Link-building outreach is a combination between a sales prospecting call and asking someone out. If both these activities seem daunting, you can imagine what their baby is like.
That’s why you’re on the right page.
This guide will take you through the step-by-step process we use with our own clients. We will give you actionable advice from A to Z, featuring examples and email templates you can copy. We will even create an arch-nemesis to work against in an imaginary link-building campaign.
In other words, we will make SEO link building a breeeze. Keep reading below.
- Link-building outreach is like a blend of sales prospecting and asking someone out.
- The article provides a step-by-step guide with actionable advice, examples, and email templates for successful link-building outreach.
- Link-building outreach involves reaching out to website managers to secure links, and it's more challenging than it seems.
- The average outreach reply rate is only 8.5%.
- To succeed, you need good planning and a variety of skills, including SEO knowledge, social media skills, and patience.
- Prepare a professional outreach email address, create an email signature, and warm up the address before sending messages.
- Outreach platforms can be helpful for organization and automation, but they're not always necessary.
- Finding the right websites to target is crucial; conduct an internal audit, analyze competitors, and categorize link prospects.
- Ahrefs is a valuable tool for identifying link-building opportunities, including guest blogging, broken link building, and linkable assets.
- Identify the right person to contact on the target website, preferably in marketing roles.
- Craft personalized emails with a clear value proposition and a focus on mutual benefits.
- Follow up politely if you don't receive a response within a few days.
- Keep track of your outreach efforts using Google Sheets or CRM software.
- Monitor incoming links, analyze websites that link back, and understand why some websites didn't link.
- Building relationships with link partners can lead to better results in the long term.
What Is Link-Building Outreach Anyways?
Link-building is the process of earning links from relevant, authoritative websites. Link-building outreach entails reaching out to those website managers so they can include your link.
At first glance, link-building outreach may not seem like a challenge.
After all, how hard can it be to write an email asking for a link?
The reality is different because:
- Link-builders reach out to real, busy people who receive tens of similar outreach emails each day.
- You must craft a persuasive message that helps you stand out in just a few lines without appearing spammy.
Unfortunately, the average outreach reply rate is just 8.5%.
Insider tip: Improve your outreach success rate by sending messages from the correct email address.
Yes, outreach needs so much fine-tuning that you need a specific email address before starting anything else. But we’ll delve into that below.
Remember: For your link-building campaign to succeed, you must get through to those people first. And for that, you need good planning and a host of skills:
- Technical skills in search engine optimization (on-page SEO)
- The ability to learn and use link-building outreach tools
- Social media skills to find and connect to people through these platforms
- The ability to pitch guest posts and come up with relevant content ideas
- Interpersonal skills, such as good communication and listening skills
- Flexibility as you’ll be talking to a large variety of different people
- Patience to zero in on the right link-building strategies
The whole process can seem daunting. That’s why we at Breeeze have a well-mapped link-building outreach strategy. Let’s begin:
Step 1: Prepare Your Outreach Email
Your email address for blogger outreach must be associated with a genuine person (ideally an employee), not a persona. Consider that a fake name on your email will raise some suspicions if someone actually Googles you.
- Create a new business email or:
- Use an existing one
Some SEO experts advocate using an email address linked to the client company. Others simply use their SEO agency emails.
The problem here is trust.
Some people may be more tempted to open outreach emails from real companies. But regardless of your choice, remember to steer clear of free email providers like Yahoo and Gmail. Using such an address might make your email look spammy and it will look like you’re barely trying.
Pro tip: Incorporate an email signature to make the email look more professional. Include your full name, job title, phone number, and website URL.
Insider tip: Warm up this email address before sending any messages. If you send hunderds of professional messages from a completely new address, these emails will likely be marked as spam.
Email warm-up means boosting the reputation of your new email address and increasing your daily email-sending limit over time.
- Create an email address.
- Send a few conversational emails each day. Ask questions so you will get replies.
- Respond to those replies as well.
Step 2 (Optional): Use an Outreach Platform
Outreach platforms can ease your work because you can:
- Create tailored templates.
- Keep track of your communication.
- Find your prospects’ email addresses.
That helps you stay more organized and, therefore, more effective.
Some tools even provide competitive analysis and help you sleuth out link-building opportunities. It all depends on your link-building outreach campaign’s magnitude.
Outreach platforms can help you automatize many of your tasks, but they aren’t 100% necessary for a smaller campaign. In fact, you can do much of that work manually for a more personal touch. Notable examples include Buzzstream, Pitchground and OutreachNinja.
Step 3: Find Websites You Want to Get Links From
This step is arguably one of the hardest because you must reach the right targets. Here is our process:
- We start with an internal audit of our clients, looking at their marketing goals and other link-building efforts.
- We analyze the SEO and marketing problems they face, as well as their potential opportunities.
- We audit the client’s competitors and their backlink strategy, trying to find missed link-building opportunities and unique insights that could uniquely position our customers.
Here’s our step-by-step process in a nutshell:
- Check the URLs you need to get links to.
- Divide them into relevant categories: “Sales,” “Social media,” and “Human Resources” is one example. It will make the outreach process easier because you can send personalized messages according to your targets’ niches.
- Check your link partners’ domains: It will help speed up link acquisition.
- Pitch the platforms that accept guest posts: Make sure the domains are in your niches.
- Figure out who’s linking to your competitors in Ahrefs: The competitors’ valuable links will certainly be on sites that are relevant to your niches
- Check the potential domains’ metrics in Ahrefs: Focus on domain rating, organic traffic, and backlink profile.
- Use link-building communities on Slack and various social media channels: This will help you expand the list of your partners.
- Rinse and repeat.
Let’s explain how you can use Ahrefs to find websites that will link back to you based on three of the most commonly used link-building tactics:
3.1. Guest Blogging
The backlink tool from Ahrefs allows you to analyze referring domains that drive the link juice to your competitors and referring domains pointing to your website. This tool helps you realize where you stand compared to your competition.
And you can also leverage it to identify opportunities:
- Figure out what sort of content your target domains are publishing.
- Produce more relevant and quality content in that same niche.
- Send your pitch to these websites.
Let’s say Asana is one of your main competitors, and your own app is ingeniously called Asoona. Use the Ahrefs backlink checker to find the websites that point to it:
Notice the left column features those sites’ domain ratings. Next, you can see the article titles, followed by the anchor texts.
Next, analyze your backlink profile to understand whether you could reach out to similar websites writing similar blog posts or develop a new blog writing tactic.
Pro tip: Ahrefs Site Explorer can further help you contour your competitors’ backlinks and keyword rankings.
3.2. Broken Link Building
Broken link-building is a white-hat link-building technique that entails finding broken links on your target referring domains.
- Choose the dead links for which you already have a valuable piece of content or linkable tool.
- Contact the referring domains, kindly explaining that one of their outbound links is pointing to a page that no longer exists.
- Pitch your content or tool swiftly, so you don’t sound spammy. (Yes, we’ll explain how to do that in one of the sections below.)
Let’s say you want to post on Clickup.com like your arch-nemesis, Asana. Using the Ahrefs broken link checker, you can find the broken links on this website:
If you’re looking at the stats, the first broken link from Google Play seems a good opportunity to promote your app.
Besides, Asana was featured in a Clickup article, “23 Best Task Management Software Tools for Work in 2023.” This article about the 32 best productivity apps could give you a way into the same niche.
And it would also tell Google what your app is doing.
3.3. Linkable Assets
Linkable assets include:
- Content: Comprehensive reports, how-to guides, or case studies about your industry’s future.
- Software: Unique tool that customers and competitors alike could benefit from.
In this case, you can reach out to high-domain authority websites that could link to those assets.
- Make a list of the websites in your industry where you would like to be quoted and featured.
- Use the Ahrefs website authority checker to rank these websites by authority before pitching your assets.
Step 4: Find the Relevant Person to Reach Out To
Once you’ve made a list of websites you would like to get backlinks from, you should identify the relevant person to reach out to.
- Avoid the general contact form of a company.
- Contacting the wrong person is annoying for them, so they will likely ignore your email instead of forwarding it to the right person.
Pro tip: Find someone in marketing because they’re the most likely to reply and add your link. The best people to contact are:
- Head of content
- Content manager
- Content marketing manager
- Managing editor
- Or a similar job post
You can find these people by using:
- The company’s LinkedIn
- An email finder, such as Hunter.io
Let’s say you have decided to metaphorically bury your primal enemy, Asana, by getting more high-quality backlinks from Clickup. Type “Asana content marketing manager” into Google, and you can immediately reach Gregory Swan’s LinkedIn:
Step 5: Create a Personalized Email
Creating a personalized email for Gregory Swan is crucial for your outreach efforts. After all, he is a content marketing manager at a big company, so you can’t just spam him with a cold email you send to all your targets.
- Mention/specify a person’s name. Never use “Hey there,” “Hey dear,” or anything similar.
- Introduce yourself and the company you’re working for.
- Explain your proposal for outbound links but avoid long, vague sentences, which can be confusing and tedious.
- Be authentic and genuine.
- Hook them with a tailored opening and an attractive subject line.
- Show that you have read their website and are familiar with their work.
- Explain what you offer and what you need in just a few short sentences.
- Focus on how this offer benefits both of you. Perhaps you have a stellar piece of content that will improve one of their posts or a better replacement for one of their dead links.
Let’s say you spy on Gregory Swan’s LinkedIn and notice that he posted a link to 100 free ChatGPT templates:
Use this as a hook to start your email. Here’s a potential message for your competitive app innovatively called “Asoona”:
I recently noticed your LinkedIn post about 100 Free Chat GPT Templates. This is an invaluable resource for content marketing professionals.
I’m reaching out because I also wrote an in-depth article on “The Future of Chat GPT: Better Engagement Through Automation.” I lean into a slew of innovative strategies to help brands increase engagement using AI.
And I have plenty of statistics and Asimov references to keep people entertained.
I’m sure both our audiences would appreciate this type of content.
Would you be open to including a backlink to this article in an upcoming post on the Clickup blog? Let me know what you think!
Alternatively, here are a few real outreach emails we sent on behalf of our client, inBeat.co:
- Relationship-based link-building:
- Blog post opportunities:
Step 6: Follow-up
Many people don’t respond to link builders’ emails. Other times, these emails can be sent straight into their spam folders. Or they can get ignored because of hectic schedules.
So, if you don’t get a reply within a few days, you should send a follow-up.
Bonus: This strategy shows your intentions are genuine and that you’re a professional person.
To streamline the follow-up process:
- Organize your outreach process, keeping track of the messages you send. You can either use a CRM tool or a simple spreadsheet for this.
- Record any replies you get.
- Use a calendar app that would help you keep track of your activities and to-do lists.
Here’s what a follow-up email should look like:
- Keep it short, specific, and polite because you already sent them a message with all the details.
- Reiterate that you would love to hear their feedback.
- Ask what you can do to streamline this process.
- Ideally, 3-4 days is a good period of time to wait before sending your first follow-up email.
Follow up once or twice, and then don’t contact them again for this specific campaign. 3 follow-up emails is definitely too much.
Here’s an example you can use as inspiration:
Step 7: Track Your Outreach
Use Google Sheets to track who you’ve messaged, when, and what about. This simple spreadsheet is effective for small to mid-tier campaigns.
However, larger or multiple link-building outreach campaigns will need you to use CRM software.
Useful tools: Apollo.io, Getprospect, and Ahrefs can help you find contact info and track email outreach. Besides, Apollo.io informs you when emails are opened.
Here’s what you should include in your sheet:
- Website names
- Domain authority
- Contact person
- Contact date
- Follow-up date
- Whether they replied or not
- Earned outbound links
We’ll make it easier for you; copy the table below into an Excel sheet to get started:
Remember: This is just a template. You can use it anytime, but we encourage you to add your own variables, depending on your goals.
Watch the Links Come In
Watching the links come in is arguably the best part of the outreach process. But it also doesn’t mean that your job is done.
You must monitor the incoming links:
- Analyze the websites that linked back to you: Look at variables such as Domain rating, how high up in the article they posted your link, in what type of webpage your link appears in, and the anchor text. You should also evaluate the relationship with your contact person.
- Analyze the websites that didn’t link back to you: What is their domain authority? What reasons did they offer for not including your backlink, if any?
Then, use this information to scale up your campaign:
- Keep a professional relationship open with the people who posted your links: This will help you scale up from outreach link-building to relationship-based link-building.
- Understand why certain websites didn’t link back to your website: Perhaps you didn’t identify the best opportunities. For example, guest posting an article on their blog might be more work than simply sharing that same link on LinkedIn.
Start Your Link-Building Outreach
This guide took you through the process of outreach for link-building, sharing tips and tricks to do it best.
You now know that sending these messages from the right email address is just as important as personalizing the message. And you also know that outreach emailing is based on hard-cold data. Constant analysis and monitoring of your campaign will help you reap more opportunities, thus getting better results.
Breeeze can help you with the entire process. Find out how by scheduling a free meeting with us today. We’ll discuss your needs, potential SEO strategies, and more.