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How to get backlinks from bigger and more important sites

Updated on February 9, 2013
Pcunix profile image

I was born in 1948 and spent most of my career as a self employed computer trouble shooter for Unix systems.

I have a PR5 site. It actually used to be a PR6, but it must have been a weak 6, because a few years back it fell to 5 and never went back up.

If you have no idea what that means, consider that a large part of the web never gets above PR1. Many people are very happy if they reach PR3, never mind anything higher.

It is true that Google is not caring as much about this measurement as they used to, but if you see a PR7 site, that site is very big and very important. It gets a lot of traffic and has a lot of other sites linking to it. Even a PR5 site like mine is still pretty big and pretty important.

If you are a PR2 site and hope to become a PR4, you need links. The bigger the site that links to you, the more likely your rank will increase. For example, I have at least eight links from Wikipedia. That's huge, because some of the pages that link to me are PR6 and Wikipedia itself is PR8.

If you are thinking I am about to tell you how to get Wikipedia to link to you 8 times, I am not.

Not exactly what we mean by links
Not exactly what we mean by links

The best links come gratis

You see, I had nothing to do with any of those links. I didn't ask anyone to put them on Wikipedia, I didn't put them there myself (and people who try that usually find them deleted almost instantly).

No. I just wrote some useful stuff that people who wrote the Wikipedia articles liked and decided to link to.

That's probably the only way you are going to get on Wikipedia and stay there, sorry.

But don't despair. Other sites, maybe not quite so big and powerful as Wikipedia, but still bigger than you are, might be willing to link to you. Heck, even I might be willing to do that.

Don't hold your breath.

We get mail

As I said, I'm a PR5. I get link requests almost every single day, sometimes multiple times a day. Imagine how many the PR6 and PR7 sites get. I delete almost all of them instantly and so does everybody else that matters.

Why are we so mean? Mostly because you (a generic "you") are so clueless.

Do you know me?

Most of the emails are obvious form letters sent out in a shotgun blast to everyone under the sun. I use some extra email addresses that these are often sent to; if I see it addressed to one of those, I know the sender never visited my site at all.

That's instant deletion. If you haven't visited my site, your email gets deleted. No response, no interest, it's just automatic.

I don't trade

Next to go is any offer to trade links. I don't care that you put my site on your useless little PR1 "link partners" page. I don't want it there, and it isn't worth anything anyway. More to the point, if you did link to me for whatever reason, I don't need you to tell me and I don't WANT you to tell me. Trading links is against Google's policy; I am not going to participate.

So the reciprocal offers go right to trash also, again with no reply.

I don't sell

Once in a while I get people offering to pay for links.

You don't have enough money.

I mean that in all seriousness. The only way you can buy links from me is to buy the website itself. The price as of August 2010 is $2.8 million. Still interested?

I do give freely

Actually, there is a way you can get a link, Three ways, actually. One is to buy advertising from me. Those will be "no follow" links, though. The other way is to submit a guest post. If I approve it, you'll get an author link. That is IF I approve your article, of course. The third way is if you provide a consulting service and want a free listing in my Unix/Linux consultants directory, but those are no follow also, so aren't part of this discussion..

But if you had ever visited my website, you'd know about all of those things, so I'm not going to waste my time with you.

So, how DO you get my attention?

OK, so here we are. You didn't send to one of my honeypot email addresses, you didn't send a form letter and you didn't offer to trade or buy links. You are getting very close to the point where you might get the courtesy of a reply.

I said might. Don't count on it just yet.

Your email needs to immediately show me that you know something about my site. If you don't instantly mention a keyword that is relevant to what I do there, you are in the trash.

If you include verbiage that explains how beneficial this link will be to me, you are an idiot and are going to the trash for just that. I don't have time for either the hopelessly stupid or people who think I just rolled off a turnip truck.

Next, you have to tell me about what I am linking to. Don't expect me to go look it up. Tell me. Tell me why it is relevant and why I should link to you.

Oh, you did all that? Good job. You did so much better than all the other people.

You aren't getting a link.

Yes, I said you are not getting a link

What? Why not?

Because I don't have a link directory. Well, I do, but it is ancient and hasn't been updated in years because nobody does link directories anymore. I leave what is there untouched out of laziness and possible historical interest, but I'm not going to add anything to it now.

You should know that. If you had any concept at all about how the web works once we get above the picayune sites who happily add each other to their meaningless PR0 or PR1 link farms, you'd know that. Since you don't, you don't get a link and you don't get a response.

Is there ANY way to get a link?

Yes, of course there is.  Would I bother to write all this if there was not?

What MIGHT get my attention is an honest email from someone who knows what my site is about and can tell me why I should link to theirs. That is maybe one a year, if that.

It's usually a person who can point to a specific place that the link would be useful:

"I saw that you mentioned XYZ at your blah-blah article and thought you might be interested in my detailed look at how XYZ works in our environment".

Notice they don't even directly ASK for a link? They don't need to ask, but the chances are good that they will get one.

Why? Because that WILL get my attention. I will go look at my article that mentioned XYZ and I am very likely to go look at the article they want linked. If I agree that the link would be helpful to my readers, I will add it and he or she will get an email thanking them.

But what if I don't agree?

Well, all hope is not lost. I might know a better article where the link would make more sense. If so, that's what I'll do. If not, I will at least send back an email explaining why this just doesn't make sense for me to do. No hard feelings and you are welcome to try again.

Do you understand now?

Do you see why that is the way to get me to link to you? Do you see why you don't even need to mention the backlink? Do you see why it is even better that it was not mentioned?

If you want links from bigger sites, you need to do your homework. You need to present them with something they WANT to link to. Something that will help them help their readers.

And if it turns out there they are some sleazy place that wants to trade links, I'm sure they'll let you know.  Not that it would be of any lasting value to you, of course.

How to ask for a link!
How to ask for a link!

Doing it right

This week I received a link request done right. I asked the sender if I could use her email of an example of how it should be done. Her email appears in the picture to the right. Click on it to make it larger.

She got the link she wanted.


Submit a Comment
  • Pcunix profile imageAUTHOR

    Tony Lawrence 

    6 years ago from SE MA

    They used to be dofollow. As to their value, yes, tremendous value when in a major article, just for the traffic alone.

  • TrahnTheMan profile image


    6 years ago from Asia, Oceania & between

    Still a relevant article 18 months after publication. Thanks for the insights and also enjoyed your somewhat direct presentation ;-)

    You obviously feel that the Wiki links are still quite valuable despite being nofollow?

  • Pcunix profile imageAUTHOR

    Tony Lawrence 

    7 years ago from SE MA

    New? It seems ancient to me now.. It is Page Rank, by the way.

  • American_Choices profile image


    7 years ago from USA

    This is the stuff that we as small business owners need to know. Excellent Hub - will be sure to refer tim and time again.

    The Page Range is a mystery - still working at that one.

    The Internet is a new frontier and you are helping us translate. Thank you!

  • Tammy L profile image

    Tammy L 

    8 years ago from Jacksonville, Texas

    This is the same concept of "I'm following you so please do me the favor of following me". You'll automatically delete those too. :)

  • profile image


    8 years ago

    HA-HA-HA, ravings of a madman

  • Pcunix profile imageAUTHOR

    Tony Lawrence 

    8 years ago from SE MA

    You can write it, but I doubt it will do much for you. No harm in it, though and anything you get from it is a plus, right?

  • profile image

    Ankur Chaudhary 

    8 years ago

    Nice read.

    Here is my question: As a new business, does it make sense to write a Wikipedia page about my company - no advertising, absolutely none. Just a way to tell I am out here. Here is the thing: I have written some interesting stuff about my business domain that a newspaper ran for a couple of months as an educational post.

    Would it make any sense to put that out on Wikipedia. If not, is there any way that I can leverage this experience to promote my website?

    Thanks in advance.

  • Pcunix profile imageAUTHOR

    Tony Lawrence 

    8 years ago from SE MA

    You know what's fun?

    Every time I get some fool asking me for a backlink now, I send them back a link to this page. Some of them turn out to be automated (or horrifically stupid!), because they write back saying they can't find their link here!

  • prairieprincess profile image

    Sharilee Swaity 

    8 years ago from Canada

    wow, I love this article, because it makes way more sense than the whole mentality that you have to "create backlinks" all over the net, based on NOTHING! Thank you ... this helps me to believe in this process again.

  • American_Choices profile image


    8 years ago from USA


    You are Professor Hub Pages or Professor Internet - awesome, simply awesome! Thank you once again. Keepup the great work!

  • Pcunix profile imageAUTHOR

    Tony Lawrence 

    8 years ago from SE MA

    I have more than one link from Wikipedia and while some have been there a long time, others are quite recent.

    The idea that content will not "get out there" without self created linking is simply wrong. It is a falsehood highly promoted by certain people here, but it's simple not true.

    There are and always have been many pages that have high page one SERP but were never artificially promoted.

    But for me, that's not the point. Playing games with Google is deception. You can rationalize it six ways from Sunday, but it is dishonesty and the argument that "my competitors do it so I must" does not wash with me. You are describing a culture of corruption and I refuse to be a part of it.

  • shazwellyn profile image


    8 years ago from Great Britain

    Would I be wrong in assuming that accepting links that are not very useful to your website - considering that content is king in the eyes of Google - that the effects of this could water down your own website? Is this one of the reasons why you ensure that you are choosy - links therfore enhance your site, rather than water down your site.

    I was thinking how fortunate you were, in the first instance, to have wiki link to you. It is like winning the lottery without trying! Useful content does survive and flourishes. How new is the wiki juice link? I know that you said you have been doing this for 20 years and cant help remember how new the Internet was back then.

    Lots has changed since those days. There is more competition than the past - more quality sites and, yes, more junk. Success builds upon success - which you obviously have - and good luck to you - but what about the rest of us? Our reality consists of no self backlinking = our work doesnt get out there and ranked.

    It is this dichotomy that we are faced with.

    However, that is not to say that what you say is invalid - on the contrary - but how does the cycle stop?

    Oh, I must say, this article was a good read!

  • fetty profile image


    8 years ago from South Jersey

    Thank you for the very clear explanation of a difficult subject for novices, Pcunix. Makes sense and the e-mail example makes this lesson clearer. Thanks again.

  • Pcunix profile imageAUTHOR

    Tony Lawrence 

    8 years ago from SE MA

    This week I got one of the rare link requests that I actually pay attention to. I added a picture of the email to this article because it is a good example of how to get what you want!

  • prasetio30 profile image


    8 years ago from malang-indonesia

    You are the best, my friend. I really know how the difficult to got PR5 site. You have done it well. Thank you very much.

  • Pcunix profile imageAUTHOR

    Tony Lawrence 

    8 years ago from SE MA

    Oh, good. That is good to know.

  • Ms Dee profile image

    Deidre Shelden 

    8 years ago from Texas, USA

    You filled in a lot of gaps in my understanding by my hearing from the alternate perspective. Appreciate your lesson! :-)

  • Pcunix profile imageAUTHOR

    Tony Lawrence 

    8 years ago from SE MA

    Happy to have made you smile :)

  • Boomer60 profile image


    8 years ago

    This article was too choice! You ended my holiday with a wonderful chuckle. Thank you! If I ever have anything to barter, link wise, I know I will always remember this article.

  • Pcunix profile imageAUTHOR

    Tony Lawrence 

    8 years ago from SE MA

    What can I help you with, Lilly?

  • LillyGrillzit profile image

    Lori J Latimer 

    8 years ago from The River Valley, Arkansas

    I don't have a clue, and am not here to waste your valuable time. I saw your comment to Rebecca E, and she has been very helpful to me. I will just be a good student and learn...

  • Pcunix profile imageAUTHOR

    Tony Lawrence 

    8 years ago from SE MA

    I guess they do think that. And saps who have read reams of link trading advice here and at other places may sign right up.

  • Rebecca E. profile image

    Rebecca E. 

    8 years ago from Canada

    PcUnix-- gee you are like me, my little blog gets requests for reciprocal links all the time (it has a PR4 I beleive.. must go check again) still again it drives hme the point that you need to acutally care about who/what/where people want you to link to.

    love the last comment, do people think that won't get deleted by either you or me???

  • Pcunix profile imageAUTHOR

    Tony Lawrence 

    8 years ago from SE MA

    Here's a test for the readers. Just now I got this (I xx'ed out the real address:


    Dear Sir

    I have already placed a link to your site along with a description at


    I would appreciate if you placed a link back to my site

    Best regards,





    What do you think my reaction to that was?

    If you answered anything but "instant deletion", you didn't understand the article.

  • Pcunix profile imageAUTHOR

    Tony Lawrence 

    8 years ago from SE MA

    If I can help clear up any confusion, just ask.

  • lorlie6 profile image

    Laurel Rogers 

    8 years ago from Bishop, Ca

    You know what, Pcunix? You are my very favorite Unix geek, and I don't even know what it is! Anyway, the beginning of this article held my attention because it explained so much of what I've been trying to learn! All this linking rigamarole has my head spinning, but THIS is clear.

    Thanks, I'll keep reading.

  • Pcunix profile imageAUTHOR

    Tony Lawrence 

    8 years ago from SE MA

    Well, there it is from my viewpoint, but it's probably the same for every legitimate site of any ranking - and the higher the rank, the harder it will be to get their attention.

    The form letter junk that so many so called "experts" advise is NOT going to work. It might work with the smaller guys, but even there you are more likely to get attention if you can suggest specific places.

    It has struck me before that it would not be terribly hard to automate part of this process - a crawler could find possibly suitable pages, so you might actually be able to use a template of sorts. However, the more time you put into the bigger targets, the more likely is success, and the big targets are worth the effort.

  • MKayo profile image


    8 years ago from Texas

    Well. There it is.

  • Pcunix profile imageAUTHOR

    Tony Lawrence 

    8 years ago from SE MA

    Ross670daw: the template is "I saw that you mentioned XYZ at your blah-blah article and thought you might be interested in my detailed look at how XYZ works in our environment".

    Duchess: unless you are a Unix geek, there is nothing to see there:-)

  • profile image

    Duchess OBlunt 

    8 years ago

    You certainly tell it like it is. Great article. Now I HAVE to go check out your site!

  • ross670daw profile image


    8 years ago

    Wow,impressive, justified and Fair enough, points taken. I requested a template just to get a feel for the optimal layout of the email in general, it wasn't really a serious request for one, just my small attempt at humor, knowing it may not be possible or forthcoming. I understand what you are saying.

  • Pcunix profile imageAUTHOR

    Tony Lawrence 

    8 years ago from SE MA

    Can you explain what it is you don't understand? Send me email if you want.

    Is it that so many of the "experts" here talk about making fake backlinks that you didn't realize that people ask for real ones??

  • profile image


    8 years ago

    Hello PC, you might as well be speaking Greek as far as my understanding any of this and it makes me think I will probably never earn more than $2.45/month doing this. I better work harder on getting a day job and less on getting 425 views on a single article in one week.

    I do love reading your hubs though...

  • Pcunix profile imageAUTHOR

    Tony Lawrence 

    8 years ago from SE MA

    I might take 2.5 million. No less though. The site brings in $40,000 a year and more in new opportunities, and another $12 to $15 thou in ad revenue, so I'd need more than a million after taxes to replace it. That's why the price is so high - it wasn't a joke.

    How could a template work? You need to identify a specific place you want a link from and you need to explain why the link would be valuable.

  • ross670daw profile image


    8 years ago

    You are true to your word Pcunix, provide useful content for your readers who will then want to link to it, to obtain those high value backlinks to our own content, provide more value, quality and benefit to the reader.

    By the way, would you take $2.7 million for your PR5 site? Just kidding, I suppose asking for you to provide an email template that one could use to send to prospective webmasters, that would increase our chance of obtaining a backlink is out of the question?

  • Pcunix profile imageAUTHOR

    Tony Lawrence 

    8 years ago from SE MA

    I have no idea why you listed a bunch of articles I wrote here... and no, I didn't do any homework. This is from twenty years of experience, not homework :-)

    But thank you for your comment.

  • websclubs profile image


    8 years ago

    Hi Pcunix,

    Welcome to

    Quality Hub, If you want links from bigger sites,something they WANT to link to. Something that will help them help their readers. The value of comments,SEO-- Link Wheels? golf cart,keyword security cameras,niche. The Internet Google advertising income. reasons the people would choose working for themselves over traditional employment. If you see a PR7 site, that site is very big and very important. It gets a lot of traffic and has a lot of other sites linking to it. You did your homework. Very useful hub Thank you for sharing.


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