The perfect website isn’t built overnight—but if it were, no one would find it.
It’s not aesthetics that cause a website to rank, or the name behind it, or the platform it was built on. In some ways, it’s not even shoveling money into the Google machine. Websites are given visibility due to reputational networks, and backlinks are a quick and effective way to earn visibility for your site..
And, aside from organic search visibility, backlink outreach will garner more traffic for your site directly as well.
“How?” the reader asks.
“Stay tuned,” the article implores.
What is backlink outreach?
First things first, a backlink is a link from another website to yours, and outreach is the process of reaching out to other website owners, content creators, or other marketers with the goal of scoring a link from them.
When reputable and quality websites with a high domain authority link to your site, search engines like Google and Bing consider your site more trustworthy. The backlinks to your site, generally speaking, are considered trust signals.
📖 Dictionary time: "Trust signals," broadly defined, are the evidence points that inspire confidence in your brand online. ... Virtually every trust signal is a ranking factor in determining your site's search position. - Trustsignals.com
Link building through outreach can be beneficial to your website’s ranking as it appears on search engine results pages. If your website gets a backlink from quality websites related to what your site is offering, Google and other search engines are more likely to give your content more visibility.
An outreach attempt can look like sending an email asking to write a guest post for their blog in return for a backlink, or letting them know that a resource on your website could provide their readers more insight.
Depending on the size of your company or the department you work in, backlink outreach can be done in-house. For example, maybe your SEO team dedicates a certain amount of hours each week to cold emailing other businesses with various outreach attempts. You could also choose to outsource outreach if your budget allows for it.
Backlink outreach tactics
Ready to try your hand at sending an outreach email? Keep these tactics in mind for the best possible chance of getting a response, and better yet, a backlink. 🤞
Don’t waste their time
Think about the person on the receiving end of your email. Unless you see that their bio lists their title as “link builder” or “backlink coordinator”, they’re probably pretty busy. Also, you’re not the only person sending cold emails on a Tuesday afternoon, so they probably have at least ten emails in their inbox just like yours.
Don’t make the reader of your outreach attempt play 21 questions over the course of a long and drawn-out email chain to figure out you’re interested in a backlink. If you want the reader to say yes, give them as much information as possible upfront… without rambling.
Be straightforward and purpose the article or piece of content you want a backlink for with relevant anchor text so the reader knows exactly what you’re asking and can work to find a match for the link you’ve included.
Because when you think about it, simply asking for someone to link to a piece of content still leaves a lot of work on your recipient’s end. They still need to find a good spot for it that contextually matches your content, and then edit the website to add you link in.
A message like “I think [this piece of content] would be a great match in [this section of this article] and can be linked to with [this anchor text]” saves your recipient a ton of time, because at that point it becomes a simple matter of yes or no, rather than where they can fit your link, and how, and why.
Actually read their blog
Marketers open their inbox every morning and see the words “I love your content so much...can you link my article” about 30 times a day. This sort of email will not lend itself to a backlink and you’ve wasted their time and your time.
If you’re really invested in developing outreach skills, you need to take the time to read competing content and the blogs of businesses you’d like to partner with.
If you’ve found a place where a marketer can link your piece of content, let them know where. Does that article have a particularly well-done infographic? Let the reader know you think so. Or maybe it has an eye-opening statistic. Whatever the case may be, let the reader know you took the time to read their content and why your resource can be a great addition to it.
Otherwise, your “I love your content” line will only make them roll their eyes.
Believe me when I say that the reader of your backlink outreach can smell a templated email from a mile away. I mean emails that look like:
I just got done reading your blog. Wow! So informative. I’d really like to partner with your company as I try to rank my content. Can you link my blog?”
Nothing will find itself in the trash folder sooner.
Instead, see if you can find out a little about the person you’re emailing (in a non-creepy way). For example, I received an outreach attempt last week from someone who told me they thought my dog, Zeke, was adorable. This means that person spent 30 seconds on my Twitter profile and saw I post multiple pictures of Zeke a week. It also means they made an effort to make a connection.
And while I personally wasn’t able to help them in their backlink attempt, I forwarded their email to my coworker who can. I knew this person wasn’t using a template on me, and I could tell they actually read the blog they were referencing. And that is what made it stand out from the other seven I had in my inbox.
Reminder: Don’t get too personal. If you’re not getting a response, don’t make your next move adding that person on LinkedIn and sending them more outreach there. That’s spammy.
Don’t send too many follow-ups
One email is great. One follow-up email is fine. But anything more than that and you run the risk of coming off needy, annoying, spammy, and unprofessional.
If you’ve followed up on someone you haven’t heard back from and it’s still radio silence—that’s your answer, and it’s a no. Sending them another email that says, “Hey! Just bumping this to the top of your inbox” is not a strategy that will land you links. The reader isn’t going to respond with “Wow, thanks! Unsure how I missed this,” and then give you a backlink.
The more professional you remain, the better, and a constant barrage of follow-ups will not get you to your backlink goal. The only place it’s going to get you is sent to the Spam folder.