By Jennifer Laycock, Editor-in-Chief,

If the title of this article sounds familiar, don’t be surprised.
It’s been more than 70 years since “How to Win Friends and Influence
People” was originally published, and in that time Dale Carnegie’s
mega-best seller has earned a spot on the shelf of some 16 million
individuals and spent more than a decade on the New York Times
best-seller list. While Carnegie’s book was written as one of the
original “self-help” books, I’d propose that the tenets found within
can play a valuable role in building successful strategies when it
comes to marketing techniques like link building, viral marketing and
even online reputation management.

Link Building
While there’s no argument about the
value of building quality links to your web site in order to help
increase both traffic and search engine rankings, there is often some
confusion about the best way to go about doing that link building.
Reciprocal or incoming? Buying links or earning them? Using software to
manage the process or doing it by hand?

What would happen if small business owners started to think
about link building in another way? What if they started to think like
Carnegie and to apply his theories to their link building and baiting
efforts. With that in mind, let’s take a few key points from Carnegie’s
book and see how they might be applied to a link building campaign.

Tenet #1: Talk in Terms of Other People’s Interests
is a key point that many people miss when it comes to building links.
Web site owners aren’t going to link to your site just because you want
them to, they’re going to link to your site because there is something
to be gained for them. That may mean that you’ve made a purchase or a
trade in exchange for the link, or it may mean that you’ve simply
offered up content that is of enough interest to make them want to
share it with their readers.
Any time that you contact a site owner on your own to ask about a link,
you need to figure out what you have to offer that will benefit that
site owner. If the most compelling argument you can come up with is
“you linking to me will help me out” then you likely need to do a
little more thinking before sending off that request.

Tenet #2: Make the Other Person Feel Important
This is basic common sense, but it can be difficult to do without
taking too far. No one likes a brown-noser but everyone likes to feel
special. Even the briefest of compliments about a specific article or
resource available on someone’s site can set the stage for a polite
link request. If you enjoyed a recent blog post about a topic related
to the link that you are requesting, take the time to say so. Doing
this also shows that you’ve spent enough time on the site to actually
KNOW that there’s a good match. Knowing that someone reads and enjoys
their site is a great way for a site owner to “feel important.”

Tenet #3: Use Names Whenever Possible
This is one of
the most simple, yet crucial steps to link building. Whenever possible,
take the time to find out who you are addressing and then make sure
that you use their name. Here at Search Engine Guide we get an enormous
amount of press releases, article submissions and requests to talk
about or feature a specific product or service. Nearly three-quarters
of these requests come in to a generic address like webmaster@ or
info@. The reality is that it would take a visitor about two minutes to
figure out that the editor of this site is named Jennifer and that her
email address is The requests that come
in from people that can’t be bothered to find that information out
usually get treated with the same level of “respect” and quickly find
their way into the circular file.

Tenet #4: Try Honestly to See Things from the Other Person’s Point of View
this point ties in pretty closely with Tenet #1, it’s still one that
needs to be considered separately. It’s very easy to think of link
building in terms of what it’s going to do for your site, but it’s also
important to remember that any time you are asking for someone else’s
time and energy, you need to take the time to see things from their

Before you send or even begin to craft any type of link
request, picture yourself on the receiving end. What are the chances
that you’re going to jump up and do the dance of joy simply because
someone has asked you to take the time to put a link on your site? On
the other hand, it’s pretty easy to realize that you might feel
differently if someone took the time to politely and personally contact
you to share something that you would be excited to be able to share
with your readers.

Finally, I’ll close this section with a reminder of my own personal philosophy of link building. We’ll call it…Jen’s Tenet.

Jen’s Tenet: Link Building is Really Relationship Building
in mind that linking is a form of endorsement. One site linking to
another is the same as one individual telling a friend about a store,
service or book that they recently enjoyed. Just as you wouldn’t run
into a cocktail party, throw your business cards in the air and scream
“tell your friends to buy their next house with XYZ Realtors!” you
cannot send out dozens of emails in a single shot asking anyone and
everyone to link to your real estate web site.

To build good links, you need to build good will. Take the
time to craft relationships via email, blogs and discussion forums. Ask
for links when they are relevant and respect their time and opinions
when you make your request.

It may take a little longer to build good links this way, but
you’ll find yourself racking up better quality links with less overall
work and frustration than you would if you simply relied on the “email
everyone you know” techniques.