In this article, we’re going to cover how to do blogger outreach that leads to backlinks. And this may very well be the most important lesson in this entire module because nearly all link building tactics require some sort of email exchange.
So today, we’ll cover the primary objective of blogger outreach, two common approaches, and I’ll break down the anatomy of a good quality outreach email. Let’s get started. So the primary objective of blogger outreach is to convince those with large targeted audiences to talk about you. And from the perspective of an SEO, you want them to link to your website.
Now, outreach doesn’t mean broadcasting, meaning, you shouldn’t be sending every single person the exact same email like you would through email marketing. For example, this outreach email that I got is what typical blogger outreach looks like today. First of all, I can see that they didn’t even take a second to check what my name is when literally two-thirds of all pages on my personal site have my full name on them. Instead, they stuck with the generic “there,” used it in a mass mailing software, and broadcasted it out to hundreds, maybe even thousands of people. But the name thing isn’t that big of a deal. Second, this is clearly a generic templated email with zero consideration for the recipients. The person says “I’m writing because I saw your post here.” Then they didn’t even take a second to proofread the email. And their justification for me to link to them is because “it fits well in my post.” On top of that, the person followed up with me three more times with nearly the exact same email all sent within the same 30-minute period. This, ladies and gentlemen, is called spam. And the results of these kinds of emails lead to nothing. The page the person wanted me to link to got a total of 2 backlinks and both of them are irrelevant and look like they’ve been paid for.
And those backlinks aren’t moving the needle since the page gets zero organic search visits. These kinds of emails along with hundreds of others in my inbox are prime examples of why you need to write good quality emails. Otherwise, you’ll just blend in with the rest of the spam people get on a daily basis. After all, these are unsolicited emails. Now, to be clear, it doesn’t mean that you can’t use some sort of template to send a lot of emails efficiently. For example, I literally just got this email in my inbox and it says: “Hey Sam, I just published a roundup post about the Best Personal Blogs to Read and I featured you in it” — and that’s a link to his post. Then he explicitly says: “But I’m not looking for a share or anything like that.
I just wanted to say thank you for all the inspiration you’ve brought to the blogosphere and digital marketing world. Best of luck in your endeavors and keep up the good work on Ahrefs‘ website channel.” This email didn’t come to my Ahrefs email account. It came to the one on my personal site. So he clearly did a bit of digging before sending the email and I’m sure he sent a similar message to all 117 people he featured. So you might be thinking: what’s the point of this email if he’s not asking for anything? We’ll get to that later in this lesson. Now, the first email that I just showed you is one of the common approaches to blogger outreach. It’s called “the shotgun approach” where you build a broad list of targets, load them up into an outreach tool, and then blast out emails to anyone and everyone.
The opposite approach to this is the sniper method. This is when you choose targets carefully based on a tight set of criteria and then send personalized emails. Of the two methods, we recommend going with the sniper approach because shotgunning emails to anyone and everyone is a surefire way to burn bridges. Plus, no one likes spam. And for that reason, the rest of this lesson will be centered around the sniper approach. So before we get into actually crafting your outreach emails, let’s quickly talk about who you should be contacting and how to find their email addresses. In general, you’ll want to contact the author of the post if they work for the website. For example, this is a post written by Joshua Hardwick on the Ahrefs blog. Seeing as his profile states: “Head of Content @ Ahrefs,” you know he works there and controls what gets published on the Ahrefs‘ blog. Now, for this post by Josh, there wouldn’t be any use in contacting him because he doesn’t work for Sitepoint. In this case, you’d want to contact the editor of the blog. To find who that person is, you can check places like the website’s About or Team page, their “Write for us” page if they have one, or their company’s LinkedIn profile. Now, to actually find the person’s email address, the easiest way is to check Contact and About pages.
This works best for websites with one author. For websites that have multiple people involved, like Sitepoint or Ahrefs, you usually won’t find individuals’ email addresses on their site. So to find these emails, you can use a tool like Hunter.io, go to their email finder tool, and just search for their first and last name as well as the domain. Hunter will then give you their best guess. In this case, they’re wrong, but the success rate is generally quite high. Alright, so if you’ve done the work for the lessons in this module to this point, then you should have chosen one of the 3 tactics I outlined, created a list of prospects, vetted your list, and found some email addresses. So it’s time to actually write the pitch. Now, while there isn’t exactly a streamlined formula for every outreach email you send, I want to talk about the anatomy of a simple outreach email that has been effective for me for many years now. And there are 5 main parts to a typical outreach email. First is the subject line. The goal of the subject line is simply to get them to open the email. Otherwise, there’s no chance at getting a response.
But you don’t want to clickbait them because that’ll only leave a bad impression. So when you’re writing a subject line, you want to briefly and accurately describe why you’re emailing them and ideally, evoke curiosity. If we look back at my guest blogging outreach email from the previous lesson, I showed you a hypothetical pitch where I asked if I could write a post for a golf site and share data I have on the best golf balls for high handicappers. So I might use a subject line like: “New data: best balls for high-handicappers.” In my opinion, the “new data” part evokes curiosity and the rest of the subject line explains the topic of the email.
The next part is the introduction. And while there are numerous ways to write an intro, I think it’s best to start by telling them why you’re emailing them. And the goal of this part is to get them to read the next part of the email. For example, with our guest posting sample email, I said: “I was digging through your site and saw that you have a couple of posts on the best golf balls for kids and for distance. But I was pretty surprised to see that you don’t have one for other types of players (ie. seniors).” Now, I will admit that the first sentence could definitely be stronger, but I’m basically saying that you’ve done this and this, but looks like you’re missing out an opportunity here. The next part of the email is qualification and justification. Simply asking someone for a favor and expecting them to see a mutual benefit is naive. You need to show them why you’re qualified and justify the pitch that we’ll get to in a second.
For example, if you’re contacting someone to guest post, then explain why they should accept your post over potentially hundreds of other submissions. If you’re asking them to add your link to a page on their site, give them an actual good reason why they should. So in our guest posting sample, you’ll see that I said: “Being a high-handicapper myself, I spent hundreds of dollars on balls and countless hours on launch monitors to find the best ball for me.” So the fact that a) I mention I’m a high handicapper and b) I’ve tested numerous balls and got a factual data from launch monitors, qualifies and justifies what I’m about to pitch, which again, is a guest post about the best golf balls for high handicappers. Now, to really drill in on the concept of qualification and justification, let’s look at an example email for the Skyscraper technique.
A little while back, we did some outreach to get links to our blog post on SEO statistics. So we emailed people with an email that looked something like this: Hi [name], I saw you mentioned how 93% of online experiences begin with a search engine on your page about how to do keyword research.” That’s our reason for contact. We then went on to say: “That stat is actually 14 years old. More recent research (2019) suggests that this number has gone down to 68%. I think it’s lower because social and other sources now account for around 1/3 of traffic.” That’s our qualification and justification for what we’re about to pitch. And obviously, the next part of the email is the pitch. The pitch essentially includes your ask as well as your value proposition. And generally speaking, the stronger your value proposition, the higher the chance of getting a link. So for our guest posting example, I said: “If you’re open, I’d love to write a post for you about how to find the best golf balls for hacky golfers like myself.
” And here’s my value proposition: “I’m happy to share all of the data and stats, which I think will help people make an informed decision as they shop through your store.” So not only are they getting data for free, but I’m showing them how that can bring value to their bottom line. Now, it’s not always easy to think of a solid value proposition. For example, in our SEO stats email, our pitch was: “We published this and a few other fresh SEO stats here: [link]. Not sure if you’re actively editing posts, but might be worth an update if you are? No pressure 🙂 So what exactly is the value proposition? We’re helping bloggers keep their content up to date.
In fact, we didn’t even directly ask for a link, yet we were still able to pick up 27 backlinks. We actually have a full 3-part article series on this exact case study, so I’ll link that up in the description, and I highly recommend checking it out. Alright, the last part of the email is a simple one-liner to keep the conversation rolling. Simply put, you don’t want to end your email with a cold hard pitch. The purpose of your first email should be to start a conversation. So you might say something like… Is that something you’d be open to? Is there anything I missed? What do you think? Do you agree with our conclusion? Or whatever. Now, this is just a basic template you can use as you start blogger outreach. But I don’t want you to limit yourself within this box. All you’re really doing is talking to people and starting to build some kind of relationship. Just think about it like an in person encounter.
You wouldn’t go to a party and ask a complete stranger to buy you a drink. You might strike up a conversation, connect with them on a common interest, and maybe buy the first round of drinks expecting nothing in return. And as a result, they might want to reciprocate by returning an act of kindness. Again, the goal of the very first email you send is simple: start a conversation. And this brings us back to this outreach email that I got. The person who mentioned me on their site specifically told me that he’s not looking for a share or anything like that. And he literally just wants to say “thank you.” So what did that accomplish?
- I actually read his email.
- I responded to him and said thanks for the mention.
- should he email me again,
I’ll probably open it because I’ll recognize his name. So while there will be times where it makes sense to ask for the link or guest posting opportunity right away, there are a lot of times when it makes more sense to just start that conversation and see where it leads. The final tip I want to leave you with is to only use your best work when sending email pitches.
You don’t want to email anyone and everyone for every single piece of content you create. For example, if you had a golf site and you created a post on a topic like… “what is a handicap,” there’s nothing interesting or unique about it yet it’s still a topic you would probably want to cover. Coming up with a good reason for them to link to you on this topic would be tough. Plus, time is finite. So it’s worth doing outreach for your best content because there’s a higher probability that it’ll result in backlinks. Alright, so with everything you’ve learned up to this point, you should be able to create content for your website that’ll get traffic from search engines.
But there’s still one piece to the fundamentals of SEO that we haven’t covered and that’s technical SEO. We’ll be publishing that module first thing next week so make sure to share so you don’t miss out on that. And if you’re visiting this article at a later time, then check the description because we’ll have links to all of the other articles in the course there. I’ll see you in the next lesson.