The Bad Pitch Blog is a great place to laugh at the foibles of unwitting PR hacks who send out spammy, untargeted, impersonal pitches to journalists.  I’d love to read a blog like that for link builders.  However, I worry that spammy link pitches are too much the norm in our industry, so the blog could get kind of boring.

Here’s a recent example of something I got.  There are a lot of reasons why this pitch will got straight to the trash, but for fun I thought I’d dissect it:

The Suspicious Sender

The “from” address is “@indiasem.net” but he’s asking for links on 3 websites, so it’s obviously not from the site owner.  Well, that’s ok, I know there are quality folks like Eric Ward who do link building for their clients.  No harm in having an agency, right?  But wait, why doesn’t this guy, Julian Levin, have an email like jlevin@indiasem.net.  It just says “custom@indiasem.net”.  That’s kind of weird.  Sort of makes me think he forgot to replace “custom” with something more personal.  Might some mass mailing software be at work here?

You Had Me at “Dear Webmaster”

Boy, it must be hard to check the About page on a site to see who founded it.  Or maybe search Linkedin.  But no, Julian did not deign himself to either of those steps, going for the ever-effective “Dear Webmaster” opening.  But let’s see what he has to say.  Maybe Julian used the time he saved in not researching who runs the site to draft a really awesome, personalized note…  Ok, so he writes, “I have visited your site and thought it was excellent. I particularly liked content of your site.Your site is professional and offers excellent value to your visitors.” Wow, thanks!.   So you’ve written 3 sentences that state wholly generic platitudes that could obviously be sent to ANY website.  Well, personalization shall go wanting today.

Hey, have you even LOOKED at My Site?

As I read more, the text generally doesn’t make sense (“I noticed that you have linked to other sites and thought my website might be of interest to you and your website visitors” — um, no I don’t have any links on the page you mention (it’s just the URL contains the word “Links” as in “golf links” perhaps an idiom with which you lack familiarity).  Maybe you’re using Google to search “allinurl:links” and spamming every site on the list.  Hey, I’ll bet you never even looked at my page.  You realize of course that my page is specific to a small city in Florida, right?  But yet you don’t mention why you’d want the link there…

Why Again Should I Link to Your Paper Bag Site?

Then Julian writes “Please add links here…”.  Wait all you care about is getting your links to paper sacks, corrugated boxes, and commercial warehousing on some deep-ass page of my site (that you mistakenly stated has other outbound links) without explaining in any way why it makes sense. OK!

Poorly Written Site Descriptions

And then he provides title, URL, description for 3 sites.  Hey Julian, have you ever heard the expression beggars can’t be choosers.  If I do add your links, it’s going to be because I think they add value to my content and make sense for my users.  And btw, the proper grammar is “We specialize,” not “Web specializes” and it’s a little wordy not to mention your punctuation is a disaster.  That’s ok, if I add a link, I’ll probably have to rewrite it (but then again, that’s one more bit of work for me to do now).

A Little Bit ‘O Black Hat

Then comes the quid-pro-quo (“Sites where i shall publish your links”) followed by a list of 5 directory sites (notice the mixed formatting, likely from copying and pasting without paying enough attention).  Oh, I get it this is a pyramid/triangle link swap deal you’re proposing.  Well, let’s have a look.  The first site I go to (SurfGizmo) is flagged by Firefox as a “Reported Attack Site” which means, “Attack sites try to install programs that steal private information, use your computer to attack others, or damage your system.”  Sweet.  Good thing it’s been months since you first emailed and Firefox caught this.  If I’d given you the link straightaway, I would probably now have a link from the worst kind of neighborhood.

Offering Link Exchanges from Oversubscribed Pages

So let me get this straight… I’m going to give you 3 links on my site to unrelated content and in exchange you’re going to give me 1 link on 5 crappy sites that are security threats, low/non-existent PR, may or may not be indexed by Google (btw, I’d need to go research this for each site), have hundreds of existing external links, and were obviously created to have loads more (so any links I get from you will diminish in value over time).  How can I refuse!

By the Way, Do You Exist?

And then there’s the question of “Julian Levin”.  Is this a real person?  Well, let me Google that and find out… hmm, lots of Julian Levins, but none who seem to be associated with IndiaSEM.net.  Well, maybe IndiaSEM.net has an “About Us” page with bios of their staff.  Maybe Julian is a straight shooter and I just don’t realize it.  Oh wait, their site has no information just a strange form for “Just Financial Administration.”

Well, I could go on.  But you get the idea.  This is a classic example of spray and pray pitching.  Relevance is an afterthought.  I hate to think  this guy’s clients are paying much for this “service” which frankly could be automated with a robot (and let’s be honest, 95% of the work probably was).  Sadly, even SEO firms with good names are taking the low road.

I’ll post shortly on the right way to pitch a link.  But let me say this, Julian, I think job #1 would be to actually look at the pages where you’re requesting links before you email anyone.

Jeremy Bencken

Jeremy Bencken co-founded BuzzStream and served as Chairman in our first few years. Before that, he co-founded ApartmentRatings.com, which he grew into the leading global source for ratings and reviews of apartments before selling it to Internet Brands. Currently, Jeremy runs Wordloop, a performance-based content marketing company in Austin, Texas. Jeremy also serves as an advisor to Sparefoot and inHabi, and is a mentor with Capital Factory. You can find Jeremy on Twitter or Google Plus.

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