Imagine, you have spent several weeks creating your new website or piece of killer content. You decide to take a few more days to carefully edit and refine your work. The big day arrives, and it’s time to publish your work. After a day or two, you see that nothing is happening, but you remain optimistic. It takes a while to get traffic, right? Weeks later, you notice that the only traffic you are seeing is from Google bots.
Sound familiar? Anybody who has tried their hand at internet marketing knows this feeling. The pack is further separated into those who prevail and search for strategies and those that keep doing the same thing and wonder why nothing is changing.
You start looking for answers, and one of the potential solutions that you keep seeing is experimenting with outreach strategies.
What does outreach mean?
Outreach is a search engine optimization strategy that helps you promote your content. It is usually done because of the potential keyword ranking that you can gain. But what many are missing is that on the way, you will create fantastic relationships that will last you for years.
In practice, this means that you will create a mailing list of people you would like to reach out to and contact them. Be it through LinkedIn, outreach services, or sending them a simple personal email.
This post will go over some of the most popular outreach strategies that may help you promote your website or a particular piece of content.
Outreach strategies in detail
Pleasantries are behind us, we went over the basic introduction to outreach as a strategy. In this section, we will look at the most important part — actionable tips on how to apply outreach to your own business.
Keep in mind that some niches may be better fitted for particular outreach strategies, but you can only know what works for you after very thorough testing.
Let’s get into it.
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Please do not think of this as a marketing term, it is just my view on things. In “classic outreach” you would compile lists of websites with posts related to content that you create.
Then you can write an email to the editor saying, “Hi, I wrote a great piece of content, add my link to your post.” High-profile websites receive tens of such emails per day and the conversion rate for such an approach will be minimal.
For this outreach strategy to succeed, your content must be very unique and valuable, so that people in your niche will want to link to it. While this is rare, it may happen and is a great way to improve your authority.
Let’s go over a couple of points for this most widespread outreach approach.
Personalization vs Automation
This is an unending discussion, like with single opt-in vs double opt-in. We will not uncover any kind of mystery when we say that the solution is somewhere in between. There is no point in sending your cold outreach pitch to hundreds of email recipients. Without analysis, knowing who you are contacting and why, you will just get a load of bounces and spam flags — making every future email coming from your domain fall into the spam folder automatically.
Often marketers put more of their focus on automation. However, there is a fine line between automation and sounding robotic. Nowadays, people know if your email was sent by an automation service or not. The biggest giveaway is that your email is too long. An experienced content manager will see an automated template email a mile away.
To give you a basic example, bold parts are easily automated:
If my information is correct, you are responsible for the content at ABC.com.
While going through your site, I had many ideas on topics for ABC.com, may we discuss some of them?
Here are some of my previous works:
Thank you for your time and consideration,
Keep the emails short, nobody wants to read a two-pager, and the longer your email gets — the more automated it looks.
There is no harm in automation, but keep in mind that on the other side of the email is another person. So always think of what type of email you would like to receive.
When starting your outreach efforts, you will inevitably be offered to buy links on pages. Do not do it. First of all, pages with authority, those that matter to your ranking, will not ask for payment. It is not their business model, so they just pick very carefully which type of content they allow.
Having said that, pages that offer paid links made the same offer to hundreds of others. Meaning that their website is full of paid links and posts. Decreasing the value of the site and, therefore, also decreasing the value of your link.
Many sites have a resource page. You can frequently find such pages on university sites; various blogs and business websites also have resources pages where they list information resources or tools that they like.
The goal here is to have a valuable piece of content that would be a great addition to the existing resource page. Or possibly it could be considered as a substitute for an older link that is not up to date anymore.
In my case, this worked well with my post about YouTube to mp3 converter. There are no affiliate links, it is not competing with anything, it is just a list of tools that you can use for video conversion. So how do you do it?
Head to Google. Let’s assume that we have an article about golf that we are looking to promote. We can try the following search queries:
- golf inurl:resources
- golf inurl:links
- golf intitle:resources
And other variations. What it does is give you pages the URL or Title contains the keyword “golf.”
We get a bunch of results like these:
You can see that we tried the first and then the fourth. The last one looked like a good match:
For the next step, you need to find the site owner’s contact email. It is usually on the site or you can use some contact finding tools to save some time.
Now, contact the editor and ask them if they would like to put a link to your valuable content about golf.
If you write a detailed piece of content that includes several companies, a guide on a niche topic, FAQ, and a review of many brands, you may approach the brands and ask them if they would like to link to your guide which also reviews their product.
Particularly smaller companies are glad to see some exposure and you may get a collaboration going. Usually, the more niche you go, the better this approach works.
Similar to the previous tip but with a slightly different approach. Many blogs and websites have a section called link roundup. The idea remains the same but now you will divert your search in a bit of a different direction:
- “Keyword” + “weekly roundup”
- “Keyword” + “weekly link”
- “Keyword” + inurl:roundup
- “Keyword” + intitle:roundup
You can also try to search for “best posts of the week” and similar terms. This will give you a list of the best blogs or posts that are connected to the provided keywords. Here is a quick example:
Going through the first link we will come here:
That is exactly what we are looking for. If we have content related to personal finance, we can reach out to the blogger and ask them to consider featuring our piece in their next roundup.
From here, it is pretty much the same as working with a resource page. Get the contact details, and reach out to the responsible person.
In this strategy, we will be looking for broken links that lead to content similar to what we have produced, and inform the website editor about it. We are both helping the editor because nobody wants to have broken links on their site while trying to promote our content at the same time.
For this outreach strategy, we will need Ahrefs. Let’s assume that you have a great post on dog beds. By great, we mean it provides actual value by talking about various types of dogs and beds. Your post should detail which brands are good and which are not, what the bed should be made of, and so on. Not a copied and pasted text with a bunch of affiliate links.
To get started, go to the Content Explorer section and enter “dog beds” and choose “In Title,” after, we set results as descending by the number of referring links.
We found a good domain ranking link, with 163 referring domains, that is marked as 404. If we go to that link we will see:
To investigate further, go into Backlink Profile, to see which domains are linking to this broken page. We got this:
These are potential leads to contact, inform them about the broken link on their page, and ask them to link to our content which is up to date and not broken.
This outreach strategy is a bit harder to automate, as you will be writing a lot of personalized emails. The idea is very simple and was nicely illustrated by Ahrefs SEO statistics.
They created a new post compiling 63 SEO Statistics. They go into depth with the newest information and curated content:
After this great piece of content was created, one of the strategies that they used was to search for SEO resources pages or SEO statistics links from other pages. Check them out and then write to the editor saying that the information that they have is outdated, and they might want to have the newest resource which is their new post.
Ahrefs has created a three-part case study based on updated SEO statistics content. They describe in detail how they got links to it. Keep in mind that Ahrefs is a known and strong brand, so getting backlinks is easy for them.
Everyone has come across a piece of content in your niche that is just horrible. It is 400 words of incoherent blabber, yet they rank and have backlinks. How did that happen?
Possibly, the links are historical and when people were linking to it, it was good content that was changed later.
Research websites that link to this type of content, and outreach to them. Show them the huge difference in quality between the existing content and your new shiny content piece — it should be easier for you to get positive replies.
Are you a specialist in a particular niche? Great, look for journalists and press publications in your field. Send an introductory email, explaining your background and professional knowledge.
Journalists are frequently looking for sources to comment on various articles that they are writing. So while this is a long shot strategy — it is good to start building relationships early.
Another way to approach this is to use Help A Reporter. The platform connects journalists and industry experts. So after registering and filling out your preferences you will start receiving emails like this:
You can receive emails on a wide variety of topics up to 3 times a day.
If you click on any link, you will see the details about the topic that the particular journalist is covering. These journalists are looking for quotes from experienced people. So they will also put the question that they need the answer for.
You will reply with around 100 words, and if your quote is used, you will get a citation and a link. Help A Reporter is a popular service so your quote will not be chosen too often, but you can get valuable links this way just by writing up a couple of sentences.
This is quite a niche strategy, but worth checking out if your content and knowledge are related to something where you can write How-to posts.
There are many guides on the internet on how to do things, it is one of the most popular types of content. When researching for How-to posts on your topic, in the same manner as you do research for Resource Pages and Link Roundups, you might stumble across a post where it seems that a step is missing. Or possibly there is outdated information.
Let the editor know that there is a mistake or that you can add to the information that they have provided. As in the 404 strategy, you are offering help and suggesting your work to help them with their content.
Final tips for successful outreach strategies
Outreach is not a sprint. You will not get links in one month. It may take quite some time before you build your website and your blog.
That being said, many people do not like outreach as they feel that it is too pushy and spammy. In most cases it is true. A lot of outreach I receive is poorly executed and I have no interest in replying. While in this post, we went over several angles on how to do outreach, there are a few tips that are a common denominator for whatever strategy that you may choose:
- Be Brief — nobody wants to read a wall of text. A couple of sentences should get your proposal across.
- Be Polite — do not get salty about it. Always send a thank you email, no matter how harsh the rejection was.
- Be Helpful — what is in it for the editor? Why should they help you? Make sure you provide some kind of value.
- Be Humble — the vast majority of people you will outreach to are professionals in their field. They can see through your pitch. Do not think that you are the smartest one in the room, you are not.
- Be Friendly — do not demand, do not push, do not be aggressive. You will get nowhere. Keep your composure and be friendly in any situation
Most importantly — Be consistent.