It is true how “pure on-site work” can enormously affect any site’s ability to grow its traffic without any push from other popular online marketing tactics.
This tweet from Cyrus actually inspired me to write this post.
I also remember Glen Dimaandal – one of the brilliant SEO minds here in the Philippines – believe in the same philosophy, on how solid content and technical optimization alone can do a lot of damage in the competition.
I’ve seen this work personally on some of the sites I’ve worked on in the past. And it still amazes me how it’s still effective.
However, the competition for web supremacy continues to get more brutal than it already is.
Creating great content and optimizing your site thoroughly for search can get you far. But in order to really compete, you need to do the more difficult stuff too – like building the right links.
I can’t stress this enough: Links are still important – as I’ve discussed it on my presentation for Marketing Festival late last year.
Earning links is absolutely the best way to automate link building.
But the truth is, to genuinely attract and earn links; you need people to have reasons to link to you. You need to get your brand and content out there for people to realize why they’d want to link out to you.
And this is where outreach comes in.
Tactic #1: Collaborate with other active guest authors in your space
Partner up with other authors/publishers in your industry that’s already well connected.
The key to succeed in this approach is ensuring your prospected partners that you are capable of providing 10x content, in which they’ll be a part of.
10x content as defined by Rand Fishkin is “content that’s 10x better than the current best item in a search result for a particular topic”
Also, Ian Lurie wrote a great guide on how to create 10x content that’s worth checking out.
The first and definitely one of the crucial steps to this type of outreach is identifying and building a list of potential partners that can help you scale your link building efforts.
Here’s a simple guide to creating your list.
Step 1: Do a Google search of authors who are actively seeking guest publishing opportunities.
Step 2: Check where each of your target has already been published as a guest author. Then make a list of all the domains.
Tips on building your list:
- Assign a column where you can put additional notes for each listed domain – where you can list whether they’re a regular contributor or a one-time guest blogger on certain publications. Since you’ll increase your chances on acquiring links from domains where they regularly contribute (as you can help them out whenever they ran out of content ideas to cover).
- It’s also important to take note if each listed author represents a company for their guest authorships, a freelancer, sells their own product/service or someone who runs a personal blog.
The aim of this approach is to lessen the quantity of outreach emails you send out by targeting individuals who have already successfully established relationships with other publishers.
Basically, instead of contacting hundreds of editors directly every month, you can just take a shortcut by reaching out and partnering with a few who are already connected with dozens of editors where they are actively promoting their own brands.
And if you do the math, you’ll be getting access to hundreds of link prospects by just putting your efforts on a few highly targeted prospects.
There are tons of ways to effectively collaborate with other active guest bloggers, and here are a few ideas you can start with (which can be a win/win situation for everyone):
No one will be too insane to skip on an opportunity to co-author a 10x content.
If you’re providing great value through the content you produce, you can extremely increase the likelihood of acquiring content partners who will be more than willing to get it published on other high-traffic publications (where they are already connected with).
One of the best ways to close a deal like this is by doing bulk of the work (like creating the majority or the entire content if necessary), but under the condition of having them help you distribute it.
You can also do this by sending your target authors interview questions, then incorporating their answers/opinions as a core part of your content (for it to be truly a product of both ends’ collaboration).
Collaborating on redistributable content
This route is probably the one that will mostly help you scale your link building campaign, seeing that you can easily reuse and distribute content types such as infographics, visual cheat sheets, slide presentations and/or videos.
Like on this one when Hubspot teamed up with Moz to create this visual history of Google’s algorithmic updates:
And the same as with the approach I suggested above, you can do bulk of the work and partner up with other active guest bloggers who can help you easily distribute and get your visual content published on sites where they’re already a contributor at (with the aim to get more brand exposure for you and your partners).
Tactic #2: Upgrade others’ outdated content
Millions of content get published every year, and surely enough, thousands of them also get outdated every year.
One of the biggest mistakes that some people do when they do outreach for guest blogging opportunities is the lack of research on their prospecting phase, wherein many are already pitching content ideas that already exists in their pool of resources.
So instead of pitching something new, why not delve into the topics that they already have covered in the past but are already under-delivering in terms of length, visualization and/or up-to-date information and data points.
When pitching for guest posting opportunities, try to look on their older posts – and make a list of those that you are confident that you can improve and provide more useful and actionable insights to.
Pro tip: Also, it’s very vital to really take the time to read your prospects’ most recent posts, to have a feel on how they develop their content. This way, you’ll have ideas on how to build or structure the content you want to pitch to them.
Make these key areas as the core of your outreach copy. Ensure your targets that you’re there to genuinely help their readers get up-to-date information, and that you precisely know how to specifically design your content based on how they actually do it (and how their readers prefer it to be).
Tactic #3: Following up non-responsive outreach prospects
Tips #3 and #4 comes from Venchito Tampon:
There will be times when you won’t receive any response from your pitch after following up several times.
This often happens with prospects who aren’t genuinely interested with what you’re pitching, which could be due to lack of content fit, and sometimes their busy schedule.
A silent conversation is worse than a solid “no” response, since the latter gives you an opportunity to jump to another prospect on the list, while the former blocks your decision-making on whether to continue the conversation or to let go of the prospect.
And in this case, what most link builders will do is to send follow-up messages until it irritates the blogger – burning bridges along the process.
At SharpRocket, what we do to avoid this, is by sending three common reasons in order to know why bloggers never had a chance to get back to us and allowing them to choose one.
Here’s the email template for this workflow.
Hi [ Name ],
I haven’t heard back from you, and that tells me one of three things:
1) You’re not interested at this time, but we can work out something in the future.
2) You’re still interested, but haven’t had the time to get back to me yet.
3) You saw our content but you think it’s not fit to add to your page.
Please let me know which one it is, because I’m starting to worry. If you have other reasons, please let me know so I can stop bothering you.
Thanks and looking forward to hearing from you.
[ Name ]
This follow-up email enables you to act on issues immediately, such as improving content based on the blogger’s feedback (for case 3), scheduling custom follow-up email to get an update (for case 2) or looping back to the person with a different value proposition in the future (for case 1).
Another difference-maker that you can add on this email copy is the option to ask the person if he wants to be included in a Do Not Contact or Do Not Disturb list – a list of people who don’t want further engagement after initial pitch.
This process will help you avoid reaching out to the same person again, which saves your campaign a lot of time.
Tactic #4: Tracking open rates with MailTrack.io
Mailtrack.io enables you to know if emails had been sent to their proper places and if the person you’re trying to reach out to opens your email.
While its equivalent products in the market such as Boomerang and Yesware offer paid options for open rate tracking, Mailtrack.io provides this function for free.
So if you are a marketer trying to weigh budget with ROI, this tool does its job of helping you improve your blogger outreach efforts by keeping you in loop with your link prospects.
When a person reads your pitch but didn’t respond to it, it can signal you that something may not be quite right with your emails.
The insights this tool provides can then help you better understand how majority of your targets think, where you can act upon immediately. While waiting for days to follow up that person, you can figure out ways to improve your outreach template (like making your subject lines more enticing to increase clicks).
Tactic#5: Your turn!
I’m planning to continuously update this list, and also thinking of co-authoring this blog post with anyone who’s interested (and yes, you’ll get a link for it). If you have something out-of-the-box and you’re willing to share it to the SEO community, feel free to drop me a line.
Need help with outreach? Check out our link building services here.