Article Summary: Marketers and SEO companies want you to link to their clients website because it can improve their clients search ranking.
Since linking to an external website can help provide useful resources to your audience and may add support to your own advice, you may want to safely review the content and see if it will add value to your website.
You’re also welcome to just delete the email and find these resources on your own.
Why do people want me to link to their website?
Occasionally, you may get an email that tells you there is an amazing resource that your website should be linking to or one of your current links should be changed to link to a different, “better” website.
If you’re like some of my clients, you may be wondering:
- Who’s sending these emails
- If they’re safe
- If linking to an external website is good, or something to be avoided
- What to do about them
Fortunately, I have the answers for you.
Who's sending the links request and why?
Many of these emails are sent by search engine optimization (SEO) and marketing firms who are working on link building for their clients. So, what is link building? Well, to understand that we need to do a bit of a dive into some SEO basics.
Search engines like Google, Bing, and Yahoo all use a complicated algorithms to determine where your website ranks on different search terms. The search results typically rank by most relevant, but if multiple websites have equally relevant information the search engine will elevate websites they believe are more trustworthy and knowledgeable. This ranking structure is based off of something called domain authority, where websites with a higher domain authority rank higher than websites with a low domain authority.
Because of how important domain authority is to search rankings, and in turn getting traffic to your website, most businesses want to increase their domain authority. One way to do this is to convince websites that have a high domain authority to link to your website. This acts an a kind of endorsement from the high ranking website to the lower ranking one, saying that you think they are trustworthy and have content worth sharing.
Are these emails safe?
No matter what the email content is, you should never click on a link from a person or organization you don’t know. While it’s true most of these emails are sent from marketing and SEO professionals, some may come from bots or scammers.
This doesn’t mean that you can’t investigate whether or not this website is worth linking to. Instead of clicking on the link, you can put the domain (the main part of the URL, after www) into a search engine and see what comes up.
If the URL that comes up matches the one in your email (be sure to triple check that both are .com, .org, .edu, etc) and is from what appears to be a reliable source you can see if the link is something you would be interested in having on your website.
Is it good to link to other websites?
Before deciding what to do with the email, let’s look at why you might consider adding an external link to your website.
If done correctly external links can help provide useful resources to your audience and can support your own claims. They could also cause you to lose clients or make you seem like less of an expert.
When you’re looking at adding an external link you want to consider:
- Could this link lead prospective clients to a competitor?
- Does it hurt or help our credibility?
- Will this link add value to our audience or support any claims we made?
Could the external link lead to you losing customers?
In my blog posts I frequently use external links to support my explanations and advice. However, when I’m looking for supporting articles and research I would never link to a direct competitor, even if they have information that supports my point perfectly.
While I’m sure many of my direct competitors are lovely, I don’t want to send them potential customers who may have otherwise wanted my services.
Does linking externally help or hurt your credibility?
When using external links, you want to make sure they’re supporting the advice or services you’re providing to your audience. If you’re using external links to provide expert advice in your field, it may hurt your credibility because it can imply that you’re not able to give that advice yourself, and instead need to relay on an external source.
That’s one of the reasons why I always recommend organizations write their own blog posts, rather than just providing a collection of external links to other organization’s blog post.
Will linking externally add value to our audience or support our claims?
The best external links either provide value to your audience, or support your claims and advice. If you get really lucky they might even do both.
The links I provided above to Moz are a great example. They both support my claims and provide value to you, my audience, by giving you additional resources. While Moz and I are in closely related industries we are not direct competitors.
How to Use External Links
When linking externally you want to make sure its clear that the link goes to a different website. This will help avoid user confusion and help keep people on your website.
You can do this by including the name of the website in the hyperlinked text or just before. You also want to make sure that you never link to an external website from your website navigation.
Using meaning hyperlinks, rather than URLs or “click here” text is also important for both internal and external links. Not only is this more user-friendly for people using assistive technology to read website, it also makes the links stand out more.
Interested in learning more about linking? Let me know in the comments.
Can I get people to stop sending me these emails?
Unfortunately, you cannot force people to stop emailing you. As long as your email is publicly available, or available via marketing and sales lists, you’re likely going to get emails.
While this isn’t great news, just remember that you’re getting these emails because your website has great domain authority, which is something to strive for. So, every time you get one celebrate! It means you’re still doing awesome.
Should I be backlinking?
Back linking can be a great tactic that any organization can benefit from. Having high traffic websites link to your website not only helps with SEO, but can also help increase the number of people who can view and access your website. If those high traffic websites are places where your audience hangs out, getting them to link to your website can actually act as an unspoken endorsement for your organization.
That being said, you’ll need to look at your overall SEO strategy and determine if this is worth your time. All organizations have finite resources, and getting meaningful backlinks can be a lot of work, with a lot of rejection.
Looking to start your own SEO project or need help cleaning up your links? Ready to be done with managing your website completely?
Whatever your website needs are Barr Web Services would be happy to help. We’re a full service, out-sourced web team that helps with: