So you’ve done your marketing research and have found a website, a blog or even an article that you would LOVE to have link to your own site. . . their topic is relevant to yours and it would be  great to benefit from the high volume of followers that visit their particular site. This arrangement would be awesome, but how do you ask a stranger to link to your site when you have no product to give?

It’s hard to get someone to add a link to your website on their blog or page. It’s even harder to get someone to do it when you have no material or physical product to give them in exchange. Having a product makes it easier to ask someone to share your link because it can be exchanged for a product review or used as a giveaway to spark interest in their audience.  When there is no tangible benefit other than your ‘good word’ that your link will add value to their page, the likelihood that your link will be added is reduced significantly.

The BIG question is then: How do you get someone to link to your page when you cannot offer a product in return?

The simple answer is that you must find a way to provide another type of incentive. This is easier said than done, but with a little extra effort it can be achieved!

An incentive is defined as a thing that motivates or encourages one to do something. The idea of incentives and how they work within society was perfectly outlined by authors Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner of the New York Times best- seller, Freakonomics. We can apply Levitt and Dubner’s explanation of incentives to our link-building techniques in order to optimize the efficacy of each and every relationship curated in search of building your links and online presence.

One way to offer an incentive is to provide a moral incentive. A moral incentive in link-building would imply how your link would be beneficial to the author of the article or page, and their followers.  The concept behind a moral incentive is that adding your link would give value to the greater good.

Lets say you are trying to get more links for a law firm. One way you could use a moral incentive to increase your chances of obtaining a link from a law blog or page that writes articles about legal issues, would be to email them something along these lines:

Hi __________!

I came across your article on ________ and loved it! It’s definitely something that more people need to know about! I thought you might find our post helpful or as a valuable resource for your readers in the future. If you found our blog useful, we would really appreciate it if you could pass it on to others that may benefit from the information.

I look forward to speaking with you about how our blog can aid your readers and your research so we can help inform others!

Thanks so much for your time,

Your name

See what we did there?

We focused on how adding our link to their page as a resource would be in the best interest of their readers AND the author…because it helps society vis á vis a more informed audience. We offer up our lawyer’s blog as leverage for increasing the worth of the author’s research and reader’s understanding of the issue.

It is important to note that when you are looking to add links without a product to give, the emphasis on organic-relationship building must be stressed. This should always be the case but even more so in this circumstance because relationships built without an economic incentive, depend on ‘speaking’ to the person’s character. The quality of your relationship with the page owner is more important than the quantity of the links you acquire.

The moral incentive is one way of appealing to someone whose page you would like to be added on, but it is not the only way. It can also be seen as weak incentive because its 2015 and using morality as your best form of persuasion can seem a little Victorian.

What other type of incentive could be used to gain a link?

Another incentive that can be used to get links when no product is available is a social incentive. A social incentive in asking for a link would infer a type of interpersonal reward such as inclusion or acceptance. Humans are naturally social creatures and have an innate desire for acceptance and to fit in. This can be used as a way to obtain a link.

Lets use the same example we used earlier about trying to get links for a law firm but apply a social incentive. The email you send should look something like this:

Hi ________!

I came across your article on _______ and really enjoyed it! I noticed you included research from _____. That’s interesting because I too have covered a similar topic (do some digging and find a connection).

I think you might find our blog useful because it would add to the research you used and help reiterate your important point!

Thanks for your time and I look forward to speaking with you,

Your Name

Can you see the difference between this email and the last example?

The social incentive email mentioned a connection between the two law firms and points to the benefit of including the Law Firm you are representing to strengthen the author’s research or work. Common connections can be a powerful motive to bolster inclusion.

So there you have it… if you do not have a product to give as way to receive a link, try to utilize the power of moral and social incentives! When used correctly and in conjunction with one another, moral and social incentives can be an even stronger influence for a link than the promise of a product.