Your SEO Backlink Strategy Will Backfire With Me

Michael Allen Smith
3 min readJun 20, 2018

About 3 or 4 times a week, every week, for years, I receive an email requesting that my coffee site INeedCoffee provide a backlink to some article on another coffee website.

Without fail, I mark the email as SPAM, block the user, and then delete the email. If that sounds rough, it shouldn’t. I clearly post right next to my contact info that I will take those actions.

Do not send us press releases including crowdfunding requests. Also, do not ask us to link to your site, we won’t. Your email address will be blocked and flagged as SPAM.


Our policy is to only link to sites by our contributors. We have almost 200 people that have written for INeedCoffee since we first went online in April 1999. They all donated their time and effort into creating something that is of value to our readers.

We reward those contributions by linking to their sites and social media. This is a win-win-win method. Our readers win, our site wins, and our contributor wins.

Why the hell would I link to an article outside our site by someone that can’t even read our contact policy and that has never contributed to our site?

Unfortunately, over the past few years, our site has received so many terrible article submissions by people wishing to game our contributor policy for backlinks that we’ve had to restrict most new contributions.

Photo by Nick Fewings on Unsplash

Backfire Not Fail

In the title of this post, I stated requesting a backlink from INeedCoffee would backfire. That was a deliberate term I chose.

I know that when I receive an email requesting a backlink that I’m not the only one getting the email. And I’m guessing that many others have as well. So for the upstart website looking for SEO juice, the reward of a backlink outweighs the downside of having your email flagged as SPAM by a few people.

So I started a new policy. When someone requests that I link to their article and I can see the article topic is relevant and that it is not covered on INeedCoffee, I will publish a better article for our site. And because the search engines love us, this new article will often rank high. Not just high, but more importantly higher than the article being pimped for backlinks.

One guy sent me 5 emails asking for a backlink from different email addresses. I outsourced the topic to a writer on Fiverr for a first draft. I spent 30 minutes touching it up before publishing and now it appears on Page 1 for Google and Bing with certain keywords. That guy’s article got pushed down a little bit.

This month another guy sent multiple emails asking for a backlink. I’ll have my own article out before the end of the month and I can almost guarantee our site will out rank his.

My “Backlink Strategy”

Recently, an SEO professional I met here in Seattle told me that INeedCoffee had strong backlinks and then asked about my backlink strategy. I told him that I have no backlink strategy and have never once requested that someone link to an article on my site.

My way of earning backlinks is by putting out good content and not going away. If you like the article, link to it. If not don’t.

I’ve been at this for almost 20 years. I’m patient. This isn’t a side hustle I just started because I got pumped up listening to a webinar on how to get internet riches.

Last Words

As a general rule in life, you should learn to give value before you ask for favors. And if the value you give is good enough, you won’t even need to ask for those favors.