Bloggers, Don’t Just Hand Out Links to Anyone Who Asks You
Your SEO is valuable real estate — don’t give it away for free
Scrolling through my email, I notice an eye-popping subject line.
“Hi! We love your post and we thought you might like ours too!”
Upon reading this I was elated. It feels great to know people enjoy your writing. As bloggers, writers, and content creators, it’s nice to get the occasional email or comment that provides feedback. Even if it is constructive.
However, my elation turned to annoyance as I began to read the email. For those of you that run a blog, you know the one. It’s the classic sales email from an SEO specialist looking to add a link to your blog for free.
It usually goes something like:
- Compliment a specific post you wrote
- Put in an ask about getting you to link to one of their posts
The reason for the annoyance is because this is not the first time I have received an email like this. Early on, I used to respond to these emails with hopes of some relationship being built.
I naively thought perhaps a nominal fee could be earned. Alas, this is rarely the case. Although in this case, the company that boasts revenue of over $100 million in 2016 wants to get free SEO.
They wish to provide zero return on investment for the writers who have worked hard to get the SEO they have. I don’t have a million-dollar marketing budget. Nor can I afford to pay an SEO specialist.
Yet several of my sites have pretty good SEO and have gotten me five or six clients in the last year (all through passive sales). So I am very aware of the value of my sites’ SEO, and, let’s be clear, so is this company.
Let’s talk about the value they’re implying.
What I find humorous about this occurrence is that there is an implied value in linking to my post.
These companies spend money on hiring SEO consultants and specialists to help them get linked everywhere across the web. Thus, every email they send and every hour they work costs the company money. They have implied that the work that these employees do has value.
On top of that, these employees found your post in a sea of billions of blog posts. That means they know other people can find it too.
All of this implies your post has value. In turn, there needs to be some sort of trade-off. Yet most companies I request either a backlink on their site or financial compensation from in return answer the same.
“Sorry, we don’t have a program for that.” E.g. we don’t want to give you anything in return.
This is a slap in the face. A cold shock of water. A big “You’re not worth it.”
But here’s the truth, for you fellow writers and bloggers out there: You are, so demand your value.
If You’re a Blogger
Do you know why these companies continue to ask with no intention of providing any compensation?
It’s because many of us say yes and add the link to our site happily. It costs you nothing you think. It’s just a link. And, who knows, maybe this large company will eventually provide me value.
I have thought this way and added links to some of my other blog posts, assuming maybe someday the large faceless corporation would come and provide me a favor. But that day never comes.
Let’s clarify something.
It does cost you something. It costs you an opportunity to get paid. You lost possible compensation. You also devalue your work when you give it away for free.
The only way this works is if bloggers everywhere demand their worth when these requests come through.
Don’t just smile and do some large company’s bidding without making sure the relationship is fair. These million- and billion-dollar corporations need to make sure you are paid for the benefits they receive!
Instead of Giving Away Free SEO, Try Asking for This
One great way to give bloggers compensation is by helping us out and providing us free content to share on our blogs.
When I say provide us free content, I don’t mean content that says, “Here buy our product.”
Personally, I prefer articles that actually match my site and then might link to a blog post on your site that’s still focused on helping people, not selling to people.
That way, you get your SEO and I don’t feel like some sleazy salesmen trying to market some product. This is very helpful because then we benefit by getting three or four hours of work, and you get your SEO.
Patreon and sponsorships
Recently, I decided I was going to set up a Patreon account to make it easy for these large corporations to pay a monthly subscription for their sites to be linked.
The truth is, adding company links provides these companies free Google SEO. They would otherwise have to pay Google Ads(which personally I ignore). Having organic page rankings is often far superior and thus should come at a higher cost.
In addition, we as bloggers have server and hosting costs, content development, and a lot of other time spent keeping our websites up.
Asking for a little money to sponsor the site and keep it going is a small and fair ask.
This is usually only for other small bloggers who can’t afford to pay a blogger or provide content. I find most large companies don’t want to accidentally associate their blog with some smaller blog.
A backlink is a really common courtesy. If you ask someone to link to your post, you should probably have already linked one of theirs on your site as a sign of goodwill before you reached out to the owner.
All of these are really small but reasonable requests you can make. In addition, if you’re a blogger and you ask for other things, I would be interested to know how you ensure an equal trade for your SEO.
So Stop Giving Away Your Free Land!
All in all, your SEO, your ranking, your hard-earned web traffic can’t be given away freely.
Giving that way is like giving away free land or money when you just let any company add links to your site with zero incentive.
For all you know, your link might be the one that gets them on the first page of Google. That could lead them to hundreds if not millions of dollars in sales (coming from experience) and they want that for free.
Well, that’s not how the world works!