The internet is a crowded, noisy collection of pages, voices, and content. It’s easy to get lost – particularly when you’re searching for a specific piece of information. In response to this friction, Google and other search engines have made it one of their primary aims to simplify the internet search experience for users over the years. And, minor complaints aside, they’ve done a pretty good job.
As business owners and capitalists, we owe a lot of our modern success to search engines that have systematically organized the internet and made it searchable for the average user. It’s through this ingenuity and meticulous work that our websites, pages, and content are now easily searchable by our target customers.
Google – which we’ll use as an overarching term for “the search engines” – has one primary aim: To eliminate friction from the search experience by delivering accurate and relevant search results to its users, so they’ll come back over and over again. When users come back, this means more traffic and clicks, which means more opportunities to sell ad space, increase revenue, and expand the business. In other words, Google isn’t just a platform for running search queries – it’s bent towards value creation.
Today’s digital ecosystem runs on value; websites/pages that are deemed valuable get more search visibility and traffic. One of the primary ways Google determines which websites are valuable is by looking at how it connects to other pages on the internet. If a page has links coming from other authoritative, high-ranking sites, this is a telltale sign that people find it useful. The Google algorithm responds by bumping it up in the rankings. Caveat: as an expert link building service, we have provided backlinks to some of the internet’s most well-recognized brands. What follows is a discussion on various methods of performing outreach for procuring the highest quality backlinks.
For years, business owners and digital marketers have understood the importance of backlinks and have implemented targeted backlink strategies designed to create and leverage linking opportunities. This has led to a couple of approaches: link building and link building outreach.
Link building is best described as the process of getting third-party web pages to link to your website. It’s a long-term strategy that’s designed to:
Link building, as a strategy, can be executed in numerous ways. In the past, many businesses have resorted to spammy and/or ineffective practices like forcing irrelevant links into blog comments; stuffing links in low authority web pages; setting up dummy pages to harvest links; using blog rolls to reciprocate links; and/or grabbing links on low-hanging fruit like online business directories. Some of these strategies provide a minimal boost, while others can actually hurt more than help in the long run.
Then there’s link building outreach. Outreach is one of the main ways in which modern link building is carried out. It’s considered sustainable and effective. It’s oriented around Google’s primary aim of adding value to the internet search ecosystem.
As the name suggests, link building outreach involves manually contacting business owners, marketers, webmasters, bloggers, and social influencers in an effort to earn a backlink/brand mention to your website. It’s more time-intensive than some of the standard link building initiatives businesses have relied on over the years, but promises to generate a higher return on investment when executed properly.
Link building outreach isn’t a get-rich-quick strategy. It’s a long-term investment that can take months or years to produce significant results. However, it’s highly sustainable. Once the returns come in, you don’t have to worry about them disappearing in the next Google update. The seeds of link building outreach will always yield a healthy harvest.
If you’re interested in the how-to of link building outreach, here are some steps to help you generate positive results:
There are a variety of tactics that fall under the title of “link building outreach.” You have the freedom to use any number of strategies or techniques, including:
These are just some of the options. Feel free to get as creative as you want, but don’t make things more complicated than they have to be. The aforementioned options should give you plenty to chew on.
Whether you decide to go all in on one of the previously mentioned options, or you pick and choose a variety of linking opportunities, you’ll want to create a shortlist to guide your outreach. Some in the industry would call this the link building outreach pipeline. It’s through this pipeline that all of your link building efforts will flow. A simple spreadsheet with contact information and other relevant notes should suffice.
The next step is to generate a compelling offer for each individual in your link building outreach pipeline. One recommendation is to use what we’ll call the what-why-how formula. Next to each individual, create three columns and fill in the appropriate information:
The what-why-how formula ensures that each outreach is personalized and relevant to the person on the receiving end. It’s an absolute must.
When you’re reaching out to dozens or hundreds of people at a time, organization is key. If you don’t stay on top of your outreach, you’ll miss opportunities, burn bridges, and look pretty dumb in the process. (Few things are more embarrassing than emailing the same person the same message multiple times – especially when they’ve already responded.)
We recommend developing a link outreach template that enables you to put each “prospect” into specific stages to track where they are in the outreach process. One popular method involves systematically labeling prospects as being in one of five stages:
Once a link is acquired, you’ll want to record the specific date, URL, and other pertinent information. This allows you to check in on the link periodically and, if you choose, plug it into a tool that can track your backlinks.
You don’t want prospects to sit in stage 2 for too long. Give them a few days and then follow up with a second personalized contact. It may take two or three forms of outreach to get a stubborn/busy prospect to enter into stage 3 of your link outreach process.
Link building outreach isn’t an exact science. You can follow all of the so-called best practices and still feel as if your link building isn’t working. But in most cases, it’s pretty easy to see why. You may not be breaking any rules, per se, but you could be using some discouraged techniques. We recommend avoiding the following link building outreach strategies:
When you’re selective with whom you target; you personalize your outreach; you exemplify selflessness; you’re consistent but not overwhelming; and you stay encouraged by celebrating the small victories, good things will eventually come your way. As long as you’re using sound strategies and techniques, time and persistence will produce results.
As mentioned, one of the best ways to build links is to reach out to social media users and influencers.
For the record, “Influencers in social media are people who have built a reputation for their knowledge and expertise on a particular topic. They make regular posts about that topic on their preferred social media channels and generate large followings of enthusiastic engaged people who pay close attention to their views.”
When you’re able to connect with influencers whose audiences intersect with your own, you have the opportunity to leverage their respect and authority. While you ultimately want to generate your own influence independent of others, this is a way to fast-track the process.
Influencers can include celebrities, industry experts/thought leaders, bloggers, respected content creators, and even micro influencers (people with a few thousand followers who hold significant influence in their personal and professional networks – i.e. the popular kid at a high school or the quarterback of a small college football team).
There’s a right way to reach out to influencers on social media. You start by following them and engaging with their content. This includes liking posts, commenting, and sharing their content. You don’t want to look obsessive, but consistent interaction will establish rapport.
Once you’ve followed and engaged with an influencer for a few weeks or months, you can offer them something of value. This might look like sending a DM and asking if it’s okay for you to talk about them in an upcoming podcast or do a write-up on your own blog. (Of course it is! The point of asking is to build credibility and make them aware of the fact that you’re doing it.)
Only after you’ve given something of value should you ask for anything in return. Based on the relationship you have, you may go for the direct kill – asking for a backlink or earning the chance to publish a guest blog post. Or, you may choose a softer sell. Many influencers – particularly celebrities and industry thought leaders – use their platforms to generate revenue. Ask about any opportunities they have for earning exposure and links via this method.
Link building outreach is important work, but that doesn’t mean you have the ability to dedicate multiple hours to it every single day. Thankfully there are some pretty powerful tools that can assist you with your link building efforts. Here are some of the top ones available:
Most of these platforms offer free trials and/or low-cost month-to-month subscriptions. Try them out risk-free and see what you think. Once you find a link building tech stack that works for you, the outreach process will get easier.
In the early stages of link building outreach, you can reasonably handle the process. But as you continue to add new prospects into your pipeline and the demands for new content increase, it’s no longer feasible for you to handle everything. It’s at this point that automation becomes your friend.
Automating outreach looks different for every link building strategy. Consider the following options and implement the suggestions that you think could help you save time and resources:
When it comes to automation, there’s a fine line between streamlining time-consuming processes and putting your entire process on autopilot. When you do the latter, you run the risk of compromising your authenticity and coming across as too robotic in your execution. You also take the chance of overlooking mistakes and violating Google’s rules and requirements (which will negatively impact your rankings).
Link building outreach – assuming it’s performed using white hat techniques – is never a bad idea. However, some businesses find that they experience diminishing returns over time. While this is unlikely to affect the majority of websites, it’s worth briefly highlighting.
Consider, for a moment, the following chart by Ahrefs. It shows the domain rating (DR) of a website, how many domains fall into this category, and the average number of referred domains (or backlinks) these websites have.
As you’ll see in this chart, link building is highly effective when you have a lower domain rating and are looking to enhance your authority. All it takes to go from a zero domain rating to a rating of 26-30 is an average of 137 backlinks. This can be accomplished in a matter of months. Even going from a DR61 to DR75 is feasible (roughly 1,800 links). But there comes a point where the investment you make through link building outreach may no longer justify the return.
For example, if your website has a domain rating in the 86-90 range and you’re looking to bump up to the 91-95 range, you’d need more than 600,000 fresh backlinks! And to go from 91-95 to 96-100, you’d need to add more than 8 million links!
You’ll have to be the judge of what does and doesn’t make sense for your budget, but understand that the returns may diminish over time (at least in terms of SEO and search rankings).
Curious about your site’s backlink profile? Check your backlinks now, using our free tool.
With so much time involved in link building outreach, you can’t be expected to handle everything in-house. You’ll eventually reach a point where it makes sense to automate a few things in-house and outsource the rest. Here are a few of the benefits:
At SEO.co, we want to be your preferred outsourced solution for SEO and link building. When you work with us, we handle the outreach, secure the placement, develop the content, and deliver the backlinks you’re looking for. It’s an easy and effortless process that’s backed by industry-leading guarantees.
There are a lot of companies on the market that promise to provide link services, but there are several distinctions that set us apart from the other guys:
For more information on our link building services and how we can help you streamline your outreach strategy, please contact us today!