort put into it. And believe me, there’s just something about getting a link or a woman by using a finely honed skill set. There’s nothing worse than taking the easy way out and finding yourself next to a link for Cheap Viagra.

So, in every pursuit, be smart, be safe, and for God’s sake use anti-virus protection.

Comments

  1. Marty M October 28, 2008 at 6:29 AM

    Great post and highly relevant and this is something I’m getting ready to start myself for an in house project. Nice mix of cheek too. ;)

    Okay, got my AV protection ready, one-liners loaded and I’m ready to go!

  2. Richard Fergie October 28, 2008 at 9:56 AM

    Good post.

    Anyone who is more active on the PPC side of things should look at my post about pay per chick marketing: http://www.seoptimise.com/blog/2008/10/ppc-in-the-pub-pay-for-conversions-not-impressions.html

  3. Samir Balwani October 28, 2008 at 9:57 AM

    Does this mean that great link builders are great pick up artists? Awesome post!

  4. Jack Leblond October 28, 2008 at 10:06 AM

    From an email I received today:

    Subject: blog roll
    I do a lot of reading and I may have gotten your link from one of the blogs I read but I’m sorry I don’t really remember which one. You have a good blog. Want to exchange links?

  5. Contempt October 28, 2008 at 10:10 AM

    Great post and relational information. And to credit the author, water is all over my screen right now.

  6. CJ October 28, 2008 at 10:22 AM

    Brilliant post, laughed a lot and who would have thought that a post on link building could be so entertaining and accurate at the same time!

    more of this please!

  7. Teifion October 28, 2008 at 10:24 AM

    Hilarious, I almost ruined my keyboard because I had a mouthful of tea at the time

  8. Kenny Hyder October 28, 2008 at 10:39 AM

    Does this mean that linkbaiting is the same as master… nevermind..

  9. kevsta October 28, 2008 at 11:48 AM

    haha nice post. ..I always thought of it as more like making love to a beautiful woman.

    maybe that’s why the girlfriend left

  10. NinjaTodd October 28, 2008 at 12:03 PM

    Basic truth #4: practice makes perfect. Killer stuff, Jen!

  11. Ninjajen October 28, 2008 at 12:06 PM

    Thanks for the great feedback! I’ll have to add a cautionary warning about the dangers of drinking and reading next time. And Kenny, yes, link baiting is like, ahem, if the bait is self-serving and would be of very little interest to anyone else.

  12. Darren Slatten October 28, 2008 at 12:20 PM

    In unrelated news, a new study reveals that websites hosted in the state of Alaska have the nation’s highest rates of linking to sister sites and parent companies.

  13. ninja manager October 28, 2008 at 1:19 PM

    Little ninja Jen, I am proud of you, especially, the line about did you hurt yourself falling from heaven, did not have that one in my day.

  14. António October 28, 2008 at 1:51 PM

    This shows what I’ve always though of forum spammers: a bunch of w**kers… ;)

  15. Cybernaut SEO October 28, 2008 at 2:26 PM

    the best part was “a little insecurity goes a long way.” I never thought of that tactic! maybe that’s why I never was a great pickup artist. LOL

  16. paisley October 28, 2008 at 2:55 PM

    how come webbuildpages didn’t send this girl to ScarySeo?

    and fyi.. she is dead on… p.s. the pick up artist is basically how to “trick” a girl.. not how to get her to go home that night and call you when she is bored.. because the best customer is not a new customer but your current customer..

  17. paisley October 28, 2008 at 2:56 PM

    and fyi.. i know nothing about links… ninja jen sounds like a great wingman..

  18. Catrina October 28, 2008 at 4:07 PM

    The most ridiculous post I have ever had the misfortune of reading.

  19. Shawn October 28, 2008 at 6:49 PM

    Nice work Jen, excellent post!

  20. Patrick Sexton October 29, 2008 at 4:52 AM

    Nicely done Jen, I love it.

  21. Allan October 29, 2008 at 10:29 AM

    Excellent, now i will not only be great at work , but ill finally get a date. Great stuff!

  22. Joy October 29, 2008 at 1:06 PM

    This is a great comparison..^^ Brilliant!

  23. Wisdom October 29, 2008 at 4:18 PM

    Funny article and useful too, looks like you have talent to write

  24. Link Building is Like Picking Up Girls | Kooshy - Sneaky Search Marketing October 29, 2008 at 11:58 PM

    […] the Web Build Pages blog, Jen writes about how link building is like picking up women. She explains the […]

  25. Link Building this Week (44.2008) | Wiep.net October 31, 2008 at 6:05 AM

    […] new blog and started of with a few excellent posts. My favorite is Ninja Jen’s explanation of why building links is like picking up a girl. I compared SEO to sex once, but that one’s even better. So, how do you pick up a girl? Be […]

  26. Vinny October 31, 2008 at 7:35 AM

    This reminds me of a story.

    A man and his friends were out at a bar when the man noticed this very attractive brunette and thought about approaching her.

    “Go on” one of his friends said “the worst thing she can say is ‘no’, so what do you have to lose?”

    “Yeah” another friend offered “she can’t do anything more than say ‘no’, so I’d go for it”.

    The man figured they were right – the worst thing she could do was say no, so he went on over to her.

    “Hi, can I buy you a drink?” he asked.

    The woman looked him up and down and then replied “What on earth would make someone like YOU think they were good enough to go out with someone like ME? I mean look at you, you’re pathetic. You are a loser and you’re ugly. Not only will you never get ME to go out with you – you will never get ANY woman to go out with you. In fact you will never have sex again!. EVER!”.

    The heart broken man looked at her and right before he walked away he replied “umm, I think you broke the rules”.

  27. Suze October 31, 2008 at 11:57 PM

    Excellent article. I love the humor aspect! And yes, I think you’ve hit the nail on the head. Or at least bought the hammer a drink!

  28. Link Love - Tuesday 04/11/2008 November 3, 2008 at 5:06 PM

    […] How Getting a Link is Like Picking up a Woman on WeBuildPages. Jen has discussed the link building tips gained by conversation with Jim Boykin and Pat. […]

  29. Tom Bonner November 6, 2008 at 1:38 PM

    Too funny! Who says SEO and link building has to be so serious. Great post — Tom

  30. Presell Page Man November 7, 2008 at 4:45 PM

    LOL – frickin funny – you hit me with this Jen :-)

    Love the part about showing dis-interest most… sending out with the “bitchin about incompleteness”-hook could almost be automated – at least when i comes to finding sites that miss “crucial” sites like yours when other competitors are linked…

    hey wait – finding those is already automated :) thanks for the great idea!

    cheers
    presell page man

  31. ninjajen November 8, 2008 at 11:36 AM

    Don’t do it PP Man! You’ll be violating Step #1 “Offering something that is genuine and personalized will get you much further than something generic and forced” i.e automated. ;)

  32. Presell Page Man November 8, 2008 at 6:01 PM

    Hey Jen,

    I got you.

    I think I should put this clear – my idea was only about FINDING those gems, not auto-spamming them… putting together a target list is only one part of the job… and if you don’t have your friends around from which you can tell what the hottest targets are (from their starring) I thought you could do some partial automated-research on finding those sites that have so many great co-citations but just not the one I want linked in that neighborhood :-)

    cheers,
    presell page man

  33. Chris November 10, 2008 at 8:47 AM

    The biggest way that building a link is like picking up a woman: most advice for both things is bs.

  34. Ninjajen November 10, 2008 at 2:47 PM

    ahh, of course PP Man, well in that case godspeed and happy hunting :)

  35. mar November 13, 2008 at 1:30 PM

    very nice read. I enjoyed this very much thankyou. I was wonderfing if there was a post somewhere that further details the “getting Links” process.

  36. Barry Wise November 14, 2008 at 8:50 AM

    Hmmm … interesting idea … use my favorite pickup lines to snag links:
    You look sooooo hot. And that’s not just the beer talking; that’s some of the shots, too.
    Do these taste like rufies?

  37. Gil November 20, 2008 at 2:27 PM

    I found your article absolutely hilarious! A good read. I am a big fan of Bruce Clay and I found your post thru his blog. When I first started learning SEO and linking, it was mystical to me. I have since learned a lot because I spend a lot of time reading things like your post. I was suprised you used the analogy of “picking up women”, rather than “finding the perfect mate.” Anyway, I enjoyed the post and I am happy to have found your blog.

  38. Lisa Barone November 20, 2008 at 3:07 PM

    Gil,

    As a former Bruce Clay employee (and still a big fan), I say welcome and I’m glad you found us! :)

  39. Mike Kelly December 1, 2008 at 2:54 PM

    Excellent post, had me feeling superbad, some how I was transformed from nerdy link builder to a super sexy pickup artist.

  40. Delicious Monster December 6, 2008 at 4:36 PM

    Dear urine. got it. check!

  41. monkeymeat December 14, 2008 at 12:15 PM

    LOL, I just joined and this was one of the wittiest things I’ve come across in months!!

    Of course, I’m a beginner. You can’t miss me, I’m the bald guy over leaning on the wall in my leisure suit.

  42. BobLobalw December 15, 2008 at 1:46 PM

    Great post – I like how you’ve taken something that is extremely boring and time consuming and made it funny. I have a renewed vigour to get out their and start approaching all those hot brunettes and telling them all my clients prefer blondes, but they can have my #(link) if they really want it.

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  44. Yannis January 10, 2009 at 5:19 AM

    Excellent article and I am completely humbled by Ninja Jen’s writing skills. Whenever we get contracts to train hotels’ sales teams we always get them to include link-exchange in their negotiations with their corporate clients. So the link-exchange agreement happens from the sales side of the organisation – not the web team side (which I totally recommend as an easy way in). Based on your suggestion this is like getting someone else to set you up on a blind date, albeit with a much more terminal commitment for going to a hotel room together in the end of the day; not to mention that all is so much less painful if she turns out to be below expectations… :)

  45. Ronnie Bailey February 5, 2012 at 10:56 AM

    It is like that, except picking up the link you want to marry is the hardest!

  46. Dan September 23, 2013 at 5:12 PM

    LOL I love the blog post, Jen! I agree with all the points and just laughed (woke up the office) at your closing line.

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