How To Perform SEO Blogger Outreach Like A Champion
Thanks to Google’s never ending updates and fast track transition to an artificial intelligence-based algorithm, anybody even thinking of doing SEO must focus one thing and one thing alone. The name of the game is to earn links, not to build them. You need to wrap your mind completely around that central fact. Otherwise, you’re going to be doing SEO with either obsolete, or soon-to-be obsolete strategies.
There is some good news, though: Links are still the most important SEO signal. The bad news? You can’t just build them in the same way you did in the past. You can’t build them yourself. In fact, if you want to run a really tight SEO ship, you can’t build them at all. That is not a winning strategy. There are some link building techniques that still work now, but it’s anybody’s guess as to how long they’ll continue to work.
If you’re serious about doing SEO, forget about building your links. Start earning them instead.
The problem with earning links..
The problem with earning links is the fact that too many online publishers still believe in the idea of “build it and they will come.” Maybe this worked 10 or 15 years ago when Google actively sought out new content through blog networks, but this no longer works. You need to get out of that mindset. By simply publishing content, you’re not automatically putting yourself in a position to earn links.
You have to be more proactive in earning natural links. Outreach is crucial. You can’t earn links if potential link sources haven’t even been exposed to your content. I hope you see how this works.
The Answer: Adopt an effective link generation process
The key to earning links with your content is to first build awareness, establish credibility, and finally get niche players to consider your site a resource. There are easier ways to generate links, but they don’t necessarily involve a strong editorial process.
Put it this way, the easier it is for you to earn a link from a particular source, the more likely you should avoid that source. Why? If it’s very easy for you to get a link from that source, it would also be easy for your competitors. You’re not really getting a competitive advantage getting links from easy sources.
You have to use a content-based process where you earn links precisely because your content has established a certain degree of credibility and authority in your niche.
Shotgun links don’t look natural
Another problem with link generation is the fact that it just doesn’t look natural. If you use a service or a system that pulls links from third party websites in a short period of time, this is going to look very unnatural.
Real quality-based links accumulate over an extended period of time. The great thing about reaching out to establish niche-specific blogs and websites is that you automatically solve this natural link problem. Outreach spreads out your link generation over an extended period of time because these third party sites have different editorial approval timelines. Some can approve you fairly quickly. Others drag their feet. The good news is that this variation makes your link generation pattern look more natural.
The key to effective link earning outreach? SOLID PLANNING
To earn links, you have to reach out to niche-specific third party sites. Once these sites are exposed to your content and they like what they see, they either link to your content or they ask you to produce custom content for them with your link on it. Whatever form it takes, you need to get out there and reach out to these link sources. They’re not going to come to you in most cases.
The biggest problem that you will face once you are able to accept and understand this is that it’s too easy to do things by the seat of your pants. It’s too easy to just try to do things by impulse and just send out tons of outreach emails to anybody and everybody that could somehow or someway link to your content. That is a sure recipe for disaster.
As the old saying goes, “If you fail to plan, you’re planning to fail.” You have to be both methodical and systematic with your link generation efforts. Otherwise, you would end up investing too much effort only to settle for very little and expensive results.
By having a solid game plan that would guide how you reach out to these third party sites, you put a lot of predictability and order to what otherwise would have been a totally random system ruled by both impulse and luck.
Another great advantage of using a methodical and systematic approach is that this prevents you from burning out too quickly. If you do things by impulse and don’t have a method for dealing with setbacks or rejections, you might end up feeling so discouraged that you just give up. If you have a system, on the other hand, you would be able to roll with the punches and keep your outreach efforts going until you achieve predictable results.
Always keep your eyes fixed on Return On Effort (ROE)
Before I go into my suggested step by step process for earning links through SEO outreach, I need to cover one very important concept. Too many online publishers, marketers, and SEO specialists ignore the concept of return on effort. In fact, many of them don’t even know what it is.
Make no mistake about it, if you want to be truly successful with your link earning efforts, you have to keep your eyes fixed on return on effort. Return on effort is just a fancy way of saying that you should aim to get the most value for every minute you invest in any kind of activity. There are many ways you could earn links from many different sources. You need to analyze these alternatives and see which alternative produces the highest return for the least amount of time invested.
Always keep ROE in mind, otherwise you might end up spending your wheels barking up the wrong tree and pouring good money after bad. You don’t want to waste your resources. It doesn’t matter how big your operations may be. You need to conserve your capital and most importantly your time.
By focusing on ROE and using it as a guide in all your link generation activities, you increase the likelihood that you will get maximum value for the time you invest in SEO outreach. With that said, these are the steps that I recommend for truly effective SEO outreach.
Step #1: Be clear about your objectives
Of course you’re trying to earn links, that much is obvious, but is there anything else you’d like to achieve? Maybe you’d like to have a better brand perception among your target audience members. Maybe you’d like to establish a name for yourself in the small network of niche websites, online resources, and blogs that your website is a part of. Maybe you want to establish your target website as a credible authority in your niche. Finally, maybe you would like to get more direct traffic by exposing your brand to other niche players’ cultivated traffic base.
These are just some of the long list of potential additional objectives you need to keep in mind. The big problem with SEO is when you focus too much on just trying to earn links. You actually end up leaving a lot of money and additional value-added benefits on the table in your mad dash for backlinks.
Pay attention to these other benefits and try to work them into your SEO outreach and you can end up walking away with more than just a nice backlink. If you play your cards right, you can get an immediate boost in your income as well.
Step #2: Laser-targeted niche profiling
You need to understand that since high value SEO outreach requires a heavy investment of time, you need to have a laser focus on the potential sources of links you’re going to approach. You can’t use a shotgun approach where you will target anybody who can link back to you. Instead, you need to focus on websites and other online properties that are either directly or indirectly related to your niche.
To take things to another level, you might also want to think outside of the box. While a particular website may not be obviously related or even indirectly related to your niche, it may turn out that a lot of your target audience members actually hang out at that website or seek out that website. Since there is a strong correlation of interests there, that seemingly unrelated third party website might be a good SEO outreach target.
At this stage you have to two choices in terms of labor. You can either do all this yourself or hire a virtual assistant. Again, I would suggest that you pay attention to the concept of ROE. If you think that you would get more value out of your time by hiring an assistant to do the grunt work and research, then by all means do that. However, if you think you’re going to get more value and better results by doing things manually yourself, then you should do that instead.
Step #3: Filter by potential link quality
Now that you have come up with a long list of potential link sources, the next step is to run these domains through InternetSiteExplorer.org or use your Moz Bar to see their domain authority. Also, you can check out Majestic SEO and look up the trust flow score that particular site. Of course, the higher the scores, the better.
Again, at this stage, you might consider outsourcing because this can be quite labor-intensive. Still, if you think you’re going to get better value by doing things yourself, then go ahead and do that.
Step #4: Filter based on contributed content receptivity
At this stage you’re going to click through the websites that you’d like to earn links from. Let’s face it, some blogs and authority sites simply won’t link to you regardless of how buddy-buddy you are with the people behind them. Save yourself a lot of wasted time and outreach effort by simply checking out potential link sources for indication of link receptivity.
One indicator of this is the frequency with which these websites link out to sources they quote in their blog posts or pages. If you see this happening frequently and you notice that the links don’t just go to very big brands in your niche, then there’s a good likelihood that this website may be receptive to linking to your content.
Another dead giveaway, of course, is when a website has a dedicated page for contributed content. Usually, you would see phrases like “write for us” or “guests’ posts wanted, that kind of thing. Be on the lookout for that.
If you notice that a particular online resource doesn’t link out too often, you might want to hold off giving up on that website just yet. Look for infographics. If they feature lots of infographics from third party sources, then this can give you an opportunity to get links from that site.
The great thing about infographics is that they’re less obtrusive and they can add tremendous value to existing posts or resources. Even websites that are very stingy with their backlinks might come around if you offer them infographics that add value to their existing content.
Step #5: List out all available ways to contact potential link sources
By this stage you’ve probably taken what was once a very long list and turn into a very short list. You’re definitely on the right track if that’s the case. Once you have reduced your list and thoroughly filtered it, the next step is to visit these websites once again and list out all the possible ways you can reach out to them. I am of course talking about blog comments, social media accounts, email, addresses, and contact form URLs.
Step #6: Build credibility by investing in engagement
This is where things get really intensive. This is the stage where you’re going to invest quite a bit of time. As I’ve mentioned earlier, when you’re doing link outreach, you should not do outreach for easy link sources because chances are you’re only wasting your time with such websites. Why? Your competitors can also easily get links from them. You don’t get much of a competitive advantage.
Your best bet would be to invest the right amount of time getting links from notoriously difficult link sources. Why? You get a tremendous competitive advantage because your competitors are not going to go through the time and bother of trying to earn links from those sources. Chances are those links are of much higher value because fewer websites have them. Do you see how this works?
To get this to happen, you need to invest a decent chunk of time in engagement. The first step is to comment on the blogs that you’re interested in earning links from. These comments must not promote your target website. Also, you have to engage using high-value engagements. Don’t just say worthless tripe like, “I like your post,” or, “Great post.” That doesn’t do anybody any favors. That doesn’t help anybody.
You need to stand out by offering actual insights. Maybe you can call them out on errors that you see. Maybe you can post a link to a provocative blog post written by a third party site. Whatever the case may be, you need to get your name out there. Get them to understand in clear terms that you know what you’re talking about and you have distinct opinions regarding whatever message it is they’re trying to get across.
It’s also important to go beyond blog comments. Use social media like Twitter to comment on the content they share. After you have followed the Twitter account of the blog you want to earn a link from, use Twitter to comment on the content they shared. If you like it, then reshare that content link and use the right hashtag. Regardless, you need to add your commentary so they can notice you. You need to get on the radar.
Your benchmark for success
Your benchmark for success with Step #6 is to simply get the bloggers, online publishers, and entrepreneurs behind these high-quality link sources to interact with you. The next step is to get them to address you by name.
Once you get them to that level, it means that they respect your credibility enough to address you directly. This is a very important breakthrough because most marketers won’t even go to this level. It takes too much time, it takes too much attention to detail, and it takes too much effort. That is precisely the point.
If the links that you’re trying to get are rare enough, they are definitely well-worth the effort because you can get better results for your search engine rankings with those rare links than easy to get links that don’t require much outreach.
Step #7 Pitching prospects for link opportunities
Now that you have established some relationship with the people behind the brands you’re trying to get backlinks from, the next is to step these sources. This is where things get a little tricky. I’ve seen a lot of otherwise professional SEO specialists drop the ball when it comes to making pitches. You see, a lot of people get really greedy at this stage. They feel that since they put in the time and the effort to establish a rapport with important brands in their niche that they are somehow or someway entitled to the very best links from these sources.
Do yourself a favor and never develop that entitlement mentality. Otherwise, you’re only setting yourself up for disappointment. The name of the game here is to be happy with whatever you get. That’s the bottom line. You have to remember that you are in no position to dictate the kind of links these third party websites should give you.
With that said, it’s very important to keep in mind the three key link opportunities you should be on the lookout for. The link source can link to you at least one of three ways.
- First, they can link to your content without asking for content in return. A good example of this is when a blog lists a huge resource list of tools. You reach out to the blog to get your tool put on the list. Since they already have a list going, they would welcome your addition because it adds value to their existing content. You, of course, get a backlink in return.
- Another link opportunity takes the form of the high-value site linking to your content in exchange for infographics. The great thing about infographics is that you only need to build them once, but you can benefit from them many times over. You can get the same infographics published on many different websites, using many different text descriptions. While you invested in the creation of one piece of content, you generated many links from that once piece. How awesome is that?
- Finally, the third way a link source can benefit you is when they link to your content in exchange for content. The most common example of this is the guest blog post. Since producing content costs money, publishers are always looking for ways to save money on content generation costs. Depending on your niche, they may be under tremendous pressure to update their bog or websites regularly.
By offering unique content that hasn’t been published elsewhere, you help them solve their content generation problems. In return, they link to your target website. Ideally, this creates a win-win situation.
Pro tip: Highlight the rapport you’ve or your existing brand credibility
When pitching make sure that you focus on the fact that you’ve already established a rapport with the link source. You are not a complete and total stranger to them. Emphasize the fact that you’ve been posting on their comments and that they’ve interacted with you. Emphasize the fact that they have retweeted your tweets and that they have exchanged messages with you on a different social media platform.
Whatever the case may be, emphasize your existing relationship regardless of how shallow it may otherwise be. This gives you a tremendous competitive advantage compared to other SEO specialists who are just appearing out of the blue trying to pitch a piece of content.
Also, it would help a great deal if you name drop other niche authorities or websites that have already linked to you. The great thing about SEO outreach is that the more successful you are at getting links, the easier your job gets. Why? You’re no longer an unknown quantity.
If top names in your niche have already linked to you, this means that whatever content you are proposing has some level of authority. There has to be some level of value in your content. Otherwise, these established names wouldn’t link to you. This is why I strongly recommend that you target only the biggest names in your niche. Sure, it would take quite a bit of time to engage them and build rapport with them. The good news is that this investment of time would be richly rewarded due to the fact that the links they give you are not very easy to get.
Answer the “What’s in it for me?” question quickly
We’re all very busy. Most of us don’t have the luxury of time. If you are pitching a piece of content to earn backlinks, make sure that you zero in on the benefits quickly. If you don’t know what to say, just answer this very important question from the perspective of the potential link source, “What’s in it for me?” Zero in on that because people don’t have time to beat around the bush. People don’t want to waste time with back and forth emails.
After emphasizing your rapport or name dropping other niche authority sites, get right to the point. Let them know in the clearest terms possible how they can benefit from whatever it is that you are pitching.
Step #8: Coordinate closely with link sources for custom content
Now that you’ve gotten an approval from the potential link source for your pitch, the next step is to get them to write as much of the content as possible. How do you do this? Very simple. Just keep asking them questions, formulate quick answers, weave the answers into the body of the content you’re writing, and then bounce it back to them for feedback.
If you keep this up enough times they essentially end up writing the content. At the very least, they will get content that you have a high-level of assurance will be published. There’s really no reason to think that they would turn down the content because it’s based on their constant feedback and, in many cases, based on the actual text they wrote themselves.
Step #9: Be happy with what you get
This part can be a little bit disappointing for people with a sense of entitlement. Don’t think that just because you put in the time and the effort that you deserve the very best link. The bottom line is simple: Beggars can’t be choosers.
You should be happy with whatever you get. Be happy if you get DO FOLLOW brand links. You might be thinking, “Well, this sucks because it’s not a link using my keyword anchor text.” That doesn’t matter. The fact that you got a DO FOLLOW link from a high-value brand in your niche is good enough. If you get enough of these links, then your rankings should improve quite a bit.
Similarly, be happy with certain NO FOLLOW links. I’m sorry to report this, but sometimes big brands will impose a NO FOLLOW restriction on the links that they generate. This is not a deal killer. If the brand you’re engaging with has a loyal community and gets decent traffic, this may be good enough. At the very least, you get highly-targeted eyeballs and you expand your brand’s reach. These sites may not generate links, but if influential people that visit these sites become aware of your website through your link, those people might link to you.
The key here is just to maximize your visibility with the right people at the right time. Regardless of what you do, jumpstart the social sharing process by proactively sharing your contributed content that has your backlinks. Work your social media accounts hard to share these contributed content far and wide. The key here, again, is to maximize exposure in your niche.
Step #10: Don’t let the relationship die
If you’ve put in the time to do Step #6 right, you’d be a fool to let the relationship die. You’ve just put in too much time, effort, and energy only to see it dry up because you already got your link. You can pitch other pages. You can continue to engage with them, so that they give you content ideas for your own websites. Also, you can ask them to refer you to other niche authorities, and then you can pitch to those niche authorities.
Regardless of how you do it, don’t let the relationship die. These relationships can continue to bring value to the table as long as you’re willing to be open-minded as to the forms this value takes. It doesn’t have to be backlinks. These websites could be more valuable to you by plugging you into an elite network of movers and shakers in your niche.
The bottom line: To get better results, take your outreach game to the next level
The bottom line is simple. If you want to achieve better results than your competitors, you need to play the game better than them. You can’t just do the exact same things as your competitors and expect better results. That’s not going to happen. You have to take SEO outreach to a much higher level for you to get better results.
Think beyond the basic generic link outreach paradigm of volume outreach and low-engagement contacts. By focusing on building a solid brand through deep relationships, you end up with more valuable results besides quality backlinks and potentially higher search rankings.
He really enjoys venting about what's right and wrong with our industry!
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