Trolled By An IT Company… My First (& Last) Link Request Attempt By Phone

Telephone imageSo I have an… interesting link building story from a few weeks ago…

A client of mine is a Cardiff-based IT support company. While seeking out relevant links, I came across the website for a London-based IT support company who have a resource section on their site that basically says that they only cover London and the south of England, so here are some links to other companies that provide IT support services in the rest of the UK. Aww… isn’t that nice of them?

My client wasn’t included in the South Wales section, so I rubbed my hands together, hopped onto their Contact Us page to find… that there was no email address listed or a contact form. Oh.

All they had was a phone number and a postal address.

This was my moment, I thought… my first ever link request by phone! I first came across the tactic of asking for links via phone (rather than bog-standard email) on Jon Cooper/Point Blank SEO’s site. It’s in his link building strategies list – I also thought he had a standalone post/case study about it, but can’t seem to find it (if anyone else does, please let me know). (EDIT: Jon has commented at the bottom of this post and shared a link to it.) I’ve always been a bit of a phoneaphobe (even now), so I tend to rely on email more than I do on phone, but Mr Cooper is wise beyond his young years and so I thought I’d give it a try…

I called the IT company’s office. I got through to someone and explained that I had a client who’d love to appear in their site’s South Wales category. He sounded a bit baffled, but said “oh yeah, I think it’s Todd who takes care of that” (I can’t remember if his name was Todd… let’s just go with Todd) and he put me on hold to patch me through to him.

The hold music was unusual but hilarious. It was a message to the tune of Double Rainbow, i.e. this song:

Double Rainbow imageThe message had Double Rainbow-style vocals, with lyrics saying something like: “we’re sorry, we don’t accept sales calls / please write to us instead / I hope we can still be friends”. Very odd hold music for their clients to hear and for all other calls! I was chuckling away to myself while waiting for Todd to pick up, except that when the song finished, the phone cut off. Oh.

I called back, assuming it was a mistake (I bet you can see where this is going). I spoke to the same guy as before and explained to him that I didn’t get through to Todd, that I was cut off while on hold. “Oh, I’ll try again,” he said. This time, however there was different hold music, something more normal: calm chill-out music. Then 30 seconds later, it changed… into the Double Rainbow remix.

Yep. I’d been trolled. Royally trolled. Those cheeky bastards monkeys. I’d been mistaken for a sales call.

Troll imageI was a little annoyed at first. Yes, my call was unsolicited, but it wasn’t a sales call. I wasn’t asking them to buy anything, I was just hoping for a wee favour. I have no idea whether: a) the guy I spoke to simply didn’t know what the hell I was on about and simply assumed it was a sales call, or b) they treat this type of thing in the same way as sales calls, or c) Todd simply couldn’t be arsed that day.

I contemplated calling back and speaking to them a third time, but quite frankly I didn’t want to embarrass myself any further…

Instead, I thought back to the Double Rainbow message: “please write to us instead”. What’s an SEO to do? Yep, you’ve guessed it… This post is not only the account of my first ever link request by phone, but also my first ever link request by snail mail! I had Todd’s name, so I could address the letter to him directly. I spoke to my client about it – asking them if they were happy for me to send a letter on their behalf – and they said yes. So I sent them a letter, explaining how I’d been mistaken for a sales call, asking for what I wanted (again) and passing on the link. On a piece of paper. Very old-school.

Weeks have now passed. I checked the page recently and my client’s still not on there, so either Todd ripped up my letter and threw it in the bin, or it’s on his low priority to-do pile. I’m hoping for the latter, as it’ll be awesome if they get a link in the end, after all of the above!

But one thing’s for sure… I don’t think I’ll be in a hurry to ask for a link over the phone again…!

[Image credits – telephone: Esparta Palma; double rainbow eater: Ann Larie Valentine; DIY troll face: ax174]


  • Emma

    December 9, 2013 at 12:47 pm Reply

    I find it absurd that an IT company don’t have an e-mail address. You probably didn’t want a link from those guys 😉 Jerks!

    • Steve

      December 9, 2013 at 12:48 pm Reply

      Heh, fair point actually…! 🙂

  • Chris

    December 10, 2013 at 3:55 pm Reply

    “I got through to someone and explained that I had a client who’d love to appear in their site’s South Wales category.”

    I’d love to know what you actually said – I scored 5 links this month via the telephone

    • Steve

      December 10, 2013 at 4:03 pm Reply

      Hey Chris. If memory serves, it was something like: “Hi there, I was hoping to speak to someone about the IT Support resource section on your site. A client of mine would love to appear on there so I was hoping to chat to someone about it.” Maybe my technique could be better? I dunno…

  • Jonathan Jones

    December 12, 2013 at 9:37 pm Reply

    Ha. Pretty funny. I’m a bit of a phoneaphobe myself.

    I’m actually glad this came up. I managed to score my first link via phone on a site that as a domain authority of 93. It all started via email, then I got a call from a salesperson who didn’t know what my email was about. He then forwarded my email to the people that run the website… who are also the SEO people and they seemed more than happy with my request.

    I still need to get over that fear of sounding like a complete dunce on the phone, although this experience has sort of boosted my confidence!

    • Steve

      December 13, 2013 at 4:27 pm Reply

      Wow, good going, Jonathan – it’s good to hear of a success story (and with it being DA93, it’s quite the success story to boot)! 🙂

  • Matt DSGNS

    January 5, 2014 at 2:10 pm Reply

    I hate using the phone to ask for things, much prefer email. Sounds like this is good reasoning why I don’t use the phone.

    Fingers crossed your client got/get the link though.

  • […] few months ago, I attempted my first link request by phone, which… failed pretty spectacularly and hilariously. At the time I vowed never to do it […]

  • Jon Cooper

    February 11, 2014 at 5:02 am Reply

    Well don’t I feel terrible for sending you down that route? 🙂

    But seriously, that’s actually quite hilarious, and it’s even funnier that it was your first phone outreach experience. More times than not though, it actually yields higher success rates. But what I’ve resulted to when I see both email & phone is to try email first, and then if/when I don’t hear back, then I pick up the phone.

    Also +1 for snail mail! Even if it didn’t work this time. I’m trying to find the right opportunity to try a large scale snail mail campaign for a site of mine.

    And PS – this is the post you might be thinking of (I sent out a newsletter just for this alone):

    • Steve

      February 11, 2014 at 8:54 am Reply

      Hehe, thanks for the comment, Jon 🙂 I’m guessing you made your way here via the Linkarati post, in which case you will have seen that I’ve changed my ways since this post, and that I’ve had a much more successful experience, which is good!

  • David McSweeney

    April 13, 2014 at 2:23 pm Reply

    ha! Great story Steve and I can’t help but wonder if Todd ever saw this post (if he actually exists…). Fingers crossed on the letter. I guess with Royal Mail being as efficient as they are there’s still hope as assuming you sent the letter at some point towards the end of last year, they are probably only receiving it around now…

    • Steve

      April 13, 2014 at 2:31 pm Reply

      He definitely exists… I just don’t think his name is Todd, haha! 🙂

  • […] not a big fan of making phonecalls (if you fancy a chuckle, I recommend reading this story about the time that I got royally trolled), but that’s all I had. After calling all 7 […]

  • Suraj Soni

    June 30, 2016 at 10:19 am Reply

    i mostly use email to communicate in the IM, Phone is something i will avoid at best possible way

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