Essential Skills in Link Building Negotiation | 9xb Digital Agency

Essential Skills in Link Building Negotiation

In 2013, link building means the earning of high authority text or image links on reputable, relevant websites. One of the most effective ways of doing this is offering high quality and well researched content which will value both the site and the reader. It’s usually mutually beneficial: they get content, you and your client build a reputation in the industry and secure links, usually in the author bio. Good negotiation skills are essential in link building. After a timid and shy beginning, I gradually began to grasp on numerous new techniques and abilities that are encompassed within the skill of negotiation; all of which contribute to creating a win-win situation between you and the website owner. Common hurdles you’ll have to jump in the process of acquiring a link are:

  • Creating the right value proposition
  • Securing the ‘right’ opportunity
  • Approaching ‘hard to reach’/busy people from major websites
  • Staying relevant

These are the four points that I encounter day-in, day-out whilst working with a number of different websites in a range of different niches. You tend to find that the majority of people you work with can be pretty flexible and accommodating, as long as you create value for them. So let’s take a look at these points in more detail, follow specific scenarios and look at how to achieve the best possible result.

Creating the right value proposition

Out of all the above, this has to be my most important: You have to create the right value proposition, otherwise your request will be rejected or, more likely, ignored. There are a number of ways that we can often do this but I find that the most effective way is this:

  • Outreach to them via phone if possible
  • Do your research, have a specific idea in mind should they ask
  • Simply enquire to the opportunities they offer on their site, ask lots of questions, let them talk

Sometimes we come across the issue of money. Some website owners charge for commercial links and sometimes it can be justified. Normally, as it falls outside Google’s webmaster guidelines, it’s something we’ll look to avoid. So are there ways of getting around ‘link buying’?  One option is to take a more ‘PR led’ route. You can then work on getting news, press releases or comment, structured completely on the target site. The site get the value of the news for their readers and you, more than likely, end up with a link and some good exposure. Remember, targeted interesting content is your ammunition here.

Securing the 'right' opportunity

Before I get into this one, I should clarify what I mean by ‘the right opportunity’! When you’re trying to get a link, there are still many factors to keep an eye on to ensure you’re getting the most out of the opportunity. Although a site’s homepage can be a high, there can still be pages that haven’t been indexed by Google. Links and content placed here won’t benefit you directly in term of SEO (although they may if they have a lot of visitors). Essential negotiation skills are required to get in the right area of a site. Instead of being 10 pages deep into a site, you’ll benefit much more by being one or two clicks away from the homepage. So what’s the best approach for this? Well, again, it’s all in the tailored approach with the content. After looking deep into a site and its content, you can often find a relevant page, such as a blog or a news page, where content can be created in a similar format. A well written piece to use as link bait can go a long way in this instance, and if it’s suited to the readers, you’re likely to be successful. A huge barrier here is being able to create the content the site is going to want to use. This is why it’s imperative to have good lines of communication with your client and copywriters who are thorough in their research.

Approaching major websites

Pulling off a link on a major website is a great feeling: I remember getting my first one and I felt on top of the world. Personally, I think there’s only one way to approach these kinds of links: directly through the telephone. It can often be a rollercoaster ride to connect through the right person, but that’s part of the fun. It’s all about finding the right person to speak to and doing your research. Sites such as LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook can play a gigantic roll in this research and you can get to grips with the person you need to speak to before you make the call. Okay, you’re through to the right person, but what to say? Easy: if it’s a specific request then find the relevant page for placement and look for a defect. This can be a broken link, spelling mistake or faulty image – in doing so, this will require the editor / webmaster to log in and access this page to make the amendment. Using this, just a simple request to include your company on there shouldn’t be a problem for them to solve, as long as it’s relevant to the rest of the content on there!

Staying relevant

As the SEO industry stands at the minute, up-to-date relevant content is key. Relevancy is the key to search and the key to good user search experience. Taking this into account, it’s up to the link builder to ensure that they really sell the content ideas to the webmasters to secure placement. I find the most effective way to do this is to pitch something news worthy and propose a press release that fits the niche. Let’s use an example:

You’re working for a countryside spa hotel that’s also a wedding venue based in York and you have an up and coming event that relates to the local area. The first places you’re likely to look are the local York newspapers and other towns in the surrounding areas. If you want coverage here, your content needs to be appealing and news worthy.

If you feel the site is a 100% match to the industry of your client, a simple link request may be the answer. You’ll tend to find that the news and blog posts will be updated frequently, if not daily at least. Should a relevant article be uploaded by the site, it’s great to jump in and simply request a link. Okay, so maybe this doesn’t offer such a high success rate, but you’d be surprised how often it works!


When link building, you must always take into account that research and relevancy is always key. The more research you do, the more in-depth and informative your approach can be to someone. Webmasters appreciate you taking the time to look at their site and coming up with an original idea that creates value for them and their site’s visitors. Have fun link building and negotiating, I hope this helps!