If you create content on any level, there’s a good chance that you’ve received an email from someone asking for you to add one of their links to your site. This is a very popular backlinking tactic that when done well, can benefit both parties. But, these tactics have also been badly abused. The goal of this post is to give you some insight into this link building approach as well as some ways to tell if the persona reaching out is someone you want to engage with
While there are a number of ways to build links, one popular way is email outreach. This avenue grew to even higher levels of popularity with the growth of Brian Dean’s “Skyscraper Method.” Here is a brief overview of the process.
Step 1: Pick a Keyword to Target
Step 2: Create Better Content
Step 3: Get High-Quality Links Through an Email Outreach Campaign
While in theory, this strategy is a good idea and can work well in a number of niches, it’s not a full-proof one. In fact, there are a lot of people who have invested a lot of time and energy trying to execute this without much success. The key to any SEO or digital strategy is to learn from others and adapt ideas to fit your unique needs and strengths.
Now, I want to make one thing clear. Email outreach for link building can be very effective when done properly. Unfortunately, many people on the web just scrape ideas and run with them without putting much thought or empathy behind them.
So, let’s look at a few examples both good and not so good backlink outreach emails.
Let’s start with looking at a few of the most common things I see in bad link outreach emails.
This first email is so obvious that they didn’t read my site or take the time to ensure that the automated tool they were using even pulled a relevant link. Notice the “post” they want me to add a link to. It’s not a post, but my blogs RSS feed.
If you are going to send an email asking for a link, make sure you actually take time to see that the page your asking for a link on is relevant to your request. This went straight into my spam folder.
(Side note: I have seen this exact same email template at least 1000 times)
While this second email is about guest posting (which they’ll add a link to their site for sure), it still is poorly executed. The email itself isn’t the problem, it’s the context. The blog they are referring to has nothing to do with them vertically. Sure, the customer loyalty part is connected, but our blog is focused on marketing and digital services, not POS systems.
Links should make sense on a number of levels. Just because we are talking about a similar topic, doesn't mean it’s a good fit. When reaching out to sites that you believe you can add value to, make sure that they not only fit contextually but thematically and vertically. It doesn’t have to be the same industry, but it should be naturally related.
This next email isn’t terrible, but it lacks a few things that made me decide to ignore and trash.
As you can see, they were polite, suggested a link that made sense and made a nice ask. Where I thought this email fell short was the “why”. Why should I link to your site? Who are you with and what makes you credible? These are very important questions to know the answers to before ever adding a link to your content. If they would have taken time to introduce themselves and build credibility, I may have engaged in a conversation.
The two emails below aren’t perfect, but they were good enough to get me to stop and read. While I didn’t add their link, I was at least intrigued enough to see what they had to say and respect their viewpoint.
What I liked about this one was the individual established credibility up front. While title dropping doesn’t always work, knowing this person was hiring up on the totem pole let me know I could possibly engage in co-marketing with them.
They also took time to find a contextually appropriate link and make a nice ask. But what makes this great is that they offer to promote my content as well. When asking for something, always be willing to give something. The law of reciprocity works.
This email has a lot of the same wins as the one above, but they take it to another level. They show that they at least looked at our post by calling out our author. This is huge. If you want a “link” from someone you should at least have the decency to read their content.
They even take the time to acknowledge they are emailing me “cold.” Mad respect for this move, because they show empathy.
Lastly, not only do they tell me they will share our content, they tell me where they want to promote it. Transparency builds trust!
Link outreach can work if it’s done right. It’s also very time consuming and you usually don’t get a huge response so be ready for a lot of rejection. With that being said, you can increase your chances if you do the following:
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