Marketers understand the value of high quality backlinks, from both the perspective of SEO and from the user experience.
The bottom line with all linking strategy is determining how it will deliver the most value to your audience. You should be strategic about who you link to, but also determine how your content would benefit other audiences who fit your buyer persona.
This is why link building outreach is a must.
What Is Link Building Outreach?
This is the most important and frustrating part of earning links.
Creating content is not like the Field of Dreams. You can’t just build a blog and expect all these links to come to you. It’s very rare that simply publishing and sharing content on your social channels will bring in backlinks.
There are many reasons why marketers hate executing outreach strategies.
It Requires Manual Process.
Sure there are a ton of tools that can automate certain portions of your outreach. But to truly engage and connect with link build prospects, you have to manually assess them and tailor your messaging to them.
It’s a Long Game With Lots of Variables.
You have to juggle a lot of information as you’re planning link building outreach. A CRM is helpful in managing all the information and storing it for future reference.
Even with the help of technology, you’re still overseeing a lot of information, like your prospect’s contact information, the latest content they published, their site’s domain authority, and more.
It Requires Tracking and Analysis.
Everything in marketing needs to be measured, tracked, and analyzed. Outreach is no exception. This is why it’s important to establish your analysis process before you start connecting with others.
It Is a Continuous Process.
You’re likely to not get a lot of engagement in your outreach campaigns, forcing you to regularly assess opportunities and determine how to properly follow up with them.
Even after you secure a link, you should stay in the know with your contacts to find new mutually beneficial linking opportunities. This helps you maintain a strong rapport with important people in your industry.
The Fundamentals of Link Building Outreach
You should follow a simple rule of thumb as you reach out to potential linking domains. If you’re just looking for selfish reasons, you won’t get far.
Don’t strictly aim for SEO benefits. While that is a great advantage of earning backlinks, it should not be your primary concern.
The rule of thumb: Only seek out linking opportunities to exchange value.
In other words, you’re not just seeking out links for the sole purpose of trying to game the system and boost ranking potential. You’re actually wanting to deliver value to relevant audiences.
Also, quantity of backlinks is not enough anymore. Back in the days of old, before important algorithm updates, Google would favor those domains who had the most backlinks.
Now, quality wins out.
That means just having hundreds of links from spammy sites and shitty link directories won’t help. It will actually hurt you.
You also want a diversified portfolio of backlinks, from different sites and from people with various levels of influence.
Before you get started with your outreach, you need a high quality piece of content that your link prospects will be excited to link to. This could be:
- A kickass blog post that covers a relevant topic in a new, engaging way.
- An embeddable piece of content, like a functional tool.
- Awesome visuals, like infographics or engaging SlideShares.
- An original research report you conducted in relation to your industry.
Once you know what you want to drive links to, you’re ready to start outreach campaigns.
5 Link Building Outreach Campaigns
Each of these campaigns can drive link building in unique ways. It’s important to diversify your outreach efforts and measure what’s working and what’s not.
This concept is rather simple. Instead of just publishing and sharing your blog posts on social, you’re actively getting your content in front of influencers and thought leaders in your industry.
This could entail emailing them, but that’s not the only way to do this.
Here is the best way you can approach outreach:
1. Build Your List of Influencers.
With a list on hand, you can get a bird's eye view of all your opportunities. When you see everyone you want to connect with, you're prepared to do the next step...
2. Prioritize Them in Tiers.
By tiering influencers, you can focus on what makes the most sense to you in the moment. If you’re a smaller outlet, it might be best to aim for mid-tier linking opportunities first because the higher authority domains might not even consider you until you raise your domain authority.
3. Get On Their Radar.
Now that you know when you will contact which influencers first, you’re ready to focus on the how. Sure, you could use cold outreach, but your success rate is probably going to be much lower as compared to warm outreach.
Before messaging them, you want them to take notice of you. Start commenting on their blog, sharing their content, and alerting them about broken links on their site.
You can even email them directly without an ask; simply send a compliment, praising them for their latest blog post or congratulating them on a milestone.
4. Encourage Them to Link to You.
The point of getting on their radar is to make it easier to start building a relationship. You want to get some response from them.
Once you create a connection, strategically request that they share your content. Remember, don’t make it about you.
It’s all about their audience. Explain why them sharing your content would benefit their audience. You should also offer high value content that they can link to on their website.
Always emphasize how you can help them get in front of your audience too to demonstrate reciprocity. They will respect you for starting this mutually beneficial relationship.
5. Thank Them and Keep Growing Your Relationship.
Don’t forget to express your appreciation, and leave them with some ideas on future linking opportunities. This way, they will remember you when you follow up, or they will want to follow up with you on their own accord.
This may sound counterintuitive, but removing links can actually help your site. Bad links or irrelevant ones can hurt ranking potential.
Before you go about disavowing them though, which can be a pain, you can use outreach to request domains to remove their links to your site.
Here’s what your link removal request should include:
Send From an Email Address With Your Domain.
If you’re outsourcing these requests or sending them from your personal Gmail account, recipients likely won’t trust you and ignore it.
Provide the What and the Why.
Briefly tell them why you’re reaching out, with the details they need. Start with the what – the link you want them to remove.
Simply say the following: “This is the page on your site that is linking to me [link], and this is the webpage on my site that your site is linking to [link].”
Then, lead into the why. In a concise way, tell them that you’re cleaning your site and needed their help in removing the link they have to you. Tell them that you’re not concerned about their legitimacy; rather, you just want to reduce your number of links.
Stay Courteous and Clear.
A lot of people lead with threatening legal action, which can really rub the recipient the wrong way. You have a simple task. Just be polite, and walk them through exactly what you want them to do.
End the message with a request that they let you know when they removed their link.
When big names review your products or services, not only does it get you backlinks, it also acts as social proof of your awesome product/service.
You can build a system like this to boost word of mouth and general social proof.
Start with Customer Release Forms.
This makes it easier to share compliments publicly as they happen. Otherwise, you might be waiting for sign off from the customer.
Use a Referral Plan.
Referrals and word of mouth are so powerful. In fact, McKinsey’s research found that word of mouth is the primary factor behind 20 to 50 percent of all purchasing decisions.
While it’s a small ask, you’re still requesting a customer spend their time and energy to refer others to you. Offer to pay a certain percentage to those customers who refer others to you.
For example, you could offer paying five percent of each referral a customer generates.
Offer Other Incentives.
There are other ways to encourage customers to advocate for you. If you’re requesting reviews, testimonials, social shares, etc., offer something in return.
Gifts, discount codes, and the like can really motivate people to share their experience and post reviews.
It’s no secret that link building is highly competitive, so you need to be strategic and persevere in all your efforts.
One of the best ways to stay ahead of the competition is by actually stealing backlinks from your competitors. You can accomplish this in many ways.
Build a List of Domain-Level Competitors and Page-Level Competitors.
Use SEO tools like Moz or Ahrefs to pull reports on competing domains who vie for the same keywords as you. Build a list of the most relevant competitors, based on how many keywords you have in common with them.
You will use this list in the following steps.
Review Links in Their Homepages.
For each competitor, look at the links pointing to their homepage. You can pull a report and assess why each linking domain would link out your competitors but not link to you.
You can determine this by reviewing the anchor text and the context of the content. So if you’re a SaaS company for example, you might see a list of email marketing automation tools linking to your competitors, but it’s not linking to you.
You can earn a quick backlink by reaching out to the domain this list is on. Simply explain why your product belongs on the list and even offer to write a blurb they can use.
Find Where They Guest Post and Follow Suit.
This is easy. If you have Ahrefs, you can simply search an author’s name from your competitor in the content explorer tool, then sift through the results to find what domains they’re published on.
If you don’t have Ahrefs, you can use Google. Simply search the following: “Author” + “guest post” -site:competitor.com -site:twitter.com.” This will pull a list of their guest posts already published.
When you find their guest posts, build your list and start sharing your expertise on those domains too!
Track Their New Links and Jump On New Opportunities.
Again, this is a tactic you can use with tools like Ahrefs. Simply add alerts for backlinks to their domain and voila – you have a list of new opportunities coming to you in real time.
Use the Skyscraper Technique, Then Reach Out.
This technique is so easy. Find what piece of content your competitor is getting a lot of links to, then create something better.
Once you have this even better masterpiece that you’re proud of, you can start reaching out to those domains linking to competitors. Show them how your content is better.
Nab Broken Links From Your Competitors.
Broken link building is another excellent way to earn backlinks. And the fact that you’re creating content to fix a broken link shows that you are doing the webmaster a favor.
Your link building outreach for this campaign is easier because you’re helping them improve their site.
Simply search your competitor’s domain in Ahrefs site explorer, look at the best by links report, then filter by 404. This shows broken links pointing to your competitors.
Find a referring domain that is high value, then create content that aligns with the broken link page’s content, and reach out, offering your new content as a fix for their broken link.
You will need a list of good-fit domains that accept contributing writers to get your guest blogging process up and running. That list you compiled from your competitor backlinks campaign will come in handy here.
If you don’t have a list, start building one. For each opportunity, confirm the three Rs:
- Is their audience relevant to your business?
- Are they respected in the industry?
- Are they ready to accept contributed content?
You might have those ideal outlets in mind. To find if they're accepting submissions, use the following search queries in Google:
- [target site] + guest post
- [target site] + contribute
- [target site] + blogging guidelines
- [target site] + guest blog
Once you have your list, start writing kickass content that fits the target site and their contributor guidelines. This will generate backlinks, as well as drive high value referral traffic.
Start Your Link Building Outreach Today
These link building outreach campaigns are bound to take you to the next level. Make sure you’re measuring all your efforts to optimize each approach.
If a campaign is underperforming, try to evolve it or scrap it all together. These link building outreach campaigns are your tools. Use the ones that work best for you.