Tag Archive | "Outreach"

Supercharge Your Link Building Outreach! 5 Tips for Success – Whiteboard Friday

Posted by Shannon-McGuirk

Spending a ton of effort on outreach and waking up to an empty inbox is a demoralizing (and unfortunately common) experience. And when it comes to your outreach, getting those emails opened is half the battle. In today’s Whiteboard Friday, we welcome recent MozCon 2019 alum Shannon McGuirk to share five of her best tips to make your outreach efficient and effective — the perfect follow-up to her talk about building a digital PR newsroom.

Click on the whiteboard image above to open a high resolution version in a new tab!

Video Transcription

Hi, Moz fans. My name is Shannon McGuirk. I’m the Head of PR and Content at a UK-based digital marketing agency called Aira. So at this year’s MozCon, I spoke about how to supercharge your link building with a digital PR newsroom and spoke about the three different types of media and journalist writing that we should be tapping into.

But I only had half an hour to be able to share my insights and thoughts. As a next step from that presentation, I need to equip you guys with everything in order to be able to go out and actually speak to these journalists. So for my Whiteboard Friday today, I’m going to be sharing my five tips for success for supercharging your outreach, specifically evolved around email outreach alone.

In the U.K. and in the U.S. as well, we’re seeing, as our industry grows and develops, journalists don’t want to be called anymore, and instead the best way to get in touch with them is via email or on social media. So let’s dive straight in. 

1. Subject lines A/B tests

So tip one then. I want to share some insights with you that I did for subject lines and specifically around some A/B testing.

Back in the early part of the summer, around April time, we started working on a tool called BuzzStream. Now that allowed us to be able to send different kinds of tests and emails out with a variety of different subject lines in order for us to understand how many open rates we were getting and to try and encourage journalists, through the use of our language and emojis, to open up those all-important pitch emails so that we could follow up and make sure that we’re bringing those links home.

Journalist’s name in subject line

So we ran two different types of A/B tests. The first one here you can see was with the journalist’s name in the subject line and the journalist’s name without. It turns out then that actually, when we were running this data, we were seeing far more opens if we had the journalist’s name in the subject line. It was getting their attention. It was getting that cut-through that we needed when they’re getting hundreds of emails per day and to see their name in a little nib meant that we were increasing open rates. So that was our first learning from test number one. 

“Data” vs “story tip”

Now test number two, we had a bit of a gut feel and a little bit of an instinct to feel that there were certain types of words and language that we were using that were either getting us more open rates or not. For this one specifically, it was around the use of the word “data.” So we compared the use of the word “data” with story tip, and again including the journalist’s name and not, to try and see how many journalists were opening up our emails.

At Aira, we have around a 33% open rate with any campaigns that we launch, and again this is tracked through BuzzStream. But when we started to do these A/B tests, combine story tip, full name, and then follow with “data,” we increased that to 52%. So that jump up, it doesn’t mean that you’re going to get 52% more links off the back of your outreach, but it means that you are getting more people opening up their email, considering your data, considering your campaigns, which is half of the problem, when we all know as outreachers, content marketers, digital PRs how difficult it can be for someone to even just open that initial approach.

So now, off the back of those A/B tests, make sure that whenever you’re writing those emails out you have story tip for Tom and then followed by data and whatever research you’ve got in that campaign. 

2. Headline language

For tip two then, keeping on the theme of language, I did a piece of research for another conference that I was speaking at earlier in the summer called SearchLeeds and another one called outREACH.

I analyzed 35,000 articles across 6 different top 10 news sites in the U.K. The language that came out of that, around the headlines specifically, was so interesting. So I split these 35,000 articles down into relevant sectors, took the likes of travel, automotive, business, what have you, and then I was able to create around 30 word clouds according to different articles that had been produced within these different industries at different titles.

I was able to start to see common words that were used in headlines, and that got my mind ticking a bit. I was starting to think, well, actually as a team, at Aira, we should be starting to pitch and use language within our pitches that journalists are already using, because they straightaway resonate with the story that we’ve got. So here’s a quick snapshot of the kind of word clouds that the analysis revealed.

You can kind of see some core words shining through. So we’ve got research, best, stats, experts, that kind of thing. Now the top five words that were most commonly used across all sectors within the headlines were: best, worst, data, new, and revealed. Now “data” is really interesting, because if we go back to our A/B testing, we know that that’s a strong word and that that will get you more opens with your subject lines.

But it also reaffirms that that A/B test is right and that we definitely should be using “data.” So combine story tip for that journalist’s name, Tom or what have you, with data and then start to use some of the language here, out of these top five, and again you’re going to increase your open rates, which is half of the problem with what we’re doing with outreach.

3. Use color

So tip three then. Now this was quite an experimental approach that we took, and a huge recommendation of mine, when you’re doing your email outreach, is actually to start to use color within that all-important pitch email itself. So we’ve moved from subject lines into looking at the body of the email. We use color and bolding back at Aira.

So we use color straightaway when we’re writing the email. So we’ll start with something like, “Dear Tom, I have a story that you might be interested in.” Straight under that, so we’re already using again the language that they’ll be using, story, going back to our A/B test. But then straight under that, we will bold, capitalize, and put in a really bright color — reds, greens, blues — nice, strong primary colors there the headline that we think Tom might write off the back of our outreach.

So here’s an example. “New data reveals that 21% of drivers have driven with no insurance.” Not the most exciting headline in the world. But if Tom here is an automotive editor or a digital online automotive writer, straightaway he knows what I’m talking to him about. Again, he can start to see how this data can be used to craft stories for his own audience.

Again, as I said, this is quite experimental. We’re in the early phases of it at Aira, but we know it’s working, and it’s something that I learnt, again, at outREACH conference too. Straight under this use of color with headline, you should pull out your key stats. Now only keep those bullet points to three to five. Journalists are busy.

They’re on deadlines. Don’t be having huge, bulk paragraphs or long-winded sentences. Tell them the headline, follow it up with the key stats. Be clean, be punchy, and get to the point really quickly. Below this, obviously sign off and include any press material, Google Drive links, press packs that you’ve got under that. Again, we’re seeing this work really, really well.

We’re still in the early stages, and I hope to share some insights, some kind of data and metrics as to the success results of it. But we’ve been able to secure links from the likes of the Mail Online, the Telegraph back in the U.K., and also last week just FoxBusiness using this exact approach. 

4. Use emojis

So tip four then, and again this is a really playful technique and something that we only learnt with experimentation.

Start to use emojis within your pitches as well. Now this can be used within the subject line. Again, you’re looking to try and get the journalist to get that piece of attention straightaway and look at your headline. Or start to use them within the body of the email too, because they break up that text and it makes your email stand out far more than if you have someone that’s pitching in a business piece of data and you’ve just got huge stacks and research pieces.

Actually throw in some emojis that are relating to the business world, a laptop or whatever it may be, something that proves your point around the campaign. Again, it’s more engaging for a journalist to read that. It means that they’ll probably remember your email over the other 200 that they’re getting that day. So really nice, simplistic tip then for me.

If you’re pitching something in the automotive world, put a car or traffic lights on the end. If you’re doing something in the travel sphere, sun, beaches, something that just gets that journalist’s eye. It means that your email is going to be opened above anyone else’s. 

5. Use Twitter

Finally then, so I know I’ve kept this around email outreach for the last couple of points.

But one thing that we’re seeing work really well with the implementation of this digital PR newsroom is starting to approach and speak to journalists on Twitter. Twitter we know is a new source for journalists. Trending topics will obviously be picked up in the press and covered on a daily if not hourly basis. As soon as something breaks on Twitter, we’ll see journalists, writers, bloggers turn that trending feature into an article that’s really resonant and relevant for their audience.

So in the run-up to your campaign, way before the launch, we’re talking like three or four weeks here, reach out to the journalists on Twitter. Start to engage with them. Like some articles. Start to let them know that you’re in and engaging with them on their social media platform. Don’t push it too hard.

You don’t want to go overboard with this. But a little bit of engagement here and there means that when your email comes into their inbox, it’s not a new name, and you’re already starting to build the foundations of that relationship. Secondary to this then, feel free and start to experiment with DM’ing journalists as well. We know that they’re getting two, three, or four hundred emails per day. If you take to Twitter and send them a quick overview of your up-and-coming campaign via a Twitter DM, it’s likely that they’ll read that on the journey home or potentially when they’re walking from meeting to meeting.

Again, it puts you one step ahead of your competitors. Recently we’ve got some of our best pieces of coverage through warming the press up and specific journalists through Twitter, because when your campaign launches, you’re not going out with it cold. Instead the journalist knows that it’s coming in. They may even have the editorial space to cover that feature for you too. It’s something that we’ve seen really work, and again I can’t stress enough that you really have to find that balance.

You don’t want to be plaguing journalists. You don’t want to be a pain and starting to like every single tweet they do. But if it is relevant and you find an opportunity to engage and speak to them about your campaign the weeks in advance, it opens up that door. Again, you may be able to secure an exclusive out of it, which means that you get that first huge hit. So there are my five tips for link building in 2019, and it will help you supercharge things.

Now if you have any comments for me, any questions, please pop them in the thread below or reach out to me on Twitter. As I’ve just said, feel free to send me a DM. I’m always around and would love to help you guys a little bit more if you do have any questions for me. Thanks, Moz fans.

Video transcription by Speechpad.com

Did you miss Shannon’s groundbreaking talk at MozCon 2019, How to Supercharge Link Building with a Digital PR Newsroom? Download the deck here and don’t miss out on next year’s conference — super early bird discounts are available now!

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Ask an SMXpert: Link prospecting and helpful tools to manage outreach

Content-led link building expert Paddy Moogan offers some practical tips on driving inbound links and collaboration tools to manage outreach campaigns.

Please visit Search Engine Land for the full article.

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How to Improve Your Link Building Outreach Pipeline

Posted by John.Michael123

Link building is probably one of the most challenging pieces of your SEO efforts. Add multiple clients to the mix, and managing the link outreach process gets even tricker. When you’re in the thick of several outreach campaigns, it’s hard to know where to focus your efforts and which tactics will bring you the most return on your time and resources.

Three common questions are critical to understand at any point in your link campaign:

  • Do you need more link prospects?
  • Do you need to revise your email templates?
  • Do you need to follow up with prospects?

Without a proven way to analyze these questions, your link building efforts won’t be as efficient as they could be.

We put together a Google Sheets template to help you better manage your link building campaigns. The beauty of this template is that it allows for customization to better fit your workflow. You’ll want to make a copy to get started with your own version.

Our link building workflow

We’ve been able to improve our efficiency via this template by following a simple workflow around acquiring new guest posts on industry-relevant websites. The first step is to actually go out and find prospects that could be potentially interested in a guest blog post. We will then record those opportunities into our template so that we can track our efforts and identify any area that isn’t performing well.

The next step is to make sure to update the status of the prospect when anything changes like sending an outreach email to the prospect or getting a reply from them. It’s critical to keep the spreadsheet as up to date as possible so that we have an accurate picture of our performance.

Once you’ve used this template for enough time and you’ve gathered enough data, you’ll be able to predict how many link prospects you’ll need to find in order to acquire each link based on your own response and conversion rates. This can be useful if you have specific goals around acquiring a certain number of links per month, as you’ll get a better feel for how much prospecting you need to do to meet that link target number.

Using the link outreach template

The main purpose of this template is to give you a systematic way to analyze your outreach process so you can drill down into the biggest opportunities for improvement. There are several key features, starting with the Prospects tab.

The Prospects tab is the only one you will need to manually edit, and it houses all the potential link prospects uncovered in your researched. You’ll want to fill in the cells for your prospect’s website URL;, and you can also add the Domain Authority of the website for outreach prioritization. For the website URL, I typically put in an example of a guest post that was done on that site or just the homepage if I can’t find a better page.

There’s also a corresponding status column, with the following five stages so you can keep track of where each prospect is in the outreach process.

Status 1: Need to Reach Out. Use this for when you initially find a prospect but have not taken any action yet.

Status 2: Email Sent. This is used as soon as you send your first outreach email.

Status 3: Received Response

Status 4: Topic Approved. Select this status after you get a response and your guest post topic has been approved (this may take a few emails). Whenever I see this status, I know to reach out to my content team so they can start writing.

Status 5: Link Acquired. Selecting this status will automatically add the website to your Won Link Opportunities Report.

The final thing to do here is record the date that a particular link was acquired and add the URL where the link resides. Filling in these columns automatically populates the “Won Link Opportunities” report so you can track all of the links you acquire throughout the lifetime of your campaign.

Link building progress reports

This template automatically creates two reports that I share with my clients on a monthly basis. These reports help us dial in our efforts and maximize the performance of our overall link building campaign.

Link Pipeline report

The Link Pipeline report is a snapshot of our overall link outreach campaign. It shows us how many prospects we have in our pipeline and what the conversion/response rates are of each stage of our outreach funnel.

How to analyze the Link Pipeline report

This report allows us to understand where we need to focus our efforts to maximize our campaign’s performance. If there aren’t enough prospects at the top of the funnel, we know that we need to start looking for new link opportunities. If our contact vs. response rate is low, we know we need to test new email copy or email subject lines.

Won Link Opportunities

The Won Link Opportunities report lists out all the websites where a link has been officially landed. This is a great way to keep track of overall progress over time and to gauge performance against your link building goals.

Getting the most out of your link building campaigns

Organization is critical for maximizing your link building efforts and the return on the time you’re spending. By knowing exactly which stage of your link building process is your lowest performing, you can dramatically increase your overall efficiency by targeting those areas that need the most improvement.

Make a copy of the template

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How to create catchy, effective subject lines for link outreach

Are your outreach emails falling flat? Contributor Gisele Navarro shares specific tips you can use to write subject lines that will work to get your emails opened.

Please visit Search Engine Land for the full article.

Search Engine Land: News & Info About SEO, PPC, SEM, Search Engines & Search Marketing

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Link building outreach: preparation meets persuasion

Obtaining valuable, future-proof backlinks requires human interaction — and that means being prepared to offer something of value. Columnist Andrew Dennis shares his advice for putting together a successful link building outreach campaign.

The post Link building outreach: preparation meets…

Please visit Search Engine Land for the full article.

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The 6-Step Process to Building Better Relationships With a Data-Driven Approach to Outreach

golden retriever puppy running alongside an English bulldog

Outreach is the art of connecting with bloggers or authors and building relationships through social media, email, or other online channels.

It’s a subject near and dear to my heart.

Earlier this year, I spoke about this topic at Authority Intensive, sharing the insights I learned while down in the trenches — building outreach teams from scratch, and seeing them lose opportunities to gain substantial visibility because of a lack of data-driven research and improper targeting.

Truly effective outreach is based upon deep research, relationship-building skills, and a fundamental understanding of SEO

To form the relationships you want, you need to customize each outreach campaign.

Unfortunately, outreach campaigns often fail when content marketers only perform surface-level research.

Here are six essential tips for conducting thorough outreach research that creates a foundation for ongoing, strong relationships.

1. Review outreach fundamentals

Data-driven research helps you identify relationships that are mutually beneficial.

There are several consistent, fundamental components of outreach execution:

  • Time
  • Data
  • Conversations
  • Relationship Maintenance
  • Value-Add

But one element is especially easy to neglect: Using data to hyper-target potential relationships.

When you perform outreach correctly, you form a mutually beneficial relationship.

2. Assess your value-add

The first question you should ask yourself when working on outreach is: “What’s your value-add?”

Notice the phrase “your value-add” rather than “their value-add.” This slight mental shift is an extremely important part of outreach.

You need to offer valuable information, including, but not limited to:

  • Original data and studies. Provide proprietary industry or consumer data, or studies in the form of stand-alone content.
  • Unique expertise. How can you help through Q&A sessions, live blogging, interviews, etc?
  • Exclusive resources. To appeal to a publisher or blogger, offer an information page that complements their research or interests.
  • Supplementary help. To initiate a relationship, present the assets you can contribute other than content.

3. Identify potential relationships

I heard somewhere that everybody on this planet is separated by only six other people. I find it extremely comforting that we’re so closely connected.

But building meaningful connections is not easy. You have to find the right six people to make the right connections.

Some teams fail because they search Google to find relevant publishers or bloggers — that’s basically busy work.

The best place to start is with the actual data from your website or your client’s website. Review:

  • Backlinks and mentions. Backlinks help you find authors or publishers who have covered you in the past. Mentions reveal discussions about your brand.
  • Competitors’ backlinks. Take advantage of tools like Majestic SEO to dig through their backlinks and mentions. Since you have similar audiences, use these sources to create a list of publishers or bloggers to contact.

Once you have a list of author and publisher websites, you should also mine:

  • Backlinks of the publishers’ websites. This will help you identify who shares their content.
  • Backlinks of those backlinks. This will help you identify their extended audience.
  • Authority metrics on the publications. Determine domain authority, citation trust, and citation flow scores of both small and large websites to help you decide who to work with.

The goal at this point is to make a large list that you can whittle down with the tools listed at the end of this post.

4. Learn about authors

Notice I wrote “authors” — not publishers, not the editorial staff. Authors.

Since you’re going to build relationships with authors, take time to understand them. Find out:

  • Who are they?
  • Where are they from?
  • Where did they go to school?
  • Where do they write?
  • What topics do they love to cover?
  • What are their interests outside of their industries?
  • Are they active on one particular network over another?
  • What are their temperaments?
  • What topics or brands do they love or hate?
  • How well does their content perform socially and organically?

In the screenshot below, I’ve pulled an example that shows basic data about an author who writes for The Next Web. You see URLs of posts he wrote for the specific publication, social metrics, and organic metrics, such as number of referring domains and backlinks.

Author Data Example

The data gives an overall view of whether or not the content performed well, or if specific topics resonated with the audience. Next, I usually check out comment engagement.

There are multiple tools that you can use to aggregate this information. BuzzSumo has quickly become my favorite tool because it allows you to view metrics and segment your search by types of content, specific authors, or URLs.

BuzzSumo Search

BuzzSumo also allows you to view metrics about other posts from that author, and SharedCount is a tool that quickly pulls social metrics. I use Majestic SEO to pull backlinks and referring domains.

BuzzSumo Authors

5. Make your cold market warm

Relationships always start out cold, but that doesn’t mean they can’t quickly become lukewarm with a little bit of effort.

You can find ways to genuinely connect with different authors, even if you don’t have any type of potential collaboration in mind.

Focus on building relationships that are both personal and professional:

  • Connect through social networks and blog post comments.
  • Share their content that you find interesting.
  • Talk about non-business topics.
  • Meet in real life at a conference or event — just make plans ahead of time so you are not relying on happenstance.

6. Drive success

Once you collaborate on a project with a particular author or publisher, your job isn’t done. Contribute to the success of the content.

Different techniques and strategies depend on individual situations, but here are a few examples.

Share across relevant networks

Find specific communities interested in the content produced from your collaboration. Do you know other authors who may want to share the content?

An author may find it useful to reference your research in an upcoming blog post or in a round-up post she shares with her audience or email list.

Paid social

You can boost a post on Facebook after you share the link. It’s inexpensive, and it helps get more eyeballs on the post, which can also result in more shares or organic links. 

Below is a screenshot of an example from one of my own previous local campaigns.

Facebook Boost Example

Discuss future collaborations

Suggest other ways you may be able to contribute content. When you provide unique value as an expert on a topic, you help the author with his or her editorial calendar.

What not to do

Relationships are delicate, so I’m going to arm you with several crucial tips to make sure you keep your relationships strong:

Don’t ask for multiple links

Some authors work for publications that have strict guidelines regarding links in content or author bios. Be respectful of that. Links should provide extra value and, of course, be relevant to the content.

Don’t cut off communication

Avoid a “said it and forget it” relationship. Remember what I said about building a personal and professional relationship. Treat it as such, and don’t neglect or end a relationship after a promise has been delivered.

Don’t offer multiple publishers the same article

This should be self-explanatory, especially if you promised exclusive content. Be careful not to break trust.

Don’t assume you know their audience

If there’s anything authors or publications hate, it’s having an outside party claim that their own content is perfect for a publication’s audience. If appropriate, reference other posts on their website that are similar to your proposed topic, but make sure you let them decide whether or not it’s the right fit.

Tool recommendations

I am a tool freak. I use a lot of them.

For the sake of not overwhelming you, I’ll share some of the key tools I use when putting together outreach research:

  • Majestic SEO — backlinks, backlink volume and metrics, mentions, and topical exploration.
  • NerdyData — a source code search engine that is limited without a paid subscription, but fun for sleuthing backlinks and mentions.
  • Open Site Explorer — backlink and mention exploration tools.
  • SharedCount — a free way to pull social metrics on bulk URLs.
  • BuzzSumo — social metrics for content and author sleuthing.
  • BuzzStream — an outlet for relationship building and PR.
  • Meshfire — tracks conversations and recommends who to follow and engage with to broaden your social relationships and opportunities.

[Editor's note: And don't forget, Scribe allows you to do in-depth keyword and social research right from the comfort of your WordPress dashboard.]

As a bonus, I’ve also put together an outreach research spreadsheet you can duplicate. 

It’s not an extensive tracking system, but it’s a great starting place that you can customize as you perform your own outreach research.

Over to you …

Have your current outreach techniques produced successes or failures?

How do you ensure that your relationships are mutually beneficial?

Let’s go over to Google+ and continue the discussion!

Editor’s note: If you found this post useful, we recommend that you also check out 5 Ways Listening to Community Data Can Expand Your Content Marketing Strategy by Shannon Byrne.

Flickr Creative Commons Image via Douglas Sprott.

About the Author: Selena’s (caffeine induced) data-driven research and diverse execution experience allows her to create custom organic search strategies to help clients reach their goals. You can find her speaking at conferences, training, advising businesses, or focusing on SEO strategy consulting, content strategy, and social activation for events with her company, Orthris. You can contact her through her personal website, or via @selenavidya on Twitter.

The post The 6-Step Process to Building Better Relationships With a Data-Driven Approach to Outreach appeared first on Copyblogger.


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Blogger Outreach – What Do They Think About SEOs?

Posted by DaveSottimano

Have you ever wondered why bloggers didn’t reply to your last outreach email? Why they refused to link to your shiny new infographic, or what they really think about SEOs?

I conducted a 26 question survey with a sample group of bloggers to help digital marketers construct better outreach pitches and give bloggers the opportunity to voice their opinions.

The feedback might shock some of you; I hope you’re ready.

Disclaimer: Due to the nature of the questions, and in the interest of protecting the respondents, the full data set, exact sample size, and respondents’ blog URLs will not be made public.

Survey information:

  • There are fewer than 100 bloggers in the sample, mostly from the parenting / food niche
  • No demographic requirements to participate, however the bloggers are largely from the UK and US
  • Survey format: Google docs forms, with a mixture of multiple choice questions and text boxes

Important: The sample is not representative of all bloggers, or bloggers within the UK, US, food or parenting niches.

Section 1: Website information (traffic, PR)

Most of the bloggers are currently making money from their blogs. The largest revenue source is paid content, which was defined as advertorials and reviews.

58% of our sample group is getting less than 10,000 visits per month, and 42% are considerably more popular, receiving more than 10,000 visits per month.

65% of the bloggers’ homepages were PageRank 2 or less, and 31% were over PageRank 3.

Section 2: Link selling and link requests

58% of the bloggers said they sell followed links, defined in the question as follows: Do you sell links that pass PageRank, i.e. A followed link is a regular link, a nofollow link is a link that you wrap with rel=”nofollow” in the HTML to prevent passing PageRank.

On the other hand, 73% said they also sold NO-followed links on their blogs. Both questions regarding followed and nofollowed links had an “I don’t know what this is” option, but we were fortunate to have an educated sample, as no one used this response.

When it came down to their stances on selling links in general, 62% agreed that it was okay to sell links as long as they were disclosed.

88% of these bloggers were sent anywhere between 1-10 link requests per month.

38% already have a predetermined price list for link selling.

On a scale from 1 to 5, 1 being never, and 5 being highly likely, it seems as if our group was not very likely to editorially link to content that has been requested via email (by “editorially link” I mean create unpaid links).

Section 3: Outreach email details

31% said they would never open an email with “Link request” in the subject line.

Ambiguity in the outreach email (example: “hi there”) seems to be less favourable, with 62% of bloggers choosing 1 & 2 as their responses, with 1 meaning “never” and 5 meaning they were “highly likely” to open the emails.

There was no clear answer in regards to likeliness of responding to shorter email requests. This was defined as emails with fewer than 100 words.

However, 46% seemed to prefer detailed email requests, defined as an email request with more than 100 words.

65% will open/read an email based on the subject line alone, and 19% will open/read the email regardless.

Section 4: Guest posting, preferred content type, and contact preference

The majority response to accepting guest post requests was “sometimes,” the reason becomes a bit clearer in the next question.

If you can prove that you’re credible, 54% of these bloggers were in favour of accepting your guest posts over others.

Something that surprised me: Most of the bloggers only received 0-1 guest-post requests per week. It might be helpful to note again that 42% were receiving more than 10,000 visits per month.

In descending order of preference, these bloggers were most likely to embed images, badges, videos, and infographics. None were willing to embed widgets (description of a widget was a weather widget).

81% of the bloggers preferred to be contacted via email or a contact form on their websites, as opposed to only 19% who preferred contact through social media (Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn were given as examples).

Section 5: Genuine feedback from open-ended questions

1) What are your overall thoughts regarding being pitched to?

  • “I don’t mind being pitched to, but the truth is I never accept anything that isn’t well written, personally addressed to me (shows that they’ve read my blog) and is in accordance with my blog and audience.”
  • “I like being pitched to providing the person has some idea of who I am and what I do, I don’t get annoyed by completely irrelevant pitches and try to reply to all whether I am interested or not.”
  • “Despite clearly stating on my disclosure page that I do not publish sponsored posts or paid links I still receive a number of such requests each week. This is wasting both my time and the SEOs time. I generally delete such requests without responding.”
  • “My blog is just that…my blog! Whilst I like to ensure that it pays it’s own way in that it covers the cost of the domain name, hosting etc it’s not just some random space that is crying out for graffiti. I have had random generic one size fits all pitches that I think are quite arrogant (read rude) in their approach in that they want me to do a review or add a link and in return they apparently will share my blog to their network that I know nothing of its size or influence. Whilst I must clearly be flattered that they have emailed me, it in fact makes my blood pressure increase and I don’t bother to reply.”
  • “I love being pitched to. It makes me feel like I am writing about relevant things that can fit with brands and that people actually want to read about! Makes me feel a bit *special* (she says in a daft voice!) It makes me feel like companies want to interact with my readership and encourages me to try new ideas/recipes/competitions. I can do this on my own BUT if I am going to be paid, receive a gift or samples in exchange for my effort then that is even better!”
  • “I have no issues at all to being pitched, but rather than ambiguity about what an SEO wants i.e. I am a freelance writer and want to offer you a guest post, I would just prefer a straight we are looking for a follow link and have this budget! I also prefer more unique pitches. I am happy to write posts if you provide me with experiences or review product of a certain value. I like regular income, I love working with clients that I know will be coming back or want to develop relationships and value my websites.”
  • “I like that PR companies are taking bloggers more seriously. Some pitches/approaches do have some way to go before we, as bloggers, feel that we are seen as on a par with mainstream media, however things are improving and its getting there.”
  • “I am happy to be pitched to, I prefer honesty in the pitch and I like to know that the pitch is genuine and the person has actually bothered to look at my site. I can pinpoint flattery a mile away and when a person has not even bothered to find out the ethos of my blog. A genuine pitch will be for something that would fit in with my blog and what I write about too often than not I get pitches for non relevant stuff that would never fit in with my food blog.”

2) Can you think of the most outrageous request for links?

  • Asking for a backlink straight up, no offer of anything, nothing in it for me but hard work and no reward, or a brand asking you to review a product they aren’t prepared to send you – because they say you can write a good review incl backlinks without a product, from a description sheet and recommend it. You can’t be truthful about something without having the full story (or product) I’m all about transparency so this and sly ways to get links really annoy me.”
  • “I am often asked to place a link for free on my blog to a company in return for the opportunity to write content for their website as no charge to myself….what a treat!!!”
  • “The kind of approach which starts off sounding good, that we can build a working relationship but ends with we have no budget. It makes us feel very undervalued and miss led to a degree”
  • “An online craft store wanted me to feature a seasonal craft activity tutorial that they’d written. It all sounded good and was relevant to my blog so I went back to them with my rate card and said that as I liked the tutorial so much I would actually be happy to discuss about a rate reduction to feature this. Their short, sharp response was to tell me that it was “illegal to pay for links” and if I was a “proper blogger” I would have known that!”

3) Is there anything you’d like to say to the SEO community?

Personal note here, this is by far the best feedback I’ve ever received as an SEO. I’ve intentionally added as many quotes as possible because I find it extremely valuable and hope you will too.

  • “Don’t try and trick a blogger, we talk!”
  • “SEO is becoming overrated and content, which should be more important, is fast becoming less so. I find it hard to “follow the rules” of SEO, to have enough “key words” in my opening paragraph, or my title, to remember everything that I “should be doing to improve my SEO”. I know that’s why my SEO is in the toilet, but I would like to say that I find it to hard, complicated and confusing as to why I should. The problem today is that it has become a game of who will win – the SEO or the search engine, and the content, who is the king, is fast becoming obsolete.”
  • “Please don’t try to persuade me to not disclose any links or features, it is not good for either side.”
  • “I feel like anyone else wanting to work with bloggers that SEO’s need to show they value bloggers, read our blogs and give us credit for knowing about guidelines with regards follow/no follow rules. Trying to convince us that we don’t know about these things does not hold well and makes us feel undervalued. We want to work with SEO’s and want to build good relationships but this can only be done by treating us with respect for what we do from the start. Make approaches personally instead of making us feel part of a blanket approach email.”
  • “Buying follow links on blogs risks the page rank of not only the bloggers you work with, but also your clients. Google are regularly updating their algorithms to identify paid follow links and remove them from their indexes. Google provides a sanctioned way for you to get your clients to the top of the search results by paying – it’s called Adwords.”
  • “I sometimes feel like I am at the mercy of the SEO community and that there is something secretive about it all. I am just a person who has a blog and I have no knowledge on the whole SEO front, but I would like a fair go at being ‘discovered’ out in the big world of the web.”
  • “Don’t expect that we (bloggers) are going to give our time, effort and energy to you for free. You wouldn’t work for free so please don’t expect us to! Make sure what you pitch is relevant, READ MY BLOG,I’m not just “”a blogger”" I do have a name! It’s even in my URL and my email address – how can you get it wrong?
  • I write because I love it first and foremost, but if your brand fits with mine and we can build a relationship with each other then that’s good but I don’t want to write about clinical trials in Oz for money! I don’t have type of readers that would be interested – it needs to fit with my content and a sufficient incentive needs to be offered. If you want something for nothing, you’ll go no further than my trash can with a spam flag next to your email address! I want to be challenged, I don’t just want to write a boring post that includes a back link, I want it to be fun for me, and if my readers can take part in some way, even better! Interaction with my readers makes them real. Otherwise, they are just a number on a stat sheet. If I have pitched you and my blog is not suitable, please tell me why! If my stats & metrics are not good enough then tell me your bottom line for accepting, if I got in touch with you then I feel that your brand IS relevant so I will get back in touch once I have met your baseline for stats & metrics as I want to work with you. Metrics aren’t everything to a blogger like they are to an SEO. Stats and metrics are not our jobs, writing is so often when people don’t get back in touch, I feel like they were never interested in my pitch in the first place. I’m not going to tweet my hatred to the world if you say no, I’m just going to go back to you at some point – I am a person the same as you, manners cost nothing, even if you’re telling me no!
  • Please don’t get the same people writing the same things over and over, I read blogs too and it sometimes gets boring when the whole of your bloglovin feed is crammed with the same SEO link that everyone has just been paid for, stagger it out a bit more! You’d probably see better results too! I won’t click on the same link from every blog, I’m sure most other people won’t either!
  • Don’t get overwhelmed by stats! Some bloggers don’t even care about them or know what DA, PR and PA is never mind MozRank or citation flow. If you want a blogger to know this, show them how it is relevant to them and to you at the same time.
  • A lot of bloggers are scared of stats because they are complicated to understand and it’s impossible to fathom how you can make them go up as there is no clear explanation that lots of us have tried to find! The rest either care too much or don’t care at all about their stats! I fall into the I get it, I care category. I want to know who reads me and where in the world they are, I am actually interested! Educate us more on the kind of metrics and stats that you want from us and how they are relevant to you! Be clear on nofollow and dofollow when you pitch to avoid confusion too, there is nothing worse than agreeing a fee with someone only to find that you won’t be paid unless you change to a dofollow link once your post has gone live, the fee is almost always higher from a bloggers point of view for a link of this kind, it’s OUR pagerank that is being put at risk if we disclose or not!”
  • “Please, please don’t try to confuse me with jargon. Don’t make up stories about what is and isn’t acceptable according to Google as I do know. Try to offer everyone roughly the same fair rates. Its very amusing when an SEO person tells me that they have no budget left so can only pay me a third of what they paid my husband twenty minutes ago. Try to pay promptly and also pay me the amount I’ve agreed and invoiced for, not ten or twenty pounds less and expect me to chase as seems to happen quite often.”
  • “False praise will almost always get you caught out- don’t tell me I’m an amazing baker when I haven’t written about baking on my blog for years- I’ll hit delete after reading that sentence.”
  • “Many bloggers, especially parent bloggers, are people juggling lots of balls at once. Whilst blogging may not be their full time occupation please don’t assume that this means that we’re either stupid, prepared to work for free, or don’t talk to other people. Professional bloggers do know the law around disclosure rules, do know what Google’s position on follow / nofollow links is, understand what other bloggers are being offered for similar content and do know just how much brands pay SEO agencies to get links out there on the internet. I have great working relationships with some SEO companies where both sides know exactly what the other one wants out of the relationship and there is professional respect between us. Sadly that is not the case with all SEOs who approach me.”
  • “I like being given links before other people, so my content is unique and more applicable to my blog. I like to be paid extra to write the copy myself (I do a good job of making it applicable to my readers).
  • Be clear in your requirements and explain what they mean in none SEO jargon. Are you looking just for an embedded link, or do you want a post with lots of engagement? Give constructive feedback. Look at ways to reward bloggers that respond in a timely manner and please pay promptly. I do not have time to keep chasing payments.”
  • “The majority of bloggers work hard, we take our work seriously and are very proud of what we create. Please do stop and think before asking us to cover press releases or produce copy with no incentive for us at all – would you work for free?”
  • “Let’s all work together to create a professional, mutually beneficial network. Bloggers who blog to blag give us a bad name. Equally PRs who throw things out to hit numbers give you a bad name. We need a foundation of respect, professionalism and effort from both sides. Bloggers will provide you excellent copy, network well on your behalf and promote things if you treat them as professionals and respect what they do.
  • Don’t ask them to bend or break rules, don’t ask for non-disclosure, don’t insist you’re doing them a favour by letting them promote your site, business or product without paying for the time and work that they give you in return.”
  • “We may seem like odd people that waffle on on the internet but you know what, we are just people too and blogging, more often than not, is our hobby and passion. A little respect about what we do and our worth goes a long way. As does friendliness and relationship building. I’m ten times more likely to do a cheap or even free post as a favour for an SEO I like, respect and have built a relationship with than a fly by night SEO.”
  • “If there was a way that bloggers could be in touch with more white hats then they wouldn’t feel the need to accept the black hat approaches that appear so frequently in their inbox.”

I think this word cloud sums up the bloggers’ thoughts pretty well:

My personal conclusions from the survey

  • Don’t expect bloggers to work for free. I am not telling you to buy followed links.
  • Be honest, and don’t try to pull off any tricks.
  • Talking about stats will only confuse them, and benefits no one. Be clear with your intentions and outline the benefits for them in your request.
  • If you want to buy nofollow links, your best bet is to provide an advertorial feature that is likely to target longtail keywords and drive referral traffic. I am not saying your only option is to buy nofollow links, but you should understand the risks of buying followed links and make your own call.
  • Bloggers are far more informed about SEO than we think, so don’t try and pull any tricks and be honest about your intentions. I am not saying that all bloggers were ever oblivious to requests, nor that all SEOs have tried to take advantage of all bloggers.
  • I would experiment with different subject lines, but I’d steer clear from ambiguity, and provide a detailed request versus a quick email.
  • From the results, I would assume that a good guest post is still probably the best way to get an editorial link, as long as you can prove credibility and the content is relevant. I would also ensure that the content I would provide would be good enough to post on any other site, including my own. I would also include exclusive/unique images for the post as an added incentive for the blogger to accept my request.
  • Email and contact forms still seem like the right way to approach a blogger, although I would still resort to social media as plan B.

Additional reading regarding topics discussed in the post

Final word

There are likely to be errors in the survey design, and the sample is not representative of all bloggers. It doesn’t mean that the results are not indicative of the situation; in fact, I’ve learned more from the feedback questions than any other blogger outreach post. I’d love to hear your comments, but please try to keep them constructive. I’d like to thank all of the bloggers who took their time to fill in the survey, your feedback is greatly appreciated.

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What Separates a "Good" Outreach Email from a "Great" One? – Whiteboard Friday

Posted by randfish

Outreach emails are sent for a variety of reasons, but the majority have one thing in common: they're structured too poorly to merit a reply. For every group of outreach emails we receive, usually only a few are worth opening.

However, creating "good" emails may not be the toughest part. To inspire a response, you have to get to "great." But what makes a great outreach email stand out from its "good" competitors? 

Today, Rand walks us through what it takes to create a great outreach email and gives his tips on making sure your next outreach goes into the "great" pile rather than into the trash.


Video Transcription

"Howdy SEOmoz fans, and welcome to another edition of Whiteboard Friday. This week I want to talk a little bit about outreach emails.
Outreach emails are sent for a variety of reasons. It could be business development. It could be some kind of advertising. It could be to try and get a link or a mention. It could be to encourage someone to share something that you've produced.
The problem is . . . I get a lot of these. I mean, I cannot tell you how many of these I get. I love helping people, so I want to respond to a lot of them. But so many of them are terrible. There are a few that are what I would call good. Some of them are quite solid. But only a very, very select number are truly great.
I've received a few of these over the last few months, and I thought, what is it that makes these ones special? How can I dissect the ones where I go, "Man, what a great email." I'm not only happy to help that person, I want to help them again in the future. I hope I can do more for them, because I just love the way that they outreached and connected with me.
So I've put together a standard formatting. I think virtually every outreach email I see, terrible, good, great, in between, all follow this. They start with a greeting, they go to an intro, they have some sort of ask involved in them, a giveback, usually the good ones and the great ones have a giveback of some kind, a close, and then a signature.
Let me walk you through what separates the good ones from the great ones. I'm going to try and use this as an example. This person starts their email by saying, "Hi Rand," which is totally fine. The things that you're aiming for here, this is not huge and big and important. It's personal and friendly.
The wrong way to do this is, "Dear Mr. Fishkin." That's my grandfather. Dear Mr. Fishkin? Who's that? And people who email with "Dear CEO" or "My Friend," it's clear that they don't know you. There are some that work, like "Hey dude" or "Hey Buddy." It sort of has that colloquial association.
If it's someone that I know closely and they don't use my name, but I already know them very well, no problem. But that greeting is a very important opening point, and a lot of people, myself included, will click Delete or Report Spam if they see something in here that's not obviously friendly and personal and clear that we know one another.
Next, the intro. This person says, "I heard you might be in L.A. next month. Please drop me a line if you make it. We'd love to see you and Geraldine." Great. Now they've established a few things. They show that they know me, they like me, they trust me, and they care. Not only that, they're sort of following my activities, so they know that I'm going to be in Los Angeles for a few days.
When you can do this, you don't have to do it in this fashion. Maybe you don't know the person well enough to actually invite them to go hang out with you or that kind of thing. But if you know, for example, they're going to be in Los Angeles and that they love scotch, for example, you could say, "Hey, they're having a scotch tasting in the Santa Monica Pier on such and such a date. If you're there for it, you should definitely check it out. If not, blah, blah." Show that you know them, you like them, you trust them, and you care. That's what you're trying to achieve in that intro paragraph there or the intro sentence.
Next up is the ask. This is obviously a very, very important part of the email. But if you don't surround the ask with something else, unless you know that person extremely closely and you know that they're happy to share already, or do whatever activity you want, you're not going to get this. If I just say, "Hi Rand, do this for me, bye," who answers that? No, that's not how communication in the human world works. You need to have some empathy in there.
This person says, "FYI, my start-up was nominated for XYZ award," some particular award. "It would mean a ton to me if you could tweet or share the link." There's the link. That's the ask right there. They've done a few very smart things here. They've kept the ask short and sweet. This is two sentences, extremely few number of words, very obvious what they want and need.
They made the links easy to click and to share. So now I don't have to do much work if I want to fulfill this ask. That's also very smart. Make sure those links are clickable. Make sure there's only one of them. Make sure you're not asking for a ton of different things all at once. Make that share activity, that request activity very simple.
Then the giveback. And by the way, you can definitely flip the order on the ask and the giveback. You can do the giveback first before you make the ask. For example, this person says, "Also, we recently wrote about blah, blah, blah on our blog in reference to your post on the topic, at this URL. The team here loves Moz.com/Rand, my new personal blog, which is not doing that well in terms of links and traffic and attention. So they probably know that, and they know that that will get my awareness and attention. I'll be like, "Oh, cool, they're helping to share my new site that I haven't done much with yet. Please keep it up."
Very, very smart tactic here. They've identified an area where I need help, and they proved that they are a reciprocator, someone who will help without being asked for it, on the chance that I might help them. This doesn't need to be directly . . . you don't want to go at this aggressively.
What you don't want to say is, "Hey Rand, we linked to you on our blog. Please link to us now." No, it's not going to happen. Communication isn't done in that fashion. You need to have that empathetic touch in your communication. Prove that you're a reciprocator, apart from the ask, and you need to show that you're giving value as well as asking for it. This is a smart way to do this. It's sensitive, and it knows what I need and what I like.
Next piece, the close. "Hope Seattle's new baked baked goods laws are treating you well. They know that marijuana, for example, is legalized in the state of Washington. They're making a play off of that. They're using humor, surprise, interest, or empathy to show the connection between us, and that connection is a great thing. When they can do this . . . I mean, I find this kind of stuff humorous. Hopefully, they know me, and they know that I will find it humorous. That's great. That is exactly what they're trying to tie in. They're trying to make that personal connection.
Then the last piece, the signature. "Sincerely, Tony, CEO and Founder of XYZwebsite.com." This is smart. It seems like this would be a very small piece, but it's actually a big one for a lot of people, and I'll tell you why. I don't always remember everyone that I've met and that I've said, "Sure, email me and I'll be happy to help out with something." So they are making sure, without being obvious, without being too like, "Well, I presume you don't remember who I am because you meet lots of people," but instead I'm going to have this little thing at the bottom, which makes sure you remember me and links off to my website, so that you can check us out and be like, "Oh, yeah. Okay, put the pieces together. I remember this guy now."
It's fine, too, to say something like "we met here," or "you know me through XYZ," whatever. But don't assume that the person is going to remember you. Have a clear and obvious identity that shows authenticity. That authenticity piece is critical. When I get emails from folks who clearly are not actually associated with the company, but are doing outreach on behalf of a PR firm, doing outreach on behalf of an SEO firm, no offense to SEO agencies and consultants, but sometimes we're the worst offenders of this kind of stuff.
If you can do all of these things, you can transform a good outreach email into a great one. When you do that, the conversion percentage goes tremendously upward, and the chance that your contact will be shared or linked to, or that whatever activity you need done by this helpful group, will be accomplished. That's what we want to try and help with.
All right, everyone. Hope you've enjoyed this edition of Whiteboard Friday. I look forward to some great comments, and we'll see you again next week. Take care."

Video transcription by Speechpad.com

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Why Webmasters Aren’t Replying to Your Outreach

Posted by James Piper

Since launching my personal blog I have been bombarded with guest post requests, with very few of them being worthy of reading, nevermind responding to. Thus, it was literally one in 267 emails that inspired this article about what makes an email that webmasters and bloggers will respond to.

This never ending stream of poorly constructed requests helped highlight what makes an excellent email. We will follow the same process my inbox and brain went through to examine common outreach mistakes and how they can easily be fixed.

I. Terrible Outreach Example

For those curious about what purchasing a “SEO Gold” package gets you, here is an unedited email outreach I recently received –


I have attached 2 of my article with this mail. Please review those article if you going to publish those article then please send me the link back url to me.

As a search engine optimization professional, these types of outreach emails make me laugh. As a passionate blogger, these types of emails make me rage for three main reasons:

  1. Nothing personal
  2. Poor English grammar = poorly written article
  3. It is all about me doing work for him… who is he again?

And 24 hours later, before I got time to read the article, here is the mind blowing follow up!


What happens anything problem with my article. Please let me know.

I am waiting for your responses.

Real business operations cannot be automated. Hence, packages do not work!

The SEO Gold package, which after researching the company is what this email literally is, is at least persistent at being annoying! This package actually cost someone $ 499… should’ve spent it at the bar.

There was a single link in the article pointing to a Fortune 500 Company… not only should this be an easy client steal, we could all use another Penguin’d website to write an article about!

II. Fair Outreach Example

I recently launched my own website with little to no content, a non-existent link profile, and was still getting 10-14 guest post request per day… imagine the poor Webmaster with a populated blog. Thus, your goal as an Internet Marketing professional is simple – stand out with a personalized outreach message. Something which makes the Webmaster feel like this:

The following is another unedited example:


Great blog. I enjoyed your recent article about business communication on social media platforms. I was hoping I could publish something on your site. I have several ideas I am working –

  1. Strange Marketing Premiums That Work
  2. Marketing: No Single Correct Answer
  3. The Real Purpose Behind An Advertisement

I look forward to hearing your feedback.


It isn’t perfect, but the sender did receive their beloved link. Here are the reasons to why I responded to this email:

  • Gave me ideas to choose from
  • Referenced what was in it for me
  • Appropriate email length (which is often overlooked)

Here is how they could guarantee a response the next time:

  • Quickly note how you found me! (Stumbled onto my blog via search?)
  • I am a fan of more enthusiastic people (use an exclamation point, this blog took time)
  • Are you available for questions or talking? Or did I just get a hit and run outreach…

In addition, do not tip toe your way around what you really want. Being direct has its benefits, and it is hard to trust someone online who you’ve never met.

Be genuine. Bloggers smell a fishy outreach a mile away.
(credit: parodyreport.com)

III. Outreaching For Real People

It was 7:30am, and I was doing my usual email/coffee routine, when I stumbled onto this outreach gem. In fact, I ALMOST replied before realizing that the sender was non-other than Distilled’s Rob Toledo.

Yes, it took me eight days to write this :)

Here are the reasons I “insta-replied”:

  • The email is personalized to me, and tailored to my needs
  • It has been made easy for me to take his desired action
  • He did the two things above, without me having to read ten pages of text
  • He introduced himself! Thanks… Next time you meet someone in person for the first time, try not introducing yourself!
  • He is available to discuss the infographic, and he actually replied to my follow up email!

IV. What Good Content & Outreach Gets YOU!

Rob was an excellent source for this article, and also provided information about this specific campaign’s success! Without further ado:

1. How many links from the campaign? Best?

We were in the middle of a Distilled Outreach "Hack Day" where the outreach team locks ourselves in the conference room and puts our full focus on one specific project — I think we ended up with about 25 linking domains that day. These hack days have started to prove themselves to be quite fruitful.

Getting it on Search Engine Journal helped the social aspect out a ton, as it got over 200 tweets from there.

2. The campaign’s response rate?

I think in the 60% range of people approved the post ideas

3. Biggest mistake you are consistently seeing with outreach?

I think the obvious one is just how impersonal some people make the whole outreach process. Spamming hundreds of people might get you 2-3 approvals from sites that might not be worth your time to begin with.

There is so much value in personalizing your efforts; truly getting to know a blogger, what they normally post, what their readers enjoy the most, etc. And besides, if you build up that relationship, and make it mutually beneficial, it can quickly turn into long term value for everyone involved.

4. How to keep email length short?

I know for a fact that so many outreach emails go unread, so keeping that in mind, I never want to overwhelm an editor with a giant block of text. Keeping that in mind, I always adjust my approach based off of the vibe of the blog owner's writing style. If they keep things short and to the point, I would reach out in that way. Conversely, I might write more if the blogger tends to be wordy.

5. Example of an advanced query you would use for finding prospects for this infographic?

For the PPC infographic, I targeted marketing blogs, SEO blogs, etc. I knew the end goal would ultimately be to find sites that have hosted similar content, so searching for things like "PPC infographic" worked pretty well. I almost always try to add phrases like "write for us" and "guest post" to make sure I'm not contacting a blogger who really wants nothing to do with outreach.

I strongly suggest you all follow Rob on Twitter, for great SEO and inbound marketing insights!


Thanks Mozzers!

James is an Internet Marketing specialist, who regularly breaks the web and has his colleagues show him how to put it back together. You can find him on Twitter, or visit Vector Media Group, the company that occasionally feeds him.

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Outreach Letters for Link Building [Real Examples]

Posted by Peter Attia

opening letterOutreach letters are a primary element in any quality link building campaign: If you're not getting responses, you're not getting links. It takes a lot of trial and error to find what works, which can be difficult for new link builders. To make things easier for everyone, I wanted to give several outreach letters I use for contacting different sites.

Although I have done a lot of testing with different letters, I’m by no means suggesting mine are the best of the best. These are what work for me and I do use the conversion rate of my emails as a factor.

Guest Posts

For guest posting, you want to have a more personal approach in your email. However, you don’t want to be overly personal and invade their bubble. I like to do some light digging and find something I can personally connect with them on (if you can't find something in 5 minutes, move on). I find this works better than trying to explain why the article would be a great fit for their site. Also, I found that adding a small incentive boosts the response rate.

Hey Taylor,

I recently came across BanjosOnTheGreen.com and saw that you play a Deering Banjo. I broke the neck on my banjo a few days ago so I’ve been looking for a new one. I’ve never played a Deering before though: what’s your take on them?

Also, I’ve been writing up music articles and would love the chance to write on your blog. I’d be happy to send over a new set of banjo strings as a thanks!


Michael King wrote a great article with a scenario on how you can be personal to leverage a link. This is a perfect example of the quality links you can obtain through manual outreach.

Real Correspondence Example:

guest post correspondence

Broken link building

I target personal sites for broken links. These can be blogs or enthusiast sites and usually have a page of resources or a blogroll. I’m a fan of keeping emails short, so I try not to get personal on these.

Hey David,

I was looking through your suggested links on SportRacerHeaven.com and noticed a few broken links. Let me know how to reach the webmaster and I can send a list their way!

Also, if you’re open to suggestions, I think KingKongBikeParts.com would be a great fit. They have a large variety of customized parts that I’ve had trouble finding elsewhere.

All the Best,

The webmaster will nearly always be the person you are contacting. I just use the second sentence as a buffer to get a response before providing a list. Once I get a response (And hopefully a link) I provide them with a list I’ve acquired. You can see a great correspondence example of this on Nick Leroy's broken link building post.

Also, If broken link building is still a new concept to you, Anthony Nelson wrote a tutorial on broken link building that's definitely worth checking out!

Links to a Local Business Site

Local businesses are great to target if you have something to provide in return. For example, if you have a tool that would be beneficial for them to use on their site.


My name is Peter. I work for StrictlyBusinessRealty.com and we’ve recently created a tool for real estate businesses to help their visitors find movers in their area. Since we’re located out of Charlotte, we’re offering this tool to Charlotte businesses for free for a limited time.

You can customize the tool at StrictlyBusinessRealty.com/moving-tool/

If you have any questions or need any help setting it up, let me know!


Real Correspondence Example:

Correspondence Example

Outreach Through Blog Commenting

This is what you can resort to if you can’t find any contact information on a blog. You want to be fairly vague, so that you’re not publicly displaying who your client is. I’ve seen bloggers get quite upset about outreaching to them through a comment and you obviously don’t want them publicly talking about your client negatively.

Hey Todd,

I was wondering if you accepted any guest posting on MyBliggidyBlog.com. I couldn’t manage to find your email on the site. If you could get a hold of me at notmyrealemail@gmail.com, I would greatly appreciate it!


Note: Sometimes people will respond through another comment first, so you want to make sure you’re subscribed to get emails on comments made on that post.

Real Correspondence Example:

blog comment correspondence


I then got a response via email and was able to negotiate from there.

Paid Advertising

This is more for bloggers than businesses. Businesses that have paid advertising are pretty straightforward about it. You just need to find the “advertise” button on their site and wait for them to send you an obnoxiously long media kit.

Hey Jay,

My name is Peter. I’m doing promotions for a dog related site and would like the chance to put up a small advertisement on RufusTheAllMighty.com. I think it would be a great fit considering the relevancy. If this is something you’d be interested in, just let me know! Thanks in advance!

All the Best

Real Correspondence Example:

Paid Advertisement Correspondence


How to Increase Your Response Rate

I do this for hard to get links, like EDU's. I basically open with a "soft email" to get a response. After that response, I'll hit them with my actual proposal. This works well for propositions that require a long explanation, where people tend to just skim through instead of actually reading your email.


I’m trying to get in contact with the person in charge of the CollegeUniversity.com/housing/ page. If you could point me in the right direction, I would greatly appreciate it. Thanks in advance!

All the Best,

After I get a response, I give my full pitch. Since they've already committed to a conversation with me, they will read my email word for word instead of skimming through.

Real Correspondence Example:

increase response rate email


Keeping your emails short and sweet is a great way to go. I constantly try new forms of outreach and always end up reverting back to small quick emails. They grab attention at a glance and someone can see the point of your email right away. They're also easier to construct on the fly, which allows you to send out several emails faster.

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