Best Citation Building Services (30+ Reviewed)

Looking for the best citation building services? Look no further! In this post, we’ll review the top 30 citation building services and help you choose the right one for your business.

Citation building is the process of creating listings for your business on directories and other websites. These listings include your business name, address, and phone number (NAP), as well as other important information like your business hours and website URL.

Creating accurate and consistent citations is important for local search optimization because it helps search engines better understand your business and its location. citation building can also help improve your visibility in local search results, making it easier for potential customers to find you online.

There are a lot of citation building services out there, and it can be tough to know which one is right for you. That’s why we’ve put together this comprehensive list of the best citation building services, complete with reviews and comparisons.

Take a look at the list below and find the perfect citation building service for your business!

Keep scrolling to see the entire list of 50+ citation building company. In between, I’ll give you a background on what citations are and why you need them.

What are Citations in SEO?

Citations are an online reference of a business. To be considered a reference, it should contains the name, address and phone number of the business with or without a backlink to the business website.

Search engines can crawl these listings and consider them as “votes” of legitimacy that can impact your SEO both positively or negatively, depending on the implementation.

Top 10 Citation Building Services for 2020

1. Submitshop

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Submitshop is a Search Engine Optimization Submission, Web Promotion, Internet Marketing and Ranking Placement Company specializing in search engine submission, website optimization, internet marketing and other web promotion services so that the clients can effectively achieve their business objectives online and have a high ROI. We at Submit Shop work with each client on a one-to-one basis to evaluate needs and provide the very best service and support.

2. SEOlutions

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All of our link packages are developed synergistically. This means, that each of our services consists of different types of backlinks with a different metrical baseline and purpose. Subsequently, you can combine all of our packages with each other to create an individualized, well-structured and powerful campaign of different backlinks to catapult your website to new heights

3. Local Citation

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Local Citation UK, headquartered in London, United Kingdom is offering Local business citation submission services since 2013. Their local search engine optimization team is known for their updated and well-maintained citation sources database with 1000s of quality business listing and yellow pages websites for countries like USA, UK, Australia and Canada. They have primary and secondary citation sources of whole United Kingdom covering Greater London, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Local Citation UK Services are citation building, citation cleanup, complete citation audit and management.

4. MarketersCenter

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We set fair prices for all of our services so you can resell them at a fair and ethical price to your clients.

5. Greenix Marketing

GreenixMedia started in 2008 as a mission to provide truly secure web hosting. Since then we have matured into a “boutique” agency offering quality Web Design, Hosting & Management and Internet Marketing services.

6. Triple Option Web Solutions

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Triple Option Web Solutions has always remained committed to providing affordable, compelling, and innovative website design, local search engine optimization, and a range of digital marketing strategies and services to companies and organizations.

7. Citation Building Service

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Providing local citation submission & building services since more than 5 years now. This site is specifically dedicated for citation building for USA & Canada areas covering all areas like New York, California, Seattle, Houston, Chicago, San Diego,  Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal, Vancouver

8. Tistasoft

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As an SEO Services Company, we provide clients with creative Internet marketing solutions that deliver real results.

9. RS Seo Solution

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RS SEO Solution has been providing complete SEO and link building services ever since it was founded in 2004. We are now one among the top 10 SEO link building firms, thanks to all people for their enormous trust in our link building strategies. We strictly adhere to manual link submission strategies and that will continue to be the most successful strategies in times of any changes.

10. Bright Local

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We built BrightLocal to help every marketer working with a local business do their job better. Our tools and services have already helped over 80,000 local marketers deliver success for their brands and clients, and we’re just getting started.

The Rest

11. MOZ Local

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At Moz, we believe there is a better way to do marketing. A more valuable, less invasive way where customers are earned rather than bought. We’re obsessively passionate about it, and our mission is to help people achieve it. We focus on search engine optimization (SEO). It’s one of the least understood and least transparent aspects of great marketing, and we see that as an opportunity: We’re excited to simplify SEO for everyone through our software, education, and community.

12. Whitespark

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Whitespark is a free online SEO analysis tool that helps you improve your business.
This tool tracks your search engine optimization rankings by location.
It also helps you find your citations and online references to your business, which can increase your rankings.
Using it, you can build your reputation via online customer feedback and reviews and you can easily find quality link-building opportunities.

13. Yext

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The world of search has seen a massive paradigm shift. People don’t just type in disparate keywords; they ask very specific questions. And they expect — and depend on — accurate answers to help them make important decisions in their lives. However, they are increasingly delivered misinformation, making it harder for people to know if they can really trust the answers they are getting online.

14. Synup

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Synup transforms a brands’ ability to deliver relevant and trustworthy business content across all locations, devices, and digital media. Brands can now easily analyze and optimize their content across reviews, voice search, menus and more while improving customer acquisition, advocacy, loyalty, brand experience, and discoverability.

15. The Hoth

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The HOTH is an acronym for Hittem Over The Head, in other words, to bludgeon with awesomeness. It can be used as a noun (as in our product, or our brand) or as a verb (i.e. To HOTH someone, to HOTH something). When we started the HOTH in 2010, the industry was plagued with sketchy service providers with poor support. We wanted to change all that. We became the best SEO company so you would have an amazing experience. We put our names and faces on The HOTH, made support a PRIORITY and gave out guarantees. We developed an entire suite of products to fit your needs. We made a streamlined production system that allows us to deliver your custom projects and campaigns with agility, speed, and scale. All in a nicely wrapped interface that produces results for YOU, day in and day out.

16. Loganix

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Our service expanded as new ranking signals became preeminent. Over time, we developed a measured approach to dealing with new algorithm changes that’s perfectly suited to today’s SEO nuance. Our team—with backgrounds in website development, copywriting, and link building—gives us the resources to develop and launch solutions in-house that serve businesses around the world.

17. LocalMyBiz

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We offer Advanced Local SEO Services in accordance with Google policies that will benefit your business. Our #SEO techniques are up to date, result-oriented and make money for small and medium businesses and larger companies. Whether it’s the latest search engine optimization updates or risky algorithmic changes incorporated by Google, our experts and seasoned, certified SEO experts work in a unique way to keep your business safe.

18. Silver Edge Media

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Silver Edge Media is an Online Marketing Company that offers a wide range of online marketing strategies and other online services for any business in any industry. We are highly efficient, focusing on constructing fast and effective results for all the wants and needs of our clients. Our company features professional online workers who are highly skilled, knowledgeable, and experienced when it comes to online marketing services. We are committed to helping people achieve their goals through our comprehensive solutions.

19. Citation Building Group

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Here at Citation Building Group, we pride ourselves in providing SEO agencies, with a cost- effective citation building service.
We understand that SEO agencies optimize their clients’ businesses through Local SEO strategies and that citation building is one of those strategies. Contracting Citation Building Group to handle your clients’ online business directory submissions will allow you to focus on the other Local SEO marketing strategies. You supply us with your clients’ information and our expert team will immediately begin working on the citation submissions.

20. KSoft

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KSoft also has a unique structure of functioning which strives more for Quality and also timely communication with the client for hassle-free performance. Ksoft provides a team of skilled manpower as per the client and project requirements, which is 100% dedicated to the project. To ensure customer satisfaction we work 24/7 & 365 days with developing quality work, at quality work atmosphere to generate quality work productivity.

21. eXthus

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We treat your business like it’s our own. We take the time to fully understand what your business does, who your target market are, and what your goals are. Every link we build, and every piece of content we create, is something we are proud of. If we wouldn’t do it for eXthus, we won’t do it for you.

22. Allure SEO

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Allure SEO provides complete website design, maintenance configuration, and promotion services for businesses that want to expand their customers into new markets. We combine logistic and data-driven tracking for increased online search results that yield higher interest in this global marketplace.

23. Kate Dewick

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Our team lead by Kate Dewick, specializes in results-driven solutions for businesses like yours. The process starts by LISTENING to YOU. We don’t offer a one size fits all solution. We ask questions, and perform hours of research on your business, customers and competition.  Our knowledge lets us make informed decisions that will allow us to be creative to produce results so you out sell your competition and increase your profits for years to come.

24. FATJOE

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FATJOE was founded in the year 2012 and is one of the good and yet growing SEO agency for link building and Content Marketing.

25. Montreal 360 Local

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We claim all of the most important directories where possible and give in-depth instructions for all others that should be verified by the client (they may require a phone call or other methods of verification). Live profiles are the only ones which are delivered, including all client login info.

26. MarketingBros

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Our team pay extra attention to your overall local citation profile and never create dupe listings. Not just that, once we discover a prior existing duplicate or incorrect citation we record it to your report so you can take action.
We have tweaked our process that allows us to deliver accurate citations. MarketingBros has a strict quality control standards and process, and a manual verification of the information you have supplied us will guarantee a mistake-free campaign!

27. Compete Digital

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Here at Compete Digital, we like to believe that online marketing should be done in synergy. We believe content is the cornerstone of inbound marketing and every other activity revolves around promoting it and converting content consumers into customers.

28. Digital Media Group

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Digital Media Group was established in 2011 by David Nazaryan and Sam Davtyan. Prior to starting their own PR and marketing agency, they worked for several leading marketing and media companies representing global brands and small businesses. Their reputation as PR and marketing professionals began spreading by word-of-mouth among digital media companies as they began to understand what these two talented men are capable of achieving.

29. DigitalMobz

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At DigitalMobz, our professional experts wish to place the business to next higher level. With the increasing competition, it becomes difficult for the business to stand by the first position. But, we aim to foster the growth in best possible way with world-class technologies. Our vision is to grow, maintain and create a perfect storm for your business site.

30. Web Digital Marketing

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Web Digital Marketing was founded in 2011. We are the best website design, development, digital marketing and branding agency in Ahmedabad, India that will increase the recognition of your online business. Design and development of unique solutions, web and mobile applications and digital marketing – we do everything to increase the profitability of your business.

31. ClickDo

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As a London-based SEO Agency and local consultancy firm we do have the most authentic search engine optimization skills and all our team members are ranking for some of the world’s toughest keywords. There is a science behind this and all staff receive regular training to use the SEO tools as effectively and innovatively as possible.

32. Credo

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Credo started in 2013 out of a frustration with bad marketing firms who do subpar work for clients. We’re here to bring transparency, good business practices, and great work to the consulting world.

33. Post Launch

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Post Launch serves our clients above all else. (That includes our moms, spouses and children—your mom, too!) Online success is primary in all our pursuits, treating each business as if it were our own. We strive to be the smartest in the web presence stratosphere, so you have more time in your day to do what you enjoy, whatever weird crap it is you like doing.

34. SEO Traffic

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We understand your need to find more customers online through Google. We work with various companies and develop an affordable SEO strategy that helps increase their online visibility. We have been serving clients across South Africa and Internationally. Our Primary goal is to help your business increase sales through your website by generating targeted leads through various SEO strategies.

35. Brand Pips

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BrandPips, the established web services company in Singapore that has creative team employing advanced techniques and talents serving clients across the world. Our highly streamlined approach gives our customers the positive experience.

36. Huptech Web

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The brainchild of a young achiever with a zest to conquer the digital world through ardent efforts and continuous updation with the latest technological means.

37. Target Digital Marketing

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Target Digital Marketing is a performance based digital marketing firm specializing in direct response and other strategic online marketing approaches. Our strategies are designed to improve traffic, generate leads and increase customer sales for local businesses. We’ve been partnering with business owners across North America for a number of years to improve their online presence, digital marketing strategies and campaigns.

Conclusion

A Brief Explanation of the Lists:

– Link building services list: this is a catch-all list of all the popular link building services, regardless of the specific method of link building they do
– Guest posting services list: companies make this list if they build links using their already existing network of bloggers
– Blogger outreach services list: companies make this list if they reach out to bloggers that they don’t have connections with on your behalf
– Directory submission services list

Best Citation Building Services (30+ Reviewed)

Looking for the best citation building services? Look no further! In this post, we’ll review the top 30 citation building services and help you choose the right one for your business. Citation building is the process of creating listings for your business on directories and other websites. These listings include your business name, address, and … Continue reading “Best Citation Building Services (30+ Reviewed)”

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Anchor Text Optimization for Link Building

In 2022, few things are more complicated or frustrating than cracking the ever-changing code to successful SEO.

Especially when it pertains to anchor text strategy.

Back in the “Glory Days” of SEO when keyword stuffing, comment spamming, and link schemes were as common as guest posting, link baiting, and booty pics on Instagram are today… anchor text strategy was simple.

You built a metric crap ton of exact match anchors in your blog article, linked them to a relevant asset, and voila! SEO juice for days.

In 2012 the first iteration of Google’s Penguin update changed that.

The exact strategies that worked only moments before the update went live will now get your site penalized into the stone age.

Exact match anchors were shunned and unnatural backlink profiles were targeted and brought down en masse, leading to widespread panic among formerly successful SEOs.

While many webmasters recovered from the update, many more did not.

Over the following years this trend was strengthened as Google rolled out updates like PandaHummingbird, and Penguin 4.0.

Although these updates improved the value and efficacy of their algorithm, it also had the unintended consequence of making it more difficult for honest marketers to answer the question, “What in the hell are we supposed to do?”

Don’t worry…

Even though there are more than 200 factors Google uses to determine who should rank #1, SEO can be simplified.

Although agencies and freelancers will talk a big game about how “difficult” SEO is and how complicate their strategies are… typically (although not always), this dribble is little more than sales-driven hyperbole designed to scare unsuspecting entrepreneurs into paying huge fees.

To make matters even worse, the court of public opinion seems to have reached the verdict that any anchor text optimization is considered “spammy” and should be avoided at all costs.

If you check forums or read most anchor text guides you get varying opinions.

For example, if you take a cursory glance at the Reddit SEO thread, you’ll likely see something like this…

Question : Hi, I’m building some links and wondering what I should do for anchor text. Any ideas?

95% of Answers : If you’re building links or optimizing anchor text, you are a spammer and Google should destroy your site and demolish your soul!!!!! I just create content that is so amazing that literally everyone showers me in backlinks and praise and I’m pretty sure Obama is going to give me a medal because I’m the #shizzle.

Barring the fact that the vast majority of the “experts” and “gurus” responding to these questions have never achieved true SEO success with their own website, much less on a larger scale (for example running a legitimate SEO agency), the idea that anchor text optimization is somehow a death penalty for your business is just plain wrong…

The internet is a crowded place. In fact, since you read this sentence more than 26 new blog posts have been published are there are 1,999,974 that are going to be published in the next 24 hours.

“Publish it and they will come” simply doesn’t work when faced with the realities of modern day SEO…

… And every top brand in the industry knows this.

Investing time, energy, and money into a quality link building campaign is a fantastic prescription for SEO success.

And today, I’m going to introduce a new concept.

A theory that will bring higher success rates for all that time and effort you put into link building.

I’m calling it Linker’s Intent.

And it’s the key to establishing natural anchor text percentages and staying out of Penguin trouble.

Read all about it, and/or use this free anchor text percentage recommendation tool to get the exact percentages to shoot for.

A Brief Guide to Linker’s Intent

When I first started mind mapping this concept of Linker’s Intent, every description and breakdown I could think of just seemed either really complicated or too high-level.

I started wondering if I’d just end up confusing you more. In fact it caused me to shelve this article for a long time until it felt clearer in my mind.

Finally it did get clearer once my tool, Linkio, had progressed enough that I was able to analyze tons of backlink data properly and validate/refine some of my ideas.

So here goes…

Whenever a fellow webmaster links to you, they will naturally do so for a variety of different reasons.

For example, one person might link to your homepage as a resource, another might cite a personal anecdote your shared in a blog post, and another still might link to your services page because of some exceptional work that you did for them in the past.

Each of these links is awarded from a different “Linker’s Intent”.

More specifically, the person linking to your homepage as a resource will tend to use a different type of anchor text than another person who is linking to your blog post, and different still from a person linking to your services page.

Our research and work with 100s of clients lead us to discover that this simple “Linker’s Intent” mindset means anchor text percentages on your web pages should differ GREATLY depending on the type of page it is.

This is the primary basis of the concept I’m teaching you today (might be worth re-reading the previous 5 paragraphs a couple times to drill it in).

If you can understand the Linker’s Intent associated with each of your most important pages, you can craft an extremely natural backlink profile that will help you rank faster while simultaneously avoiding the wrath of the “Algo Gods”.

If this is all sounding a little complicated and “out of reach” for you right now, don’t worry.

In this guide I’m going to take you by the hand and walk you through these concepts from beginner to expert so that you have the exact tools and strategies that you need to create an impeccable anchor text profile, rank your website on the first page of Google, and dodge penalties like a politician dodges questions.

Specifically, I’m going to teach you about:

  • The 5 big anchor text categories and their 13 subtypes
  • The 7 potential page types on your website
  • The ideal anchor text percentages for each page type
  • Strategies to measure your current progress
  • How to determine EXACTLY how many links you need to build for each page
  • Discover which anchors are missing and the order in which you should build them.

We’ve got a lot of ground to cover and you might want to bookmark this page so you can come back later for reference… But without any further ado, let’s dive in.

The 5 Anchor Text Categories

Anchor text is, quite simply, the word or phrase that you use to build links back to your content.

For example, “Linkio” is the anchor and https://www.linkio.com is the link to which it is anchored.

Although the premise is incredibly simple… You highlight text, add a link, and boom! You have your anchor text…

… There are a myriad of different anchor text types, each with their own specific uses and percentages with which they should be used.

Branded Anchors

These anchors contain your brand name and can fall into one of two subtypes.

  • Subtype 1: Brand Name (e.g. Linkio)
  • Subtype 2: Websitename.com (e.g. linkio.com)

Keyword Anchors

These anchors contain the target keyword of a specific page or piece of content and contain three subtypes.

  • Subtype 1: Exact Keyword (e.g. “how to build backlinks”)
  • Subtype 2: Just part of keyword (e.g. guide to links)
  • Subtype 3: Keyword + word (e.g. how to build backlinks guide, built a portfolio website)

Hybrid Anchors

The third type of anchors are hybrid anchors which, as the name would suggest, are a hybrid between branded and keyword anchors.

The two subtypes are:

  • Subtype 1: Title tag (e.g. the title of the article… “An Introduction to.Linker’s Intent | Anchor Text Optimization for 2020 | Linkio”)
  • Subtype 2: Brand + Keyword (e.g. Linkio’s to Anchor Text)

URL Anchors

Possibly the simplest of the five anchor types, URL anchors do not contain any standard text. The URL is the anchor text.

There are a few common variations of this anchor type that you should know.

Natural Anchors

Natural anchors don’t fall into any of the above categories.

There are a few common variations of this anchor type that you should know.

  • Just natural – Anchor text like click here, shop here, and this page
  • No text – Image based links most commonly have this anchor type
  • Totally random – Anchors that don’t really make any sense

Knowing the different types of anchor texts is one thing. But real SEO power comes from learning how to effectively apply this knowledge to your site.

Domain Related Factors that Impact Anchor Text

To turn this anchor text category knowledge into a link building strategy, we must first break your website down into certain page types, taking a bird’s eye view and drilling down to the individual page level.

Let’s begin…

Is your site National or Local?

National websites are typically informational blogs, location independent service providers (e.g. SEO agencies, freelance writers, design firms, etc.), software companies, and ecommerce sites.

Local websites are tied to businesses that serve a specific geological region, for example, a real estate agency in Phoenix, Arizona or a landscaping company in Memphis, Tennessee.

If your local brand is large enough and has multiple locations spread across a larger region, then your website would be considered a national or hybrid site and you will want to use your homepage as a branding page before creating more targeted internal pages for each of your company’s locations.

Is your root domain an EMD, PMD, or NMD?

The next order of business is to determine the domain type associated with your website since the keywords in your URL will impact your personal definition of a “natural” anchor text profile.

If your root domain contains the exact keyword associated with your site, you have an EMD or ”Exact Match Domain”.

For example, if my main keyword is “seo tools”, the exact match domain is seotools[dot]com.

I’d even categorize theseotools[dot].com as an EMD.

You have a Partial Match Domain (PMD) if your root domain contains all of keyword along with other words, part of the keyword and nothing else, or part of the keyword and other words.

For example, if my main keyword is still “seo tools”, a PMD would be besttools[dot]com, tools[dot]com, or myfavoriteseotools[dot]com.

And you have a Non-Match domain (NMD) if the root domain is does not contain any part of the keyword.

For example, if my main keyword is “seo tools” an NMD is linkio[dot]com.

Many people mistakenly assume that this simple categorization has no bearing on their anchor text profiles… But nothing could be further from the truth.

For example, the ideal anchor text percentage for the homepage of an EMD is VASTLY different than that of a homepage of a NMD, so be sure that you’re certain of your website’s domain type before moving forward.

With that out of the way, there’s one last factor to consider before we start to take a deep dive into the specific anchor text percentages.

How Page Types Impact Anchor Text

Divide and conquer!

A little dramatic perhaps, but identifying the pages on your site that are worth linking to and then dividing them up into certain categories will absolutely help you better visualize and execute on your link building strategy.

It not complicated but there are some nuances. Let’s start at the high level.

Identifying your homepage, commercial pages, content pages

All of the pages on your site should fall into 1 of 3 overarching categories.

Homepage:

The main page of your website. For example, the homepage for my site is
https://www.linkio.com.

Commercial page:

The page where you are giving people more details about your products and services. For example…

  • A commercial page on my site is
    https://www.linkio.com/manage-backlinks/ because I’m telling people
    about the features my software has.
  • If you are a lawyer, and you have a page that talks about your service in
    Houston, that is a commercial page.
  • If you are an ecommerce site and you have a page that sells a product,
    that is a commercial page.

Content page:

Although this would traditionally be a blog post or video, it can also be a free tool, a long form guide, a resource page, a high-value quiz, or a tutorial page. Anything that is more helpful than sales-y. For linkio that includes my list of seo tools page and seo tutorial page: https://www.linkio.com/seo-tools/ and https://www.linkio.com/seo-tutorial/

Knowing whether you’re a national or local website, whether you have an EMD, PMD, or NMD, and understanding the purpose the pages on your website serve (homepage, commercial, content), is the foundation upon which you will build your SEO-through-link-building empire.

Now that you have a 30,000 ft. overview we can dive into the next section and begin laying the first few ‘bricks’ of your strategy.

7 Page Types (Potentially) Found on Your Website

During our first bout of research we were frustrated to find that anchor text percentages of first-page results differed greatly, seemingly without rhyme or reason.

… That was, until we developed our concept of page-type-specific anchor text percentages.

When we reanalyzed the percentages with our new classification, we found that the anchor text profiles of top ranked pages were actually incredibly similar when grouped by page types.

For example, A high ranking “features page” type for one website has anchor text percentages that are similar to a high ranking features page type for a completely different website and niche.

Which means if you understand the page type of the URL you’re trying to rank, you’ll have a much better chance of gaining good rankings by giving Google the exact percentage its looking for.

So let’s get started.

If we combine local vs national, NMD, PMD, vs EMD and homepage, commercial vs content pages, we get the following unique website page types along with their subtypes.

Page Type 1: National Homepage

Homepages on your website fall into 3 distinct buckets.

Page Type 1A:National Homepage No Keyword in Domain

My main keyword is “SEO tool” and my root domain is linkio.com.

My homepage is https://www.linkio.com/

Therefore I categorize this homepage as a “National Homepage – No Keyword in Domain” because my root domain does not contain any part of my target keyword, “seo tools”.

Top ranking pages of this type typically have a backlink profile with the highest percentage of branded anchor text of all page types.

It’s also associated with the lowest keyword-based anchor text.

Here’s the full breakdown…

Edit
Anchor Text CategoryCategory Sub-TypeIdeal Sub-Type PercentageIdeal Percentage
BrandedBrand Name51.81%69.31%
 Websitename.com17.50% 
KeywordExact Keyword0.53%1.06%
 Only Part of Keyword0.53% 
 Keyword Plus Word0% 
HybridTitle Tag6.05%8.68%
 Brand + Keyword2.63% 
URLNaked URL8.68%10.26%
 Naked URL without http://1.58% 
 Homepage URL0.00% 
NaturalJust Natural8.58%10.69%
 No Text2.11% 
 Totally Random0.00% 
Page Type 1B:National Homepage Partial Match Domain

If my main keyword was “SEO tool” and my root domain was linkioSEO[dot]com or Linkioseotool[dot]com, then the homepage of this website would be considered a “National Homepage – Partial Match Domain” page type because the root domain contains all or part of my keyword plus additional words.

If the additional words are things like “the” or “a”, I’d still consider it an EMD and not a PMD.

Here is the general anchor text breakdown that you will want to follow in order to rank a national homepage – partial match domain:

Edit
Anchor Text CategoryCategory Sub-TypeIdeal Sub-Type PercentageIdeal Percentage
BrandedBrand Name43.28%59.02%
 Websitename.com15.74% 
KeywordExact Keyword1.25%6.71%
 Only Part of Keyword2.82% 
 Keyword Plus Word3% 
HybridTitle Tag1.05%2.37%
 Brand + Keyword1.32% 
URLNaked URL11.54%19.55%
 Naked URL without http://8.01% 
 Homepage URL0.00% 
NaturalJust Natural7.97%12.36%
 No Text4.39% 
 Totally Random0.00% 

As you can see, the branded anchor text percentages are still pretty high, however, with this type of page, you’ll also want to increase the number of keyword specific anchors you build.

Page Type 1C: National Homepage Exact Match Domain

If my main keyword is “SEO tools”, and my root domain is seotools[dot]com or seotool[dot]com, then my homepage is categorized as a “national homepage – exact match domain” because the keyword I’m targeting matches my domain name exactly.

And this is where things get tricky…

In years past, EMDs were all the rage. If you were lucky enough to score an exact match domain then you would expect to get your site on the first page of Google with a nominal amount of effort.

However, as is the case with almost every “too good to be true” SEO tactic, Google has gotten smarter in recent years and can easily tell the difference between a high quality and low quality site… Regardless of the domain name.

Unfortunately, because EMDs were so heavily used by blackhatters in the past, Google cracked down hard on these domains, making it much more complicated and difficult to legitimize any site with an EMD.

Luckily, if you follow the advice I’m about to share with you and get it right (like headsets[dot]come did)… you can rank for some pretty primo terms.

Here’s a breakdown of the ideal percentages.

Edit
Anchor Text CategoryCategory Sub-TypeIdeal Sub-Type PercentageIdeal Percentage
BrandedBrand Name0.00%39.02%
 Websitename.com39.04% 
KeywordExact Keyword11.80%22.01%
 Only Part of Keyword5.62% 
 Keyword Plus Word5% 
HybridTitle Tag1.32%1.32%
 Brand + Keyword0.00% 
URLNaked URL8.81%17.91%
 Naked URL without http://9.10% 
 Homepage URL0.00% 
NaturalJust Natural14.98%19.73%
 No Text4.75% 
 Totally Random0.00% 

The most glaring difference between the anchor text percentage required to rank for these pages and the other pages we’ve addressed so far is that the brand anchor percentage is zero!

The reason for this is quite simple: The exact keyword is technically the brand name.

Thus, the keyword and websitename.com anchors have both text increased substantially.

Page Type 2: Ecommerce Product Page

If you run an ecommerce site then, chances are strong, you have a ton of product pages on your site.

For example.. www.thismybrand[dot]com/smart-tvs/

While these types of pages are very popular link building targets for webmasters who want to increase the organic visibility of their product pages… the “best practices” associated with these pages have evolved dramatically over the past five years.

So much so that most webmasters aren’t even aware that the majority of their old school keyword-centric anchor strategy is actually damaging their organic ranking.

Based on our research, here’s a more effective breakdown for which to aim.

Edit
Anchor Text CategoryCategory Sub-TypeIdeal Sub-Type PercentageIdeal Percentage
BrandedBrand Name47.54%48.14%
 Websitename.com0.61% 
KeywordExact Keyword2.73%11.92%
 Only Part of Keyword5.52% 
 Keyword Plus Word5.66% 
HybridTitle Tag0.00%11.67%
 Brand + Keyword11.67% 
URLNaked URL5.29%5.29%
 Naked URL without http://0.00% 
 Homepage URL0.00% 
NaturalJust Natural19.26%20.98%
 No Text1.72% 
 Totally Random0.00% 

As you can see, effective ecommerce product page link building (try saying that three times fast), requires a balanced link profile with a slight weight towards branded and natural anchors.

Avoid the traditional keyword focused anchor approach and you’ll do just fine…

Page Type 3: Features Page

Features pages, although typically reserved for websites that sell software solutions, are becoming more and more prevalent across every type of product/service driven website on the internet.

In the example of Linkio, I created this page as a features page: https://www.linkio.com/manage-backlinks/

By increasing the organic search visibility of your features pages, you are directly bringing high converting “BOFU” (bottom of funnel) traffic to your site and increasing your revenue at a rapid pace.

Unfortunately, most marketers screw these pages up… Big time!

Here are the percentages (again, based on some pretty exhaustive research) to help you rank these pages more effectively.

Edit
Anchor Text CategoryCategory Sub-TypeIdeal Sub-Type PercentageIdeal Percentage
BrandedBrand Name28.29%28.29%
 Websitename.com0.00% 
KeywordExact Keyword9.21%40.75%
 Only Part of Keyword16.24% 
 Keyword Plus Word15.30% 
HybridTitle Tag5.38%7.02%
 Brand + Keyword1.65% 
URLNaked URL8.67%10.32%
 Naked URL without http://0.00% 
 Homepage URL1.65% 
NaturalJust Natural12.51%13.62%
 No Text1.11% 
 Totally Random0.00% 

Page Type 4: Content Page

Whether you’re trying to rank a badass ‘definitive guide’, a simple blog post, listicle, or long form essay… The anchor text profile you’ll want to shoot for will be, more or less, similar to the below.

Edit
Anchor Text CategoryCategory Sub-TypeIdeal Sub-Type PercentageIdeal Percentage
BrandedBrand Name6.42%7.45%
 Websitename.com1.03% 
KeywordExact Keyword14.83%43.37%
 Only Part of Keyword11.44% 
 Keyword Plus Word17.44% 
HybridTitle Tag17.86%24.92%
 Brand + Keyword7.06% 
URLNaked URL6.10%6.81%
 Naked URL without http://0.09% 
 Homepage URL0.62% 
NaturalJust Natural13.31%17.45%
 No Text3.31% 
 Totally Random0.00% 

As you can see, the theme here is to focus on building keyword, hybrid, and natural anchors.

Page Type 5: Service Page

If you offer a specific service on it, it’s more than likely that you have a prominent page (or pages) describing that service.

In order to rank each of your service pages as quickly and highly as possible, you’ll want to focus the majority of your link building efforts on branded and keyword anchors with a smattering of natural, hybrid, and url anchors.

Here are the exact percentages we recommend you follow.

Edit
Anchor Text CategoryCategory Sub-TypeIdeal Sub-Type PercentageIdeal Percentage
BrandedBrand Name28.29%28.29%
 Websitename.com0.00% 
KeywordExact Keyword9.21%40.75%
 Only Part of Keyword16.24% 
 Keyword Plus Word15.30% 
HybridTitle Tag5.38%7.02%
 Brand + Keyword1.65% 
URLNaked URL8.67%10.32%
 Naked URL without http://0.00% 
 Homepage URL1.65% 
NaturalJust Natural12.51%13.62%
 No Text1.11% 
 Totally Random0.00% 

Page Type 6: Local Homepage

If you serve a particular area and your keywords target that area, consider yourself a local website and your homepage will fall into 1 of 4 categories.

Page Type 6A: Local Homepage No Keyword in Domain

Due to the hyper-competitive nature of domain buying, many local businesses decide to purchase less expensive (and less targeted) domain names that contain no keywords in the root domain.

For example, if a plumbers website is johncarters[dot]com or a plastic surgeons website is dromarsantangelo[dot]com – we’d consider there to be no keyword in the domain.

In cases like this, here are some anchor text percentages to shoot for:

Edit
Anchor Text CategoryCategory Sub-TypeIdeal Sub-Type PercentageIdeal Percentage
BrandedBrand Name38.35%46.00%
 Websitename.com7.65% 
KeywordExact Keyword0.00%6.95%
 Only Part of Keyword6.95% 
 Keyword Plus Word0.00% 
HybridTitle Tag3.02%9.30%
 Brand + Keyword6.28% 
URLNaked URL14.96%26.32%
 Naked URL without http://11.36% 
 Homepage URL0.00% 
NaturalJust Natural9.57%11.44%
 No Text1.86% 
 Totally Random0.00% 

As you can see, this page type has the highest percentage of branded anchors and one of the lowest for keyword anchors.

Page Type 6B: Local Homepage Partial Match Domain

If you own a small local business, then the most common scenario in which you will find yourself is operating a website where the root domain includes only part of the target keyword for your the product or service you offer.

Examples would be Joesplumbing[dot]com and Plasticsurgerycenter[dot]com.

What these page types have in common is that they include all or part of the keyword PLUS additional words.

For these types of websites, here are the homepage anchor text percentages to shoot for:

Edit
Anchor Text CategoryCategory Sub-TypeIdeal Sub-Type PercentageIdeal Percentage
BrandedBrand Name27.62%36.21%
 Websitename.com8.59% 
KeywordExact Keyword1.76%8.48%
 Only Part of Keyword3.56% 
 Keyword Plus Word3.17% 
HybridTitle Tag2.73%6.02%
 Brand + Keyword3.29% 
URLNaked URL19.65%29.65%
 Naked URL without http://10.20% 
 Homepage URL0.00% 
NaturalJust Natural12.39%19.65%
 No Text7.26% 
 Totally Random0.00% 

With this page type, the branded percentages are markedly lower compared to local businesses with no keywords in their domain and the keyword anchor percentages are slightly higher.

Page Type 6C: Local Homepage Exact Match Domain where Brand Name is not a Keyword?

Some local business websites have a root domain that doubles as one of the target keywords for their business.

For example, plumberinnj[dot]com or miamibreastaugmentation[dot]com both contain an obvious keyword and nothing else. Even if the domain contained a filler word like “the”, I’d consider it an exact match domain.

With this in mind, the business owner usually has 2 options when deciding on their brand name.

The first, and simplest option is to use the root domain as your brand name.

For example, if the root domain is miamibreastaugmentation[dot]com, and the brand name is Miami Breast Augmentation, I would consider that the brand name is the keyword.

However, you can also opt to use an entirely different brand name than the root domain of your website.

For example, if the brand name of your company is “Dr. Richard Valtino”, the page would be considered a “Local Homepage – Exact Match Domain Where Brand Name is Not Keyword”.

In cases such as these, here are the anchor text percentages to shoot for.

Edit
Anchor Text CategoryCategory Sub-TypeIdeal Sub-Type PercentageIdeal Percentage
BrandedBrand Name17.59%20.15%
 Websitename.com2.56% 
KeywordExact Keyword5.50%12.15%
 Only Part of Keyword4.83% 
 Keyword Plus Word1.82% 
HybridTitle Tag0.00%3.55%
 Brand + Keyword3.55% 
URLNaked URL28.54%39.50%
 Naked URL without http://10.96% 
 Homepage URL0.00% 
NaturalJust Natural21.64%24.64%
 No Text3.17% 
 Totally Random0.00% 

The most notable difference regarding the percentages for these pages is that they have the highest percentage of “Natural” anchors (e.g. “click here”).

Page Type 6D: Local Homepage Exact Match Domain where Brand Name is a Keyword

Building off the previous page type, if you run a local business where the root domain is an exact match domain, and the brand name is also the keyword (like the brand name for miamibreastaugmentation[dot]com is Miami Breast Augmentation, you’ll notice my percentage suggestions are vastly different than the above suggestions.

This is because the percentage suggestion for the anchor sub-type “Branded” is dialed all the way down to zero.

Let’s see what this looks like:

Edit
Anchor Text CategoryCategory Sub-TypeIdeal Sub-Type PercentageIdeal Percentage
BrandedBrand Name0.00%5.70%
 Websitename.com5.70% 
KeywordExact Keyword24.76%49.60%
 Only Part of Keyword17.04% 
 Keyword Plus Word7.81% 
HybridTitle Tag1.35%1.35%
 Brand + Keyword0.00% 
URLNaked URL14.28%21.59%
 Naked URL without http://7.32% 
 Homepage URL0.00% 
NaturalJust Natural16.84%21.76%
 No Text4.92% 
 Totally Random0.00% 

For the local business page types, this one has the highest percentages associated with the keyword anchor type and the lowest branded anchor type.

Page Type 7:Local Business Service Page

For a local business website, it’s common practice for internal pages to target additional keyword+location combinations.

For example, Joesplumbing[dot]/houston or drstevenropopo[dot]com/miami-breast-augmentation.

For these page types, here are some anchor text percentage suggestions:

Edit
Anchor Text CategoryCategory Sub-TypeIdeal Sub-Type PercentageIdeal Percentage
BrandedBrand Name16.68%16.68%
 Websitename.com0.00% 
KeywordExact Keyword0.00%16.66%
 Only Part of Keyword8.33% 
 Keyword Plus Word8.33% 
HybridTitle Tag0.00%8.33%
 Brand + Keyword8.33% 
URLNaked URL8.33%33.33%
 Naked URL without http://16.67% 
 Homepage URL8.33% 
NaturalJust Natural25.00%25.00%
 No Text0.00% 
 Totally Random0.00% 

This page type is characterized by a fairly even distribution of the various anchor types, including a near even split between branded and keyword based anchors.

Calculating Ideal Anchor Text Percentages from Competitors

Although the framework that I just shared is a powerful “default” that can be used in the absence of concrete niche-specific data, there is an even better way to determine your ideal anchor text percentages for the pages on your site…

Competitor analysis.

Whenever I begin planning a new link building campaign for myself or one of my client’s, the first thing I do is to get a lay of the land and determine who ranks on the first page of the SERPs for my target keyword and what their anchor profile looks like.

The process is simple.

I find the most relevant competitors, analyze their backlink profile, and use that “intel” to guide my own link building campaign and strategy.

Here’s an example…

Let’s say that I want Linkio to rank for the keyword “SEO tools” (I do).

I review the first page of Google for this term and get the following organic results:

If we review these results by page type, we determine there are:

  • 5 Content Pages: (Backlinko, BufferApp, Ahrefs, Hubspot, NeilPatel)
  • 1 Features Page: (Moz)
  • 3 Homepages: (SEObook, SmallSEotools, SEOtoolsforExcel – all PMDs)

Since Moz – which happens to be the biggest SEO brand in my niche – is the only company with a ranking features page and all of the brands with ranking homepages have PMD (which Linkio doesn’t), it’s clear that my best chance of getting my site ranked is to create a content page around my target keyword.

So BRB, let me go create a massive SEO tools guide that can compete with the likes of the giants in my industry…

… Ok, I’m back.

Here it is: https://www.linkio.com/seo-tools/

Now I’m ready to build some links, but I first want to analyze my competitors’ anchor text percentages so I can create an informed link building campaign that goes beyond perfunctory guesswork.

Listen up, because this part is important…

I am ONLY interested in analyzing the results of ranking pages that share the same page type that I have… e.g. a content page type.

The anchor text percentages for the Moz result (features page) or the homepages would be irrelevant and would actually hurt my chances of ranking if I tried to replicate or mimic them.

That wouldn’t be natural based on our understanding of Linker’s Intent!

So of the 5 results I want to analyze, the next step is to make sure there is actually enough data to make an analysis worthwhile.

If any of the results have little or no backlinks going to the page, determining their anchor text percentages is a lost cause.

Edit
URLPage Referring Domains (RD)Domain Referring Domains (RD)
https://backlinko.com/seo-tools62614,173
https://blog.bufferapp.com/free-seo-tools23927,027
https://ahrefs.com/blog/free-seo-tools/6324,713
https://blog.hubspot.com/marketing/seo-analysis-tools34161,199
https://neilpatel.com/blog/seven-free-seo-tools/5260,014

Looks like it’s my lucky day.

All of the ranking URLs have a plethora of backlinks making my analysis not only worthwhile, but relatively easy.

With a cursory analysis completed, my next goal is to calculate the anchor text percentage distributions for each of these pages, average them out, and then use that average to guide my own strategy.

Using Linkio, literally my favorite link analysis tool – even if I am a little biased ;), I can do this with just a few clicks.

Linkio calculates the average percentages for you and lets you compare them to your current percentages.

It will also crawl and check the index status of every competitor backlink to ensure that the percentages and data are as accurate and up-to-date as possible.

As you can see from the table, in order to get my content ranked, I’ll need to focus on building quite a few URL backlinks to even my percentages out and come closer to my target.

This strategy is a stark departure from the popular SEO prescription to “Just build more keyword anchors” until your content is on the first page.

By leveraging a tool like Linkio, you can create a backlink profile that not only appears natural, but directly mimics the top ranking pages for your target keyword.

If you can use this strategy while simultaneously delivering content that is better than anything else on the first page, you will be set up to take the internet by storm and achieve total SEO domination (queue evil laugh).

Anchor Text Phrases to Use Based on Page Type

Another common pitfall into which many an amateur link builder has fallen is using unnatural anchor text phrases while building links.

If you think back to Linker’s Intent (which we discussed earlier), the anchor text of a real link will vary wildly depending on the type of website and page type to which the link is going.

For example, if an amateur SEO were to attempt to build links to an ecommerce product page that sells water bottles, this is probably what their anchor phrases would look like…

  • Water bottles
  • Water bottles for sale
  • Buy water bottles
  • Best water bottles

I’ll be the first to say it… These phrases REEK of Old School SEO strategy.

The simple fact of the matter is that most bloggers would never link back to your content using anchors 2, 3, or 4. These types of phrases can make your anchor text profile maintain a spammy appearance.

Instead, let’s look at this approach:

  • Water bottles
  • This water bottle here
  • like these water bottles
  • the water bottle I use

See the differences?

The former anchors are purely commercial whereas the latter seem much more natural and based on real life examples or personal reference.

Based on our research… These are the phrases people actually use to link to a product page.

The same principle applies to the branded and just natural anchor type.

For example, here are real branded anchors for an ecommerce page.

  • special deals from the SteeleForce
  • this one from SteeleForce
  • link to buy it at SteeleForce
  • SteeleForce shows ‘in stock’

And here are the correctly used Natural anchors.

  • check this out
  • sale items
  • get one here !
  • click to shop

When you start stacking anchor text signals like this, your footprint looks incredibly natural, ensuring that you stay in Google’s good graces and avoid any hefty penalties.

Oh, and I almost forgot to mention…

To make your link building as seamless as possible, I went ahead and built this functionality right into the Linkio software.

This means that you’ll get customized anchor suggestions based on the type of page for which you are trying to build links.

Try it out at https://www.linkio.com/

Anchor Text Cycling: Building Links in a Natural Pattern

Once you know how many links to build, there’s only one thing left to do…

Going out and building the damn things!

To do this effectively, you’ll want to cycle your link building efforts in the following order to ensure that your link profile appears natural as it’s being built.

According to Nathan Gotch, “The point of anchor text cycling is to spread your exact match anchors out over the course of months. This is much more natural.”

And I have to say… I agree with his approach.

In fact, this is the exact strategy that we used when we first built Linkio.

Here’s a screenshot of the order in which I need to build my anchors to rank my page faster..

As you’ll notice from the image above, the first suggestion Linkio makes is to build a few Natural anchors to help bring the page closer to the ideal percentage (since the target percentage is 16% and the current Natural percentage is.. Well, 0%).

Since this is the biggest gap in the execution of our new strategy, Linkio starts us there.

The rest of the suggestions are merely a natural cycling of anchors to build out the percentages in a random/natural way without getting slapped with an inevitable penalty from over-optimization.

Applying This Knowledge

The concepts that I’ve shared thus far are the keys to mastering anchor text strategy.

If you can fully grasp and internalize what I’ve shared with you today and how the different pieces of this puzzle fit together to form a coherent anchor text strategy, you’ll be able to rank faster, avoid trouble, and eliminate all of the superfluous over optimization that has likely plagued your strategy up until this point.

Before I leave you to it, let me give you one final example to help you visualize what this will look like when it all comes together.

Edit
Page URLhttps://www.linkio.com/https://www.linkio.com/seo-tools/https://www.linkio.com/directory-submission-sites/
Page TypeCompany HomepageLong-Form ContentLong-Form Content
Estimated Number of Links to Build2000 (This is a massively competitive industry)4005
DescriptionAlready has 200ish of links, mostly brandedHas some links, needs a lot moreNo links yet
Ideal Percentage TargetNational Homepage – No Keyword in Domain DefaultCalculated from CompetitorsContent Page Default
Next 10 Anchors to BuildNaked URL: https://www.linkio.com/ Naked URL: https://www.linkio.com/ Naked URL: https://www.linkio.com/ Naked URL: https://www.linkio.com/ Title Tag: Linkio – seo software – the best seo management tool Just Natural: Read More… Naked URL: https://www.linkio.com/ Title Tag: LINKIO – SEO SOFTWARE – THE BEST SEO MANAGEMENT TOOL Just Natural: Here’s a great place to get started Naked URL: https://www.linkio.com/Naked URL: https://www.linkio.com/seo-tools/ Exact Keyword: SEO TOOL WebsiteName.com: www.linkio.com Naked URL: https://www.linkio.com/seo-tools/ Only Part of Keyword: tools to make it easier Naked URL without http://: www.linkio.com/seo-tools/ No Text: [image link] Exact Keyword: seo tool Branded: LINKIO Title Tag: The Definitive SEO Tools and Software List (2018 Update) | LinkioKeyword Plus Word: a huge directory sites list Exact Keyword: directory submission sites Only Part of Keyword: foundational sites to use Branded: new article from Linkio Naked URL: https://www.linkio.com/directory-submission-sites/ Title Tag: 200 + Directory Submission Sites List for 2019 | Linkio Brand & Keyword Together: Linkio Blog: What are some quality directory submission sites? Just Natural: some ideas Keyword Plus Word: listing your brand on these directory submission sites No Text: [image link]

Note the vast disparity between each page in the ‘Estimated Number of Links to Build’.

To rank my homepage, I will need more than 2,000 links (and I’m working towards achieving that!). My ‘SEO Tools’ guide, at around 400 required links, needs slightly fewer links. And the directory submission sites page, a rather competitor-free keyword, needs a paltry 5 links.

Understanding these different page types and requirements that will help you get to the first page of Google allows you to prioritize your link building efforts in a way that guarantees that highest ROI at the fastest speed possible.

Using my company as an example, I’d build the 5 links for the directory submissions sites pages first to get those rankings.

Then I’d focus 75% of my energies on building links to the homepage to increase my overall authority and the rest of the SEO tools page.

The reason that I prioritize my homepage over the SEO tools page (even though the SEO tools page technically requires fewer links) is because this shifted focus will help me boost my website’s general authority.

Otherwise, I’ll end up needing to build far too many internal page links for highly competitive terms.

I know this can seem like a lot.

And at this point, you’re head is probably spinning and you might be thinking to yourself, “Jesus, Ajay! Slow down for a minute and let me catch my breath.”

Don’t worry, this guide is meant to be acted upon slowly – over the course of weeks and months – so that you’re following each step to its natural progression and achieving a first page ranking as quickly as possible.

But my greatest hope is that I’ve shifted your paradigm and encouraged you to view link building in a new light.

When you understand the purpose behind the links that you are building everything starts to change.

  • Build homepage links to establish thematic relevance and grow your brand’s authority
  • Build content links to long form pages to rank for competitive keywords
  • And build links to dozens of low competition keywords to get quick wins and achieve higher rankings in the long run.

When you begin to view the pages on your website as a part of a greater whole, each feeding into each other to create a virtuous (or vicious) cycle of SEO success, you’ll eradicate your inclination to engage in blackhat SEO tactics or blast your commercial pages with exact match keyword anchors.

If you can take what I’ve taught you today and run with it, the way that you play the game of SEO will change forever and you will reap the rewards of understanding and being able to offer Google exactly what it wants.

So there you have it!

The ULTIMATE guide to anchor text strategy.

What did you think? Do you have any questions that I didn’t answer? Anything that needs clarification? Let me know in the comments below and I’ll do my best to get back to you!

Anchor Text Optimization for Link Building

In 2022, few things are more complicated or frustrating than cracking the ever-changing code to successful SEO. Especially when it pertains to anchor text strategy. Back in the “Glory Days” of SEO when keyword stuffing, comment spamming, and link schemes were as common as guest posting, link baiting, and booty pics on Instagram are today… … Continue reading “Anchor Text Optimization for Link Building”

Read More

How to Make An SEO Proposal (+ Templates)

Introduction

If a prospect asks you for an SEO proposal, they are ready to say yes. It’s your responsibility to present your strategy clearly, concisely and convincingly. If you care about learning foolproof, step-by-step instructions on how to hand-craft an SEO proposal, keep reading.

What is an SEO Proposal?

It’s a pitch to your potential client that makes it crystal clear how you’re going to improve the rankings of their site and impact their business.

But did you know that most of the time the proposal is usually presented after contact was made with the potential client?

As you could imagine, the quality of your SEO proposal oftentimes makes all of the difference in whether or not your client chooses you for their needs.

Here are the three biggest goals of SEO that every proposal should strive for.

1. Present the obstacles your potential client faces

Obstacles are a part of every business, regardless of the type of business or how successful they are.

In the same way a mountain climber must know the obstacles that lie ahead of him, an SEO specialist must know the obstacles that are keeping their prospective client from reaching the top.

When crafting your proposal, it is important to fully understand and be able to recognize your potential client’s obstacles and instill confidence in them that you are well in-tune with their exact SEO needs.

However, simply saying you are aware of their obstacles is not enough!

Rather, go into depth on each one of the issues they face with their online presence.

If you can show them the exact obstacle they are faced with from an SEO standpoint – and in many cases, one they themselves are not even aware of – you can show them you care about their business and are knowledgeable about your craft.

For example, say your client is not ranking well for certain keywords that their competitors are generating massive amounts of profit off of each month.

Tell them precisely and without fluff why they are failing to capitalize on the issue and lay out how it is hurting their overall success.

By being able to show them you took the time to research their business and pinpoint their exact obstacles, you are able to establish a trusting relationship and show you are knowledgeable and hard-working from day one.

2. Identify the most important keyword rankings

Ok. So you know all of the SEO obstacles your potential client is facing.

Now it’s time to show them the light at the end of the tunnel.

It’s time to prove your expertise and show them how SEO will grow their business.

Remember the old sales mantra:

“A sale is made when the value of what you are providing exceeds the price that they have to pay.”

If you do a great job on this step, it will make the client’s decision to hire you a no-brainer – an important business expense in order to grow.

Let’s consider an example where Joe’s Carpet Cleaning does not rank well for important local keywords.

You can show how Tim’s Cleanest Carpet from across the street is getting hundreds of visitors a day and likely many phone calls – all while poor Joe is lost and forgotten in the abyss known as page 2 of Google.

It’s important to show that these are real live people with buyer intent. Especially for a business owner that focuses on offline marketing methods and has operated before the internet has existed, it becomes crucial to hammer down the value of search visitors.

After showing them the opportunity that lies ahead of them, you are then in a much stronger position and are ready to hit goal 3.

3. Show search traffic trends

So the job is complete, right? Well, far from it actually!

We’ve shown the obstacles.

We’ve shown the opportunity.

Now it’s time to show clear action steps to complete the job.

Why are you the right person for the job and not Sally’s Discount SEO services, that charge half of what you charge?

Take down the shroud of magic that is the SEO industry and clearly write down in plain-english the steps you will take. Avoid too much scary technical explanations and save those for when you’re ready to write up the contract.

Estimations of how long it will take for the client to see results.

It is important to remember that your potential client likely does not know a lot about SEO, hence them being interested in your service.

Many times people become interested in SEO through hearing about it from a friend.
Therefore, even more crucial than using SEO lingo to try and impress them, show confidence and let them know with certainty why you believe your solution is worth the price you charge.

Going back to our carpet cleaning example, we should highlight our strategy to improve their rankings.

Example:

  • First, Joe, we are going to get your site all set up in Google Search Console where we will be able to view important issues that we need to fix.
  • After that we’ll run your site through an on-page SEO checker to create a list of additional issues we have to fix.
  • We’ll take action on the list of issues we have just generated.
  • Our next step will be to add schema.org markup to your site. This is a tool that makes it easy for Google to know important info about your business such as the name of your business, where you are located, and the hours you are open.
  • Finally, we’ll improve the copy of your website – including important local keywords.

Last but not least, be sure to always end with a call to action, guiding them to the next step in the process.

SEO Proposal Important Factors

Although each SEO company should have its own unique SEO proposal that is customized for their clients, there are certain factors that all of the best SEO proposals have in common.

The following are the five most important factors that make up a strong SEO proposal and give you a realistic chance to attain potential clients long-term.

Just think of it this way, ensure you follow these aspects with your proposals and you can consistently convert on your pitches to clients and show yourself as a knowledgeable SEO mind each time.

If you want better results with your SEO proposals, try adding these five important factors into each one!

1. Be honest and transparent

First and foremost, it is important to be completely honest and transparent in the SEO proposal.

Otherwise, you run the risk of developing a bad reputation as a result of not being able to convert on promises made to clients, which can have a harmful effect on your own business long-term.

If your potential client makes a very poor SEO situation, let them know and be honest about how long the process is going to take and what all it is going to involve.

2. Be relatable

Another important factor that can have an effect on whether or not you are able to persuade your client to trust in your service is whether or not you are relatable.

While it is important to be professional, it is also important to let your client know you understand their needs and have experienced some of the same issues yourself.

When you can relate to what they are going through and show them that you have experience solving issues such as theirs, you quickly gain their trust.

3. Show them what they need to know

One of the most important things to remember when crafting the SEO proposal is to keep things clear and concise, telling them what they need to know without all of the fluff.

In a straightforward manner, tell them what their obstacle is, show them the potential there is with quality SEO efforts and lay out your solution.

The reason why is that they likely are not going to understand what you are saying if you go into depth on SEO practices, so tell them what they need to know and not much more.

4. Provide a solution

Since the solution is typically presented last, your proposal often feels complete by the point you describe what SEO efforts you plan to utilize to help them reach their potential.

However, it is vital to show them how you specifically can help them in ways that others cannot.

By doing so, you separate yourself from all other SEOs and establish yourself as an expert with your potential client.

How to Create an SEO Proposal

Now that we have laid the framework of what a good SEO proposal looks like, let’s dive into the exact structure and format.

The exact content that is included in your proposal – along with the format in which that content is presented – is crucial to ensuring your potential client understands what you are saying and your proposal conveys the message in a confident manner.

Bottom line: the format of a good proposal can be broken down into six different sections,.

Here’s the high-level breakdown:

  • Introduction of the proposal
  • Identify the most important keyword rankings
  • Show search traffic trends
  • Compare the condition of your potential client compared to their competitors
  • Provide a backlink analysis
  • Show them you are the right person for the job

The six sections should include introductory information, more in-depth analytics about your client’s obstacles and potential, competitor analysis and your solution.

As I said – easy.

Now let’s dig deeper into HOW to do them well!

1. Introduction of the proposal

The introduction – or the beginning of your proposal – should be about establishing a connection with your potential client, letting them know that you are familiar with what their business is and what it is they do exactly.

The beginning of your proposal should include the following:

State the name of the the job. (“John’s SEO Company will optimize Landing Scaping Co’s website to rank for important local landscaping-related keywords.”)

Write the benefits that the potential client will gain through your services.
General statement of the work needed to complete this job.

The goal of this section is to introduce the need for SEO services. Do not go too in-depth with this section.

Be sure to refrain from talking about yourself too much (if at all) at the beginning of your proposal – there will be plenty of opportunities to discuss your experience and knowledge in the solution component of your proposal.

2:. Identify the most important keyword rankings

Even for the clients least familiar with SEO, they understand that good rankings in Google is what they desire.

Well it all starts with discussing the keyword rankings.

Discussing keywords is a good way to show them both the obstacles they face as well as the potential that lies ahead of them in a manner they can actually understand.

A good way to discuss keyword rankings in the SEO proposal is to paste in a table featuring a variety of different keywords, the search traffic they bring in, and whether or not it is realistic for them to rank for.

Of course, providing a detailed chart is going to require some research, but it will all be well worth it especially if this becomes a long-term client.

3. Show search traffic trends

There are tools available – such as Ahrefs – that allow you to access information about your client’s Google traffic over the past few years.

By providing these trends to your client in the SEO proposal, preferably in the form of a graph or chart, you can show them the current standing of their company and use it as an opportunity to discuss their potential within Google, particularly along with the keyword rankings.

If your client has not received much traffic at all over the past few years and the trend has stayed more or less constant or has even declined, then you can elaborate on how you can reverse the trend with your solution.

If their traffic has steadily increased, then lay out how you can keep the trend going and build off of the recent success.

Showing your client you are familiar with the recent success, failure or stagnation of their business lets them know you are aware of their needs and what it takes to take them to the next level with SEO.

4. Compare your potential client to their competitors

If showing them you are well informed about their own company’s presence in search engines is not enough, you can even further impress them by including a detailed, yet straight to the point competitor analysis into the SEO proposal as well.

The best way to include the competitor analysis is to make a list of five of their biggest, most successful competitors that are relevant to them and compare these sites to your prospect’s site. Ahref’s Domain Comparison tool is a great way to do this.

After compiling the data, include a graph or chart of the information into the SEO proposal and provide a short, simple description of how they compare and the importance of closing the gap between them and their competitors.
Be sure to only use relevant competitors for the analysis. In other words, if your potential client is a small local business, avoid comparing them to large, multinational corporations.

5. Provide a backlink analysis

At this point in the SEO proposal, your client should have a clear indication that you understand their particular situation within the basics of SEO, which means you can now dive a little deeper into more detailed information.

A good way to keep things fairly simple but still show them you are able to go deeper into detailed strategies in a manner other agencies may not be able or willing to is by providing a short backlink analysis.

One of the best ways to do this is to conduct an analysis of the anchor text profile of your potential client and compare it to a previously discussed competitor.

Be sure to provide a detailed chart that displays important information and provide a brief, yet thorough explanation of how they rank with the competitor.

This once again shows them their obstacles, potential and gives you an opportunity to discuss your proposed solution.

6. Show them you are the right person for the job

The last step – and perhaps the most important one – is to show your prospect how you can help them overcome their current obstacles and fulfill their business’ potential.

In the solution, it is okay to go into more depth about SEO strategy, although keeping it short and straight to the point is still highly encouraged.

Be sure to confidently show them how you can help them in ways other SEO agencies cannot and work to build trust and establish a connection with your potential client.

Towards the end of the section, state – again with confidence – your pricing information. No one enjoys the process of paying, so be sure to convey the message that you can provide a solution that yields them a large return on their investment into you.

Last but not least, include a call to action, urging them to take the next step towards working with you long-term to meet their SEO goals.

Potential SEO Solutions to Include

So you think you’re a pro? Now it is your chance to prove it!

When you do land the client, you can avoid that “what now” moment by knowing what are the most successful SEO solutions to try first.

Each proposal is going to be slightly different and should be customized for your potential client it is intended for, which means the SEO solutions that are offered are not going to be the same for each client.

Whereas one client may need more link outreach and have less of a need for on-page SEO, another client may need more on-page SEO and social media than they do content development and link outreach.

There are numerous ways to improve your client’s SERPs, and the key to a good SEO proposal is often about finding the right solutions.

The following are five of the most common SEO solutions to consider for each client.

1. Full website audit

First and foremost, every client should receive a full website audit once they hire you or your agency for their SEO needs.

A good SEO audit should analyze and interpret every aspect of SEO, including on-page SEO, technical SEO and much more.

Although there are numerous avenues to consider during a website audit, here are several areas to make sure you check for SEO purposes:

  • On-page SEO
  • Technical SEO
  • Current search rankings
  • Google penalties
  • Social media audit
  • Link analysis
  • Content creation

The key for any good SEO agency is being able to find the root of the issue as to why their client is not ranking better or for more keywords.

Once the issue is found – through a full SEO audit – an SEO campaign can be planned accordingly.

2. Content creation

Content creation is another essential component to good SEO.

Simply put, the more quality content a website has on their website, along with the entire internet as a whole, the better chance they have to rank well in search engines.

Why is this?

Well, not only does more content that is updated and relevant help to establish more legitimacy with your website, but it also increases your ability to carry out successful link building campaigns as well.

In fact, with good content creation a website can gain high-quality links with little to no link outreach at all.

In the event your potential client does not have new, relevant content on their website, discuss with them how you can help them gain more traffic through content development.

3. Link outreach

Link outreach is scary and not fun for most business owners! You have to compile spreadsheets full of bloggers & businesses. You have to carefully send out each email and personalize each one to appeal to the recipient. You also have to deal with rejection on a constant basis.

While creating great content can reap links organically, link building is essentially a growth hacking strategy that allows you to build relationships with other business owners and raise your site’s authority.

The way link outreach is done has changed over the past decade, and well-renowned content websites in every industry now get spammed with tons of emails each day from other websites only looking for a link.

Subsequently, when contacting others directly to try and acquire a link for your client’s website, be sure to focus on how you can help them, rather than how a link can help you.

With that said, guest posting, finding relevant directories, and being active on forums in a helpful manner can still be successful link outreach opportunities if done appropriately.

Then, of course, being active on social media (see below) helps as well.

4. On-page SEO

On-page SEO often gets overlooked or viewed as less important, but the fact is optimizing content on your own website is still crucial to gaining trust with search engines.

If your client does not have optimized on-page SEO, then reveal to them exactly how this will improve their search ranking and why it is important.

When on-page SEO is used in unison with off-page SEO and technical SEO, it can have a profound impact on a website’s ability to rank in search engines.

Especially for sites targeting local keywords, it’s important to include keywords.

5. Social Media

Since social media plays a less direct role in search engine rankings, it often gets overlooked as an SEO solution and is commonly regarded more or less in its own category within digital marketing.

However, a strong social media presence can play a large role in a website’s ability to improve rank within search engines.

Simply put, the stronger your client’s social media presence, the more content they are able to get out on the web, which means more chances to gain quality links and raise domain authority.

While SEO does not always include social media marketing, adding in a social media component to the proposed solution for your potential client is a good way to go above and beyond and really impress them with your effort.

SEO Proposal Tips

In addition to making sure your SEO proposal includes straightforward information on the current obstacles and future opportunity of your potential client, detailed information on how you can help them reach their SEO goals and a format and tone that is appropriate, there are several other insights that can help you convert at a high rate.

The key is to find what works for you and stay consistent with each proposal!

Here are a few additional tips to consider when crafting an SEO proposal.

1. Be a salesman

Do not be a pushy salesman – meaning do not pressure potential clients in any way – but do consider using more subtle persuasion tactics to convert your potential client who is still on the fence.

The key is to believe in your own mind you are the right guy for the job, and then convey the confidence in your interactions.

2. Make a connection

While it is important to stay professional to a certain degree, being personable and finding a way to make a connection with your potential client is a great way to gain their trust and persuade them to work with you.

Whether you make a funny joke, bond over a favorite sports team or simply genuinely ask them how they are doing, making a connection is a great way to close a deal during an SEO proposal.

3. Share a video

Another big tip is to create a video recorded screen share of your proposal and walk your potential client through your proposal step-by-step.

This helps ensure your prospect understands the information as they go through your proposal.

A tool such as Snagit is a great way to create a screen-share video.

And in a world of spam emails left-and-right, hearing your voice and them knowing that you spent time creating a whole video for them makes the whole interaction very personal.

Tip: Have a webcam? A log of screen-sharing software have options to put a little box in the bottom-right of your screen with your webcam feed. Having your face there makes it even more personal.

4. Send a professional document

The document you present your proposal on matters.

Rather than simply sending a generic word document, take some time and create a professional document. It’s all about showing your attention to detail.

5. Make it easy to understand

A very important last tip to keep in mind is to make your proposal easy to understand, keeping your message on-point, clear and concise.

Your potential client likely is not an expert on SEO – which is why they are considering your service.

Be sure to keep this in mind and make your points easy to understand in the SEO proposal.

SEO Proposal Templates

While each SEO proposal should be customized for the particular prospective client that it is going to be sent to, the format can stay more or less the same for each proposal.
There are certain proposal templates that have a track record of converting at a high rate.

The following are three of the better templates available right now:

Webris SEO Proposal Template

Webris is an established SEO agency. The owner and founder is Ryan Stewart, a mastermind when it comes to SEO.

READ MORE

Mondovo SEO Proposal Template

The Mondovo Proposal Template guides you through each step of the proposal process.

The format and structure of the template has had proven success and is used by many digital and SEO-specific agencies already.

READ MORE

Pandadoc SEO Proposal Template

The Pandadoc SEO Proposal is another highly trusted template that includes all of the most essential factors of a successful SEO proposal.

It includes everything from introductory information to pricing charts.

READ MORE

Wrapping-up

Your turn: What was the worst mistake you’ve made in your proposals that once fixed, was a game-changer to your business. Let us know in the comment section below!

How to Make An SEO Proposal (+ Templates)

Introduction If a prospect asks you for an SEO proposal, they are ready to say yes. It’s your responsibility to present your strategy clearly, concisely and convincingly. If you care about learning foolproof, step-by-step instructions on how to hand-craft an SEO proposal, keep reading. What is an SEO Proposal? It’s a pitch to your potential … Continue reading “How to Make An SEO Proposal (+ Templates)”

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SEO Case Study (Building An Authority Site)

A 2020 Update Note

How We’re Doing Now

This case study began September 2017 and lasted for 16 months. I stopped updated the monthly progress over a year ago but you should still read through the monthly strategies, especially if you have a new site. This is exactly how you should launch a new site with SEO.  

Organic traffic has become our main lead driver and the content on the Linkio domain continues to rank well, often without any direct link building needed.  These early activities setup cool case studies where we were able to rank without any direct backlinks. 

The Linkio domain has also survived several of Google’s algorithm updates. 

Good luck! 

Introduction

I’m going to be real with you for a minute…

Most SEO case studies suck.

Not because they’re written by bad SEOs or lack accurate content and information.

Rather they focus on the minor aspects of SEO. From optimizing H3 tags to fixing robot.txt files to ensuring obscure–and often unnecessary–pages are indexed by Google, most case studies are written by SEOs for SEOs.

And that’s fine.

But in this case study, I’m not going to talk about any of that.

Firstly, because you can get that same information from from at least 2.3 million other articles that inject much more detail and passion than I could possibly proffer.

And secondly, because this type technical minutiae, although it is relevant if you’re playing in the big leagues or running your own agency, simply doesn’t matter for most people.

Me? I’m focused on the big picture.

For both myself and my clients.

My passion is taking a completely unknown entity–a brand new domain–and turning it into something epic. Into an established, authoritative, and all around badass brand…

And doing so in less time than most people think possible.

SEO just happens to by my favorite tool for getting this job done.

Which is why I started this case study way back in September 2017 and continue updating it to this day.

And just so we’re clear…

This is not my first foray into the trenches of SEO.

I’ve helped dozens of my clients rank for hyper-competitive keywords in under a year and created a detailed case study showing exactly how I landed my company OutreachMama on the first page of Google for four of the most competitive keywords in the entire industry.

And I did it in under 8 months.

Because they were able to watch the growth of my brand in real-time, thousands of marketers were inspired to double down on their link building efforts and achieved some pretty impressive results thanks to their hard work.

But with this case study, I wanted to go bigger.

This doesn’t mean more complicated. Simply doing more of the things that really drive results.

Namely, clear branding, quality content, and lots and lots of backlinks.

After we set up the branding during the first couple of months, the only things my team and I focused on were content and links.

Rinse. Repeat. Vomit. Rinse. Repeat.

And the craziest part?

Over the last year and some change we only published 10 articles in total!

Now, admittedly the aforementioned content was, as the kids say these days, “Primo AF” and finely tuned for my niche.

But 80% of our time and effort was focused on links.

Links. Links. Links.

So many links.

Like, alot…

And our results, as you’ll see in this case study, speak for themselves.

Now, before we dive in, I want to address the skeptics among you.

Those of you who proclaim:

  • Link building doesn’t work!
  • Building links is a scam! Just create great content and you will rank!
  • Google will penalize you if you build links!

I get it…

SEO is confusing, ever-changing, and nauseatingly complicated.

However, if you want to enjoy all of the perks that come from having tens of thousands of organic visitors coming to your site (namely a lot of money), then listen up.

Most people disavow link building because they’re too impatient.

The links you build today won’t make a damn different tomorrow or next week or likely even next month.

Hell, in some cases, they won’t even make a difference this year.

And trust me, working your butt off month after month after month isn’t fun for anyone.

Even me.

But if you will trust this process and follow the steps I’m about to lay out for you, it will work.

You can achieve a first page ranking and you can do it for any site in any niche faster than most people expect.

And today, I’m going to show you how.

Month 1: In The Beginning…

On September 1st, 2017, Linkio was a brand new site. 

It was more emptier than the waiting list for Trump’s hair stylist and didn’t have a single backlink, article, or visitor. 

Zip, nill, nada. 

Just to drive the point home, here’s a screenshot of our backlink profile at the time.

Now, despite these humble beginnings, it was (and is) our goal to turn Linkio.com into one of the most authoritative SEO sites on the internet.

And we already had a battle-proven gameplan (from our results with OutreachMama) with which to achieve it.

Rather conveniently, Linkio just happens to be an SEO management software. Meaning that we were able to use our own tool to boost our own rankings and serve as a case study for more content that would help us further boost our rankings. Talk about a virtuous cycle.

Since this was our first month in business, we crafted a four week game plan that was (soul-crushingly) laden with administrative tasks and other necessary evils.

Specifically, we committed to:

The Meat and Potatoes:

  1. Finalize our branding (designing our adorable mascot and optimizing the color scheme of the site)
  2. Writing lip smackingly good homepage copy (an endeavor which, you can no doubt see, succeeded).
  3. Building 30 manual outreach backlinks over the first 30 days.

The Mac & Cheese:

  1. Free Anchor Text Suggestion Tool
  2. Mega SEO tools listicle

And then we got to work.

My team and I bickered endlessly over whether we should use aquamarine or cerulean for our brand’s logo, which phrases we should use in our copy, and whether we wanted to create a list of 497 or 500 top agencies (we chose the latter).

And while this work was undeniably important, it didn’t do much to drive any new visitors or value to the site.

But I was ok with that.

Because I knew it was just the beginning.

Month 2: The Plot Thickens…

If you’ve read my OutreachMama case study, you’ll remember that during the second month of our brand’s official launch, we achieved some pretty spectacular SEO results, with many of our content pieces jumping 30+ positions in the SERPs.

Alas, this isn’t one of those case studies.

Our second month in business drove very few tangible results in terms of traffic or rankings.

Primarily, because we are targeting much more competitive keywords with Linkio.

However, this was to be expected.

The month was still immeasurably productive as my team and I drove forward on a number of high value projects.

We made solid headway into our website redesign, successfully creating a rather bitching logo, aesthetic color scheme, and truly incredible copy.

And…

We made major progress on a number of important projects (and decided to scrap a few others).

More specifically:

Thankfully, we were able to actually complete an important project during the second month and successfully launched our anchor text generator tool (you should check it out by clicking here).

At this point in the story, the keyword was already ranking on page one of Google and we started experimenting with Facebook ads–blasphemy for an all-organic SEO, I know–successfully generating multiple leads per day.

On the content marketing front, after hours of research and staring at analytics reports, I decided to create the definitive list of SEO tools–covering everything from all-in-ones, onsite auditorslink building toolsblogger outreach toolslink monitoring tools and…

Well, you get the idea.

Like I said, we decided to make it the definitive guide.

However.

Like many of the other projects to which we committed during the second month, we were just getting underway and many moons would pass before our plans would come to fruition.

Now that you have a summary of our onsite initiative during month 2, let’s switch gears and look at the offsite authority building… An endeavor at which we were much more effective.

During our second month, we worked hard to build roughly one backlink a day through continued and hyper-persistent blogger outreach.

Unlike most SEO’s, we didn’t just blast marketing sites and agencies with spammy requests for backlinks.

I mean, we did ask for backlinks, but we also did our best to reciprocate their generosity and provide them with value too.

We continued focusing on homepage and branded links and will continue doing so for the foreseeable future to keep our strategy inline with our brand-first SEO methodology (the same methodology that allowed us to rank OutreachMama so damn quickly). 

So what tangible results did we generate from all of this effort?

Well, if you’ll think back a few minutes, you’ll remember that during the first month, our metrics were a whopping “0” all across the board.

Here’s what changed in month two:

Ouch…

But, once again, I had faith.

I knew that with enough time, a breakthrough in our traffic and authority would happen.

Month 3: All Work and No Pay

During the third month of our marketing campaign, the execution of our major projects began to take off in a BIG way.

And although we still didn’t achieve particularly inspiring results, I wasn’t worried.

I knew we were making headway and didn’t expect to see any real results for at least another 8-9 months.

Anyways…

Here’s what my team and I got up to during the third month.

The One Where We Redesign Our Website

During the third month we made a HUGE step forward…

… Only to take another big step back.

After months of hard work and incessant bickering about color schemes (I mean really… why doesn’t anyone like cerulean?), we promptly decided to do yet another redesign.

Which we pushed into development almost the second the first design went live.

Like they say…

If at first you don’t succeed… Screw it, just start that shit over.

Although our Anchor Text Generator tool continued to generate leads and drive new traffic to the site, we were disappointed in our conversion rate and decided to redesign the generator to force an email capture before users received their initial results.

Ouch…

But, once again, I had faith.

I knew that with enough time, a breakthrough in our traffic and authority would happen.

SEO Tools Article

Although our Anchor Text Generator tool continued to generate leads and drive new traffic to the site, we were disappointed in our conversion rate and decided to redesign the generator to force an email capture before users received their initial results.

Anchor Text Categorizer

One of the biggest developments during our third month was the inception of our second free tool–the anchor text categorizer.

As unsexy as it might sound, when combined with the Anchor Text Generator, I believed these this duo would provide SEOs with a powerful tool set to dominate their link building (and I was right… funny how often that happens).

On the software front we began looking to roll both of these tools into actual software with a much higher amount of automation.

But…

This particular project would not see the light of day for about another month.

So we’ll revisit it later.

In the meantime, let’s look at the progress we made with our link building.

As we continued to deliver links via blogger outreach on niche-relevant sites we started seeing some substantial results in terms of the volume of backlinks we generated.

However, as I’ve alluded to throughout this entire case study…

… The results we were looking for in terms of traffic and rankings continued to elude us.

But I still wasn’t worried. After more than a decade of playing the game, I’ve learned that this isht takes time.

Here’s how the Ahrefs metrics evolved over the first three months:

We continue delivering links via blogger outreach on niche relevant sites. We’re getting lots of links from SEO blogs thus far.

Here’s how the Ahrefs metrics have evolved over the 3 months:

Next, let’s have a look at ranking positions…

Keyword Rankings

I’m going to let you in on a little secret.

You ready?

When you understand how SEO works, you’re much better equipped to handle the emotional (and sometimes financial) roller coaster of launching and ranking an authority site.

To be frank, if I hadn’t started this project with the expectation that we wouldn’t rank for a significant keyword for at least 12-13 months…

… I probably would have given up, sold all of my possessions, and moved to a Tibetan monastery (or maybe to the beach… I’m pretty fond of my hair).

But I did have that expectation.

I knew that we wouldn’t see our rankings shoot up within the third month. Especially not with a new site attempting to rank for hyper competitive keywords.

With that in mind, here’s where we stood at the end of month three:

But regardless of the time required to hit our goals, I knew that every activity in which we were engaged was essential for building a sustainable online business.

Month 4: New Name, Same Game

In month #4, we hit a HUGE milestone…

We completed the rebrand and redesign of our software app and, because of this, were able to redirect our original site (managebacklinks.io) to our new–and much cooler sounding–site Linkio.com.

I haven’t mentioned the Manage Backlinks site yet, because it wasn’t that important but it was the original name we choose, and had a simple landing page created for it while my development team worked on the MVP of our SaaS.

had been live for 7 months and we’d built more than 90 branded homepage links to the site, but instead of redirecting those domain to the Linkio homepage, I decided to redirect the entire site to: https://www.linkio.com/manage-backlinks/

The reason was simple.

I wanted to keep Linkio’s homepage and branded anchor text profile as clean as Nun’s nose without sacrificing the hard work we’d invested into managebacklinks.io.

With this simple redirect, I was able to keep the original domain names in the URL, making everything appear much more natural.

Equally as awesome, this redirect increased the number of our referring domains by 150%, which Ahrefs would eventually pick up.

But in the meantime, here’s how our progress looked.

Although our authority, traffic, and rankings were growing, there were two primary factors hindering our growth: Ahrefs is picking up the increase in authority, rankings and traffic. There are currently two factors that will continue hindering the growth in traffic over the next several months.

  1. It was a brand new site… And let’s just be real, new sites never rank for valuable keywords within the first year unless they get lucky (or have a few million to throw at the project).
  2. There was almost no content on our site. The only rankable pages we had at the end of month four were the homepage, a features page, this (then uncompleted) case study, and a few free tools.

And since we were focused on building a solid foundation of branded SEO and creating the most valuable app possible, content became the red-headed step child of our marketing campaign and took a long ride in the back seat.

But I digress…

Here’s what our rankings looked like at the end of the month.

The keyword “backlink management software” went from #nothing to #2 because of the re-direct we did and we expected the ranking to stick because the page managebacklinks.io redirects to a URL that includes  /manage-backlinks/.

Our branding-heavy focus also helped up bump our ranking for “Linkio” from #4 to #2.

And the best part?

Our strategy hasn’t changed one bit.

Our plan and its execution are simple… and by delivering it with consistency our rankings continued (and will continue) to improve.

However…

The one thing that did change was our marketing plan.

Marketing Plan Update

After refreshing the design of our anchor text generator and publishing our #freshaf anchor text categorizer we realized that our new “Email first, results second” delivery needed a follow up sequence to actually start generating profit.

So, after consuming enough coffee to leave the entire Eastern Seaboard with the jitters, I put my head down and crafted a 20-day autoresponder sequence.

And I’ll explain more about how it fits into the overall SEO picture in the next section.

Month 5 & 6: The Flatline Continues

With January and February 2018 in the books, Linkio continued to see growth (miniscule as it might have been) in both rankings and traffic.

The keyword SEO management software jumped from page 6 to page 1 and, for those of you who don’t appreciate the gravity of this statement, let me reiterate.

A brand new site achieved PAGE ONE rankings within 5 months and NO keyword optimized anchor text.

That’s the power of branded SEO…

As we continued our link building efforts–mainly by trying to get listed on as many SEO blogs as possible–we went from 84 to 203 referring domains.

And as we broke the 100 domain mark, I felt safe to say that Linkio was officially an authority site.

Now…

I know that spending several months building your foundation instead of targeting your favorite keywords is probably the last thing you want to do.

But allow me to illustrate how our brand focused anchor text strategy works with one of the most overused metaphors in the entire entrepreneurial community.

Lions.

When you’re a lion in the Sahara, the herds of Zebra you’re targeting are constantly on high alert for any warning signs or stimuli indicating that you’re about to turn them into an afternoon snack.

But eventually, as you bide your time, blend in with the surroundings, and stay patient, the herd relaxes.

And that’s when you pounce on those striped sons of bitches and smile while David Attenborough narrates your grisly feast.

Similarly, Google is on high alert for spammy SEOs.

But when you begin your forays by focusing on branded anchors first Google doesn’t see you as a threat. So when you do start focusing on keywords Google is more receptive to your advances.

Since 73% of our homepage links at this time were branded, I felt safe to shift our focus and begin building other types of branded anchors to even out the ratios.

Even though our referring domain count during these months was impressive, our traffic from Google was… less so.

With only 150 weekly organic visitors, many of you might be wondering…

“Ajay, what the hell man? If you built 200 links, you should have had WAY more visitors than that.”

And you’re right…

So why didn’t I?

Simple…

A) It was still a brand new site and visibility was improving

B) So far, the site is only ranking for low volume middle of funnel, high intent keywords like “SEO management software” and “Anchor text generator”

Not exactly the kind of content that caters to high volume keywords.

However… We set plans in motion to change that over the ensuing six months with the launch of our massive SEO tools guide.

And as you’ll see in a bit, this move paid off…

… Big time.

Month 7, 8, 9 & 10: Slow Gains

During the past four month, we invested heavily into building the authority of the homepage and launching premium content.

So how did these efforts pay off?

Well, let’s take a look, shall we?

Starting with rankings…

Here’s a breakdown of hte rankings progress over the past four months:

Note that several of our high volume keywords were starting to move into the top 100 and above. For example, SEO Tools (my real target) went from 93 to 68 and ‘seo tool’ went from “not even on yo radar” to page 9.

Not too shabby.

But not great either.

I mean for feck’s sake my team and I were ten months into this campaign!

But…

SEO is an extremely mature industry with an insanely competitive first page. And beating the big dogs takes time.

For those of you with a keen eye, you might notice that our SEO case study (the page you’re reading right now) actually regressed in the rankings. And while this was a mild frustration, we weren’t targeting this as a focus keyword so I knew it would rebound with time.

The biggest driver in our rankings improvement was the successful launch of a super article aimed specifically at SEO tools and SEO software related keywords.

After noticing that Google prefers to show results that have multiple tools listed, I figured it was worth a shot.

And luckily, I was right.

Now, let’s take a look at how our SEO authority fared over these months.

During these four months, we continued working hard to build a link a day and gained an impressive 111 referring domains.

And although the metrics were higher than ever we simply weren’t up to par with the bigger players in the space.

So we set our sights on a a massive, 10,000 word, 5 video SEO tutorial series to generate more links, target new keywords, and turn Linkio into an underdog success story.

But in the meantime, the effort we’d already put into quality content like our anchor text analysis tool, started gaining organic links from incredibly authoritative articles like this one from  Neil Patel.

Although our lack of serious results came close to driving my team to mutiny, I knew that big things were just around the corner.

Month 11: Pain Continues

During our eleventh month, we tested out a novel SEO strategy that you’ve likely never heard of.

We published content and built links…

…The exact same thing we’d been doing for 11 months.

Remember, at this point, SEO is a formula. A science.

It might take longer to see results than it takes George R.R. Martin to write the final Game of Thrones book (seriously dude, we’re all waiting for that new season), but it works.

Rankings​

Here’s an overview of our progress over the past four months, starting with our rankings.

The change we saw over the past months was interesting.

“SEO tools”, my highest volume keyword (Google Keyword Planner estimates 50,000 monthly searches), has gone from position 66 to position 40.

And only five months ago, it wasn’t even ranked in the top 200.

This was exciting progress, especially when you consider how dead simple out strategy for achieving this result was.

And, as slowly as we did it, we also started building links to the SEO tools list we created.

Here’s a breakdown of links we generated specifically for that page.

Considering that most pages ranking for this keyword have hundreds of referring domains going to that specific page, it’s pretty clear that we had a long way to go.

And because this was a long term link building campaign, it was imperative that we kept our anchor text profile looking natural to avoid shooting ourselves in the foot (feet?) and wasting the hundreds of hours we’d invested into link building.

Luckily, we had a nifty little software called Linkio which, when combined with our anchor text generator allowed my team to calculate the ideal anchor text percentage to target based on the percentages of our top competitors.

This was the result of that combination.

As you can see, there was a metric crapton of variety and almost no repeat usage. To even the most highly trained eye, there was no way to distinguish Linkio’s anchor profile from a website with the slogan “IDGAF about links.”

As we continued along, we also published another mega article–– this SEO tutorial for beginners.

Although our link building efforts for this asset had only just begun, there were already some promising page 3-6 rankings coming in.

But enough about links, let’s keep this party bus moving and talk about authority and traffic.

Authority

With a net gain of more than 24 referring domains over the course of the month, we continued our link per day (I’ve heard it keeps the bad rankings away), trajectory.

Although Ahrefs had yet to pick up on the bump in SEO tools or SEO tutorials rankings, I’ll reveal the keyword and traffic stats in the next section.

Traffic

Over the past 11 months, our traffic showed a pattern that is all but axiomatic with new SEO campaigns.

Flat. Flat. Flat. BIG bump. Flat. Flat. Bump.

Tiring though it was, my team and I knew that if we continued doing exactly what we’d been doing and extrapolated the trajectory of this graph over the next 12 months, we’d been well on our way to the rankings we desired.

And we were right…

Month 12: Big Gains Finally

Ho-lee-cow.

In month number 12, we’d just passed the one year mark (obviously) of our SEO campaign and case study, and guess what?

To bring in the end of our first year in business, we finally hit page #1 for our first uber-competitive, high volume keyword:

Rankings​

Here’s an overview of our progress over the past four months, starting with our rankings.

The change we saw over the past months was interesting.

“SEO tools”, my highest volume keyword (Google Keyword Planner estimates 50,000 monthly searches), has gone from position 66 to position 40.

And only five months ago, it wasn’t even ranked in the top 200.

This was exciting progress, especially when you consider how dead simple out strategy for achieving this result was.

And, as slowly as we did it, we also started building links to the SEO tools list we created.

Here’s a breakdown of links we generated specifically for that page.

Considering that most pages ranking for this keyword have hundreds of referring domains going to that specific page, it’s pretty clear that we had a long way to go.

And because this was a long term link building campaign, it was imperative that we kept our anchor text profile looking natural to avoid shooting ourselves in the foot (feet?) and wasting the hundreds of hours we’d invested into link building.

Luckily, we had a nifty little software called Linkio which, when combined with our anchor text generator allowed my team to calculate the ideal anchor text percentage to target based on the percentages of our top competitors.

This was the result of that combination.

As you can see, there was a metric crapton of variety and almost no repeat usage. To even the most highly trained eye, there was no way to distinguish Linkio’s anchor profile from a website with the slogan “IDGAF about links.”

As we continued along, we also published another mega article–– this SEO tutorial for beginners.

Although our link building efforts for this asset had only just begun, there were already some promising page 3-6 rankings coming in.

But enough about links, let’s keep this party bus moving and talk about authority and traffic.

Authority

With a net gain of more than 24 referring domains over the course of the month, we continued our link per day (I’ve heard it keeps the bad rankings away), trajectory.

Although Ahrefs had yet to pick up on the bump in SEO tools or SEO tutorials rankings, I’ll reveal the keyword and traffic stats in the next section.

Traffic

Over the past 11 months, our traffic showed a pattern that is all but axiomatic with new SEO campaigns.

Flat. Flat. Flat. BIG bump. Flat. Flat. Bump.

Tiring though it was, my team and I knew that if we continued doing exactly what we’d been doing and extrapolated the trajectory of this graph over the next 12 months, we’d been well on our way to the rankings we desired.

And we were right…

SEO Tutorial.

The best part?

I only needed 13 links with the following anchor text percentages to do it.

Compared to massive number of links pointing to our first page neighbors (you know… 529, 96, 177, 125, 11,000, 466) landing on the first page with only 13 links doesn’t just seem unlikely, it seems downright impossible.

And yet…

It happened.

Here’s the rankings graph for the top 5 sites in Google for the keyword “SEO tutorial”:

And this is how we did it:

… Actually, let’s first rewind for a second.

The day I started version 1.0 of this case study, I told you that I wouldn’t be focusing on anything but branded homepage links for at least 6 months.

And  kept that promise and then some.

In fact, I ended up focusing exclusively on branded homepage links for eight whole months.

Sure, it felt like time stood still for those eight months and I often wondered if I would ever escape the torture…

But I knew that if we established branded SEO and built real authority in our industry, ranking for our target keywords wouldn’t be a problem.

And during month 10 I finally published this SEO article:

https://www.linkio.com/seo-tutorial/

All in all, this bad boy–filled with 9,000+ words, five videos, a downloadable upgrade, and crisp copy– took more than 60 days to create.

And for those of you thinking we went a little overboard, let me remind you that the best SEO strategy is still creating amazing content.

Everything becomes easier after that.

With the guide created, I then set about creating an anchor text plan for my link building campaign.

I took the page URLs that ranked on page 1 for the term “SEO tutorial” and calculated the average of their anchor text percentages with Linkio.

Here’s what I found:

It’s important to note that since these are inner pages, keyword-based anchors are much higher than the branded anchors… a sharp contrast from how homepages should look.

(It’s only because my homepage already has its ideal percentages that I’m able to get more aggressive with internal page link building).

With our game plan devised and our strategy set, we decided to do the polite thing…

And go directly for our competitor’s backlinks (all is fair in love and internet marketing).

After downloading backlinks for all of the competitors who ranked on page one, we then set out to find our “hitlist” of bloggers to target by filtering the result for indexed dofollow links.

We then sent out a barrage of emails–introducing our article and asking for a link–to these bloggers on our list every day.

The emails basically introduced them to our SEO tutorial article and asked for a link on the same page that the competitor has a link from (basic skyscraper strategy).

Since that day, we’ve built more than 13 referring domains and here are how our anchor text percentages match up to our target.

Anchor TypePercentage
Branded5.59%
Keyword45.30%
Hybrid17.58%
URL12.00%
Natural19.53%

It’s important to note that since these are inner pages, keyword-based anchors are much higher than the branded anchors… a sharp contrast from how homepages should look.

(It’s only because my homepage already has its ideal percentages that I’m able to get more aggressive with internal page link building).

With our game plan devised and our strategy set, we decided to do the polite thing…

And go directly for our competitor’s backlinks (all is fair in love and internet marketing).

After downloading backlinks for all of the competitors who ranked on page one, we then set out to find our “hitlist” of bloggers to target by filtering the result for indexed dofollow links.

We then sent out a barrage of emails–introducing our article and asking for a link–to these bloggers on our list every day.

The emails basically introduced them to our SEO tutorial article and asked for a link on the same page that the competitor has a link from (basic skyscraper strategy).

Since that day, we’ve built more than 13 referring domains and here are how our anchor text percentages match up to our target.

As you can see, the percentages were very close to ideal.

And here’s the rankings graph at the time for the top 5 sites in Google for the keyword “SEO tutorial”:

Not bad, eh.

Soooo.

To recap:

Create amazing content. Have a link building game plan. Execute.

And most importantly of all… don’t cut corners. Build a strong brand first and then everything will be easier.

Let’s see how everything else is going:

Authority Growth

New highs across the board. We’d even started scoring organic links now (booyah!) as sites continued finding us on other lists.

Keyword Rankings​

Rankings were bouncing around.

Some up, some down – all good.

Traffic Update

Finally, our traffic for the month continued trending upwards in a big way.

Not a bad way to end your first year in business… If I do say so myself.

Month 13-14: Climbing Higher

As we entered into the second year of not only this SEO case study but our entire SEO campaign, we arrived at a point where–since trust and thematic relevance had been established with Google–ranking for my target keywords became much easier.

In fact, during the first two months of our new year, we received a substantial bump in rankings–attaining the highest highs to date.

Here’s the all time rank tracker.

That’s right… Snoop Dogg has nothing on us.

Now, I’ll admit that nine months is an unbelievably LONG time for by big commercial keywords (like SEO software, SEO tools, and SEO management software) to remain stagnant.

And it becomes even more unbelievable when you see the metric shite load of link building work we expended during those nine months.

For nine months, our rankings flat-lined.

And during those nine months, we added over 240 referring domains (more than 27 a month!).

Although many of you might wonder why I stuck it out for so long, the truth is… I never considered quitting in the first place.

In competitive industries, this is simply what’s required for SEO.

Remember, the formula is simple: Quality content + good links + time = rankings.

Besides…

Despite our stagnant rankings we still generated plenty of traffic, both organically and from referral links, and managed to get organic mentions from top publishers like Search Engine Journal!

Oh and speaking of traffic.

Here’s how things panned out over those nine months

And at this point, things continued trending in the right direction.

As for our authority… Just read on.

Authority

During month 13 and 14, our trends remained positive.

But, patient though I may be with results I am very impatient with the processes that drive them.

I decided I wanted our referring domain count to get higher faster and added an additional resource to aid in that goal.

Oh, and I almost forgot…

I also published a massive article targeting the keyword Directory Submission Sites and began an outreach campaign to track its rankings.

As I continue (even to this day) building links both to this new article and my other SEO assets, I expect the numbers will continue to trend in our favor.

Rankings Changes

I feel no need to clarify this chart with words.

It kind of speaks for itself.

Month 15-16: More Page 1 Rankings

Do you remember that directory submissions article from the last section? I’ve heard humans now have the attention spans of a goldfish so that was (sadly) not a rhetorical question.

Anyways, if you don’t remember it, scroll your mouse up about 2 mm and review that section.

Otherwise, check out what the rankings look like now…

I won’t kid you…

The speed and tenacity with which this page shot up in the rankings surprised even me.

Want to hear something even crazier?

There were absolutely zero backlinks built to this page!

At this point, you might be wondering… How is this even possible?

Earlier I wrote “quality content + good links + time = rankings.”

In this case, the formula is quality content + no links + no time = rankings.

What the hell?!

Well, like I’ve mentioned throughout this entire guide.

This is the power of building a strong brand with high levels of thematic relevance.

Sure, it might be a pain in the neck and move slower than molasses on a frog’s ass.

But there are no other tactics (at least none that I know of), that can help you rank this quickly.

And this is what the Ahrefs metrics update looks like today:

As we continue down our, now very proven, path we’re continuing to see steady increases across the board as I invest in link building and launch one new mega guide every three months.

Oh, and the organic traffic has reached new highs too. Here’s the latest:

Sadly, there was one small “hiccup” recently.

Some ass hole in his mom’s basement decided to launch a negative SEO attack on Linkio and build more than 100,000 shitty links to my site.

THOUSANDS of crap links.

But guess what?

It hasn’t negatively impacted our rankings at all (I’ll still disavow just in case).

Better luck next time buddy.

Anyways, I’m off to work on our latest super duper 10,000 word mega guide anchor text.

It’s probably got another 30-days to go so stay tuned.

In the meantime, take the lessons you’ve learned from this case study, apply them to your own business, and let us know your new strategy in the comments below (it’d better have something to do with quality content + links + time!)

And if you have any questions or want to learn more about how Linkio or Outreachmama can help you jump to the top of the rankings and own your target keyword feel free to shoot us an email and we’ll be in touch.

SEO Case Study (Building An Authority Site)

A 2020 Update Note How We’re Doing Now This case study began September 2017 and lasted for 16 months. I stopped updated the monthly progress over a year ago but you should still read through the monthly strategies, especially if you have a new site. This is exactly how you should launch a new site … Continue reading “SEO Case Study (Building An Authority Site)”

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Blogger Outreach Strategies (and If They Really Work)

Blogger outreach has been the talk of the town for years.

So many strategies have been shared and then reshared from every angle imaginable, illustrated with real-life examples, backed up by case studies, eased with templates, sped up with email automation tools…

Today, when everything should be crystal clear, I’m still confused about some tactics suggested here and there. They either go against my logic or hold back some important details, making the whole point a bit vague.

Or maybe I should just retake an IQ test, lol.

But am I the only one? Once in a while, I run into criticism of outreach emails. People post screenshots of erm… not so good unsolicited pitches or follow-ups to them. And then, as if on cue, their followers show up, and group shaming starts.

You’ve probably seen it all too.

blogger outreach tips

Source

To figure things out, I surveyed people about the major controversies happening at every stage of outreach.

After reading this post, you’ll have more reasons to use some strategies and ditch others commonly known as “effective.”

1. Blogger outreach status of today

Is blogger outreach live, dead, or erm… living dead?

blogger outreach tips

Gurus say you’ll succeed in blogger outreach using their tried and tested strategies. Just like they did years ago, and look where they’re now.

Their teachings inspire and help (no sarcasm here), but…

I wonder why response rates are so low.

Studies show that less than 10% of recipients usually reply back. And response rates aren’t even success rates – some people actually say no. Why is it so?

individual blogger

Opinion from Nela Dunato.

Brand Strategist, Designer, and Writer at NelaDunato.com.

Connect with Nela on Twitter & LinkedIn.

Nela says:

I’ve been a blogger for many years, and I get dozens of outreach emails every month. They’re all focused on link building and ask me to link to their product, article, infographic, or services.

Those folks don’t even look up who I am and what I do. I’ve had several companies, including someone working for UpWork, ask that I link to their logo design services from my blog. I am a logo designer. I wouldn’t advertise competitors even if they paid me to, that’s just dumb. They don’t even check who they’re messaging.

Their offers to share one of my posts on their social media in exchange for a link? Despite supposedly having 10+ thousand followers, their posts get less than 5 likes on average and zero comments. This means their followers are bots, not real people. Some value exchange they’re offering.

I know what they want, and I know why they want it. And because I know how valuable links from reputable domains are, I find outreach requests just laughable.

My two cents. When link requests come daily, there’s no need to be a genius to smell a rat.

Even if a blogger doesn’t know much about link building, it’s quite obvious that you’re not the good Samaritan who only wants to educate their readers with additional info.

Since links help with search rankings, giving you one is basically equal to providing a mini SEO service. And who’s gonna do it just for a “thank you” note?

Who are false prophets of outreach (and how do they affect your work)?

blogger outreach tips

I still wonder if things look any different on the other side of the outreach funnel. I’m referring to people who provide outreach services professionally.

outreach proOpinion from Tom Pick.

B2B Digital Marketing Consultant at Webbiquity LLC.

Connect with Tom on Twitter & LinkedIn.

Tom says:

I get deluged with crappy outreach daily. People who clearly have never looked at my blog, don’t use my name, they are just doing high-volume mass outreach, hoping they can get crap copy published that has zero value to anyone, except it links back to their site.

And worse, they advertise this as a “service” to brands.

I do personalized, carefully researched outreach on behalf of my clients, and I’m offended by offshore spammers whose actions cheapen my profession.

My two cents. Even outreach specialists admit that the playing field is shaky these days.

And mass, hit-or-miss outreach makes things worse for all players, not only spammers. The tension on the field definitely needs some de-escalation.

2. Targeted outreach: when topic relevance is not enough

Are you too late to the party with your pitch?

blogger outreach tips

Gurus say you should target pages of topical relevance only.

Especially since there’s no shortage of ways to find articles where your link could fit in. From Google search operators to SEO tools, you’ll probably end up with a lot of targets on your list.

Unless you’re in some narrow field, of course.

I wonder if it makes sense to treat all the relevant pages as our targets. I mean, every single one of them?

From 2014 to 2017, I used to publish compilations of website templates for basically any business out there. Today, I can hardly remember what I wrote back then, let alone the external pages I linked to.

And I don’t really care.

How willing are bloggers to add new links to posts from their good old days? Is there a time frame to stay within when targeting relevant pages?

outreach specialist

Opinion from Richard Kennedy – Marketing Director at Arken Digital (SEO agency helping eCommerce businesses improve their rankings).

Connect with Richard on Twitter & LinkedIn.

Richard says:

Over time, we’ve noticed that people are usually quite unwilling to edit posts that are over a year in most typical markets, something like fashion for example. You’re asking somebody to change something that really, they completely forgot they’d even written, so why would they care?

But it depends on the market. We’ve worked with a client in the building trade, where regulations have changed, and it makes perfect sense for someone to update an old post that is essentially incorrect. For markets like that, we will reach out regardless of how long ago the post was made.

It’s hard to give a definitive answer. We try to keep it recent, but if the page we are targeting is ranking for its own terms and could potentially send us traffic, it doesn’t matter how long ago it was posted. If it has been updated within the last 18-12 months, that’s a good sign.

My two cents. Even when I was gathering opinions for this post, some people said they’d changed their minds over the years. What they preached back in 2017 wasn’t something they’d recommend today.

blogger outreach tips

Here’s one more.

blogger outreach tips

To act on time rather than rake over the ashes, you can use tools like Ahrefs Alerts. Each time a new post on your target topic gets published, you’ll receive an email notification.

How to grow your domain authority from zero (and feel wanted in outreach)?

blogger outreach tips

Gurus say you should target blogs that have some authority.

As a rule, the minimum threshold of domain authority to set is around 30 DR (by Ahrefs) or DA (by Moz). I guess it can work if you have a site with DR 30+ yourself.

I wonder what to do if you don’t. What if you’re a startupper with a brand new domain that’s at the bottom of the DR hierarchy?

Bloggers you’re gonna contact will probably follow the same logic – respond to people behind sites with DR 30+, as they are of “sufficient quality” to link to.

What should link builders do in their early days?

outreach guru

Opinion from Martin Benes.

Individual SEO Specialist and Online Marketer at Benes.me.

Connect with Martin on Twitter & LinkedIn.

Martin says:

If I were starting a business from scratch and were standing before the decision of which domains to pursue for links, I would first check competitors’ backlink profiles. If they had no DA 30+ sites in their profile, then it might take DA 20-30 to beat them in SERPs. Also, it would probably save some budget and end up in better ROI. However, I would still target the highest DA first (maybe DA 25 in this case), as the impact would be probably the biggest.

Let’s say, on the other hand, that I have zero link-building budget, and the competitors have all DA 30+ backlinks. Then (speaking only about active link-building efforts), I do not think it might be worth investing the time in DA 0-10 sites to have low-value and potentially hurtful links. Maybe it would be worth building some brand awareness first (for example, via PPC or social media) to naturally attract high-quality links afterward. The only instance where I would still aim for DA 0-10 links would be if my site has not yet been discovered and indexed by Google.

As for DA 10-20 domains, I think they are still useful when the content is very relevant to your niche. In the end, DA is just a metric developed by third-party tools, such as MOZ or Ahrefs, and their algorithms can always change. In general, I would always check DA in connection to other metrics and decide accordingly. For example, if the site is highly relevant, then I would allow a wider range for the DA. If the site is a generic news site with DA 30+, I would still go for it even though the connection to the niche is insignificant.

Curious to know if Martin is OK with linking to 0-30 DR/DA domains? There you are.

If I were a recipient, DR/DA would also influence my decision. In general, it would depend on a few factors and, as a site that provides backlinks, I would need to see a business value in linking back to the pitch sender.

First of all, the decision would be dependent on the topic relevance. For example, if I had a blog about dogs, I would be more likely to link to a pet shop. Then, the DA would not need to be exceptionally high to make me want to link back.

Let’s assume my site has DA 30+ and I get contacted by a DA 10+ site. Let’s also assume that the main topic of both sites is similar. In this case, I will be happy to link back, as I might also benefit from the connection in Google’s eyes. Also, I might be willing to negotiate about the deal in terms of the budget or other ways to support my linking site.

On the other hand, let’s assume that the pitch sender has a site DA 0-10. In that case, I would be asking for a premium value back, as I am risking being connected with a low-value site and potentially hurting my search performance. I would still consider linking back, however the budget would need to be agreed on accordingly.

It would also depend on the overall strategy. If I had a full-scale private blog network, I might be willing to take more risks, as I could always adjust the link juice flow and potentially start new blogs. If I had only one main site that I operate, I would be much more careful with linking back to low-value domains, as my business is dependent on having a stable organic performance.

But in general, I would suggest checking the pitch sender in more detail instead of following the Domain Authority only. It can be determined only after a detailed analysis whether the site is a genuine startup that wants to build a long-term value or a scam site with an unlimited budget that only aims for short-term gains. I would always suggest linking back only to the former example 🙂

My two cents. To decide whether to link to sites with a low DR, I personally check how Google treats them.

There’s no way they’d rank for popular keywords and drive a lot of traffic, I totally understand that. Still, I expect to see them ranking for at least a few keywords with a low search volume (around 10-30). That’s when I feel relieved.

Google wouldn’t rank a spammy site on the first page, would it?

To prove your site with a low DR isn’t spammy, try to get it ranking for some unpopular keywords first.

3. Pre-outreach stage: actions to take before sending a pitch

To warm up, or to go cold? That is the question.

blogger outreach tips

Gurus say you should warm up your prospects before hitting their inboxes. For example, you can engage with them on social media by liking or sharing their latest posts.

The logic is quite simple here – people are more responsive to someone they can recognize.

I wonder if bloggers don’t understand what this prelude is all about.

When I just started out, there was a guy who shared a few posts I published and later suggested his link to “improve” one of them. I was young, naive, and absolutely flattered by someone’s attention. Long story short, I added his link and never heard from him again 🙂

Now I know he pretended to like my write-ups to warm me up. It worked with me because I didn’t know much about link building. But do seasoned bloggers buy it too?

Opinion from Alex Birkett – Product Growth Expert at AlexBirkett.com and Co-founder of Omniscient Digital (digital content marketing firm that helps with inbound customer acquisition).

Connect with Alex on Twitter & LinkedIn.

Alex says:

So, the reason people try to “warm you up” before asking for something that benefits them is that friends are more likely to do each other favors than strangers. I give links to my friends quite often.

The problem is, artificially creating the perception of friendship has the reverse effect. Leaving aside any moral quandaries I may have with using humans like chess pieces in the pursuit of a backlink, it’s also just ineffective.

Layer one, if I don’t know what someone wants after the first email, it’s a waste of both of our time (thus, my advice to stop beating around the bush).

Layer two, if I sense I’m being “tricked” through clever flattery or tactics, I’m likely to be annoyed rather than charmed. People are smart, and most can see through the gimmicks. You can still compliment someone’s work or whatever, but if you’re asking for a backlink, just put your request on the table and don’t act like a weirdo.

My two cents. If you decide to warm someone up with likes or shares, you can’t just stop once you get a link. It’ll make your true intentions way too obvious.

Don’t forget that removing a link takes the same few seconds as adding it.

Should you bother building connections before outreach?

blogger outreach tips

I still wonder why so many gurus advocate warming up if it smells a bit fake.

If it’s not about imitating an interest in someone’s work, what is it about then? Is there a right form of warming up?

Opinion from Amy Copadis – Content Specialist at Close (inside sales automation CRM) and Freelance Blogger & Marketer at AmyCopadis.com.

Connect with Amy on Twitter & LinkedIn.

Amy says:

Personally, I believe that now there’s more to warming up on social than resharing or liking someone’s posts. It’s about building your network, making business connections.

People are on LinkedIn to learn and to connect, and if you’re there interacting with people and developing a network of connections who recognize your name, you will naturally be warming people up for direct outreach.

When the focus is on building relationships with relevant people in your industry, this works. If you’re doing it simply for the sake of later asking for a backlink, it will come off as spammy. And in my experience, having valuable relationships is always worth the time.

My two cents. After interacting with your prospects, you can’t act as if you did them a big favor, and now they owe you.

They never asked you for anything.

You did it of your own free will and can’t even know if they truly appreciate your overtures. Be ready that the time you’ll invest in warming up won’t pay off with every single prospect.

What’s the best network for social outreach (when it’s cold)?

blogger outreach tips

Gurus say you should approach your prospects on social media before emailing them.

I wonder which networks are better for social outreach at the cold stage.

For example, Facebook seems to be more appropriate for communication with friends, colleagues, and other acquaintances. If you ask me, I don’t check message requests or add strangers to my friend list there.

Opinion from Clayton Johnson – Founder of Small Biz SEO (content writing, link building, web design, and social media marketing services).

Connect with Clayton on LinkedIn.

Clayton says:

We never reach out directly to anyone that we haven’t already established rapport with on social and use LinkedIn only for social outreach.

It’s a super simple approach. We DM prospects with anything personable to say. Usually, a compliment as long as it doesn’t sound canned or taking note of any way to relate to the prospect. Something silly or playful that just makes sure people know we are genuine.

For roundup requests, we also mention a few of the known names that are participating, and that tends to get a response.

My two cents. For marketing-related niches, Twitter is an ideal network to hang out on.

People tweet about the latest industry news all the time. And it doesn’t take long for their followers to show up and start a heated discussion. This is a great opportunity to squeeze yourself in their talks and make a statement, as long as you have something smart to say.

Does the size matter in blogger outreach?

blogger outreach tips

Gurus say connecting with prospects ahead of outreach will make you look familiar to them when your email comes.

Especially if you keep the same avatar in your social profile and inbox.

I wonder how to stand out among hundreds or thousands of other connections.

Having 1K+ followers, I don’t keep track of people who follow and unfollow me. My gut feeling is that influencers with 50K+ followers don’t bother with that either. What would be the right way to get yourself noticed?

Opinion from Tom Mortimer – Content Manager at Adzooma (all-in-one platform to optimize Google, Facebook, and Microsoft advertising campaigns).

Connect with Tom on Twitter & LinkedIn.

Tom says:

What you’re doing when interacting with journalists and thought leaders is moving from an unknown emailer to, “Hey, that guy I converse with semi-often on social media emailed me. I like the way he thinks, I’ll give this a read.”

Because that’s the thing with so much of outreach, especially if you’re from a brand outside the journalist’s conscious. Your idea might be great, but until they know who you are, you’re outside the circle of trust. But by treating journalists like actual real human beings and interacting with them online – replying to their tweets with interesting insights and opinions on industry-related tweets – you’re striking up a genuine personal relationship that could help in a professional capacity too.

And I’m not saying you should start faking being someone’s friend, but just treat them like a real human being, offer them your personality and your insight, then see what happens when you start offering them your work later down the line. I’ll scratch your back, you scratch mine. Because that’s the thing with outreach. It’s a joy for the journalist if it’s good, and from there, your relationship will only grow further. And hey, you might actually make a real friend out of it too.

My two cents. The true goal of warming up isn’t to make people believe you like them. It’s the other way round – to make them like you.

Your personal feelings about someone you’re gonna contact on business don’t really matter. What does is your brainpower and how well you can manage it.

Warming up is all about self-presentation.

Is there a place for politics in outreach?

blogger outreach tips

Gurus say you should start a conversation on the topic your prospects are interested in.

I wonder if it’s OK to discuss everything from their social feeds.

For example, many influencers often tweet on politics. It’s been a hot topic lately, and I believe everyone has something to say about it. Even those who claim to stay out of politics.

Last year, SparkToro also released a handy feature to analyze the political behavior of target audiences. Based on their data, you can find out if people in your niche adhere to the left, center, or right ideology and shape your targeting accordingly.

blogger outreach tips

Is it OK to use these political insights for building relationships at the pre-outreach stage?

Opinion from Rand Fishkin – Co-founder & CEO at SparkToro (tools to research your target audience, what they read, watch, share, and talk about).

Connect with Rand on Twitter & LinkedIn.

Rand says:

I think you could use those political topics as opportunities for outreach and connection, but I wouldn’t use them as openings for direct selling. Instead, I’d make that a touchpoint for relationship building, and then leverage those relationships over time to start building your marketing flywheel. It’s a subtle difference, but an important one.

I will say, I find politics to be a great way to build friendships and associations with folks online. Those relationships do, over time, sometimes become vectors for marketing amplification, too, but if you go into the process thinking of it as a way to do “marketing” you usually have a bad time.

My two cents. If political topics dominate someone’s social thread, I don’t see a problem approaching them from such an angle.

Just keep in mind that it’s not something to fake.

You can’t be bidenist for some of your prospects and trumpist for others to get both camps on your side. The same goes for being a supporter of vaccination and an anti-vaxer.

Someone may scroll through more of your tweets out of curiosity. How are you going to explain your split personality, huh?

How to pass face control when you contact strangers?

blogger outreach tips

Gurus say the more your prospects recognize how your email is related to them, the more chances they’ll read it.

I wonder if relationship building is the only way to ring a bell with someone.

I can start interacting with a few peeps in my niche, no probs. But with hundreds of prospects on the list, it just doesn’t seem realistic.

Opinion from Alex Gaines – PR Manager at Three Ships (digital marketing agency that helps consumers purchase with confidence and advertisers find the right customers).

Connect with Alex on Twitter & LinkedIn.

Alex says:

One thing I do a lot is if I’m pitching someone something related to an article they wrote, I always use their headline in my subject line.

Kind of an old trick, but it usually will grab attention because it’s recognizable.

The reporter doesn’t entirely know if you’re offering a correction, asking to cover a similar story, or giving a compliment until they click.

My two cents. That’s the trick I used when doing outreach for this article.

It was absolutely cold, except for a few people I interacted with earlier. My open and response rates were 91% and 53% respectively. Not bad, if you ask me.

4. Email personalization: a few corners to slow down at

Outreach deja vu: how do recipients recognize templated emails?

blogger outreach tips

Gurus say people can recognize templated emails in the blink of an eye. Especially if their mailboxes have been a long-time destination for mass outreach.

Back in the day, spammers neglected to address them by name or mention their websites. Today, templating has made great progress – there are tools that can add the recipient’s name and other details automatically. This is the latest outreach craze that most link outreach services are using.

But even with a bit of personalization, mass outreach still gives itself away.

I wonder how people tell genuinely personal emails from templated stuff sent to the masses. Are there any signals that strike an eye at once?

Opinion from Dario Supan – Content Strategist & Editor at Point Visible (personalized, sustainable, and transparent digital marketing services).

Connect with Dario on LinkedIn.

Dario says:

As someone who both wrote and read tons of pitches over the last few years, it’s easy to recognize templates that are flowing around the community (people tend to reuse the whole paragraphs).

I’ve also used a few different outreach software solutions so I’m aware of how they handle custom fields (a.k.a. personalization fields), which can be another telltale sign. For example, you will see pitches where these custom fields have a different font than the rest of the email (likely due to copy/paste), spacing issues, formatting issues, and similar.

All of that being said, I will sooner give a chance to someone with a generic pitch if that pitch has great examples of previous work and really interesting topic suggestions than vice versa. The thing is that great writers with great topics will usually have a solid pitch to go along with everything else.

My two cents. Writing a pitch from scratch for each of a hundred prospects is nonsense. You definitely need a template.

But you can’t use templates you found on Google as is, by changing the recipient’s name, website, and post title. People have read that email copy a gazillion times. You need to create a never-seen-before template that will feel unique to recipients.

blogger outreach tips

Where’s the fine line between email personalization and cyberstalking?

blogger outreach tips

Gurus say you should personalize emails by mentioning something from your prospects’ social profiles.

It’ll prove that you took an individual approach towards them, did your homework, so to say, and found out more than their email address and the URL of the page you want a backlink from.

I wonder if personalization can touch business aspects only (content, products) or private lives too (hobbies, interests).

Email senders hardly ever get any more creative than saying a few words about the latest posts or product updates. And when they do it over and over again, such emails don’t really stand out from stock messages anymore.

Opinion from Kit Smith – Digital Content Manager at SoPro (online marketing services that help businesses connect with their ideal prospects through personalized outreach).

Connect with Kit on Twitter & LinkedIn.

Kit says:

I agree that people can get lazy with research, and end up sending stock-sounding messages. And you want to connect with someone, so sticking to product updates might be a little too dull to do that.

Whether you mention something personal can be a little complicated, and depend on who you are talking to. If someone is a lifestyle influencer, then the boundary of their online persona and personal life is a little blurred. On the other hand, if you are a food critic, painter, or content marketer, then you might be a little disturbed if someone mentions something personal.

Having said that, people should be aware of what they are sharing online and their privacy settings. My Facebook and Instagram are private so anything you mentioned from there in your outreach would creep me out (and I’d have to question if you were hacking me!!). But my Twitter is public, so I choose to mention my lifelong love of the mighty Tottenham Hotspur in my profile knowing that anyone can see that and can talk to me about it.

Basically, if it’s a detail that they’ve shared publicly, and it’s something that was upfront (not something you’ve had to go back 3 years and zoom into a photo for), I think it’s fair enough to mention it.

My two cents. You won’t always be on the same page with your prospects.

Before I followed Kit on Twitter, I had known nothing about Tottenham Hotspur. And frankly, all I know now is that it’s a football club in London.

My point is, the convo will start, and you should be able to keep it going. Will you handle that? You can’t show that you don’t know anything but the name of their fav team.

If you have no time to dig for more info on the topic, comment on something else.

Personal or creepy: how to make a judgment call in outreach?

blogger outreach tips

I still wonder if there are any lines you can’t cross with email personalization. From what I see, people often share pics of their pets, family get-togethers, food, tattoos…

Is it appropriate to comment on everything they make public, especially in a business email to a stranger? Doesn’t it feel like some sort of invasion of their privacy?

Opinion from David Attard – Owner of CollectiveRay (where he blogs about SEO, WordPress, Joomla, web design, and online technologies).

Connect with David on Twitter & LinkedIn.

David says:

In reality, one needs to make a judgment call. The idea is to find some common ground and something “unique” in your outreach. Rather than just be a variation of every outreach template out there, one needs to make sure that the email is genuinely tailor-made to the recipient.

That’s the whole concept. Being creepy is not good, creating a “personal touch,” that’s a game-changer.

Say, you’re outreaching to a travel blogger, and they’ve just returned from a trip to Vietnam and mentioned that they liked Hoi An but found Ho Chi Minh a bit too hectic. If you also traveled to Vietnam, you can comment on what you liked or did not like, or otherwise engage with them.

The point about making it personal means making it specific to the blogger about the stuff you know they are interested in and will pique their curiosity.

So, in reality, you’re not speaking about anything personal that you’ve discovered through stalking them creepily, but use something that they have shared with the world about themselves and you found interesting enough to start a conversation about.

My two cents. I don’t comment on anything way too personal when emailing strangers.

It’s one thing to discuss their fav band but quite another to give my two cents on the party they visited last weekend. That’s kinda none of my business. Such comments may be more appropriate later, after some interaction between us.

Friends with benefits: who deserves heavy email personalization?

blogger outreach tips

Gurus say you’ll be a step ahead of other marketers due to heavy email personalization.

I wonder if it’s realistic to study every prospect in depth in terms of time.

Let’s face it – outreach campaigns with ten people on the list don’t exist, except for maybe some rare cases. And with hundreds of prospects, this “over-personalization” will take like a week, on top of other tasks to do. How do seasoned marketers handle it?

Opinion from Perrin Carrell – Co-founder & Strategy Lead at Ranq.io (top-to-bottom SEO services, including site audits, content marketing, traffic drop help, and more).

Connect with Perrin on Twitter & LinkedIn.

Perrin says:

I focus heavily on personalization for the top 20% of prospects only. These people get warmed up, get funny/interesting subject lines, etc. That, and we build relationships with them before we pitch anything.

Once I got a link on Dogster (the biggest dog blog in the industry) because I exchanged like 8 emails with their editor (including pictures of our dogs) before I ever even brought up content at all. They aren’t a publication that accepts “pitches.”

I just truly made an actual friend. I didn’t do it to build a link. I was enjoying making a contact in my industry. Those are often some of the best opportunities, and those connections can lead to great long-term relationships that can have all kinds of benefits for things outside of a simple link.

I’m still friends with that person on Facebook, and I see pictures of her dog all the time 🙂

And how about the remaining 80%?

The bottom 80% undergo templated personalization. It’s much less than the top 20%, and it takes way, way less time. That said, I try to write outreach templates that still feel very personalized and allow our outreach team to collect points of personalization in the outreach phase.

Suppose we gather the following information: article title, name of the author, name of the site, how recently it was published (e.g. last week), and a quote from the article. None of that requires much extra time when prospecting, but we can include text replacements for all that stuff in our template with any modern outreach software.

Then, as long as we write a good template that includes all those data points, we’ll be sending emails that are personalized. We’re just doing it in the prospecting phase rather than the email writing phase.

By doing this, we spend maybe 20% more time prospecting per prospect, but we’re able to decrease email send by 50% because our response rates (more or less) double.

My two cents. Heavy email personalization is a bit overrated, imho. With the amount of time it takes, you’d better shift focus to the value of your pitch.

I can’t speak for everyone but if I received an offer of yearly access to my fav tool or a link from a major industry publication, I wouldn’t even care if they used something generic like “Hi Sir” instead of addressing me by name.

Without a decent value in the pitch, the fact that someone checked me out on social wouldn’t help them.

How to prove your outreach compliments aren’t fake?

blogger outreach tips

Gurus say you should praise bloggers’ content to get on good terms with them.

But due to the abuse of this tactic, a generic compliment like “I loved your post” won’t cut. It’s just too obvious that you didn’t even read it. Instead, you should praise some specific part, e.g. “I especially loved your third tip about…

I wonder if it doesn’t sound like an extended version of the same compliment “I love your post.

It takes like a few seconds to enter the page and check out what their third tip is about. Citing a subheading can hardly prove you read the entire post.

Still, some email senders do more than just scan through subheadings. How could they convince bloggers that they actually read their stuff?

Opinion from Cathy Dawiskiba – Chief Marketing Officer at Woodpecker.co (intuitive cold email tool that helps users reach out and follow up across multiple channels).

Connect with Cathy on Twitter & LinkedIn.

Cathy says:

When reaching out to influencers, I always keep in mind two things.

1. Dozens of people try to catch their attention every day – they’ve seen it all, so you won’t win using the same old tricks.

2. They won’t care if you don’t show them you actually care – that’s why being authentic in your outreach is the key.

It’s not enough to just go with “Hey, I’m a huge fan of your content, especially liked your post about XYZ.” Everyone can say that.

Instead, try to show them how their content really made an impact on you. Perhaps it has changed your perspective on something, or has driven you to take some action, or has raised a question they might like to answer. Try to start a genuine conversation before you move on and talk business.

My two cents. I usually don’t compliment bloggers on their content.

Let’s face it – in the first place, we all love their website metrics like domain authority or monthly traffic. What they write about is probably the last thing on our to-love list.

If you were offered a link from a blog with DR 80+, would you decline it just because it was in an article that’s not very interesting for you?

Me neither.

She loves me NOT: should you turn the opposite direction with compliments?

blogger outreach tips

I still wonder if praising someone’s work is enough to hear back from them.

Just think. Your prospect shared a cool strategy that first worked for them and then for their audience. Many readers even confirmed it in comments to their post or on social media. Does it make sense to notify them about what they already know – that their stuff is great?

What would be more intriguing to shake bloggers up a bit?

Opinion from Bibi Lauri Raven.

Founder of BibiBuzz (organic link building services).

Connect with Bibi on Twitter & LinkedIn.

Lauri says:

Here’s a nice twist on using a compliment in outreach: the negative trigger compliment. Bit of a confusing name, sorry. If someone has an alternative term I’d love to hear!

The negative trigger compliment is when you say you applied their advice but it failed. For instance, I used this when reaching out to mommy bloggers about their recipes. I’d open with telling a story about how I tried their recipe, and it tasted awful.

People get triggered into going into a conversation with you. They are flattered that you actually tried their stuff and want to know why it didn’t work out.

I stopped using this because now I try to be as honest as possible in my outreach and avoid tricks. What works really well at the moment are puns, memes, and dad jokes – basically making people smile with my outreach copy!

My two cents. The fact that one of their tactics failed will catch their eye for sure.

The question is, would it be really possible if you did everything right?

Referring to Bibi’s example, you can tell a blogger their recipe didn’t taste that good. But taking their time for troubleshooting to admit that you put too much sugar… You may end up looking like a dummy. Not the type of person they’ll want to link to.

You’ll need to come up with a more clever idea to bluff your way out 🙂

5. Social proof: ethics & costs of your credible image

How to inflate your social proof for the sake of outreach?

blogger outreach tips

Gurus say you should use social proof in your pitch to look credible.

If this is a guest posting campaign, send URLs of your previous publications on popular blogs. Seeing that other authority resources acknowledged your writing, editors will have more enthusiasm to check it out too.

I wonder what to do when you don’t have any significant social proof.

There’s not much chance to impress influencers with publications on third-rate blogs they never heard about. Could sponsored posts help here and how much do they cost?

Opinion from Adam Enfroy – Founder of AdamEnfroy.com (where he blogs about business software and teaches entrepreneurs how to scale their online influence).

Connect with Adam on Twitter & LinkedIn.

Adam says:

If you’re looking for a sponsored guest post, try to find a site like HackerNoon. They are a blog, but almost more of a news site. You can pay somewhere between $100 to $200 per article, and they have a high Domain Rating.

I’ve also seen sites try to charge $500 to $1,000 per sponsored post, but I would avoid those. Well-known authority sites typically don’t offer sponsored guest posts – they’re more strict in their editorial guidelines. For example, Ahrefs only writes super-high quality guides and wouldn’t allow someone to pay to write for them – they keep it in-house.

It’s actually all about the value to the site. Links are a value exchange – you can’t ask for a link or a guest post without offering something of value in return. It just doesn’t make sense. Can you offer a link back to them in another separate guest post? A social share to your audience? You need to offer something that you’d want yourself.

My two cents. Paying for links goes against Google guidelines. So, be ready that editors will add a “sponsored” tag, which will make your link kinda useless for SEO.

That’s okay.

When you do guest posting for the sake of social proof, you don’t need followed links. What you need is to get an image of a credible writer who was previously featured on a popular resource.

What’s the right way to involve others in your outreach?

blogger outreach tips

Gurus say you should refer to a common contact that you and your prospects have.

As shown in this guide, your email can start this way – “Hey, I am an old acquaintance of…” Psychologically, people are more inclined to trust someone known in their circles rather than strangers that come out of nowhere.

As the old saying goes, a friend of a friend is my friend.

I wonder who that common contact should be to an email sender. Someone they’ve met in person? A long-time partner? Or folks they emailed a while back?

Technically, all the contributors to this article are my acquaintances now. I could reach out to their followers with such a reference, but does an exchange of a few emails really count here?

Opinion from Dmitry Dragilev – Founder of JustReachOut (app to get press & backlinks on your own) and Owner of SmallBizTools (where he reviews business software for people who want to save time and eliminate stress).

Connect with Dmitry on Twitter & LinkedIn.

Dmitry says:

So, I would do this. I would write the email pitch and then read it out loud to yourself. Pretend you’re actually standing in front of this person in real life or you’re on a Zoom call and you are going to say what you are saying in this email. Would you blush? Feel uncomfortable? If so, don’t say “acquaintance.” Say the truth – “we’ve emailed a few times with X.”

Another test. If that person you were telling this to would contact “the acquaintance” after your conversation and ask them about you, would “the acquaintance” remember you? If you think the acquaintance would not remember you, don’t say it. Say the truth – “we’ve emailed a few times with X.”

My two cents. Involving someone else in your outreach may be risky.

What if that person finds out that you use their big name to build your own career? What are the chances that it’ll break off your relationship?

To be on the safe side, you can ask them if they don’t mind you mentioning them as a common acquaintance in your outreach.

6. Content outreach: stories that have two sides

Can the addition of YOUR link improve the value of THEIR entire post?

blogger outreach tips

Gurus say you should present a link to your post as value for bloggers.

By adding it to their content, they’ll engage their audience even more. Readers will appreciate the opportunity to check more info on the topic, which your link will make accessible. Due to more user engagement, their own content value will grow.

I wonder if the addition of a single link can really improve the value of someone’s entire post.

Let’s say their post is 8 on a 10-point scale. Will its value grow to 9 or 10 after they embed one link in it? Many readers will probably not even notice that link, especially in a long-form piece of content of 3-5K words.

The question is, how to serve a link request to make it look more valuable.

Opinion from Tim Soulo – CMO at Ahrefs (all-in-one SEO toolset to grow search traffic) and Founder of BloggerJet (content marketing & SMM blog).

Connect with Tim on Twitter & LinkedIn.

Tim says:

I’m not proactively building links these days, but from my experience, it is INSANELY hard to add your link to someone’s existing article. Especially if that article has been published a long time ago.

And if you want someone to add your link to their existing page, you shouldn’t be thinking about them “adding a link.” You should be thinking about them using something from your page on their page to make it better:

  • an original idea;
  • a striking statistic;
  • an experiment, case study, proof of something;
  • a good-looking image or illustration, etc.

And if they DO use something from your page to make their own page better, they will HAVE to give you credit via linking to your page.

Merely “embedding a single link” won’t really make their page better – that is absolutely true.

My two cents. Instead of sharing a graph from your article as is, you could create a custom one for their blog. I mean, adapt it to their corporate style visually, including a color scheme, font, dimensions, etc.

With this extra layer of personalization, you’ll show that you did some work for them. It wasn’t just a matter of copy-and-paste.

Content pantomime: how not to mimic other authors on your topic?

blogger outreach tips

Gurus say the content you pitch should be absolutely unique.

Once your copy is ready, you should always check it for uniqueness via tools like Copyscape. This plagiarism detector will scan through the web and let you know if identical snippets of your text appeared elsewhere.

I wonder if wording is the only criterion that defines content uniqueness.

Many articles, especially those that target popular keywords, basically mirror one another. Just read the first article from the top 10 and move on to the next one. While its wording will be unique, you’ll hardly find a lot of additional details.

How could writers approach popular topics from angles that haven’t been used like a thousand times before?

Opinion from Sherry Smith Gray – Contributing Writer at popular tech news resources like EntrepreneurAdweek, and many others.

Connect with Sherry on Twitter & LinkedIn.

Smith says:

As far as approaching topics, I like to slide in from original angles.

For example, way, way back when semantic search made its first appearance, I was writing for a B2B software company. I wrote about natural language and related topics and Google’s stated intent – to deliver the most informative possible results. So, the articles were about how providing information in a natural way Google-proofs your site forever. Instead of chasing quick-fix fads like keyword stuffing.

Draw from all possible sources: history, trends, today’s issues, cutting-edge tech, customer pain points, and how your solution fits, improves, answers. How is AI/robotics going to affect your industry? Where do you go from here? Finding the angle often takes much longer than writing the piece.

Basically, I read all the info I can find, then think about what implications it might have.

My two cents. That’s exactly how I came up with questions for this post.

I tried to imagine how common outreach tactics would perform in practice. Some of them made me wonder about the pitfalls that might emerge in the process and how to deal with them.

I’m sure the same goes for pretty much any topic. Things aren’t as smooth in reality as they’re usually described.

Should you sweat over the big data analysis for every topic?

blogger outreach tips

Gurus say you can produce unique content by doing case studies. Thanks to experiments and tests of all sorts, you’ll collect the data no one else has.

I wonder if it makes sense to do another study that would prove something of common knowledge.

A lot of studies I read hardly ever reveal new findings. As their authors analyzed different amounts of data, their final stats certainly differ. But they all come to the same conclusions.

For the topic of outreach, here are some common takeaways I see from study to study:

  • personalized emails bring more replies;
  • emails sent on the weekend get fewer replies;
  • follow-ups improve response rates, etc.

Does anyone need one more research to prove well-known facts like the above?

Opinion from Christopher Jan Benitez.

Freelance SEO Content Writer at ChristopherJanB.com.

Connect with Christopher on Twitter & LinkedIn.

Jan says:

Ideally, any case study is more than welcome to help make a case for any topic, provided that the test has a large sample size. This could take weeks and months to launch, observe, collect, and process before you produce the study into the content.

However, for practical purposes, it’s better to simply use existing case studies as proof for common knowledge topics.

So, the question begs to be asked: how do you elevate a topic that’s beaten to the ground?

You don’t.

If the same correct thing has been said about a topic over and over, it’s best to move on to the next best topic. Find an angle or a slant to help you come up with refreshing ideas people haven’t read before.

My two cents. If you’ve been doing your work for a while, you’ve probably discovered some cool tricks making things easier for you. Something that’s not on every other guide out there. Why not test it out under different circumstances and create a study based on your findings?

Or you could disprove tactics known as effective in your circles. That should generate some buzz around your persona too.

Where’s the power of persuasion in blogger outreach?

blogger outreach tips

Gurus say you should be able to explain how exactly bloggers will benefit from your submission.

They get tons of pitches asking them to check out “high-quality” content, but this cliche doesn’t work anymore. You’ll need to provide more reasoning to persuade them.

I wonder what arguments usually turn out more persuasive than others.

Opinion from Matt Zajechowski – Director of Media Relations at North Star Inbound (marketing agency delivering search-driven content for organic growth).

Connect with Matt on Twitter & LinkedIn.

Matt says:

We tend to focus on creating content around proprietary and timely data so that a sell is usually an easy one for explaining why that content will be interesting/valuable to their audience.

I try to make sure that the type of content I’m pitching is closely aligned with the content on their website, while also doing my homework to see what type of content is getting the most type of engagement on their website.

I use tools like Buzzsumo to see the most linked-to and shared content on a website so that I can position my content as being something that will drive user engagement and backlinks to their website, so there is an easy-to-understand benefit to the person who is sharing it.

I’ve found that taking the time to go the extra mile to do your homework really resonates when you are trying to share your content with someone else’s established audience.

Let’s say an outreach guide brought someone a lot of social shares or links. I doubt they need one more article that would repeat the same.

Would it be better to spin off from this broad topic using a long-tail keyword or, say, contradict their claims in the original?

I think it would largely depend on when the guide was published and what the output of links and shares looked like on that guide.

If it’s over a year old and we had newer data that was relevant, we’d pitch as either an update/refresh to that guide or potentially a brand new post on the same topic, especially if their guide underperformed.

If they didn’t want something on the same topic, then we could look at brainstorming spin-off topics.

I frequently use AnswerThePublic to brainstorm other content ideas around that same topic. You basically can enter a keyword to see the most commonly searched questions around that topic. In these instances, we create content that helps to answer those questions.

In your example, I would look for popular questions around that topic that weren’t mentioned in the previous article and would focus my efforts on answering those questions for a different post.

My two cents. What would sound persuasive to me, if I accepted guest posts, is some sort of an extra.

I’m referring to a link from their other posts or a social share, provided that they have a decent social following. It’s like two for one – their content plus a marketing bonus.

Is pitching a single topic enough to break through as a guest blogger?

blogger outreach tips

Gurus say you should pitch more than one topic idea.

That way, you’ll have more chances that at least one of your suggestions will pique the editor’s interest.

I wonder if it doesn’t look desperate when a pitch comes stuffed with many topics.

Pick whatever you like, I don’t care. Just insert my link asap.

Wouldn’t it be better to present a single idea as something special instead of listing many generic topics? Isn’t it obvious that such a list flies from blog to blog?

Opinion from Aaron Orendorff – VP of Marketing at Common Thread Collective (eCommerce growth agency) and Founder of iconiContent (where he blogs about B2B content strategies).

Connect with Aaron on Twitter & LinkedIn.

Aaron says:

My number one piece of advice – and by advice, I mean, the number one thing that helped me build my entire professional career on the back of guest blogging – is singularity: pitch one and one idea only.

In fact, it’s even more controversial than that because (outside of my New York Times article for which I pitched three ideas due to that publication’s editorial guidelines) I never actually “pitched an idea.”

Instead, I sent editors an entire article tailored just for their publication. Why? Because editors are insanely busy people. A list of ideas for them to sort through and prioritize is just more work.

As long as I did my homework on the site’s most popular content and matched things like word count, use of images, interlinking, and headline-plus-topical patterns, sending them a complete article that required minimal editing was a gift.

That sort of content takes a word off an editor’s plate. And that sort of content was the key to getting into a host of publications at the start of my career as well as throughout its development.

My two cents. At times, bloggers ask guest writers to pitch a few topics. And whenever they do, you’d better obey.

Still, there’s a category of authoritative blogs that don’t have a “write for us” page where you’d see such a requirement. They don’t shout at every corner that they accept guest posts, but they do once in a while and are often quite picky.

Try to impress them with a single brilliant idea instead of sending many generic topics, whichever passes.

What kind of content can set editors’ B.S. detectors off?

blogger outreach tips

Gurus say you shouldn’t hire content agencies to do the writing for you.

While wordsmiths have a brilliant turn of phrase, they usually lack any expertise in your niche.

Editors can sniff out content that demonstrates superficial knowledge a mile off. They may not be experts themselves but have “B.S. detectors” sharpened over the years.

I wonder what signals can give such content away.

Opinion from Dan Fries – Co-founder of Blue Tree (digital PR, SEO & content marketing agency) and Next Ventures (cybersecurity company).

Connect with Dan on LinkedIn.

Dan says:

1. Substandard or generic writing:

  • use of cliches and filler wording;
  • email pitches with an odd, marketing-like cadence;
  • content that sounds/reads rewritten (common).

2. Lack of social proof:

  • no personal website;
  • no legitimate writing portfolio (legit as in, written for other sites that are industry publications and difficult to write for);
  • no social profiles;
  • no/minimal professional references.

3. Linking to sites in obvious SEO niches.

Those are usually dead giveaways.

My two cents. I’m not against content agencies. If you’re not much of a writer, there’s nothing wrong with asking them for help.

But you can’t just send them a list of topic ideas and call it a day. They are not as experienced in your niche as you are, that’s true.

Share the main talking points, back them up with your expertise & research findings, and only then get writers to shape it all into a beautiful copy.

7. Blogger outreach values: content is not the only king

Outreach charity: what else to offer, besides great content?

blogger outreach tips

Gurus say you should add extra perks to your pitch.

Unless you’ve made a big discovery in your niche, your content won’t get you far. That’s what everyone offers, after all. With extra perks, you’ll push aside other marketers on your prospect’s priority list.

I wonder what kind of extra value bloggers appreciate.

Opinion from Neil Patel – Founder of NeilPatel.com and NP Digital (content marketing, SEO & paid media agency that helps brands grow exponentially).

Connect with Neil on Twitter & LinkedIn.

Neil says:

Typically I always try to at least offer some free value or something useful in my pitch to the reader.

Sometimes free product access can increase usage depending on your product.

I would test everything you can – changing data limits, A/B testing pricing, upgrades, upsells. Just depends on what you can afford.

My two cents. Make sure you always offer free access to a premium package only.

If you have a free starter plan, it won’t cut.

Offering a freebie for free is not a value FROM you – it’s an extra promotion FOR you, besides a link or whatever else you’re gonna ask. And your prospects perfectly understand that.

Will your product always fit into people’s busy schedules?

blogger outreach tips

Gurus say sharing free access to your tool will help you get your pitch accepted. And the best thing is that it won’t even cost you anything.

I wonder if people just thank out of courtesy or really use products they get for free.

Everyone seems to be so busy today. And it takes a while to get the hang of new software, let alone use it regularly. Do they follow up with some feedback or requests to extend their access in exchange for another favor?

Opinion from Hunter Branch – Founder of Rank Tree (content strategy agency that helps NYT authors, startups, and small businesses generate targeted organic traffic).

Connect with Hunter on Twitter & LinkedIn.

Hunter says:

At this point, I’ve probably sent ~5,000 emails with this strategy and I’ve noticed that about 5% of people actually take me up on the free offer.

Of the people who take the offer, they almost always thank me and mention how excited they are about the offer. After I send it to them, I usually don’t hear any feedback later, unless this person becomes a long-term marketing partner (which actually happens pretty often within this segment) or I reach out again. In the cases where I’ve heard back, 50%+ of the people say they’ve used the freebie and were pleased.

Conversion rates have been super high for me with this strategy throughout the last several years. I usually get between 6%-10% conversion on links, and the template also has made a ton of affiliate partnerships for my clients that have had lasting value.

In terms of offers I personally appreciate, I think it has to do with the $ value and usefulness. With one of my clients, I offer a free 1-year subscription to his membership site, which is a $450 value, and almost everyone I reach out to is in the same industry (so they are naturally interested in that membership).

So, personally, I would appreciate offers of free SEO tool access for a limited time, free SEO/Content Marketing course access, free SEO/Content Marketing membership site access, etc. I actually don’t remember ever having someone use this strategy on me or any of my clients’ sites, though. 🙂

I’ve also seen success using eBooks and lower dollar courses ($20-$197 value), but obviously the higher the $ value, the better. And everything I’ve offered has been a digital product, so it doesn’t cost us anything to give the stuff away.

My two cents. A few months ago, I got free access to a tool to create visuals like presentations, infographics, etc. And I appreciated it at first.

But the truth is I didn’t have a chance to create any graphics due to time constraints. I logged in a few times to look around, but that’s where it all ended.

Make sure you offer the access for more than a month or so. Giving a try to your tool is not high on people’s agenda.

How to turn someone’s blog into a platform for your contests?

blogger outreach tips

Gurus say you should share your product with a blogger’s audience too.

Running a giveaway on their blog, you’ll have some participants convert into your paying customers. That’s on top of a link and exposure that will come your way.

I wonder how to ask someone to use their blog as a platform for contests. Look at the giveaway request I stumbled upon in this article.

blogger outreach tips

Basically, they make it all look as if they’re gonna do a massive favor to the recipient. In reality, it’s vice versa, of course.

What would be the right way to submit a giveaway request?

Opinion from Tim Cameron-Kitchen – Founder of Exposure Ninja (impact-driven digital marketing agency for small and medium-sized businesses).

Connect with Tim on Twitter & LinkedIn.

Tim says:

I think the main problem with that sort of post is that it’s asking the recipient to pay a very high price for the value of the prize. By specifying that they must run a contest, they force the influencer/blogger to do something they might not ordinarily do (run contests).

A potentially better way of doing it would be to offer the blogger something at no cost. If they respond that they like it, then you can have a conversation about “well, if we gave you more of that, might your audience want some? Do you think a contest would work well, or could there be another way to engage your audience?”

Whilst this means you’ll be gifting stuff with no “ask” in return, if the influencer has enough reach, it can be worth it.

If it’s a low-budget campaign and the client doesn’t have the budget to gift with no condition to reciprocate, then requiring something in return might be inevitable. But going in right from the off with that wording is going to put a lot of them off.

My two cents. To boost your chances, extend bloggers’ access to your tool or offer them an upgrade to a higher package.

How big are bloggers’ appetites when they ask for a favor in return?

blogger outreach tips

Gurus say you should offer bloggers some help before asking for favors.

No one can succeed in blogging on their own, no matter how great their content is. If you expect someone to help you, be ready to volunteer first. Fair enough.

I wonder what kind of help is most wanted among bloggers.

Opinion from Ryan Biddulph – Owner of Blogging From Paradise (where he shares tips on how to live a dream life through blogging based on his globe-trotting experience).

Connect with Ryan on Twitter & LinkedIn.

Ryan says:

Most bloggers want to guest post on Blogging From Paradise.

As for me, I help bloggers by commenting genuinely on their blogs, adding engagement, and bonding with them. I also promote bloggers on Twitter and Facebook to spread their word. Follow my advice whether you have 1 or 50,000 followers, for a long time.

Helping bloggers forms bonds. Bonds grow into strong friendships. From there, all types of opportunities expand.

My two cents. Bloggers’ appetites depend on their popularity in the first place. What newbies will appreciate may look like a trifle to someone in their heyday.

In my experience, people usually want a reciprocal link. Some also ask about an affiliate program to earn commissions from linking to our tool.

How to find out what your prospects are gonna launch?

blogger outreach tips

Gurus say your pitch should relate to something that’s on your prospect’s to-do list.

The content they published earlier is a thing of the past. These days, they are working on something different. Offering help with a current project will resonate better with them.

I wonder how to find out what people are working on.

To test this tip, I scrolled through my prospects’ social profiles, tweets in particular. Unfortunately, there was no indication of what they were busy with.

Is there any other place to check for their current activities?

Opinion from David Schneider – CEO at Shortlist (full-service digital marketing agency) and Co-founder of Ninja Outreach (influencer marketing & blogger outreach software).

Connect with David on LinkedIn.

David says:

So one way is to look at launch sites like ProductHunt. People are launching products every day, and that’s a perfect opportunity to say “hey, I saw your launch on PH and I want to talk about XYZ.”

Of course, that doesn’t produce a scalable campaign because you’re limited by what’s showing there (although you can search historically to broaden the depths of your search). Outside of that, look at peoples’ social profiles on FB or Twitter or LinkedIn. They are likely to show the websites/companies they work for.

I would say in general though, when I wrote that, I was using it as an example of a very targeted outreach technique, not something that’s supposed to allow you to identify 500+ people but instead maybe 10 people that could become a very valuable partner.

My two cents. After gaining good traction, some bloggers don’t just stop. They launch more sites to double their influence and income. The info about their side projects is usually available on LinkedIn.

For example, Brian Dean is mostly known for Backlinko in SEO circles, but he’s also behind a different project, Exploding Topics (ET). The latter has a lower domain authority score at the moment.

Naturally, he’ll appreciate your help with the project he’s only building (ET) rather than the one that’s already at its peak (Backlinko).

blogger outreach tips

Will bloggers get you burdened with their demands?

blogger outreach tips

Gurus say you should ask bloggers point-black about what they want in return.

There’s no way to foretell everyone’s whims and caprices, especially at scale. Whenever someone rejects your pitch, try to find out what could change their mind.

I wonder if it’s safe to let bloggers lay down their conditions. How often do they cross the line and ask for too much?

Opinion from Vukasin Vukosavljevic – Head of Growth at Lemlist (sales automation and cold email software) and Lempire (SaaS products developers).

Connect with Vukasin on Twitter & LinkedIn.

Vukasin says:

Usually, I send emails with everything explained to bare bones. The reason is that broad questions caused friction and lowered my performance. At least, that was my assumption based on data.

But it was useful to see how people think, what they need, and sometimes collabs expanded beyond a simple backlink exchange. If there’s a douche that asks for “hills and mountains,” it still saves me the time of not pursuing him/her anymore.

To answer your question, I didn’t have any weird asks. It’s worth mentioning that backlink outreach is just a piece of my work, so I’m not doing it regularly, hence the lack of situations perhaps.

People sometimes wanted me to write guest posts, which I started declining eventually due to resource constraints. Whenever I had a disagreement, I was like “can’t do this, but I can offer that…” It required some research to see what they’re doing atm, but it worked. 🙂

My two cents. Unlike Vuk, I had a few cases when people went too far.

I once offered my prospect to link back to their domain. Long story short, they tried to make me link to more sites they had. The problem was some of those sites weren’t even topically relevant to my article.

Which of your prospects’ pains could you relieve?

blogger outreach tips

Gurus say you should address your prospect’s pain points in the pitch.

If you find some issue they have and suggest a solution, it could break the ice. Imagine how you’d feel if someone told you about an easy way to solve your problem. Cool, right?

I wonder what issues bloggers face and need help with.

Opinion from Irina Maltseva – Head of Marketing at Hunter (email address finder) and Founder of ONSAAS.ME (where she blogs about growing SaaS businesses).

Connect with Irina on Twitter & LinkedIn.

Irina says:

For link building, I think the biggest pain is receiving tons of non-personalized pitches where recipients have no benefit for them.

For example, it could be mentioned that the content they are linking to is outdated or the link is broken.

As a first-time reader who comes to the website from search, I’ll probably open a couple of links to read more on a specific topic. If I find one or more links broken, the level of trust in this website will probably decrease. I will not subscribe to their newsletter, bookmark them, or come back to read other articles.

That’s a personal perspective. I think it’s quite important to always have up-to-date content and make sure all of the links are working. It’s more about UX and reputation.

My two cents. Technical issues hurt, but not as much as underperforming content does.

It takes like a minute to fix a broken element on the page. But how long does it take to get that page ranking higher? Not a moment’s work for sure. You could check out which of your prospect’s posts got stuck on Google’s second page and link to one of them.

Are your broken link findings of use to all bloggers?

blogger outreach tips

Gurus say notifications of broken links are of value to bloggers.

No one can keep track of every 404 page or discontinued domain they link out to non-stop. Thanks to your notification, bloggers will be able to fix this SEO issue asap.

I wonder if such a value exchange when you get a backlink from someone and just point out a broken one in return is equal.

As links help with rankings, gaining them is of benefit for sure.

On the other hand, the benefit of learning about a broken link on your site is kinda questionable. I’m not that good at technical SEO but I’ve seen many articles with broken links ranking in the top 10, including #1. This issue doesn’t seem to be a big deal.

Opinion from Peep Laja – CEO at Wynter (message testing and B2B buyer intelligence platform) and Founder of CXL (skill-building platform for marketers).

Connect with Peep on Twitter & LinkedIn.

Peep says:

Useless waste of time.

I get about 10 emails like that every day, and I hit “report spam” on every single one of them.

I don’t ever see it as helpful, but 100% of “I think you’re an idiot and I will disguise my link building campaign as help.”

Maybe it works for a non-savvy audience, but not when marketing to marketers.

My two cents. Here’s an example of why I think a broken link is a minor issue. So minor that it doesn’t affect search rankings.

This page links to Topsy, a tool that was discontinued in 2015.

blogger outreach tips

It’s safe to assume that the link has been broken for more than five years. Yet, it hasn’t prevented that article from ranking for over 2K keywords and driving 72K traffic per month, according to Ahrefs estimates.

blogger outreach tips

Broken link – broken pitch: why should you divide it into parts?

blogger outreach tips

Gurus say you should divide your broken link building pitch into two parts.

Instead of revealing your cards immediately, tell recipients that you noticed a broken link somewhere on their blog. And only after they reply, follow up with more details – which link is broken and where it’s located.

I wonder about the reason for such a two-part email division.

Is it some sort of precaution? Do bloggers silently fix broken links, but not with those that email senders submit?

Opinion from Nate Shivar – SEO & Digital Marketing Consultant at ShivarWeb (where he helps DIYers launch, maintain & market better sites).

Connect with Nate on Twitter & LinkedIn.

Nate says:

It’s two reasons.

First, the response rate for BLB is incredibly low. More often than not, it’s not the editor/writer who handles old content and links. It’s someone else, especially since you are dealing with old content. I don’t want to put in the work to find & offer substitute URLs unless I know that someone will at least look at my email.

Second, the two-step template means that I can offer a highly customized, non-template response to whoever does respond to my email. It pushes up my overall conversion rate.

To your other question – yes, I’ve absolutely had editors thank me and not use my links. That happens a lot honestly. I’ve been able to work things out occasionally with a follow-up or an alternative pitch, but usually, it’s just part of the numbers game.

Usually, webmasters/editors are just too busy, and putting in your link is not top of mind.

My two cents. Back in the day, I did some broken link outreach and revealed all the details right in the first email.

Some recipients fixed the issue with their own links. What’s interesting is that they didn’t even bother replying with “no, thanks” out of politeness. So, yes, I see the point in holding back all the details until your prospects reply.

8. Outreach request: how not to mess up at the defining moment

Unbreak my rule: are manually built links in line with Google policies?

blogger outreach tips

Gurus say you should ask for links to your content yourself.

There’s no point in waiting for them to magically appear on their own. Unless you own a mega-popular resource in your niche, of course.

I wonder if manual link building isn’t against Google policies.

It’s one thing to ask people to link to an article if they like it only. But it’s a different story to offer all those perks like free product access, links in exchange, social promotion, whatever.

Aren’t such links more artificial rather than natural?

Opinion from Marie Haynes – Owner of Marie Haynes Consulting (site quality assessment, link audit, and Google penalty recovery services).

Connect with Marie on Twitter & LinkedIn.

Marie says:

It’s not against Google’s guidelines to ask people to link to your content. But, if you can only get people to link to you by manipulating them, then you are probably wasting your time.

Links are still important in Google’s algorithms but they are getting much better at determining which ones to count. Remember, the reason why links matter is that Google treats a link like a recommendation. If lots of people are recommending your content, then perhaps Google should rank it more highly!

I’d leave you with this quote that I pulled out of a recent help hangout with John Mueller.

My two cents. The truth is even popular brands do link outreach. So, you have no other choice than to play this game too.

Note that links may not help you rank for mega-competitive keywords.

Let’s say you’re gonna publish an SEO guide. What are the odds that you’ll push one of those giants like Ahrefs, Moz, or Backlinko out of the top 10 and take their place?

These brands are the big league of the industry, and it takes more than just a bunch of artificially built links to compete with them. You’ll need to at least get closer to their level of authority.

What’s role-playing in outreach (and do bloggers need it)?

blogger outreach tips

Gurus say you can’t beg for something big like a backlink straightaway. Especially when you contact strangers who don’t owe you anything.

That’s just rough.

You’d better ask them for feedback on your content first. And only if they say nice things about it, you can follow up with a link request.

I wonder if this role-play with back-and-forth messaging isn’t obvious to bloggers.

They must have received tons of such feedback requests that always had the same finale – an ask for a link. Won’t they understand how it will all end the minute they read a pitch?

Opinion from Maros Kortis – CMO at Mangools (software for keyword research, SERP analysis, rank tracking, backlink analysis, and SEO metrics).

Connect with Maros on Twitter & LinkedIn.

Maros says:

I’m not a fan of “guru advice.” I like testing something that thousands of others don’t do. The case study is based on our link building campaign, which means SEOs asking other SEOs for backlinks. In this case, the advice you mentioned is absolutely useless, since the person who got our message already knew what we wanted.

On the other hand, I think that in other niches with a chance that you won’t outreach SEO-skilled people, the technique could work.

So yeah, as I mentioned before, test and learn. Be inspired by ultimate guides and case studies, they are great, we write them too, but never forget that each niche is unique.

As for me, since I know most of the times what the email is about (usually when I see the subject line), I’d always appreciate getting straight to the point.

My two cents. This tactic may work with bloggers who don’t receive “feedback” requests regularly.

As mentioned before, outreach specialists usually avoid blogs that have little to no authority. If you contact someone behind a domain with DR / DA under 30, they may react positively to such a prelude.

Should you give bloggers VIP treatment before asking for a favor?

blogger outreach tips

Gurus say you should ask for feedback on your post before even publishing it.

Sending influencers its exclusive preview in Google Docs, you’ll show them how much you respect their opinion and how eager you are to edit the copy under their command. As its final version will be based on their suggestions, they’ll feel more enthusiastic about sharing it.

This is known as pre-outreach, as opposed to post-outreach when you send a link to a published article.

I wonder if it doesn’t feel like an attempt to save on editing and get prospects to spend more of their time than necessary.

Are people more responsive to the pre-outreach method?

Opinion from Nick Le – Marketing Manager at Snappa (graphic design software for non-designers) and Co-founder of Gridfiti (where he blogs about tech, workspace setups, and photography).

Connect with Nick on Twitter & LinkedIn.

Nick says:

So of the two methods of outreach, I believe post-outreach will bring in more responses because it is one less step for the recipient.

Nowadays, you want to prioritize the recipient’s time and prevent the additional back and forth that pre-outreach would bring. Sending the post when it is live and outlining exactly where the value is for the recipient will be an easier sell and cuts any unnecessary fluff or irrelevant information.

If you add some personalization, you should be able to find some great results with this method and it allows for you to build some ongoing relationships with others that could lead to a more refined and warmer outreach strategy later on.

My two cents. I can think of one legitimate reason for pre-outreach – when you’re unsure whether your statements about their product are correct.

Naturally, it won’t look weird if you ask them to review your draft before publishing it.

When is the best time to shoot your outreach request?

blogger outreach tips

Gurus say you should delay your request until it organically fits in the conversation.

I wonder how such a delay will help, as the request will come anyway, sooner or later. Won’t recipients have an “aha” moment and understand that all of the previous talk was for personal gain?

Opinion from Chelsea Baldwin – Founder of Copy Power (copywriting services for entrepreneurs, marketing specialists, and online business geeks).

Connect with Chelsea on Twitter & LinkedIn.

Chelsea says:

People have great bullshit detectors & can 100% pick up on you being disingenuous and/or just trying to smooth talk them into a sale. That’s not what I mean. I mean taking the time to build an “actual” relationship where people can tell you’re there to be of service in your area of expertise & to be of benefit to them, whether they ultimately buy from you or not.

A smooth talker is definitely someone who’d jump the gun & try to scientifically engineer a conversation for their benefit, and people will pick up on that.

But when you’re there to actually “help” people, and not just be desperate for a sale, you get to a point in the conversation where it’s glaringly obvious that if you don’t mention your services or products in some way, it’s just weird. THAT’S the moment when you start to present the ask, not before. If you do it before that, you’re just annoying & people will see straight through you.

My two cents. Due to such a delay, you’ll have more time to talk to your prospect and get on their good side. At that point, it’ll be harder for them to ignore your request.

I personally feel no guilt about not replying to strangers. But I can’t just suddenly fall silent when talking to someone I’m on good terms with.

Should you ask for permission or get in without knocking?

blogger outreach tips

Gurus say you can’t expect that everyone wants to hear about your offer. Most people actually don’t, judging by low response rates commonly reported.

Instead of breaking in with your offer, you’d better take a more delicate approach and ask your prospects for permission to send it.

I wonder if this preliminary step is required for everyone or strangers only. I can hardly imagine myself being that gentle with people I know.

Opinion from Jason Quey – Founder & CEO at Growth Ramp (product marketing agency that helps SaaS companies optimize their go-to-market strategies).

Connect with Jason on Twitter & LinkedIn.

Jason says:

Building a permission asset is not always necessary for people you know. But if you reach out to strangers, it should increase your response rates.

When I worked with one of my first clients, they had me make a direct ask right in the first email. It’d reduce the time that I’d need to spend on follow-up replies.

The outcome? Only 185 out of 3,854 recipients replied to me, which is a 4.8% response rate.

In the second round of that outreach campaign, I removed the direct ask and received 219 replies out of 1,708. That’s a 12.8% response rate.

The bottom line is, this permission asset helped me increase my response rate by 266%.

My two cents. I tested Jason’s tactic when gathering opinions for this article.

For the first group of prospects, I sent my question right in the first email. It brought me a 10% response rate – not much, especially considering that I offered a link rather than asked for it.

For the next group, I first asked recipients if they’d be interested in contributing. Only those who replied and confirmed their interest got a follow-up with my question. It resulted in a 43% response rate.

Statistically, this tactic works.

I think some folks were just curious to hear what kind of a question I had. And it was probably harder for them to dodge me after our conversation started.

Do editors have time for outreach preludes?

blogger outreach tips

I still wonder if asking for permission doesn’t annoy recipients. It adds a few more emails to the correspondence, thus taking more of their time.

Here’s the reply I received when asking if I could send them my question.

blogger outreach tips

Another recipient found this tactic funny.

blogger outreach tips

Opinion from Andy Capaloff – COO at Curatti (web resource where business leaders and entrepreneurs share news on everything in the digital world).

Connect with Andy on Twitter & LinkedIn.

Andy says:

I 100% get that you took the advice you found online. And it’s possible that it could work for some people. Maybe if a person has just one job, and that’s reading, responding to, and maybe forwarding emails, that’s good.

But I have to prioritize my tasks and very rarely get through them all. I get more emails than I can handle along with running a site. So I just want emails that get to the point, without treacly, false compliments, or grandiose claims. And hopefully, people have taken the time to look at the website to see if any guidelines have been posted.

All that said, it’s clear that you can’t please everyone with a single approach!

My two cents. This tactic isn’t for everyone. In the first place, you need to think about the person you’re gonna contact.

Is email correspondence on their duty list or will you distract them from their day job?

An individual blogger who’s building relationships with others shouldn’t have a problem chatting for a while. But things are different with editors at popular publications. They go through a lot of pitches and may not like the idea of you adding two more emails to that heap instead of one.

How to catch prospects who’re gonna slip off your deal?

blogger outreach tips

Gurus say you should include the second CTA in your pitch to retain prospects.

For the first few moments, they’ll be staring at your email and hesitating over whether to reply or not. Besides your main request, you can give them an intermediate option – ask them to contact you with any questions or suggestions they may have.

Recipients become more responsive when feeling welcome to negotiate the offer.

I wonder what kind of additional info people may need, being at the midpoint between approving and rejecting the pitch.

Opinion from Andrew Dennis – Senior Content Marketing Manager at Shopify (full-featured platform to launch and manage online stores).

Connect with Andrew on Twitter & LinkedIn.

Andrew says:

Sometimes, the person you’re contacting for a link will want to know more about your website, ask for further clarification on why your link would be beneficial to their audience, or simply want to know if you’re a real person (you’re typically a stranger to this person, after all).

Inviting further discussion can often open the door to opportunities that otherwise might go cold. And any time you can add even more value to your pitch, it’s going to increase your chances of converting!

Occasionally, I’m also asked to provide a reciprocal link, and in these situations, I usually politely pass on the opportunity, unless there is a relevant place to link.

My two cents. For content outreach, you can use the second CTA to share more details about your research.

Charts and graphs show final outcomes only, while the items analyzed usually stay out of sight. For example, if it’s a survey, readers can check out figures of how many people said this or that. But the info on who exactly participated and how each respondent replied isn’t disclosed, as a rule.

With the second CTA, you can ask recipients if they’d like to take a look behind the scenes of your survey. People like me will be curious to get access to your docs or spreadsheets with that data.

Truth or dare: what questions are bloggers more eager to answer?

blogger outreach tips

Gurus say your outreach requests should be quick and easy to fulfill.

If you want someone to contribute to your post, make sure they won’t need to scratch their head over your questions. But note that taking their time for something you can find on Google yourself is no good either.

I wonder what kind of questions bring more replies – as easy as ABC or those that would get them thinking for a while.

Or is there some kind of middle ground here?

Opinion from Julie Ewald – CEO at Impressa Solutions (inbound marketing agency specializing in content strategies for personal brands, tech companies, and startups).

Connect with Julie on Twitter & LinkedIn.

Julie says:

I see the most success when we ask people questions that are in their wheelhouse. They have to think about them for a moment, but they are solidly within their area of expertise, so no research or super deep thought. Basically, these are questions that they would be able to answer conversationally during a peer-to-peer chat or a Q&A session after a talk.

The more work someone has to do to respond to the outreach, the less likely they are to follow through. It’s a fine line between a question that is thought-provoking and interesting and one that feels like work, and if you fall into the latter category, your response rate dives. In the same vein, asking experts to share a top tip or piece of unique advice does really well, but asking to show concrete examples of the best work or best practices sees less follow-through.

Additionally, the outreach does the best when we reach out to folks who we know understand the value of their contribution and their citation link. When we reach out to experts outside the marketing space, it is hit or miss. These people often don’t understand what’s in it for them and feel like they’re giving out free consulting work.

My two cents. Outreach for this article brought me a 53% response rate and a 40% success rate.

That 13% difference mostly stands for people who agreed to contribute at first but didn’t provide a quote after receiving my question. Most of my questions were a bit tricky and required some thought and time from them. They probably couldn’t fit me in their busy schedules.

Also, the question I sent wasn’t in a single line. To make sure everything was clear, I added a few more sentences of explanation. It might have been a bit overwhelming for some peeps.

blogger outreach tips

9. Creative outreach: using someone’s inbox as a channel for your ingenuity

How could you spice up your pitch?

blogger outreach tips

Gurus say you should highlight some portion of email copy in a different color.

I wonder if visual tricks like coloring don’t make emails more complicated.

Everyone says a pitch should be as simple as a message from a friend. And I don’t think I ever highlight anything in different colors when texting my pals.

Opinion from Aoife O’Connor – Head of Digital PR & Creative at Aira (digital marketing agency providing SEO, PPC, content, social, and web development services).

Connect with Aoife on Twitter & LinkedIn.

Aoife says:

To make it as digestible and easy for journalists as possible to get the information they need, we inject a bit of color into our top stat, just to make it stand out to get cut through. We tend to only use this one, before outlining our other stop statistics, like below.

We learned this from a conference we attended in late 2018 and decided last year to start introducing this into our own pitch emails. And it has worked well for us, getting good responses from journalists and great coverage.

From reading several tips from journalists and listening to several talks from experts within the industry, we have found that this layout gives the information journalists need quickly, in a digestible manner, and is nice and eye-catching with a top stat for them to lead with.

blogger outreach tips

My two cents. The main thing here is not to overdo it.

Highlighting one key point in a different color will bring it into focus, which is cool. But if you have some stats in a row, it’ll be too much to use a different color for each of them. Don’t turn your business pitch into a coloring book.

How to stand out in the inbox full of monotonous pitches?

blogger outreach tips

Gurus say a good pitch is always about the people you reach out to, not about your wants and needs. That’s why you should personalize it based on their interests.

I wonder if email senders could show their personality too, besides adapting to someone else.

Cold emails aren’t the most anticipated messages. A lot of them sound as if they were composed by robots following a strict algorithm. Is it OK to humanize them somehow, e.g. with pop culture references, funny gifs, etc?

Opinion from Brittany Berger – Founder of BrittanyBerger.com and WorkBrighter.co (digital media company that helps people combine productivity with self-care and fun).

Connect with Brittany on Twitter & LinkedIn.

Brittany says:

I don’t do much cold outreach, but here’s my approach to including pop culture references in newsletters.

Word them so that even if someone’s unfamiliar with the reference, they get that it is a joke or pop culture reference. There’ve been times where I’ve mentioned a fictional character and people have been like, “wait, who’s that?” So instead of saying things like “As Moira Rose would say…”, I’d be sure to say, “As Moira Rose from Schitt’s Creek would say…”

That way, if someone doesn’t get the reference, your actual message isn’t lost or confusing. But if they do, it’s an added bonus! And regardless, they get that bit of your personality.

My two cents. This tactic works best when pop culture references both convey your emotion and ring a bell with your prospects.

Try to find a quote or GIF from a movie that would look familiar to your prospects. If it doesn’t trigger any associations with them, it won’t have a big effect.

10. Outreach problems: what you can sort out yourself

How to break through the wall of rejections in outreach?

blogger outreach tips

Gurus say you should be able to take no for an answer.

Rejections are common in blogger outreach. If you keep on arguing with editors, it will only annoy them and, as a result, get you blacklisted.

I wonder if it’s possible to change their mind somehow.

Are there any tricks to revise a pitch and get a second chance from someone who initially turned you down?

Opinion from Nico Prins – Founder of Launch Space (digital PR and SEO service that helps SaaS companies scale their guest post outreach to authority sites).

Connect with Nico on Twitter & LinkedIn.

Nico says:

If we get turned down by the publication, we normally do two things.

First, we admit that we understand why the ideas we pitched wouldn’t work with the editor. No point in being confrontational, as it doesn’t achieve anything.

We then follow that up with a subsequent pitch of another three ideas we think would work well based on a revised understanding of their editorial focus. It’s important that these ideas are backed up with a strong justification.

For example:

  • Your competitor has written about these topics, and they are getting 123 visitors a month for the post, but you have yet to cover the topic.
  • The topics below have a clear keyword focus (essentially pitch number two if that wasn’t used the first time).
  • Or, desperate swing, do you have any topics you’d like us to write about that you plan to cover.

A percentage of editors respond to the revised pitches. I’d say, probably 1/3 of editors. For a lot of people, if you failed at the first attempt they don’t take your backup pitches seriously. It’s understandable, however, some editors will give you a chance to pitch a second time. Generally, they’ll be a bit more thorough when they accept the idea. For example, they’ll ask you to then provide an outline of the article.

Keyword optimization is great and all, but it can hardly guarantee organic traffic.

If I get a link building guide published on some blog, it won’t push any of the industry giants out of the top 10. At least not due to a keyword focus.

How do editors react to additional metrics like a low keyword difficulty score? It can at least indicate that getting that post ranking is realistic.

Very true, keyword optimization doesn’t guarantee traffic.

Unless they are going to put the effort into promoting, the guest post content is not likely to rank. That’s not always true, but it’s mostly true. Keep in mind though, if you’re accepting guest posts, then a pitch that aligns with keywords and aligns with the editorial focus is better than 95% of the cold pitches the editor gets. In part, it’s a case of putting yourself in their shoes.

The difficulty score, yes, we’ve done this. It works. Plus, we get asked to write for sites again when they see a piece of content organically ranking.

My two cents. Hearing back from editors is a good sign, even if it’s a no for the time being. As a rule, they just ignore spammers. If you got a reply, the chances are your pitch didn’t turn them off.

It won’t hurt to ask what might be wrong.

Is this your topic in general or do they already have something similar on their blog? If there’s some minor issue, you could talk them into checking out another idea you have.

What if your link has suddenly gone missing from your guest post?

blogger outreach tips

Gurus say everything is gonna be fine as long as you provide high-quality content.

In the worst-case scenario, editors will reject your final draft. That will be a pity, but not a disaster. There’s no shortage of blogs that accept guest posts. You’ll be able to pitch it elsewhere.

I wonder what to do if a post gets published without a client’s link.

It’s like the worst link builder’s nightmare. There’s no way to pitch the same post anywhere else because of the duplicate content issue. Basically, all the work goes down the drain. But like it or not, editors are entitled to delete any links at their own discretion.

How could guest writers reduce the risk of their links being dropped?

Opinion from Olivia Wiltshire – Head of Digital PR & Promotion at Builtvisible (specialist SEO, content, digital PR & data agency).

Connect with Olivia on Twitter & LinkedIn.

Olivia says:

I think the best way to encourage a link is by ensuring you’re providing editors, writers, or journalists with a clear beneficial reason to link back.

E.g. the content piece you’re outreaching to them has further research or data where the content originates (your client’s site), which will be of interest to their readers.

Or, perhaps the hero asset has an interactive format that is best experienced on the hosting site. Again, this would be of benefit to their readers to then click through – therefore it’s in the editor’s interest to provide a link back.

Ultimately though, there’s never going to be a hard and fast way to “convince editors,” but it’s all about making sure your content is valuable enough to make adding a link a default reaction.

My two cents. Referring to someone’s stats is a sure-fire way to secure your links. The problem is you won’t always need to build them to case studies.

For example, your linkable asset can be a guide without any figures. In this case, you could list tips from it, preferably on a custom illustration, and credit it with a link as the original source of data. Most editors won’t dare to remove that link, as it’ll feel like some sort of a copyright breach.

11. Following up: your second chance with prospects

Where to resend a pitch when there’s silence in the mailbox?

blogger outreach tips

Gurus say you should follow up on social media when people don’t reply by email.

Some even suggest sending a video or audio note over Facebook Messenger. It will ensure closer interaction between you and your prospects than you’d achieve with text messages.

I wonder if following up on social media works better than traditional emails.

I rarely check message requests on Facebook and DMs on Twitter. As for sending audio or video files, doesn’t it look like an attempt to draw more of their attention than they’re ready to give?

Opinion from Matthew Turner – Author & Content Strategist at TurnDog.co (motivational resource with lots of tips for millennial entrepreneurs).

Connect with Matthew on LinkedIn.

Matthew says:

From my experience, FB Messenger works quite well, but it really does come down to targeting the social media(s) that the individual seems to use. I’ve had success in the DM’s, but also simply by tagging them in a tweet or on IG (and Linkedin Messenger can work quite well).

But it does come down to… depends. Go where they are, and focus on the platform they seem to use the most.

As for video and audio, it’s hit and miss. Mega busy folks lean toward text only (a video or audio doesn’t work). But for someone with less authority (not one of the mega folk with mega audiences), a video or audio can work real nice. I’ve done private videos in my time, too, using something like Loom or Wistia.

The first follow-up tends to be an email. For the second and third follow-ups, head to social (and get creative).

My two cents. To me, audio notes feel more like cold calls. And cold calling is probably the only thing that annoys people more than cold emailing.

Sending a personalized video seems to be a more interesting idea, as long as it’s short. If people didn’t have a minute to read and reply to your email, they won’t spend more time watching your video.

Back to the future: how to follow up in the long term?

blogger outreach tips

Gurus say you shouldn’t give up on people who didn’t write you back.

The silence on their end doesn’t necessarily mean you screwed things up and they don’t want to deal with you at all. Some recipients probably couldn’t squeeze you into their busy schedules. Others might have found your offer not good enough to react to it.

Instead of annoying them with never-ending follow-ups, just take a break and try again in half a year or so.

I wonder what to tell prospects to make things work next time.

Resending the same pitch doesn’t seem optimistic, as it failed earlier. Should the later offer be completely different or have more value, e.g. four months of free product access instead of two?

Opinion from Brian Dean – Founder of Backlinko (SEO training & link building resource) and Co-founder of Exploding Topics (tool to discover trending topics and emerging technology).

Connect with Brian on Twitter & LinkedIn.

Brian says:

The key with follow-ups is to offer something NEW that you didn’t mention in your initial email.

In other words, don’t do the whole “just following up on this” thing. That kind of follow-up can improve your conversion rate by 5% or so. But you’re going to burn bridges along the way.

Instead, say something like: “Not sure if you remember, but I reached out a few months ago about X. I forgot to mention Y. Is now a better time to chat more about this?”

My two cents. If you see that recipients opened your previous emails, it’s naive to assume that they were all too busy to reply. Most of them didn’t like something about your pitch.

For a long-term follow-up, consider starting over in a new thread. There’s no need to remind them about your previous failure. Since you can’t know what exactly failed earlier, make sure everything is new next time – your email copy, request, and value.

12. Outreach finale: how to nurture relationships with bloggers the morning after

When could you squeeze more out of your prospects?

blogger outreach tips

Gurus say you should try to get more from people who approved your first pitch.

Today, it’s hard as hell to find individuals sympathizing with link builders. If someone didn’t mind linking to you once, the odds are they’ll have no problem doing it again.

I wonder how to make a subsequent link request the right way.

Should it be just another ask offhand? Or should email senders do some favor to recipients before reaching out with one more request?

Opinion from Mark Webster – Co-founder of Authority Hacker (free podcast, blog and video training on everything authority websites).

Connect with Mark on Twitter & LinkedIn.

Mark says:

It depends on the mood of the conversation. If it’s very positive the first time around, you can go back at any point and ask for more. Of course, it helps if you overdeliver on your end (e.g. content is epic for a GP).

We’ve asked for a second link quite a lot, but if someone says no or doesn’t reply, we haven’t tried following up on that. We just leave it be.

One good tip is to link to their site from another guest post you are doing on a 3rd site, say.

Statistically, we reached out to about 50% of the people we got 1 link from (those who we had a good relationship with). About 60% said yes to a second link.

My two cents. Successful outreach is based on give-and-take.

I personally keep on helping people who help me in return. And I don’t keep score of how many times such interactions of mutual benefit happen. Be it for the second or twenty-second time, I don’t mind.

Rewarding prospects for their help, you’ll make them more inclined to repeat it. Otherwise, they’ll just feel used and add you to the ignore list.

How to turn a one-night stand into long-term relationships with bloggers?

blogger outreach tips

Gurus say your interactions with bloggers shouldn’t be a one-night stand.

There’s much more to gain from long-term relationships. If you become a regular contributor to someone’s blog, you won’t just get more exposure for your business. You’ll have a platform to do favors to other people you’re gonna approach.

I wonder how to nurture relationships with bloggers over time.

Let’s say I reached out to someone and got what I wanted. What’s next? Should I remind them about myself by commenting on their blog posts, engaging with them on social media, or how does it work?

Opinion from Nevyana Karakasheva – Senior SEO & Content Strategist at Socialfix (business consulting and digital marketing agency).

Connect with Nevyana on Twitter & LinkedIn.

Nevyana says:

“One-night stand” is all about seeking immediate gratification, right?

When you reach out to bloggers without a long-term “agenda” in your mind, you practically act pretty irresponsibly and let all this time you’ve invested in flirting (engaging) go to waste.

It’s the typical novice link builder’s approach. They are just like teenagers who are pushing for a quick win, while they could actually benefit and get to “score regularly,” if they nurtured a mutually beneficial relationship.

It all falls down to respect, “listening” to what the blogger needs (that is often deducing without having to ask them directly by paying attention to their writing style, topics covered, authors accepted to write on their site, and so on), and giving them just that.

Sometimes, just like a good marketer, you’d have to create a need – that is you’d have to “explain” to the blogger that his/her audience really has to read about this and that.

When you take time to appease their needs, it really shows and bloggers respect you for it.

The long-term relationship is a two-way thing. But as it comes to us reaching out to bloggers, we can do our homework and understand what thrills them, what gets them going, what scares them, and what they believe in. It is only then when you could really convince them that you “really like their blog,” that “they have a great cause,” and that “your input will be valuable to them.”

You can convince them because you can justify each of your statements and because you really mean it (hopefully). And if that is not a good old-fashioned way to say “I love you,” I don’t know what is.

So, if it is a mutual thing, you’ll get invited to the secret club, you’ll be given login credentials and access to all the blog topics down the pipeline that you could claim and start writing immediately. Or you’ll be regularly sent out round-up invites, or your future pitches will be quickly accepted and prioritized as it comes to publishing.

No one knows where your blogger relationship will take you, but of all the possibilities listed above, do you really wish to settle for a sole backlink opportunity and start all over again tomorrow morning?

I don’t know if you are a masochist like Sisyphus, but I am surely not, so I’d go for the long-term relationship instead:)

My two cents. Once you get what’s yours, don’t let your communication with bloggers end. Keep talking with them about everything industry-related.

You’re all in the same boat.

For example, link building is getting harder and harder. They must be struggling with it like everyone else. You could give them a glimpse into what worked best for you:

  • where it was easy to gain backlinks;
  • how you earned a link from a top-notch resource;
  • which of your outreach campaigns had the highest success rate and why;
  • if any of your fellow bloggers accept guest posts and introduce them to each other.

This is not the information that everyone is willing to share, which makes it even more valuable.

How to step away from the “churn and burn” approach in outreach?

blogger outreach tips

Gurus say you should outperform other guest writers to build long-term relationships with bloggers.

I wonder what else to do for bloggers that hardly anyone else does.

I mean, besides submitting “high-quality” content on the topic that’s unique, has a ranking potential, and brings organic traffic to their competitors so they should have it too.

It all sounds fantastic but there’s obviously no guarantee that your post will perform just as well for them as it does for others. At least not because of simply appearing on their blog.

Opinion from Adam Connell – Founder of Blogging Wizard and AdamConnell.me (blogging and marketing advice resources).

Connect with Adam on Twitter & LinkedIn.

Adam says:

With site owners and editors receiving so many terrible pitches, you can stand out from the crowd by saying something like “I’ll promote the article with my X social followers and link to it from future posts.”

But it’s important to remember that a successful guest blogging campaign is the sum of its parts. From the prospecting stage right through to the content you deliver.

The promise of social promotion and links from future articles may get you through the door but you need to be able to deliver the kind of quality the editor/site owner is looking for. The problem is that most marketers are big on promises but don’t deliver. You can stand out from the crowd by exceeding expectations.

This is the secret to getting invited back to write more guest posts and turning one-off contacts into long-term relationships. This approach leads to more links than the “churn and burn” approach of most campaigns.

My two cents. To get ahead of others, try to link to your prospect’s pages of strategic importance.

Let’s say they’ve just released a new tool or feature and are struggling to promote it now. For your part, you could get it featured in one or more of your upcoming articles. Besides a link to the product page, which is much harder to gain than links to blog posts, they’d also get some exposure to their stuff.

At what point is it legitimate to pay for guest posting?

blogger outreach tips

Gurus say your guest posts should bring traffic or/and social engagement to bloggers. That’s what will prompt them to invite you as a regular contributor.

I wonder how to improve the performance of guest posts.

The reality is they don’t usually perform well on their own unless bloggers or guest contributors have a large, active social following.

Opinion from Kristen Matthews – Freelance Digital Marketing Specialist and Owner of Rubicly (B2B content marketing resource).

Connect with Kristen on Twitter & LinkedIn.

Kristen says:

I do a lot of guest blog posting for my clients because it’s a great way to establish thought leadership and get brands in front of new audiences. However, simply posting and considering the project done is a skewed way of thinking. To make the most out of my guest blog posts I promote them to gain more visibility.

If the guest post is for a B2B brand, I’ve had a lot of success promoting them on LinkedIn. And the beauty of LinkedIn is that you don’t have to have a big budget to promote them on the platform. I would say $100 per post.

For B2C guest blog posts, I like Facebook. I recommend to my clients that they move some budget from traditional and less effective marketing strategies and promote posts on Facebook instead of self-promotional ads about their company. Consumers resonate more with content than they do with ads.

My two cents. This tactic is definitely not for every blog on your list.

In the first place, create Facebook ads for your guest posts on better-performing blogs. I’m referring to those that have higher metrics like domain authority, traffic, etc. These are the places where you can expect a return on your investment.

Wrap-up

I hope you enjoyed going behind the scenes of blogger outreach reality.

As you can see, there’s more thought to give to some strategies before blindly implementing them. Blogger outreach isn’t math, and you can’t do it by someone’s proven formula. To understand how recipients see your pitch, always put yourself in their shoes. Would you accept your own offer?

No?

Then, it’s quite naive to expect that someone else will. Don’t underestimate your prospects – they aren’t fools.

Drawing conclusions from a single opinion seems a bit questionable. That’s why I’m gonna collect some stats on the most controversial questions and update this post soon, so stay tuned.

P.S. No guru was hurt in the process.

Blogger Outreach Strategies (and If They Really Work)

Blogger outreach has been the talk of the town for years. So many strategies have been shared and then reshared from every angle imaginable, illustrated with real-life examples, backed up by case studies, eased with templates, sped up with email automation tools… Today, when everything should be crystal clear, I’m still confused about some tactics … Continue reading “Blogger Outreach Strategies (and If They Really Work)”

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Ranking a Brand New Site in A Competitive Industry

Ecommerce SEO Case Study

I’m starting my first e-commerce/dropshipping business and SEO will be my primary focus for the first year.

And guess what?

I’ll be documenting my entire strategy for you right on this page month over month as the brand goes from a zero-authority/no-traffic website to a page 1 ranking money making machine in under a year.

It’s in the groomsmen gifts space. The website is groomsmengiftsource.com.

I’m going to be sharing everything else in great detail. My exact strategy, how many links I built, and rankings movements over time.

With the pre-amble out of the way, let’s dive in.

To launch a successful e-commerce brand with SEO, you need the following:

  • A relevant domain name
  • A site with good homepage, category page, product page, product site search, and URL architectural optimization
  • A smart content strategy
  • An effective and scalable off-page link building strategy

If you (yes, you beautiful), want to get your website on the first page of Google for [insert desired keyword] then what I’m about to outline is the only strategy you need to follow.

Month 0: The Plan

Let’s start with knowing exactly what we’re up against.

I have a brand new site that I just purchased in March of 2020. There are no backlinks yet.

Since I’m going after a national ecommerce keyword where the main search term, groomsmen gifts, has about 100,000 month searches, I know I have a long way ahead of me.

How long?

Let me show me you a breakdown of how I evaluate the competition to estimate many links I need to build.

First I go to Ahrefs Keyword Explorer or Linkio’s Competition Analyzer to check how much raw power the top ranked results.

Most competitive searches in Google return a mixture of big authority sites and small specialty sites.

In my case, there were 4 big authority site that I’ll never be able to compete with, 3 specialty sites that I can target, and 1 site in between that I may eventually match.

I’m encouraged by these results. I will pursue this niche and focus on the DR 44, 37 and 32 sites as websites to further analyze.

Here are the overall referring domains for those sites from Ahrefs.

Just a heads-up.

I don’t take Ahrefs referring domain counts at face value.

  • How many of these links actually matter?
  • Which links are indexed in Google?
  • Should I copy their anchor text percentages?
  • What type of backlinks do I need?
  • What topics should my guest blogs be about?

You can go way deeper to get the real picture. So it’s time to fire up Linkio.

Ahrefs said the homepages of my competitors had 302, 332 and 229 homepage referring domains. However, Linkio did it’s crawling and determined the real numbers which were 198, 281 and 187 homepage referring domains. The rest of the links are likely dead.

Of those numbers, 96, 192 and 99 are dofollow and indexed in Google.

This becomes my goal.

Did you see what I just did there and why I only care about dofollow and indexed referring domains count?

If Google didn’t care enough to put an article into it’s index, you can bet it doesn’t care about all about the links coming from that page.

Powering ahead, I think I can accomplish 100 dofollow and indexed referring domains to the homepage in about 3 months, which works out to 33 links per month.

Next, real brands need other stuff too. Directory links, social media links, and in the case of ecommerce sites, coupon site links.

I need to make sure I add these links too, otherwise having 100-200 links that are all dofollow on blog posts doesn’t look natural either.

In month 2, I’ll work on finding some directory and coupon site targets.

Now that I have my number: 100 links pointing to my homepage, I need to think about the details.

  • After 100 links, what should my anchor text percentages be?
  • What should those 100 articles be written about?
  • What My Anchor Text Percentages Should Be After 100 Links to my homepage.

At the end of this campaign, I want to have a perfectly natural anchor text profile.

The type of profile that big budget brands who don’t care about SEO have.

So I went into Linkio to add my brand.

Since my domain is an partial match domain, I chose the partial match settings and Linkio set my target percentages for me.

What Topics Should My 100 Guest Posts Be Written About?

To be real, this isn’t really a problem most people have when doing SEO. They don’t ask themselves, “I know I have 100 links to build, what should I write about”.

They’re asking more along the lines of how the heck do I build 10 good links, regardless of the topic.

Still, whether it’s 10 links or 100 – more than a backlink’s anchor text and quality matters these days.

The topical relevance of the article matters too.

And just like you shouldn’t go out there and build 100 exact match keywords, you shouldn’t guest blog 100 articles that all have your main keyword in the title tag.

I recorded a video on my process for determining backlinking topics. Check it out.

Here’s the link for the backlink relevance checker I mention in the video.

So I covered competitive analysis, anchor text planning and topical optimization. At the mid-month mark, I was ready to launch my link building strategy.

My 3 Step Link Building Strategy

In general, my 3 month goal is to build 100 dofollow contextual links and as many resource and niche-relevant directory links I can.

1. Custom Blogger Outreach Guest Posting

Link building via blogger outreach is what we do at OutreachMama so I’m definitely going to go with my strength here.

What’s different with my approach compared to what most people look for is I don’t really care about the metrics of the site I’m getting links from. DR 60, DR 8, DR 20. Ahrefs traffic 10,000, 500, 50 – it doesn’t matter to me.

What does matter to me is that the site is run by a real person. If it’s low authority or low traffic site, but in my niche, I’m happy with it.

2. Directory Link Building

Directories are also quite big in the industry I’m in. As long as I don’t have to pay for it, and the directory site is niche, I’ll try to get websitename.com and naked URL placement. In month 2, I’ll cover this in greater detail.

3. Resource Page Link Building

Resource page links are great. They’re niche relevant, usually contribute to my branded or URL anchor needs and the pages already have some age to them. I’ll share more about this strategy month 2.

End of Month Stats

You still with me? Good.

Then let’s talk baseline.

I’m going to officially publish the website early next month.

I am launching with about 70 category pages and just a handful of blog posts. There is a lot of unique content in these 70 category pages.

And I’ll be tracking an assortment of 133 short and long tail keywords.

That wraps up month 0. See you next month!

Month 1: Link Building Starts

So in all of month 0, I shared my plan with you.

I hit the publish button on the website and started building links. Here are the stats after 1 month

That’s Ahrefs stats. Doing my own tally, I calculated building 42 new links.

  • 26 Guest Posts
  • 3 Content Link Insertions
  • 9 Directory Links
  • 4 Resource Links

The discrepancy between my count and Ahref’s could have been dupe links or spam links.

How I Built The 26 Guest Post Links

26 guest posts works out to about 1 a day. I asked the publishers to skip attribution where possible and most did. These were mostly low authority niche specific sites.

Only 3 of the sites had a DR above 50. Only 4 were 30 or 40.

The rest of the 22 links? DR 10s and 20s.

They are all niche specific sites so I don’t mind the lower DA.

For outreach, I didn’t do anything special here besides building bulk prospecting lists > bulk finding email > bulk sending emails > bulk sending follow-ups and working with whoever shows interest.

How I Built the 9 Directory Links

I scraped Google’s search results with 2 search operators.

– (Keyword) + directory
– (Keyword) listing inurl:advertise

I also exported competitor directory links from Ahrefs.

This turned into a list of about 400 opportunities and I hired someone to go through the list one by one to submit to sites where I could get a free listing.

We scored 9 links in January and hoping for a few more in February. You can learn more about directory link building strategies here.

How I Built The 4 Resource Links

I scraped Google’s search results with 2 search operators.

  • (Keyword) inurl:resources
  • (Keyword) inurl:links

That yielded 238 opportunities. We found the emails and sent them a pitch for inclusion.

30 people replied and got 4 links out of it. Maybe some more will arrive next month, not sure.

SEO Rankings Update

The average ranking across 133 keywords went from nowhere to the average rank of 85 aka page 8.

The short tail high volume keywords did not reach the top 100 at all but many longer tail ones did.

I like looking at average rank across several keywords to measure progress instead of focusing on specific keywords.

I’ve seem much more success with link building campaigns when I don’t focus on a specific keyword and page, but instead focus on page clusters and topics.

If I can gain topical authority through link building, all my relevant pages will rank better even without direct links.

That’s about all I’ve got for month 1. Across the next few months, I’ll basically just be rinse and repeating this process.

Until next month – cheers!

Month 2: Lots of Links, Small Gains

Recapping May 2020 activities: Ahrefs shows a backlink profile growth to 87 links. We continued the same activities outlined in the earlier months with most of the links coming from blogger outreach.

 

The process here is very straight forward.

Prospect blogs in my niche, email 5 websites a day, follow-up with them up to 4 times, and publish content with the ones that say yes – hopefully without attribution.

Rankings Update

Our rankings went from average of position 85 to position 39 for 133 keywords.

My 3 “main” high volume keywords like groomsmen gifts, best groomsmen gifts, and groomsmen gift ideas moved from not top 100 to positions 50, 27 and 28 respectively. Two long tail keywords made it to the bottom of page 1 and most others are spread across pages 2-6.

Month 3: Big Rankings Gains

June 2020 actually was not a great link acquision month. We only were able to build 2 link this month. Mostly this was due to a lack of focus across several key team members, including myself.

Even with that said, We saw great rankings movement this month.

Let’s start with the Ahrefs metrics growth.

You can see Ahrefs starting to pick up more keywords as the numbers increase across the board. Here is the growth in the Average rankings chart next.

Compared to last month, which had an Average rank of 39, we’re seeing some great progress. This time, I’ll also provide a breakdown of the actual keywords and their rankings changes over the past 3 months.

Let’s be real for a second. I actually don’t have all of these products in the ecom shop. For example, I rank for groomsmen gift pocket watch. I don’t actually have any pocket watches.

As the site starts to rank and some pages get more visibility, I can source the products afterwards. In the meantime, I used just launched it like a category page but embeded a RoundupWiz pocket watch listicle that links out to Etsy and other places.

And one last screen grab I’ll share, is the growth in Google’s Search Console.

You can see the impressions and clicks count all going in the right direction. We’ve got a long long way to go, but early progress is looking good, it’s promising and I’m optimistic about this campaign.

Until next month!

 

Month 4: Growth Continues

It’s the middle of the year and wedding season is in full effect. Well, it would have been if not for the pandemic. Regardless, we continue our hard work to rank our groomsmen gifts site in earnest.

You can see Ahrefs starting to pick up more keywords as the numbers increase across the board.

July 2020 saw 23 links being built. 19 of them were new guest posts and the other 4 were link insertions.

21 of these links went right to the homepage with mostly branded anchor text like groomsmengiftsource.com and Groomsmen Gift Source.

Here are what my homepage percentages look like after 4 months (according to Linkio).

These values are based on 65 referring domain links that are both dofollow and indexed in Google.

If you’re wondering why my keyword anchors are pretty high compared to what the ideal suggestion is, a part of it is just due to the unpredictable nature of custom outreach and not knowing what content will be accepted, but moreso, I’m OK with being a little more aggressive with keyword anchors on newer sites that don’t have many links yet.

It’s most important to have closer to ideal percentages as the link volume starts getting higher, because that’s when it becomes a pattern to Google. In the early days, there is a lot more leeway and you can get faster rankings by being a bit more aggressive (IMO).

Here is the growth in the Average rankings chart next.

Compared to last month, the average rank moved from to 32.60 to 28.42.

Scored our first featured snippet this month which is good news. These are all the keywords currently on page 1 of Google.

A lot of these pages are ranking because of my listicle strategy (see month 3) so I decided to try monetizing this traffic with Etsy affiliate links. They denied my initial affiliate application due to a form error but I think they’ll approve it soon so hopefully I can get the affiliate links added this following month.

And one last screen grab I’ll share, is the growth in Google’s Search Console performance month over month.

Google search console estimates 250 organic clicks this month. Progress is looking good so far.

My plan for month 5 is more of the same. Blog outreach for more homepage links from wedding blogs in articles talking about groomsmen gifts or more general wedding topics. Speak soon!

Month 5: Biggest Moves Upward

We’ve continued to see steady gains in rankings and traffic. Here are the month over month Ahrefs metrics gains.

The average ranking across all of our keywords being tracked now is 22, up from 28 last month.

And perhaps most excitingly, our big time keyword, groomsmen gifts, has made a big move – going from position 74 to 26 in the past month.

And finally, lets look at organic traffic from Google Analytics.

We’re starting to see 20+ organic visitors a day now – all related to some groomsmen gift searches.

So what did we do this month?

Basically just built 10 homepage links. But it’s the way we’ve built links these past 5 months which is really responsible for the gains you’re seeing now.

According to Linkio, of the 130 links that Ahrefs found, 75 of them are passing SEO value (dofollow and indexed).

Of those 75, 71 point to the homepage.

I’m keeping it really simple for this new site.

Branded homepage backlinks from relevant sites on relevant articles.

About 15 months per link over the past 5 months has done the trick so far.

That’s about it for now – see you next month!

Month 6: So Far so Good

We’ve continued to see steady gains in rankings and traffic. Here are the month over month Ahrefs metrics gains.

The average ranking across all of our keywords being tracked now is 20, up from 22 last month.

Some of the long-tails are started to cram up into the top half of page 1.

And finally, lets look at organic traffic from Google Analytics.

About 30-35 hits per day is the new normal. Keyword CPCs in this industry are $1.50-$2.00 per click so if you do that math, I’m getting around $1500 worth of free traffic monthly now.

So what did I do?

Basically just built 8 links. The campaign is pretty rinse and repeat at this point. I setup the pages 6 months ago. I put together a link building plan.

  • I would pitch local wedding vendors content
  • That content would be about groomsmen gifts, bridal party gifts or wedding resources
  •  I’d mostly build homepage links, and I’d diversity the anchor text the same way a high end brand would

These anchor text choices are not an accident. We’re working off competitor data to build the percentage targets, and the mostly inexperienced freelance team I have working on this project, is effortlessly making the right choices using Linkio’s anchor text suggestion module.

How’s this translating to money? We’ve made a few sales. I’ve added Etsy affiliate links a few days ago and maDe our first commission there yesterday. Hopefully, I can focus more on monetization soon.

That’s about it for now – see you next month!

Month 7: Upward Trend Continues

Almost like clockwork, we’ve continued to see steady gains in rankings and traffic. Here are the month over month Ahrefs metrics gains.

Here’s Ahrefs organic traffic graphs:

The rest of this update will be a bit different than previous months. I’m going to aggregate and summarize our outreach stats to date, to help you learn what it takes to build links at this pace.

7 Month Stats According to Linkio: 136 Referring Domains (94% to homepage)

128 Referring Domains came from blog outreach (other 7 were spam and 1 from Linkio).

How many paid links? 0.

Here are the average and median SEO stats for these 128 links:

  • Average DR 24 (Median 20)
  • Average DA 20 (Median 20)
  • Average Ahrefs Traffic 4800 (Median 270)

This is how they break down by website type:

  • 103 Local Business Links
  • 15 Wedding Blogs
  • 12 National Wedding Companies with a Blog

On average, this works out to 18 links per month.

What kind of outreach do you need to do to get volumes like this?

We emailed 15 prospects per business day with 2 follow-ups every few days. Here are the total stats of the campaign so far:

  • 3837 Prospects Emailed
  • 754 Prospects Replied (20.28% response rate)
  • 123 bounced/136 unsubscribed (6.86%)
  • 17% success rate from people who replied
  • 0.034% success rate from overall prospects emailed
  • A 20% response rate is solid for cold email.

The success rate should be better but there are two factors that impacted this number:

  • Most of the targets were local businesses, and they’re sometimes really busy to follow-through on the interaction or not super sure about how to proceed
  • Lackadaisical oversight from me

The key takeaways:

  • Maintain high opportunity flow.
  • Build large prospecting lists of at least 300 per month
  • Keep investing in keeping this pipeline strong

That’s all for this month. Cheers.

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How to Create Link Bait (+ Linkable Asset Examples)

For years, bloggers have been bombarded with emails that had pretty much the same outreach excuse.

“I see you linked to that post, and I’ve written a similar one, so feel free to link to it.” © every other outreach specialist

I bet it sounds familiar to you too if your site has been live for more than a year. 🙂

Due to full inboxes of spammy emails, having a similar post isn’t the outreach excuse bloggers will react to today.

On a good day, they will just ignore your letter and forget about it. In the worst case, they will get annoyed and blacklist you. This will close the door to your possible collaborations with them in the future.

Since your goal is to build bridges rather than burn them, there must be a solid excuse to reach out to bloggers.

Instead of the “check-my-similar-post” cliche, you need much better or completely different content.

That’s what digital marketing influencers advocate, particularly Rand Fishkin with his 10x content notion and Brian Dean with his skyscraper technique.

Others have termed it “linkbait”. I personally prefer the term “linkable asset.”

So, what’s the best way to come up with ideas for 10x content? Put yourself in the searcher’s shoes and find weak points that posts on your target topic have.

Let me guide you through the whole process on the example of the topic “keyword research tools.”

P.S. I won’t deny that the whole process of creating outreach-worthy link bait is time-consuming. If you’re pressed for time, you can always delegate content creation to professionals. For example, if you’re based in London like me, check out this list of content marketing agencies.

Make your link bait content reasonably long-form

Pain Point. At the moment, posts ranking in the top 10 for “keyword research tools” have 7-15 tools.

Not sure about you but I’m quite picky as a searcher. Before making a final choice, I check out many offers available to make sure I don’t miss anything cool. I want the best possible solution for my money.

Obviously, 15 isn’t the total number of keyword research tools on the market. As a choosey customer, I find it not enough and want to check out a much wider product range.

Solution. As a content writer, you can add more items to your compilation due to the lack of many offerings.

Note. Expanding any topic must be well-grounded. Long-form content is what many guides recommend and what many readers misinterpret.

Creating long-form content that brings value to the readers can be quite challenging, so it’s always a good idea to reach out to the best SEO companies and make sure you are on the right track.

It’s not about the word count. Neither is it about stuffing content with more crappy items just for the sake of the quantity.

Outreach excuse. In your outreach email, you should explain the reason for taking a further step and adding more tools. Why are 7-15 tools listed not enough? Tell how cool the tools you found are, particularly if they:

  • have more accurate metrics;
  • come packed with unique features making a keyword choice smarter;
  • suggest lucrative keyword ideas other tools don’t;
  • are cheaper or free, yet they don’t yield to the tools listed elsewhere;
  • provide data for more search engines than just Google, e.g. Bing, Yahoo, etc.

Adapt your link bait content to the search intent 100%

Pain Point. I’m a searcher dissatisfied with my current keyword tool and need a better solution. Let’s check out posts ranking in the top 10 for our target topic.

Some bloggers describe keyword tools in a way that sounds like a re-written copy of their official product pages. Others talk only about their favorite features, but it’s still unclear if the features I need are there.

Unfortunately, I don’t have time to register many accounts and do the testing on my own. I was actually hoping to find the necessary info in those posts, but I didn’t.

They all failed to meet my search intent.

Solution. What you can do is compare the features of multiple tools in a table.

With its help, searchers will have a clear picture of what each product has and lacks. That way, they’ll be able to skip irrelevant stuff and focus on what matters only.

You can go the extra mile for people on a tight budget and create one more table with freebies only. It can include both totally free tools and premium products with free plans for starters.

Outreach excuse. Doing such a detailed comparison isn’t a moment’s work. But it will do you a big favor in outreach campaigns.

When doing your blogger outreach, emphasize that your content answers any unanswered question about tools’ functionalities, all in one place.

Not only is it handy, but can also save tons of time for their readers.

Note. Make sure you recheck features available once in a while to keep your data fresh.

Create content based on your personal experience

Pain Point. As a searcher, I’m curious to know how efficient each keyword tool can be for my content plan.

The number of keyword ideas can vary depending on the tool and its database.

For example, tool A may provide 50 keywords for my target topic, while tool B may suggest 75 ideas, which is 50% more.

But if those 25 keywords have miserable search volumes, they provide little to no value. And this numerical superiority of tool B is just a PR stunt.

Solution. Test all the tools on your list and reveal how efficient or inefficient they turned out for your content plan. You can share different stats related to efficiency:

  • how many keywords each tool could find for your target topic;
  • how many of them performed well or failed for your content production;
  • how hard it was to get your content ranking for those keywords and if it;
  • coincided with the KD (keyword difficulty) score they showed, etc.

Present this internal data on visually appealing graphs and charts or show the whole process in an explainer video. It will increase the engagement rate and keep visitors on the page much longer, which is another ranking factor.

Outreach excuse. Tell bloggers that your post isn’t another feature overview. It gives a clear idea about the value those features can provide for real.

Bonus. Bloggers may want to share your exclusive findings on social media and refer to them regularly in upcoming posts.

Increase your link bait content authority with expert opinions

Pain Point. While a single person’s opinion is worth attention, it still feels subjective. Thoughts of many people can make the story less biased to rely on.

As a searcher, I want to know what others think about keyword tools listed. Are they consistent in their opinions? Are there any outliers?

Solution. Survey people in your niche, preferably influencers, and rate tools based on their feedback this way.

Has someone else already posted a round-up of expert opinions on your topic? Then, try to be more inventive.

Instead of asking about the best tools, ask them to rate tools by some other criteria:

  • the most cost-effective solution that doesn’t compromise on the quality;
  • the largest keyword database;
  • the most user-friendly interface (filters, sorting options, data export, etc);
  • the richest pack of keyword analysis features, etc.

Outreach excuse. Stress that your content is based on the opinions of many experts rather than someone’s personal vision.

If you’re lucky to get replies from influencers, mention them in your outreach email. It will add a sense of authority to your pitch.

Bonus. This strategy can bring links from both people linking to competing posts and those you survey.

Imagine how much exposure you’ll get if influencers surveyed share your post with their massive audiences.

Contradict well-known facts or common practices

Pain Point. Search volume tells how many times people google a certain keyword on average. That’s why writers rely on this metric to estimate the traffic potential of their upcoming posts.

But does it make much sense?

Today, Google can rank a post for hundreds or even thousands of similar keywords. The volume of a single keyword can’t tell much about the total traffic all keywords can bring to a post.

Instead of a keyword’s search volume, it makes sense to focus on organic traffic of posts that target a topic.

Solution. You can include only keyword tools with an organic traffic metric to your compilation.

Outreach excuse. Notify bloggers that search volume isn’t as insightful for traffic estimation as many people believe. So, tools that estimate a page’s organic traffic are more efficient for keyword research than traditional options.

Your contradiction should surprise many of them, and they’ll react.

Note. Use this approach when you can prove your point only. If your idea sounds far-fetched, bloggers won’t buy it.

Share free assets that ease the job for users

Pain Point. Let’s say I finally picked a tool that impressed me with its huge database and metrics. But it spat out tons of keyword ideas for my target topic.

I understand how advantageous it is to have a wide choice of keywords to research.

But with loads of data, I’ll probably get stuck in the maze of keywords for a day or two.

The question is how to organize the whole process and speed things up.

Solution. Share downloadable assets that would help users get through the process.

In this guide, the author provides a free Excel template when guiding readers through competitor research.

Do you have coders in your team or some budget to hire one? If you do, ask them to code an easy-peasy tool and embed it directly in your content.

As an idea, your tool can allow users to upload an Excel doc with their keyword data. Then, it will filter out duplicates or any other trash defined by such criteria as miserable search volumes, etc.

Not sure why writers underestimate this content trick, but it can turn out the real icing on the cake.

Outreach excuse. Accentuate that your tool can help users make effective use of their time. To sound convincing, mention how much time it saved for your own campaigns.

Bonus. If you have a content-heavy page with many items on the list, add category filters like in this article.

These tiny pieces of functionality will make your page much easier to navigate.

Analyze industry changes over time

Pain Point. When I saw Ahrefs as one of the top choices for keyword research, I was like… “What?”

I thought that this tool was mostly for backlink analysis, so what’s going on now?

Let’s see. If you compare the current data page with its version of 2017 via WayBack Machine or its alternatives, you’ll see that their database has grown from 4.6 billion to 11.6 billion keywords.

Looks like they’ve expanded their keyword database indeed.

In this specific example, it’s more of a confusion point rather than a pain point, but you get the idea.

Solution. Time doesn’t stand still. Neither do businesses. Some of them are growing into multi-million dollar corporations, while others are vanishing never to come back again.

You can create a graph illustrating the growth of some brands and the decline of others.

Almost all major keyword tools have a publicly available data page. So, you should have no problem tracking changes in their databases over time.

Outreach excuse. Surprise bloggers how some previously lackluster brands improved their product quality and turned into industry giants. Or vice versa.

They will be curious to check things out.

Note. This may not impress newcomers who’ve no idea about how things worked in your industry years ago.

Better target old-school marketers with years of experience behind their backs.

Find out what’s in demand among outreach prospects

Pain Point. As a searcher, I’m involved in a certain niche. So are many bloggers.

They produce content for audiences in their specific niches. Travel bloggers publish tour guides for travelers, whereas real estate bloggers share tips with homeseekers.

But due to the lack of niche-targeted content, they all have to suggest general stuff to their readers.

For example, photography, travel, and finance blogs below link to the same niche-neutral compilation:

  • How to Make a Stunning Photography Website (in 5 Easy Steps)
  • Keyword Research for Travel – How to Find the Best Phrases for SEO – SEOTravel
  • How Local SEO is Effective for Financial Advisors Website?

Solution. Check out the context, in which your outreach prospects link to competing posts. It can be anything from titles of linking pages to backlink anchors and surrounding text.

You can gain such insights by analyzing competitors’ backlinks.

Then, create content that would fit in the context of bloggers’ write-ups perfectly.

Including this type of content is especially helpful when attempting to outsource link outreach.

Imagine you hire blogger outreach agencies.

Giving them an in demand piece of content to generate links for will drive much better success rates for their campaign.

In our case, you’ll need to test how well keyword tools perform for users in different niches.

Make a list of, say, 50 head terms in each niche and estimate how many long-tail keywords each tool provides for them.

Outreach excuse. Tell bloggers that your post has the data for their specific niche, while the one they link to talks about things in general.

Tease them with the stats you collected to motivate them to take a look.

Bonus. Sure thing it will take a lot of work. But this way, you’ll approach your outreach prospects with content custom-tailored for their posts.

It’s a direct hit regarding outreach email personalization.

Guide readers through the process instead of just advising

Pain Point. This section is more for how-to guides rather than compilations of items.

Let’s say I’m searching for an actionable keyword research guide.

No doubt top-ranking posts are solid. But they all recommend WHAT to do instead of explaining HOW to do it.

No guide sheds light on the stage where things usually get complicated – in the Excel doc with keywords you exported from your tool.

Here are important questions that remain unanswered.

Which keywords should I filter out at once? Shall I group the rest somehow, e.g. by search intent or business value?

Shall I create a standalone post for each keyword with the same meaning yet different wording:

  • how to install a WordPress theme;
  • WordPress theme installation guide;
  • easy ways to install a WP theme.

If no, which one should I choose if they all look promising in terms of metrics, e.g. high search volume, low ranking difficulty, etc?

Shall I use the keyword “types of WP themes” for a standalone post or just for a section of my how-to guide?

And the list goes on…

Solution. Guide readers through the process you follow and comment on every step you take.

When you face a controversy, explain which factors influence your decisions.

Illustrate your steps with screenshots from your Excel doc with keywords. Readers will find it much easier to repeat what you tell them that way.

Outreach excuse. Tell that other authors just scratch the surface, while you dig deep into the guidance and illustrate how it all works from the inside.

Any controversial points are explained.

Serve the purpose that others neglect

Pain Point. Many compilations serve the same purposes – keyword tools for different engines (Google, Bing, Yahoo), PPC, social media, ecommerce, etc.

But there are many other angles to approach this topic from.

For example, compilations of eCommerce keyword tools are mostly for Amazon. How about other marketplaces like Etsy or eBay?

If you google “Etsy keyword tools” or “eBay keyword tools,” you’ll see URLs of landing pages of such tools. But no one has arranged them into a big compilation yet.

It’s quite handy to research keywords in your WordPress interface, but there’s no compilation of keyword tool plugin.

The same goes for negative keyword tools.

Solution. Be the first to cover your topic from a commonly neglected angle.

Keyword research can help you identify such an angle.

Simply add your head term like “keyword tools” and switch to keywords with lower search volumes.

Next, check out if Google suggests compilations of those tools or landing pages of each one in the top.

Outreach excuse. Put focus on the unique angle of your content.

If it’s a compilation of keyword tools for ecommerce, say that you added tools for Etsy and eBay besides Amazon like everyone else did.

Checklist of data sources you’ll need

Got stuck in the process of brainstorming? No worries! Here’s a bunch of sources that will help you out:

  • Quora, Reddit and niche forums to find questions that remain unanswered;
  • relevant hashtags on social media;
  • blog comments on your competing posts;
  • Google Autocomplete and Related Searches;
  • internal data from your sales team and customer support agents;
  • results from A/B tests or any other campaigns you carried out;
  • tools for backlink analysis of competing posts;
  • keyword research tools;
  • consolidate public data (stats someone else collected) from many resources.

This checklist is universal for any content type, e.g. listicles, guides, case studies, reviews, etc.

Just find a unique angle for your post and use it as an outreach excuse.

Conclusion

There you have it. Writing outreach worthy link bait content is by no means easy but one well written piece of content is worth 100 lesser iterations. 

How to Create Link Bait (+ Linkable Asset Examples)

For years, bloggers have been bombarded with emails that had pretty much the same outreach excuse. “I see you linked to that post, and I’ve written a similar one, so feel free to link to it.” © every other outreach specialist I bet it sounds familiar to you too if your site has been live … Continue reading “How to Create Link Bait (+ Linkable Asset Examples)”

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