If you have ever tried performing a link building outreach campaign, you know how difficult it can be.
And outreach link building is only getting tougher.
You can’t just drop your CSV into Mailshake or Pitchbox and hope to receive dozens of positive responses.
We never respond.
We either mark as spam or delete dozens of daily backlink outreach requests, most of them from so-called “link building experts.”
The relentless nature of these continuous link building outreach campaigns is obnoxious, but unfortunately not illegal.
Foreign outreach emails (usually from Indian link builders) typically show up in the inbox looking something like this:
Don’t be this guy!
But there is a right way and oh, so many wrong ways to engage in outreach link building.
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Link Building vs. Link Building Outreach
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.
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:
As mentioned, Google uses backlinks as authority signals. The more quality links you have pointing to your site, the higher you’ll rank for related search terms.
It’s not all about technical algorithms and search results. There’s a very practical benefit associated with obtaining backlinks: visibility. If you get a backlink on a major site like Forbes.com, you instantly put your brand in front of thousands of new people.
Link building drives reputation by affiliation. The more your brand is featured on reputable websites and blogs, the more positive your reputation becomes.
While not all backlinks will get clicked, many do. The result is a steady influx of traffic to your web pages – a percentage of which may eventually convert in the form of a sale.
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, SEO blogger 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.
How to Perform Effective Link Building Outreach
Performing 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 a quality link building campaign will always yield a healthy harvest.
If you’re interested in the how-to of manual outreach link building, here are some steps to help you generate positive results:
1. Know Your Options
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:
- Email/PR. This option involves emailing people and asking them to link back to your site. In order to find the right people, you have to perform some due diligence, personalize your offer, and promise value in return.
- Social media. Under this approach, you look for and build relationships via social media as a method of popularizing your content and enhancing its impact.
- Influencers. With influencer outreach, you find, contact, and engage influential bloggers, website owners, and public figures with the intention of leveraging their status to garner highly visible and authoritative links.
- Personal/professional network. You don’t always need highly public figures with millions of followers. Sometimes effective link building occurs via outreach to personal and professional networks. Mine your business cards and LinkedIn profile to unearth these hidden opportunities.
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.
2. Create a Shortlist of Linking Opportunities
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 backlink 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.
3. Generate Compelling Offers
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:
- What? When approaching someone with a link building request, the worst thing you can do is string them along. It should be clear exactly what you’re seeking. Any ambiguity here will lead to your email or direct message being deleted.
- Why? It’s equally important that you quickly address the why. In other words, what’s in it for them? How will they benefit from giving you a brand mention, link, or space to publish content on their site?
- How? Exactly how will the process work? Who will write the content, what will it consist of, when will it be submitted, etc.?
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.
4. Develop a Link Outreach Template
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:
- Stage 1: Need to Reach Out
- Stage 2: Contact Sent (with type of contact listed)
- Stage 3: Response Received (with brief summary)
- Stage 4: Offer Approved
- Stage 5: Link Acquired
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 or give you an automated or customized backlink audit.
5. Be Consistent & Genuine
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 Strategies to Avoid
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:
Don’t target anyone and everyone
Successful link building outreach isn’t about the quantity of people you contact. It’s much more about the quality of prospects you engage. Conserve your resources by only targeting prospects that can provide you with tangible value (and who you can offer value in return).
Don’t perform blanket outreach
Resist the urge to save time by performing blanket outreach (sending the same message to everyone). It’s much more effective if you personalize your contact. (If you’re meticulous about developing rich what-why-how information in your pipeline, personalized outreach is a breeze.)
Don’t be selfish
You’re obviously looking for backlinks and exposure, but you don’t want to come across as being too selfish. People want something in return. Go above and beyond to explain what value you’ll be giving them in return.
Give before you receive.
Here’s the perfect example of what not to do.
We received the following from a fairly well-known site in our space:
The problem with this email is that it’s all take and no give!
We rarely respond, but given who it was, we just had to:
And here’s the non-starter response:
There were numerous follow-ups, but our responses to this email chain ended there.
In short, give before you can even expect to receive.
Outreach link builders are at the mercy of the webmasters and site owners.
And the end of the day, you’re asking for value, but apart from swaps and monetary compensation which are against search engine guidelines, there has to be value for the site owner.
Don’t overwhelm people
Don’t confuse consistent outreach with a bombardment of emails. There’s a difference between being persistent and overwhelming. Learn where to draw the line.
Don’t get frustrated
The average professional baseball hall-of-famer gets out roughly 70 percent of the times he walks to the plate over the course of his career. In other words, he’s successful less than 30 percent of the time. The link building outreach process is similar. You’ll get turned down and ignored way more than you’re embraced. Resist the urge to become Zoom out and look at the big picture.
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.
Using Social Media & Influencers in Your Outreach
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.
The 5 Best Tools for Link Building Outreach
When you don’t have the ability to dedicate multiple hours to outreach every single day, finding the best link building outreach tool is critical.
Thankfully there are some pretty powerful link building tools that can assist you with your link building efforts. Here are some of the top ones available:
- PitchBox. This influencer outreach and content marketing platform is the best of its kind. It helps streamline the outreach process from beginning to end. Whether it’s finding prospects, personalizing contact, using email templates, or tracking what stage prospects are in, PitchBox can do it all.
- Ahrefs. As one of the most trusted names in the SEO space, Ahrefs is a must-have tool. It helps you grow your search traffic, identify link opportunities, spot broken links, source lists of high DA/DR sites to target for outreach, research competitors, and much more.
- Guest Post Tracker. Guest posting plays an important role in link building outreach – but link building in general is tough. Enter Guest Post Tracker – a tool that lets you find, manage, and track all of your guest posts and outreach in one place. The platform has a growing base of more than 1,500 websites that accept guest posts, which allows you to spend more time building backlinks and less time soliciting opportunities.
- BuzzStream. This powerful outreach platform helps you stay organized by tracking all of your email outreach in one place. This prevents the need to use multiple spreadsheet and email accounts. It also has a built-in “Discovery” tool that makes it easy to find new linking opportunities.
- Majestic. The quality of your links is far more important than the quantity. Majestic lets you track the “trust flow” of your links. In other words, it allows you to monitor the backlinks of your backlinks. It also gives you a glimpse into the links your competitors have and which missing opportunities could boost your own rankings.
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.
How to Automate Your Link Building Outreach
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:
Leverage outreach link building tools
The tools mentioned above are great for automating your outreach. It’ll take some time to learn the ins and outs of how each one works, but they’ll ultimately save you time. (Don’t feel like you have to use them all. Only use a tool if it adds value and/or saves time.)
Use systems and processes
Take the guesswork out of your outreach. The more you can systemize your approach through clear-cut processes, the more efficient you’ll be.
Outsource certain elements
We’ll discuss this in greater detail below, but outsourcing and delegating certain tasks will save you time and enhance the value of your outreach strategy.
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).
Diminishing Returns of Your Link Building Outreach
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.
- DR 0–5: 146,455,043 domains (1 d.ref.domains)
- DR 6–10: 10,322,431 domains (30 d.ref.domains)
- DR 11–15: 5,171,577 domains (44 d.ref.domains)
- DR 16–20: 3,085,066 domains (57 d.ref.domains)
- DR 21–25: 2,499,437 domains (85 d.ref.domains)
- DR 26–30: 2,493,952 domains (137 d.ref.domains)
- DR 31–35: 1,377,630 domains (547 d.ref.domains)
- DR 36–40: 861,493 domains (314 d.ref.domains)
- DR 41–45: 494,599 domains (263 d.ref.domains)
- DR 46–50: 313,324 domains (352 d.ref.domains)
- DR 51–55: 268,988 domains (444 d.ref.domains)
- DR 56–60:152,985 domains (708 d.ref.domains)
- DR 61–65: 93,021 domains (956 d.ref.domains)
- DR 66–70: 64,713 domains (1,374 d.ref.domains)
- DR 71–75: 64,898 domains (2,789 d.ref.domains)
- DR 76–80: 21,209 domains (6,761 d.ref.domains)
- DR 81–85: 7,368 domains (16,425 d.ref.domains)
- DR 86–90: 3,175 domains (36,811 d.ref.domains)
- DR 91–95: 967 domains (637,650 d.ref.domains)
- DR 96–100: 22 domains (8,891,919 d.ref.domains)
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.
Why You Should Outsource Your Link Building Outreach
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:
First and foremost, outsourcing link building outreach saves you time – time that you can dedicate to the core aspects of your business. (Without an emphasis on adding value to your products and services, no amount of link building will lead to success.)
When you outsource, you don’t have to guess or experiment with something new. You instantly gain access to experienced professionals who do link building for a living. This guarantees quality output.
When you’re the one doing all of the link building outreach manually, you’re working in your business and not on your business. Not only is this a waste of your time, but it also hurts your ability to grow. By outsourcing, you get the chance to zoom out and look at the big picture strategy, while professionals handle this one aspect of your digital marketing
Outsource Your Link Building Outreach With SEO.co
At SEO.co, we want to be your preferred outsourced solution for SEO 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. Link building isn’t dead, it’s just more complex.
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:
Quality Link Building Outreach Service
Other link building services use low-quality websites to grab easy, low-hanging fruit that you could access on your own.
At SEO.co, we have a proven system for acquiring high quality links from high DR/DA sites – including some of the most recognized brands online.
We focus on backlink relevancy and quality.
In fact, we are so good at link building, other digital marketing agencies use our white label backlink service to offload their operational workload.
We also have a stable of talented writers with years of experience developing fresh, impactful content that engages audiences and encourages them to click.
Transparent Link Building Process
We believe in clear communication above all else. We’ll share real-time progress reports and let you know how things are going.
The cost of link building services can vary widely. Unlike other link building services that charge based on the time they spend reaching out to publishers and developing content, we only charge for what we actually deliver. This saves you money and ensures you get exactly what you pay for.
For more information on our link building services and how we can help you streamline your outreach strategy, please contact us today!