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Link Building Outreach: Tips, Tools, and Tactics

16 min read

Done correctly, link building outreach can result in SEO success. A good outreach campaign creating high-quality backlinks can influence organic ranking and thus organic traffic.

SEO has changed dramatically over the past decades as search engine algorithms have changed. But backlinks are still helpful for ranking high in SERPs to get that high-value flow of organic traffic.

Backlinks bring organic traffic in two ways:

  • ‌Through people clicking on the link
  • Through the higher search engine ranking that quality links bring

Executing a good link building outreach campaign is time and labor-intensive, but you can use established processes to make it easier and more effective. We’ll go over the best tips, tools, and tactics to get high-value backlinks.

The most crucial factor is that blogging and content marketing brings a 97% increase in indexed links because influencers want to link to excellent material.

What is Link Building Outreach?

Link building outreach is the process of creating valuable links from other websites by reaching out to people on the Internet and asking them to link back to your site. The goals of outreach link building are to:

  • ‌Build brand awareness
  • Grow your target audience
  • Boost search engine rankings
  • Get organic and referral traffic
  • Increase sales

Your link building outreach program will do much better if you remember that you’re asking real people to help you. These are busy people. You’ll get the best results by keeping emails short, courteous, and respectful while offering people something of value in return for their assistance.

The value of one high-quality link from an authority domain is far greater than many low-quality links. The value you offer needs to be commensurate. You could offer:

  • ‌Useful advice
  • Valuable corrections that boost authority
  • Exclusive news and information
  • Content helping them engage their audience or sell their product

Whether you’re creating a link building program for your company or want to work as a freelancer, you’ll need some easily learned, hard and soft skills that you may already have.

Technical Skills

Having a good working knowledge of search engine behavior and SEO principles is necessary. The ability to use a link building outreach tool is also needed.

Social Media Knowledge

You’ll need social media skills because your link building outreach tool will be searching social media sites to find contact information. You may also want to use social media to build relationships with influencers before you ask for a link.

Ability to be Creative

Creativity is necessary when using a search engine to find influencers and design emails that will get opened and acted on. If you do blogger outreach, you’ll need it to write guest post pitches, SEO content, and create anchor text that naturally fits the content.

Adaptability

You’ll need to adapt to the constant changes in search engine algorithms and the many different personalities and sites you’ll encounter.

Patience and Tenacity

Patience is necessary when building domain authority. Time is required for recipients to open emails and search engines to crawl websites. Tenacity means sticking with a link building campaign until you see results.

Interpersonal Skills

Some people think link building is a numbers game but it’s not. You’ll be communicating with real human beings — busy people that you want to act and give you that backlink. Always think about what’s in it for them. There’s a narrow margin between being spammy and being engaging, so make sure to be the latter.

Impersonal guest post pitch with name and blog not included.
Don’t be like Roy!

‌Don’t be like Roy. Take the time to refer to the addressee and their website by name..

It takes time and patience to master your outreach link building skills, but if you are tenacious, you’ll soon be able to run a successful link building campaign. Here’s a deeper answer to, “What is link building outreach?

Link Building Outreach Process

There are three essential parts to creating a successful link building outreach process:

  • ‌Find influencers likely to link to your content
  • Get their email address
  • Send a personalized pitch

Find Influencers

Influencers are people or brands who have a following on the Internet. They have already built trust and loyalty with their followers. A recommendation from an influencer in the form of a backlink gains your site authority and traffic.

The easiest way to find influencers with a high probability of giving you a link is to search for a broken link or a mention that doesn’t already have a backlink. These people are already aware of you, so contacting them and getting action is relatively easy.

You can search manually to find other influencers likely to link back to your site or use a link building outreach tool to automate the process. To manually find influencers in your niche, you can:

  • ‌Set a Google alert for related keywords
  • Search forums for people answering related questions
  • Look for influencers who promote your competitors

Searching in the non-related industries your target audience also frequents is an excellent way to expand your hunt. Your competitors may not even be targeting influencers in non-related areas.

Remember that one quality link beats many low-quality backlinks. So farefully evaluate influencers and their site, looking at:

  • ‌How many followers they have
  • Their follower engagement rate
  • Their domain and page authority  
  • Their content quality

Get Their Email Address

Manually finding email addresses is very time-consuming, but many suitable applications like Hunter or Voila Norbert search for them. All link building outreach tools find email addresses.

To find an email address manually, try starting with LinkedIn. You can also look on social media profiles and websites for contact information. You’ll get the best results from a personal email address.

Send a Personalized Pitch

Using a generic, boring email is guaranteed to doom your link building outreach campaign.  You can use email templates, but create several versions yourself that are original and eye-catching. You want to be able to split test.

Start with a short, informative subject line, and personalize the greeting. No one opens emails addressed to “Info” or “Webmaster.” Quickly tell recipients precisely what you want them to do. If you want them to fix a broken link or insert a link in existing text, give them the location and quote the text verbatim. You can use humor or mention something you have in common, but be brief. Try to keep the email to less than 80 words.

(ctt: When pitching an editor, always think about what’s in it for them. Because it’s not about you — it’s about them. If you want to get them to respond, that is.)

Using a link building outreach tool helps your SEO strategy. It makes your link outreach process faster and more effective than doing it manually. However, a good content marketer is prepared to fall back on manual methods to reach that high-value link prospect who can give a massive boost to their digital marketing effort.

10 Tips to Improve Outreach Success

These 10 tips will improve your link building outreach success rate and your efficiency. But first, take a quick look at the most common areas that go wrong. Common mistakes are:

  • ‌Failing to do proper research
  • Writing poor subject lines
  • Lack of personalization
  • Not being relevant

Here are the tips to boost your marketing strategy and improve the success rate of your outreach emails.

Research

Increase your cold email outreach success rate by doing your research. When you read a prospect’s social media profiles, recent posts, and check out their website, you gain a wealth of information.

You’ll know how and where to start building your online relationship. And, likely, you’ll have an inspirational moment when you realize the best angle for your pitch.

Subject Lines

If your email open rate is below 5%, you probably need to fix your subject line. Great subject lines are short and informative. Convey the email’s purpose immediately. When you want someone to fix a broken link, say it. “Broken Link” may be enough to grab attention.

For getting links in mentions, show gratitude first.  “Thanks for mentioning (brand) on (location).” “Thanks for mentioning us in (article name).”

For an attribution link, put “Attribution request” in the subject line.

Personalization

Using a person’s name in your greeting demonstrates that you care enough to greet them personally. People often assume emails without personalization are spam. GetResponse reports that personalized emails have an open rate of 29.95%.

Be Relevant

Being relevant comes back to researching the prospect enough to establish a bond by keeping your subject matter pertinent to them. Keeping the subject in the body of your email congruent with the subject line is another type of relevancy that’s a must.

Use a Link Building Outreach Tool

Link building outreach tools take the leg work out of finding prospects. They also find email addresses, help you create personalized email templates, and track results.

Choose Prospects Carefully

The importance of finding high-quality, relevant prospects is worth repeating here. One link from a website with high topical authority relevant to your site is worth far more than multiple low authority links. Loganix has a free tool that checks domain authority.

Find the Right Contact

Finding the right person to contact in an organization increases cold email open and success rates. LinkedIn Sales Navigator works well for this process.

Interact Regularly

Before sending that first email to a high-value prospect, build a relationship on social media. Keep regularly interacting so that there is instant recognition when they receive your emails.

Build an Asset Bank

Have a list of quality pages and blogs on your site, and build links to them. Influencers will be much easier to get a link from when you have excellent content. Infographics, videos, freebies, and interactive content all attract links.

Track Your Results

Tracking results tells you when and where you need to tweak your link-building outreach campaign. Pitchbox has outstanding tracking tools.

4 Link Building Outreach Tools

These link building outreach tools will automate your link building process, saving you time while improving results. They help you find prospects and contact information, provide email templates, and track your results.

Ninja Outreach

NinjaOutreach
NinjaOutreach

NinjaOutreach is a complete CRM designed for digital marketers and small businesses. It searches blogs, YouTube, and Instagram for influencers and emails. Filters help you discover ideal prospects. You can:

  • Find emails and social media accounts
  • Email prospects using templates within the platform
  • Analyze and track results

The Chrome extension enables you to add sites and find contact information as you search.

BuzzStream

BuzzStream
BuzzStream

BuzzStream is a public relations management tool that offers one-stop link building and outreach. The Discovery feature returns influencer names and contact information using keyword search. BuzzStream states it provides these features.

  • Backlink management
  • Campaign management
  • Contact management
  • Email distribution
  • Link analytics
  • Rank tracking
  • Social media monitoring

BuzzSumo

BuzzSumo
BuzzSumo

BuzzSumo is very useful for identifying trending content opportunities and backlinking outreach. They also offer a free Google Chrome extension. Here are the features listed per BuzzSumo:

  • ‌Audience segmentation
  • Competitive analysis
  • Configurable alerts
  • Customer engagement dashboard
  • Impact scoring
  • Influencer tracking
  • Reputation management
  • Trend tracking

Find bloggers, influencers, and journalists sharing your competitors’ content. Jump on trends to expand backlinking outreach opportunities. The Brands Mention feature finds places your brand is mentioned but lacks a backlink. You can then send an email requesting that addition.

Pitchbox

Pitchbox

‌Pitchbox is designed for SEO agencies, in-house marketing teams, and brands to find influencers and build links. Pitchbox integrates with SEO providers and provides pipeline reports for all outreach phases. Customer support is excellent. The dashboard is easy to use. Pitchbox is slightly pricier than Ninja Outreach and BuzzStream, but users are happy paying the extra, judging from the reviews.

Want more tools? Find a great tool here or discover the perfect SEO tool on this complete list.

11 Link Building Outreach Tactics

Here are the top 11 successful link building outreach tactics you can use to create a link building strategy that gets results. The first three methods are easy, low-hanging fruit.

Link Reclamation

When doing link reclamation, you find, fix, and replace online content about your business or brand that’s been linked to improperly.

Unlinked Mentions

Find mentions, images, citations, or other references to your content that do not yet have a link back to you.

Broken Link Building

Links often get broken when sites remove pages or change URLs because of a site redesign. Siteowners who don’t typically monitor this may be grateful if you notify them of a broken outgoing link on one of their pages, along with a suitable replacement. As long as the content is of sufficient quality, it’s a no-brainer for the recipient to replace that broken link with your suggestion.

Nofollow Links

‌Nofollow links are used in forums and comments to stop black hat spammers from using them to get shady backlinks. However, judiciously placed nofollow links can still gain a flood of referral traffic.

Useful Content Creation

When you create more helpful content than anything currently on the Internet, other sites want to link to it, and Google ranks it high. Useful content usually:

  • ‌Answers a question
  • Presents new, unknown information
  • Explains how to do something

‌Using a content creation platform enables you to research and create the best content quickly.

Resource Page

Resource pages are often called pillar content. They’re used to create a topic cluster. The resource page covers a broad topic in-depth and is usually 2500 to 10,000 words long. Shorter blog posts covering subtopics link to the resource page.

Resource pages and topic clusters are very valuable because they establish authority in the eyes of Google, searchers, and other sites. Those other sites will link to both the resource page and to any relevant shorter blogs.

Email Outreach

Email is the most common method of communicating with potential link partners and one of the best ways to get backlinks. Everyone has seen examples of spammy outreach emails in their inbox. Following these guidelines will help you write better emails that get you backlinks:

  • Write a funny subject line playing on your link or brand
  • Use the person’s name to personalize the email
  • Keep it short — use fewer than 80 words
  • Follow up with that person

PR Outreach

The first step in PR outreach is researching who regularly publishes information on your topic. Social media is a great way to do this.

You should warm up PR people by email or phone before your event. When you share what is coming, this warm-up period gives bloggers, journalists, and writers time to create space for your story when it goes live. You can also receive feedback to provide information that ensures the story is accurate and gives you that link.

Influencer Outreach

Influencers are people in your niche who already have an established following that likes and trusts them. When the influencer recognizes you by publishing a piece of your content, interviewing you, or recommending you, you can get a flood of traffic. You can also get a high-authority link back to your site.

Being successful at influencer outreach means building relationships.

  • ‌Follow the influencer on social media
  • Like and comment on their content
  • Attend their events

After you have built the relationship, the influencer will know who you are and see the value you offer. Influencers need sources of fresh, quality content for their audience. You need their audience. It’s a win-win.

Social Media Outreach

‌Social media outreach is about building relationships. It’s not about spamming the people you need to motivate. For each social media outreach campaign:

  • ‌Identify your goal
  • Create a list of people who can help you achieve your goal
  • Complete your social media profiles because they’re going to be checked
  • Start engaging the people on your list by liking, commenting, and retweeting
  • Ask privately and politely for what you want
  • Keep nurturing the relationship regardless of the answer

Guest Posting

Guest blogging used to be the go-to method to get backlinks, but abuse and changes in the Google algorithm have made it less popular.

  • ‌Choose a blog in your niche
  • Research to come up with a killer blog idea
  • Pitch your idea to the blog owner
  • Personalize your outreach
Personalized guest post pitc.

Check what the site owner’s position is regarding links. Most don’t mind if the links are editorially relevant, but anything more than one or two to your own site is frowned upon. Blog owners will almost always give you a link in an author bio box, but it has less SEO value than one that’s in-content.

Takeaway

A‌lthough Google prefers that links to your content occur naturally, link building does not need to be artificial. There’s nothing wrong with reaching out to specific people to let them know of your content. But some ways are more effective than others.

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