There is a big misconception in the SEO world regarding outreach links and it has spiraled so out of control that I feel like I need to address it once and for all.

PBN (private blog network) links are not safe, and most people that use them are fully aware of this. IF, and that is a big IF, the network is truly private then nobody knows the sites exist. They are built and maintained for one reason only, and that is to pass on link juice to money sites. There is nothing wrong with this tactic, and it remains one of the most effective way to rank websites for those willing to risk it.

There is no benefit aside from the link juice when you use PBNs. There is no referral traffic and there is no branding benefit. What’s really sad is that many sellers are creating crappy low quality networks that aren’t safe at all and far from private and selling them as “powerful PBN links.” It pisses me off royally because these sellers are completely deceiving their customers and putting their website and business at risk.

Recently, it has gotten even more ridiculous, as sellers are now passing off these worthless links as Outreach Posts!! Real outreach involves identifying websites that will benefit the client in terms of exposure and links, creating relationships with authors and editors for the websites and then crafting pitches that will result in getting the client featured on the website.

True outreach gets placements on websites that have large followings, which gives the client great links, as popular websites naturally have strong metrics, and they also get the exposure and referral traffic. You see, when outreach is done properly it lands the client on relevant websites that have traffic demographics that match their needs.

For example, if a manufacturer of a new high tech cell phone case was featured on a popular tech review blog, they are going to get a nice relevant link, but also put their product in front of a huge audience that will potentially be interested in what they have to offer. They get the SEO benefit but they also get sales.

You need to stay away from fake PBN links if you are looking for exposure through real outreach. Here are some things you really need to understand.


Most SEO Agencies Are Not Connected

Successful outreach thrives when you have established relationships. Let’s be honest; anyone can email a blog or a journalist and pitch. In fact, popular websites get dozens of blind pitches every single day. Do you know what they do? They delete them and don’t give them a second of thought. A lot of websites actually have “pitch” and “contact” emails that aren’t even monitored. They do that to funnel all of the pitches out of inboxes that they actually monitor because they don’t want to be bothered with website owners and amateur SEO agencies annoying them for links.

How do I know this? I have had several editors tell me. Then how did I get my agency in a position to avoid the “dead email” trap? I built relationships over the years. The media and journalism community is a very small group that is very tight and everyone knows everyone else.

Once you have your foot in the door you can leverage relationships to get access to specific websites and you can ask these new connections for warm introductions at other websites and blogs you are trying to target. Most SEO agencies simply don’t have the connections to be able to scale outreach efforts.


Loser agency consultant with zero contacts!


There Are Major Costs Involved in Relationship Building

The relationships I have built (and continue to build) haven’t and don’t come cheap. If you really want to make solid connections, you need to meet in real life. There are several marketing conferences and tech conferences that give you access to some of the most sought after journalists and editors at the biggest publications.

Conferences can cost several thousands of dollars to attend, from the admission to the hotel and food for several days, along with international flights. I don’t have time to travel all the time, so we’ve recently begun sponsoring parts of popular conferences. These costs are major and something most SEO agencies won’t incur. The SEO agencies (I use that term sarcastically) that are run out a bedroom or basement simply can’t afford to build real relationships.

I’m not slamming smaller SEO operations. I understand that everyone must start somewhere, but it’s just the way it is. You have to invest money if you want to build relationships that lead to outreach success. Most agencies that don’t have the connections don’t try to work on building them, though. Instead, they try to sell an inferior product and pass off PBN posts as outreach. It’s not even close to the same.


Editors and Journalists Are Very Selective When it Comes to Who They Will Work With

Why do you think the people with the ability to get posts on major websites would be careful about who they work with? Simply put, they would lose their job and their career would go down the toilet fast. Remember above when I said that the media community was small? Well, it is and many times you see editors bounce around from one publication to the next. Most of the major ones are located in New York City, and everyone knows everyone and they all know what’s going on at other publications.

If an editor builds a relationship they are going to ensure it’s with someone they can trust. The guidelines at these publications look down on any kind of special favors or under the table arrangements. It happens all the time, but only with a tight group of people. There are literally a handful of people that control this game.

These overseas SEO companies that constantly bother editors and contributors will never get access because they aren’t trusted. These writers know about the SEO industry and that’s why they are so careful. They have to work with dependable and trusted agencies to protect their jobs and careers.


Referral Traffic from Real Outreach is Typically More Beneficial Than Links

Outreach is new era SEO, in the sense that there is more to gain than just links. If someone was just after links they would buy placements or just build their own private network to game the SERPs. It happens all the time.

Most businesses that are serious about their online marketing know that they shouldn’t put all of their eggs in one basket. Outreach gets you the good links, but it also gets the business exposure to a large audience and can also lead to sales that come from that referral traffic. Without the outreach those sales wouldn’t occur.

Now, what if Google decides to unleash a new update and all those links that have been built are now essentially useless. Well, all of them except the outreach links! You see, the outreach links that have been placed on real websites that are relevant are still going to receive traffic and those links can still attract referral traffic, even if all SERP rankings are lost. Because of Google’s stability in terms of organic results, it’s caused serious business owners to look into majorly diversifying. Outreach is a very safe and long term strategy.



You Have to be Realistic Time-Wise with Real Outreach

One thing that really had me laughing the other day was when I saw an SEO agency offering outreach posts delivered in less than 24 hours. This is comical on so many levels. First, real outreach takes time. You have to first identify sites that will actually benefit the client. Then you have to initiate contact or work your contacts to find an “in” at the particular website.

Then you have to come up with multiple pitches that make sense. They have to paint the client in a good light while also appealing to the particular website. Often times it takes several pitches to get a publication to bite. Then once a topic is agreed on, you have to create the content. Again, this takes time.

Outreach can take several weeks, and that is nonstop work. So, if someone is dropping “outreach” posts in a matter of hours I can assure you those posts are landing on crappy blog networks that will never see a real visitor. They are completely useless posts.

If an agency is doing real outreach, then they will tell you that they are going to need some time to get the posts live. I would LOVE to crank them out fast, and some hit quicker than others, but I promise you it isn’t a process that happens in a day or two.


Real Outreach Delivers Natural Links (well, as “natural” as you can possibly get)

Google’s guidelines explains what they consider to be link manipulation. Any time you pay for a link or participate in an exchange network that is a no-no. But, if you “EARN” a link the right way, Google loves it. In fact, they reward the websites that acquire great links by moving them up in the SERPs.

While people that buy outreach posts technically ARE buying links, it’s being done in the most natural way possible. Even journalists that write content and drop links into their stories without compensation are being pitched by someone. So, the process is the exact same. The end result is a link “earned” on a top website. The way these sites operate (in terms of the editors and writers) nobody will ever know if a link was earned through a pitch that included any kickback. Google will never know, so they have to treat these links as the type they love and reward.

This is the link building strategy I would use because of the added benefits (referral traffic and branding) but even more importantly it keeps the website safe in terms of penalties. These are as natural as links come.


You Can Experience a 10X Link Return When Done Correctly

Know why proper outreach can get you more links than you bargained for? Because there are many smaller niche blogs that source their content from larger publications. Some of these publications even have distribution deals in place. As the ad revenue got smaller thanks in part to ad blockers, they needed to find other ways to monetize. It happens across the board. Even the large sites like Entrepreneur and Inc. allow others to republish for a fee.

I have seen some of our outreach posts get picked up by an additional 5 – 15 websites. This gives the client even more relevant links and exposure. If a website is paying to republish then they obviously have decent traffic, which can lead to even more referral traffic and branding. There really isn’t anything better at the moment, in terms of value, than outreach.



As an Outreach Effort Grows it Becomes Easier to Secure Placements

In the beginning, outreach can be a complete nightmare. If a website is new or if they have never received any exposure online most publications will shy away. They want to feature fun and exciting brands that have some notoriety. Well, everyone has to start somewhere, so it usually involves smaller publications and growing from there.

Once you secure a few placements you can then leverage those to get into the next batch. When pitching a journalist being able to say, “They were actually just featured on XXXXXX,” helps immensely.

It is much easier to pitch when you have a proven track record of being featured on multiple quality websites. The journalist lets his or her guard down a bit because they feel the subject being pitched is legitimate. While relationships will also be the main factor, having past placements to show helps a lot as well.

If you are doing it on your own, start a page on your website dedicated to highlighting your media placements. If an agency like mine is doing it, we keep a file of all placements and use it when creating pitches. Just like everything SEO related, it takes time to get going. There is no overnight solution when it comes to SEO, and that includes outreach.



When I started this blog, it was my way to give real marketing advice and expose BS in the industry. It then grew into a very successful SEO agency, but I will still continue to write blog posts that bring light and truth to many controversial topics and industry trends.

Again, there is nothing wrong with PBN links (if there are in a true private network).. we sell them here. However trying to pass them off as outreach posts is flat out WRONG and dishonest, as I’ve pointed out above. In the end, the client loses out when they are fed wrong info. Many shady SEO agencies don’t care about the future health of the websites they are pointing these low quality links at, and it’s sad. I won’t mention names, but I know for a fact some of the leading “outreach” companies right now are doing exactly that.. it’s unethical at best and flat out scamming at worst IMO.

If you have any questions about proper outreach or about how PBNs should be built, drop a comment below and I will do my best to get back to you as quickly as possible.

Tommy McDonald

Tommy is an SEO professional with years of experience running highly successful SEO companies, founded SerpLogic after noticing there was a major void when it came to options for SEO agencies needing a reliable and professional one-stop outsource solution.You can read all about me in the “About” page here on our blog!

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