Outreach, Backlinks, PR – call it as you will. It’s all about getting brand mentions and even better, links on external websites. The best way to put this into simple terms, imagine you want to buy a new phone. Do you go for the phone which all of your friends have been raving about – the people you trust have told you it’s a great phone – OR do you go for the phone which you’ve never heard of or seen mentioned anywhere? I know which one I’d choose! Outreach works in a very similar way, getting your brand name on trusted websites.
Brand awareness is one thing, but how does outreach contribute to your SEO efforts? A study done in 2020 indicates that links are still one of the top 3 ranking factors, but let us go back in time a little bit. Google reported in 2014 that over 400,000 manual actions are taken against websites every month by their webspam team and that’s only a fraction of the total number. Many other websites were penalised when the Penguin update rolled out in 2012. Before 2012, it was easy to get links to boost your search results, even if these links were spammy or of low quality.
- Dedicate the time to research
A huge part of outreach and link building is finding the best industry-based websites. Sticking with the phone theme, I have searched something a user might search before buying the iPhone, with terms like this we know they are showing strong intent of purchasing,
The very first listing on Google is not an Ad or even a place to buy an iPhone, it’s a long-form blog post talking about iPhone. If your website were to sell iPhone, it would be an idea to contact this external website to see if they are happy to link back to your website (bear in mind, sometimes there is a cost for this).
That’s one of the easiest ways to find your outreach, but it’s only really good for brand awareness, you know nothing about the website other than it ranks highly!
When undergoing the research stage you need to make sure you look at the following:
- Where the website ranks on Google
- The Domain Authority of that website. You can use tools such as SEMrush to find this, anything over 40 is classed as high authority
- Ask the website contact if they can provide you with stats on traffic and conversion rates of the website to get a better understanding of any referral traffic you may get
Collate a list in Google Sheets or Excel which holds all of your outreach research.
- Contacting the websites
If you are new to outreach and are starting from scratch with no contacts, this can be the longest and most strenuous part of the process. Unfortunately, I don’t have some magic way of getting people to reply, but I can provide a few top tips we’ve learnt over the years.
Email. The best and easiest way to approach other websites is via email, as 99% of the time, you can find an email address on a contact page. It is usually harder to find a direct phone number and not make it sound like a cold call! Therefore, we always go in with email first.
Imagine you have a big website and you get a lot of outreach emails coming in every day, what would you read to make one of those standout? That’s how you have to type your intro email to them, keep it professional but put a twist on it to make you stand out from the 100 other outreach and link placement emails. I have found an example below of a great approach:
Being biased towards the website always helps. It’s not always possible, but always helps!
A huge part of the contacting stage is keeping on track with which websites are cold, medium and hot – you can do this as a type of traffic light system. As the whole process of outreach is a lot of research and contacting, it’s important to keep this data organised.
Sorting your data also makes it much easier for future outreach projects.
Top things to include in an outreach email:
- Who you are
- Who your website or the client’s website is and the main goal of it
- Whether you have already written the content (if so, attach it) and if not you may want to decide between both parties which the content will focus on. Website owners often prefer this, as it means they can have their say.
- You have an agreed placement – Now What?
Woo! You found the perfect, relevant & high-quality website that have agreed to place an article on their blog which links back to your website. You have checked the domain authority which was a 67 (high!) and asked them for the average traffic stats, all looks good.
Based on the advice above, you should have already figured out whether you need to write fresh content or if you have a piece already typed up you can use – I always recommend using fresh content and that way both people can liaise on what works best for them and it builds an even greater relationship. The content needs to be of very good quality. If you are expecting to have content placed on a well-known website, the content should marry up with the quality of that website. If you struggle with writing content, you could always outsource this on People Per Hour or Fiverr, but make sure the person you choose is an expert in that industry!
Liaise with the website contact until the content is placed.
- Tracking Success from Links
The key thing you’re trying to do with Link Building is to build your website authority and it is extremely difficult to move the needle on this. One great article on a super high authority website, such as The Telegraph, might move the needle slightly but the idea of link building is to build and build each month.
Look at outreach as a year-long project rather than month by month and review domain authority every couple of months.
It is also important to check for any referral traffic which has clicked through from the external link. You can find this under Acquisition > Source/Medium > Referral in Google Analytics.
- A Summary
Once you have mastered link building the basic way, you can then start exploring other avenues such as PR, Podcasts & Influencer Outreach!
Remember that Outreach takes a lot of time and work but the pay-off shows some of the best results in SEO. The hardest parts are starting from scratch but one of the most important things is to build relationships with people – they are more likely to work with you for future projects!
If you want to work with an agency that can do this and more for you, book a free consultation today.
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