In this post Sam Binks, Online Marketing Consultant at Miles Technologies, discusses the proper approach for sharing ideas and reaching out to those high-quality websites.
There’s no denying that building high quality links is one of the best ways to improve your website’s visibility online. Links make up a huge part of search engine algorithms, so getting more of the good ones in a natural way will definitely give you a boost.
In our previous posts, Link Building 101 Part I and Part Deux, we talked about the basics, some link building strategies and how to identify good quality websites while avoiding Google penalties. In this article we’ll talk about how to actually reach out to those websites and share your ideas with the people that matter.
Important note: we are NOT contacting people asking for links. That’s spamming, Brother, and we don’t like that here.
Rather we want to share quality content with webmasters which will improve their websites and provide something positive for their readers. If they provide a followed link, great, you’ll get some SEO value. If they slap on a nofollow tag, then at least you’ll benefit from referral traffic to your website. Links are the by-product of quality content, not the sole aim.
Top Outreach Tactics
Notice how I said ‘outreach’ here, not link building. We’re not going around asking people for links, but reaching out to ask if they’d like to check out our valuable content. Whether it’s an exceptionally well written article for a guest blog (more on that later), a cool infographic, or a funny video, webmasters DO want to hear about it, just in the right way.
Emailing webmasters, editors or media coordinators is a great way to get your stuff shared, and as long as you do it in the right way, has a great success rate. It’s important to be friendly, personable and succinct. Don’t write an essay, and don’t automatically assume they will love whatever you’re offering.
Here’s an example of an email we sent to a source that was actively looking for expert opinions on next generation communications, and ended up being published the following week:
- I used a quick and specific email title
- I addressed the contact by their name!
- I introduced myself to be totally transparent
- I got right into the pitch and was clear about what my client could offer, and why
- I provided a secondary option that could add value to the website if option 1 was a no go
- I asked for their opinion to end
- I did NOT mention anything about links, as I was NOT seeking a link. Just an opportunity to showcase my clients’ expertise in a renowned publication
I’m not saying you have to follow this format exactly, because everyone is different. There are loads of examples of successful outreach emails online, this one just happened to be a success as I was clear, quick and actually asked the contact for their opinion.
Just don’t do this, *facepalm*:
Take To Social Media
If you know the person you want to contact, but can’t find the find their email address, then see if they have a social media account. This also applies if you don’t know anyone’s name and are just curious to see if a source would be interested in your content.
Tweet them. Facebook them.
It doesn’t have to be an essay, just a quick ‘hey, I’ve got an idea for X that talks about Y, what’s your company email address?’ If you look like a credible source, 9 times out of 10, people will send you some type of reply. Of course, you should choose your battles, so don’t expect the head of a HUGE publication to Tweet you back instantly. Try someone further down the chain of command.
Another tactic on social media is to identify someone who you’d really like to feature your work, and genuinely take an interest in them and what they do. That’s right, try to build a relationship with them in some way:
- Answer questions they might have
- Suggest restaurants or places to go if they’re visiting your city
- Have a conversation with them about a mutual interest
The aim here is not to fake being interested just to get your stuff published, but to build a relationship that might end with that. If not it doesn’t matter. They might even tell one of their awesome friends about you, and your stuff could get picked up elsewhere.
Pick Up The Phone
Sometimes, getting someone on the phone is the fastest and most effective way of getting an ‘in’. In this case though, contacts can be wary of ‘cold calls’, so try to reference an opportunity they might have listed. Or if they have a blog, talk about a post that already exists that you could enhance or take further in a new article. Warming people up when calling out of the blue is the key to success.
It goes without saying that you should be polite and respectful, but direct. Everyone’s busy, so don’t waste people’s time. Don’t call during lunch hours, or at the end of the day. Strategize and plan your approach, and always be open to a new direction. Remember, you’re not calling up to get a link, you’re asking about an opportunity.
A Word On Guest Blogging
No, guest blogging is not dead. There are some exceptional blogs out there that add tremendous value, and have experts posting regularly. Without great minds coming together in one place to share knowledge and expertise, we’d all be living in the dark ages. Having said that, do it in moderation, and don’t make guest posting your primary tactic for building links.
However, guest blogging for links IS dead. If you’re writing hundreds of low quality articles and blasting them out to anyone and everyone, prepare to have a Google penalty. The big G doesn’t stand for spam anymore, and they really hate people using underhand methods to get ahead.
Articles that are garbage, posted on low quality sites and contain links back to low quality websites don’t belong on the internet. They add value to nobody. So don’t waste your time.
Articles that are well written by experts, add value to a website and are so cool they’ll be ‘evergreen’, shared virally and even referenced elsewhere on the web are a WIN. Followed links or not, these posts will always be popular.
The Paid Link Demon
Paying for links is frowned upon by Google and most major search engines. It’s a bad practice of search engine optimization, and goes against the whole ‘let’s share the coolest stuff out there’ approach that Google works by.
Specifically paying for links isn’t wise, but neither is paying webmasters/ bloggers to write favorable articles about your website, product or service to include a mention. You shouldn’t even buy them dinner, send them a free sample they get to keep. Check out the following video by Google’s head of Webspam, Matt Cutts, which clears up this kind of situation:
So What’cha Gonna Do?
If you’re going to start reaching out to people, make sure you’re doing it in a natural and unforced way. Be transparent with your contact, and do NOT contact anybody just for links.
The whole point of outreach is to offer something of a high quality to people that’ll add value to their websites. You’ll benefit from this in the long run, through referral traffic and, potentially, viral shares.
To get the crowd on your side and become a bone-fide hero, make sure all your tactics are positive, never spammy and never to ‘play the system’. Stay ‘white hat’ and you’ll never have a problem. Otherwise, Brother, remember to train hard, say your prayers and take your vitamins!
We’d love to hear your thoughts or comments. What kind of link building outreach have you found successful? Are you simply a Hulkamaniac? Let us know!