When we talk about link building or link acquisition, words often associated with an effective strategy are words like “scalability” or “automation”. So naturally, good old fashion outreach doesn’t seem too appealing alongside its alternatives. However, with the proper preparation and technique, SEO outreach can not only be surprisingly efficient, but highly effective at the same time. The key term there is “proper”.
A good SEO outreach campaign should see at least a 5% response rate. With the right set of tips and tools at your disposal, you should easily be able to crush that number. Let’s dive into the meat and potatoes of how to properly plan and implement a gnarly SEO outreach campaign.
Establishing Your SEO Outreach Targets
(guest blogging platforms, OSE, broken link finder, etc.)
The first step in any SEO outreach game planning is obviously finding influencers to outreach to right? So where are we going to find our targets? Fortunately for you, I’ve got three great ways to find some nice opportunities:
- Competitor Backlink Profile Method
Using a tool such as Open Site Explorer or Raven Tools, grab a list of the backlinks of some of your top competitors. Once you have your list, prioritize the backlinks into three categories: Quick wins, Strategic, and Impossibles.
While any link is technically possible, for the sake of time and scalability, anything that appears difficult you can nix. Quick win links are things such as quality directory submissions, blog comments on high PR blogs, etc. Strategic would be something like a guest posting opportunity, a resource page link etc. If you want to get super sexy, you can cross reference the backlink profiles of all your competitors and see what links they have in common.
- Google Advanced Search Operator Method
This is probably my favorite technique for SEO outreach because it involves some technical ninja-ing. Advanced search operators allow us to filter results within the search engines to only specific sites and pages we want to see. So in terms of outreach for this blog for example we might use some of the following operators:
- intitle:SEO inurl:links
- intitle:SEO “guest post”
The idea is by using two different variables, one to qualify your niche and one to qualify the opportunity, you should be able to find a large number of SEO outreach targets.
- Guest Blogging Community
Guest blogging is by and large one of the most popular ways of building links presently. A great source for finding link targets is any number of the top communities for guest bloggers. My two favorites are MyBlogGuest and BloggerLinkUp.
This step is what separates the pros from the joes, and is one of the factors that can make a campaign unsuccessful. It is crucial to take things are far as you can go when finding contact information for your targets. Here are two things I look for:
- Always find the most direct contact for the decision maker. Don’t go after the info@ email address, or the address of the business owner, when you might be able to find the address of the blog manager or website curator. Finding the right person to talk to can go a long way.
- Two outreach channels are better than one (or three for that matter). I typically look for not only email addresses, but Twitter handles, LinkedIn profiles, phone numbers and more. This is also important for next outreach step.
Creating a Plan of Attack
This is the second area where most slip up, and probably the most important area in any SEO outreach campaign. What we really need to focus on here is what we are saying to our targets, and more importantly why they should listen right? This is why it is imperative we come in with something they need or want.
For every type of link scenario this will be different. Obviously for opportunities from within the guest blogging community, they are looking for content. Come up with two or three compelling article briefs you can use as reply bait. For more general targets, use broken link building tactics, offer them some free SEO advice in return for a favor, the list can go on. The point is to get creative and force the need for a response. A girl who gets what she wants never sleeps with the guy on the first date right? Same premise here.
Now, to get to the scalability of all this, what we want to do is create email templates for each scenario. In the examples above, I would create one for guest blogging outreach, one for broken link building and one for SEO advice. Now a word of caution: just because I said the word “template” does not mean forwarding the same message over and over. You’ve seen what that looks like, and so has everyone else who has a website. Keep them generic enough, but leave areas for personalization. Something as simple as mentioning someone’s name can go a long way.
Now Show The World Your True Powers
Ready, set, go! Now, we all know if it were that simple, we’d be building 100 links a day right? While the plan I’ve set out above will definitely have your campaign set off on the right foot, it takes time, practice and testing to really see the true potential. Every situation and every niche are different, and after some time it will become apparent how to cater to your particular crowd. Play around with it and have some fun.