What to Do When Someone Asks for a Link: a Guide for Business Owners

Gmail inbox

As a business owner or manager, you’re no stranger to the constant influx of emails demanding your attention. As of 2024, more than 361.6 billion emails are sent out daily, and 45.37% of those emails are considered spam. In fact, From 2020 to 2021, the global spam volume was the highest in July 2021, when 283 billion out of 336.41 billion emails were spam. So, it’s no surprise that you’d be suspicious if you opened your inbox only to find an email asking you to link from your website to theirs.

It probably looked something like this (one that we received):

Hey there,

Saw your recent post “Is It Time To Redesign Your Website?” and noticed that you’ve shared [name and topic].

Just thought that this piece on [topic and how it differs] I recently published might be valuable to your readers and make a great addition resource to your post.

Would love to get your thoughts!


As with the vast amount of unsolicited emails, ones that ask for a link can be easy to overlook or simply delete. We understand the concerns that come along with linking to a site you’re not completely familiar with.

You may have questions that arise, such as:

  • Can this hurt my reputation?
  • Won’t I just be asking my readers to leave my site?
  • Can this have a negative impact on my ranking?

These are all great questions, but rest assured that with the right approach, linking to external sites can have a positive impact on your positioning and brand.

How does linking out to another website benefit me?

What you do on your website, as well as off your website, works hand-in-hand to show Google that your site and the content you’re producing is relevant and valuable to your potential viewers. If done properly, over time, Google will essentially validate the hard work you’ve put in by ranking your site for the keywords and audience you’re attempting to reach.

However, understanding that your site can’t be all things to all people, adding links to external sources can increase the intrinsic value of your page/site to the user. With quality playing such a huge role in Google’s standards, it’s likely you’ll be rewarded for those practices.

In fact, the Senior Webmaster Trends Analyst and Search Relations team lead at Google, stated this in his search engine’s explainer videos that:

“Linking to other websites is a great way to provide value to your users. Often, links help users to find out more, to check out your sources and to better understand how your content is relevant to the questions that they have.”

John Mueller

How do I know if I can trust the asking site?

Now, there are some key things to look at when trying to determine if you can trust a website. Let’s take a look at 3 metrics we use when determining the value of a site we’re considering rewarding with a link. Understanding these will also give you a much clearer picture as to how Google’s ranking factors work.

1. Authority:

Determining authority isn’t an exact match as to how Google values a website (they aren’t the biggest fans of giving up that information, however they have admitted to using over 200 factors), but it’s a well-studied reference based on Google updates and trends that have been seen over time.

How we determine the authority of a site is based on multiple factors such as age, linking domains, number of total links, and quality of backlinks. These all play a crucial role in determining the authority a site is recognized as having.

If you’re in a pinch, and aren’t sure where to start, there are plenty of free tools that can help give you some insight into metrics on any page or SERP.

*Because this isn’t an actual Google metric and merely a predictor of a sites ability to rank, it’s important to remember that there is no real “good” or “bad. So, don’t get worried if you have a newer site that hasn’t gained the traction of, say, Forbes. Relevancy and consumer trust are key here.

2. Relevancy:

Relevancy can be looked at in a number of ways, but for the sake of this piece we’ll keep it to the site you’re linking to is relevant to your website. It may be in the same industry, niche, or share a similar audience. You want to make sure that you can both share in the rewards given to the links being built. We often see people trade links with sites just for the sake of building links, but the value of a relevant link to a site that shares a mutual segment is going to be the most beneficial to your readers, and ultimately, what you’ll be rewarded for.

3. Backlink Profile:

The backlink profile of a site is based on the total number of external URLs linking to it. This number, over time, is becoming much less valuable as we know that quality of links is significantly more important than quality. However, it’s still a great metric to reference when considering the growth of a website over time.

Also, because Google doesn’t give us the inside scoop, only suggestions, time has shown that having a healthy number of backlinks is important. This definitely doesn’t suggest a site with 300k backlinks is automatically a great site to link to, but an aged site with good quality backlinks is destined to have somewhat of a diverse portfolio when it comes to its backlink profile. (Just make sure you keep that in mind before you start to disavow all those irrelevant links that I’ve scared you about )

Here’s a free version of one of my favorite tools to help you out: https://ahrefs.com/backlink-checker

Navigating Reciprocal Links: How to Email a Link to Someone 

This now becomes a fantastic opportunity to not only build connections but also to increase your online visibility. It’s important to approach these requests thoughtfully and confidently, keeping in mind the potential benefits for both parties. To help navigate this process, here’s a helpful guide on how to handle these requests and determine if it’s appropriate to request a link in return.

1. Responding to Link Requests:

When someone requests a link on your website, respond positively and politely suggest the idea of them reciprocating. For instance, you could use an email like this:

“Certainly! I’d be happy to include a link to your website on mine. Would you be open to reciprocating by adding a link to my site on yours? I believe this mutual exchange can benefit us both.”

2. Understanding Reciprocal Links:

a. Definition: Reciprocal links occur when two websites agree to link to each other.

b. SEO Considerations: While building reciprocal links solely for SEO purposes is discouraged, natural and relevant reciprocal links can be harmless and mutually beneficial.

c. Google’s Stance: Google discourages what they term as “link schemes,” including artificial reciprocal linking. However, if the link exchange is natural and adds value to both websites, it’s generally acceptable.

3. Best Practices for Reciprocal Links:

a. Natural Link Building: Reciprocal links should occur organically, driven by genuine content and value to the audience.

b. Content Quality: Ensure that the content associated with the reciprocal link is high-quality and relevant to both websites.

c. Google’s Caution: While Google advises against reciprocal links, they acknowledge the validity of natural exchanges that provide value to users.

4. The Email Body:

Sending an email for a link exchange can be effective! Make sure to include a clickable URL and highlight the benefits of a mutual exchange with clarity and enthusiasm.

Dear [Recipient],

I appreciate your interest in having a link on our website. I’m more than willing to reciprocate by including a link to your site on ours. Here’s the link to our website: [Your Website URL]. Let’s explore this mutual opportunity for the benefit of both our audiences.

Best regards, [Your Name]”

By approaching it organically and ethically, you can build valuable connections to boost your online presence. Just remember to focus on providing real value to your audience, and you’ll be unstoppable.

Final Thoughts

You want to get real results from your SEO, and there are so many factors at play that it can seem overwhelming or confusing. Often times you’re left wondering if it’s just some shady practice, someone trying to steal my information. Rest assured there are some simple things you can do to help ease your mind and know the right course of action to take. If you run into a situation and you’re not sure how to approach it, give us a holler! We’re always available to help find the best solutions for your business and website needs.

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