Planning SEO strategies for a Software Project

As a software developer, you may think that SEO is for your marketing department only.

But the thing is it touches every single person on your team, including you. If the software you develop isn’t “SEO-friendly,” promoting it in Google’s organic search will be a deadlift for your teammates.

And if your product doesn’t take up steady positions in SERPs, just imagine how much exposure it’ll lose.

The answer is 53.3% of possible traffic, according to BrightEdge.

That huge flow of potential customers will go to your competitors, while you’ll keep wondering why your management doesn’t give you a raise.

Whenever you come up with a new app idea, don’t rush. Before you get down to something new, the entire team should get together and brainstorm ideas of how to make the most of it.

You’re all playing in the same league, after all.

By combining your skills, efforts, and creativity, you’ll release a product that will pay off, and most importantly pay off without a six-figure investment. Especially since there are resources providing free advertising for small businesses that stick to a tight budget and need to save on marketing as much as possible.

Read on to understand how to plan a software project with SEO and marketing strategies in mind.

Make sure your software can fit in more keywords

First off, you’ll need to think about functionalities that would match people’s search queries, aka keywords.

Before your customer interactions even start, they will enter Google or any other engine and search for your software there.

Let’s say you are planning to launch a time management app. Your target audience is basically everyone who wastes a lot of time, so they’ll search for tips on how to organize their workflow and boost productivity.

Each tip can correspond to a specific feature of your tool:

  • how to plan work hours – planning wizard;
  • how not to miss deadlines – email reminder;
  • how to assign tasks with ease – automatic scheduler.

The more keywords your software can fit in, the more times it can show up in front of your target audience.

To gain maximum visibility, copywriters from your company’s marketing department should create a separate landing page or/and a blog post for each feature.

If you monitor search rankings, you probably know that one page can rank for hundreds of keywords. That’s why this investment will be justified.

plan a software project

Keep in mind that your new tool won’t rank high for very broad keywords like “marketing software.”

They work only for reputable companies that have been on the market for years, and their sites have impressive SEO metrics – 70+ DR (domain rating) and lots of traffic.

You can open any SERP checker to see the key metrics of the domains ranking for your target keywords yourself.

plan a software project

To get your software ranking, writers will need to focus on more specific phrases known as long-tail keywords. And it is your duty as a developer to launch a product that would match a lot of them.

plan a software project

For this, you can either use a premium SEO software tool, which will be much faster, or Google can actually get you covered for free.

Just type in your software category, and it will show you many variations of it people search for today. That’s possible due to a natural language processing algorithm integrated right into Google’s search bar.

You might have noticed that long-tail keywords don’t get as many searches per month as broad queries do. But ranking in the top 10 for broad queries is unrealistic, especially in the early days.

The quicker you can make more sales, the easier it’ll be for you to financially support the growth of your project.

Develop multipurpose software to embrace a wider audience

Wondering how to have startup ideas that could help you maximize your software reach?

This is the question commonly asked at the software planning stage.

First off, your tool should serve multiple purposes. You should plan it in a way that would suit the needs of different audiences. I mean people from different industries or, say, companies of different sizes.

plan a software project

To expand your reach, you can also develop an app for iPhone, iPad, and users of other devices. A big plus will be making your tool compatible with different operating systems and browsers.

plan a software project

Analyze search demand for your upcoming software

The cost to develop an app can vary based on multiple factors. It can be anything from an app type and its technical complexity to developers’ location and professionalism.

Building something simple like a timer or a calculator can take 5-7 months of work and cost around $30K-$150K. For a more complex project in the field of eCommerce, the numbers are higher – up to $300K.

For your investment to pay off, double-check that there’s demand for your app, preferably throughout the year.

In SEO circles, it’s called keyword seasonality, i.e. a period, during which your stuff will be in demand among searchers.

If you’re going to make an app for a specific occasion, people will be interested in it for a limited time only. And then, for the rest of the year, hardly anyone will check it up on Google.

For example, the app you’re planning to launch is meant for the Olympics.

Naturally, potential users will search for it shortly before and during the event. But once the Games are over, the demand for your product will drop and remain close to zero until the Olympics next year.

Always double-check the year-round demand for your software in Google Trends.

plan a software project

Find feature ideas that are in demand among your target audience

Time for the bitter truth – people don’t need another TikTok. What’s the point in re-inventing the wheel that hasn’t broken yet?

When planning a software project, you should identify new trends in your market. Also, try to figure out what people in your niche need but can’t find anywhere.

If you launch a tool based on their requests that others ignored, it’ll give you a competitive advantage. You’ll be able to get your product ranking for keywords that none of your competitors can make use of.

I must admit those keywords won’t have huge search volumes. But you’ll be the only one to attract the audience ready to convert for them.

Owners of many tools, particularly marketing tools like Ahrefs, gather feature requests on customer feedback management platforms.

Let’s visit one of them – Canny.

There, you will see what features users of competing tools ask for and how many times each request has been upvoted.

plan a software project

Note that the full name of each voter is in plain view.

So, you’ll be able to google them, find their email addresses, and reach out with good news. Imagine how excited they’ll be to try the tool that has the feature they’ve been waiting for.

plan a software project

Here are some other places to learn about the pains and needs of people in your niche:

  • forums like Reddit;
  • Q&A sites like Quora;
  • Facebook groups, both private and public.

Whenever you see some question or concern in too many threads, that’s a good sign. Most likely there’s no tool that could do what forum members ask for or complain about.

Take your chance to become a pioneer in that specific field.

Once your software gets a release, your fellow marketers will have a list of threads to comment on and spread the word about it.

Build a free version for your software

Keywords will only give Google an idea of what your product is about and if it matches people’s search queries.

But only backlinks can really prove its worth.

By Google’s logic, if many sites link to your software, they probably do so because it brings genuine value. That’s why it makes perfect sense to rank it on the first page for relevant keywords.

One of the most profitable app business models regarding links is freemium.

No, I’m not telling you to give away the entire product at no cost at all. Being in common sense, I understand all the app development costs you’ll need to reimburse.

Still, try to plan your pricing policy in a way that would include a few plans like Starter, Lite, Standard, and Advanced.

The Starter plan can be available for free yet come with a limited set of features.

Bloggers publish compilations of free tools all the time and will want to add yours too. If they also have free access to your stuff, they may play with it for a while and post a standalone review.

Make sure your free plan provides more than five credits per month. And when they expire, users will need to upgrade to a premium package to access more.

Such a trick won’t help your software appear in many compilations of the best free tools and won’t get easy backlinks.

Neither will it have an opportunity to rank for keywords that contain the word “free.” They usually get thousands of searches every month.

Be generous at the start, and your freebie will make up for part of your company’s marketing costs in due time.

plan a software project

Add link bait to your software interface

Sharing some functionality for free isn’t the only bait that bloggers could take to link to your software.

Another way to make it “link-worthy” is by including some sort of numerical data, e.g. as a feature of reporting.

Writers often link to statistics for their stories to sound reliable. And if your product interface has charts, graphs, timeline graphics, or any other visuals with stats, they can refer to it as a source of their data.

They can also illustrate their content with screenshots of those charts and link attribution below.

plan a software project

Take the place of discontinued software

The digital arena is an ever-changing environment.

Aspiring entrepreneurs regularly launch new tools, while start-ups that weren’t successful shut down.

Do you know about some good software in your niche that was discontinued? You can release an alternative tool and take its place on the pages that still link to it.

For example, Topsy was discontinued years ago but still has 1.86 million backlinks from over 40K domains.

plan a software project

That’s called broken link building in SEO.

Your teammates from the marketing department will be able to contact bloggers who haven’t removed links to the dead tool and suggest a replacement with yours.

Both parties will actually win here. You’ll build new links to your software, while bloggers will share only timely solutions with their audiences.

Final Words

Although you don’t do SEO yourself, you can’t just ignore it at the stage of software planning. That’s what will determine its success in organic search, which is the largest traffic channel of today.

By developing a potentially rank-worthy tool, you’ll also do a big favor to the marketing department. Your colleagues will find it much easier to promote your stuff.

I can’t speak for all the companies out there, but successful product promotion usually leads to more sales and a pay rise for everyone on the team, not only marketers.

If you have any questions about how to plan a software project, feel free to tweet me at @NickCampbelll

hare only timely solutions with their audiences.

Planning SEO strategies for a Software Project

As a software developer, you may think that SEO is for your marketing department only. But the thing is it touches every single person on your team, including you. If the software you develop isn’t “SEO-friendly,” promoting it in Google’s organic search will be a deadlift for your teammates. And if your product doesn’t take … Continue reading “Planning SEO strategies for a Software Project”

Read More

Add Me to Search: How to Create Your Google People Card

If you want to learn more about a person, a natural response is to use the Google search option. From Google search results, you can access a wealth of information. 

You can learn about their biographies, social media links, public records, professional networks, and more. Everything about their online reputation, you can have it.

Are you interested in creating your own Google People Card? Fortunately, the Add Me to Search feature and a feature called people cards allow you to do this. 

Are you a digital marketing expert, influencer, entrepreneur, freelancer, or online business professional? Then, you could use a boost in search engine visibility. If you turn to these features, you can have that boost.

This article will cover everything there is to know about Google People Cards. We’ll discuss what they are, their significance in Google’s “Add Me to Search” feature, and how to edit your Google search card. Also, we’ll walk through the steps to create your own people card.

What Is Add Me on Google and Why Is It Important?

Add Me on Google or Add Me to Search is a new feature on the Google search app. It’s available to Indian users and users from other countries.

It lets you build a virtual Google search card or a profile on Google People Cards. Not only does it increase your discoverability, but it also allows you to control your online presence.

Do you want to create a bite-sized knowledge panel? You can make it happen with this virtual visiting card. Yes, you can use this Google search tool to claim and modify the public version of your knowledge panel. 

Here are the details of a Google People Card that you can edit:

  • Name
  • Job
  • Description
  • Company
  • Profile picture
  • Location
  • Website link
  • Email address
  • Phone numbers
  • Social media links

For instance, you want to edit the Google search profile of Arianna Huffington, an author, businesswoman, and founder of Thrive Global. To start, click Claim this knowledge panel to start the process. It will direct you to a page where you can make adjustments after you undergo verification protocols.

For example, Matt Cutts, a popular figure in the digital marketing and (SEO) search engine optimization spheres, secured the Add Me on Google feature and created a Google People Card. If you enter his name on Google, you can access his Google People Card containing the details he wants to share with the rest of the world.

Like most search results, his search Google card helps you (or anyone) learn information about him. Here, you can see core details like his existing website and a brief description. From his people card, you can also reach his social media links — links to his accounts on Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, and Instagram.

Here’s a more elaborate discussion about the benefits of securing the Add Me on Google feature:

  • Increase exposure – Make people feel your online presence. It grants search engine users access to optimized information about you on a massive search index. In addition, it raises the odds of earning the top spot on the (SERPs) search engine results pages.
  • Stand out – Differentiate yourself from namesakes, business professionals, and high-profile entities with close or similar names. Also, a Google People Card allows you to eliminate instances of mistaken identities.
  • Improve online reputation – Manually edit your public search information to remove any negative or unwanted associations. Nowadays, almost everybody has a public profile. To ensure the accuracy and quality of your public profile, check and edit details as necessary.
  • Gain a competitive advantage – Feature statistics, facts, and images that reflect professionalism. You may also check competitor Add Me to Search results and craft your public search profile to outperform these people. Not only does it speak volumes about your authority and dominance in your industry, but it also enhances credibility. 
  • Foster better connections – Add links to recent contact details or up-to-date information to allow people to contact you with little effort. Aside from providing the details you want out in public, you are also upping the chances people will want to form a business relationship with you.

What Does Your Google People Card Have to Do with This?

The Add Me to Search feature can work in your favor if you have an optimized Google People Card. Remember, your Google people search card is your public search profile on Google.

Don’t be satisfied with generic info on your Google People Card. Edit it to elicit positive responses from searchers.

Think of it as a virtual business card or virtual visitation card. It helps you stay relevant through the changing times. It’s also a way to uplevel your digital marketing skills and future-proof your online presence.

Let’s dissect the components of a Google search card for a better understanding of it. For a concrete example, let’s go over the Google search card of Aleyda Solis, an international SEO consultant and founder of Orainti, a boutique SEO consultancy firm.

We chose her Google search card to scrutinize because it’s a great example of a well-optimized card. ]

Here are reasons her search card is commendable:

  1. She promotes her expertise well – For an SEO consultant and founder of a consultancy firm, it’s in her best interest to inform people about her professional experience. It increases the confidence of searchers. And in her Google People Card, she does just that. Specifically, she emphasized her About info.
  2. She shares relevant information – She divulges personal details that support her About section. In addition to highlighting the books she authored, she lists relevant information for people who want to learn about her background. Notably, she shares her nationality, education, and her founded organization.
  3. She displays links to her social media profiles – Searchers can easily reach her on different social media platforms. And in her lineup of social media profiles, she prioritized a more professional and career-oriented social media network, LinkedIn.

Steps to Create Your Google People Card

To create a people card on Google search, you need a personal Google account, mobile device, and internet browser with a decent connection.

Here is a step-by-step guide on how you can create a people card:

Step # 1 – Type Add Me to Search on the Google search app

Are you using Google Chrome? Then, type the keyphrase on the search option. The keyphrase Add Me to Google works, too. You can also search for a name.

Once you hit Enter, the top of the search results will display an option where Google lets you add this person to its search database.

Step # 2 – Click Get Started

Before you start, turn on Web & App Activity. If this feature is on, Google monitors and saves all your searches. You can say the same for every action you take using Google’s services — location, IP address, device, and more.

To turn it on, log in to your Google Admin console. Then, follow these steps:

  1. Find and open Menu Apps.
  2. Scroll to the Web & App Activity section.
  3. Launch Service status.
  4. Turn on.

Step # 3 – Fill out the required information

Fortunately, Google has no rigid content guidelines on this. But, to maximize the positive impact of the search card, submit content of the best quality and refer to Google’s best practices for crafting content.

To start, provide the required information like:

  • Name
  • Location
  • About
  • Occupation

If you want to provide more info, go ahead. The optional information fields are:

  • Work
  • Education
  • Hometown
  • Website
  • Social profiles
  • Email
  • Phone number

For most fields, you can enter the required information manually. As for the information about your email address and phone number, Google handles them. Its basis is the information you provided on your account settings.

Google automatically fills out these information fields. If you want to provide a different email address and phone number on your search card, you can’t do it here. You can only do it if you change the details on your Google account.

As for the information about your social media profiles, Google lets you link to the following networks:

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Instagram
  • Pinterest
  • LinkedIn
  • YouTube
  • SoundCloud

Step # 4 – Tap Preview

Check how your Google People Card appears to the public. Search for yourself and look at the search results. Focus on the quality of your information. Remember, it reflects a personal brand. It can also reveal if you have a weak or strong online presence.

Here are more tips on how to create your search card:

  • No advertisements – Be straightforward. Don’t use your Google card as a platform for advertising. Avoid using “top-class,” “affordable,” and other advertising words.
  • Add a photo – Post a high-quality and recognizable avatar or photo of yourself. Because you don’t need to upload a cover photo for your Google People Card, ensure that your avatar reflects personal branding. The idea is to make your search card enticing and visually appealing.
  • Select information – Prioritize essential information about yourself or personal branding. Better yet, choose the details you share publicly and see if they can help you achieve your goal better.

Step # 5 – Hit Submit

If you don’t want to make changes to your Google People Card after previewing it, it’s ready. After you send in your search card, Google will review it, then approve it.

Here are tips on how to increase the chances of approval of your Google People Card:

  • Provide lots of information – Fill your search card with good info. The more information you provide, the better. 
  • Show accuracy – Include your actual information on your Google People Card. Be as authentic as possible and delete anything false. While you should provide lots of information, prevent using inaccurate or misleading information. If Google identifies fraudulent activity on your end, it can put you in serious trouble.
  • Avoid vulgarity – Use positive words to get on Google’s good side. Google doesn’t support hate and dislikes corrupt and unlawful behavior towards yourself or others. It also forbids the use of embarrassing, demeaning, and humiliating words.

How to Edit Your People Card

Are you unsatisfied with your Google People Card? Then, sign in to your personal Google account, go to your people card, and tap Edit.

Here are more instructions on editing specific details:

How to Remove Your Phone Number

  1. Go to the phone number section of your Add Me to Google people card.
  2. Erase your existing phone number and:
    1. Leave the field blank if you have no phone number to post
    2. Overwrite the existing details with a new phone number
  3. Tap Save.

How to Remove Your Email Address

  1. Go to the email address section of your Add Me to Google people card.
  2. Erase your existing email address and:
    1. Leave the field blank if you have no email address to post
    2. Overwrite the existing details with a new email address
  3. Tap Save.

How to Remove Your Google Card

If you don’t want Google to feature you in search results, you can remove your Add Me to Google people card. This is helpful if you don’t want to have a public anymore.

Here’s a step-by-step guide:

  1. Go to your search card and click Edit.
  2. Scroll down to the Remove my search card from Google option.
  3. Click DELETE.
  4. Verify this by searching for your name on Google. If Google isn’t including your people card anymore, the fix worked. But if your search card still shows up, it’s ideal to wait a few hours for Google to update its database. 

Frequently Asked Questions

A Google People Card is a relatively new feature. Plus, it has limited availability, and not everyone is familiar with it.

Below is a list of 10 questions that people frequently ask. Let’s address each with simple answers.

What Information Should I Add to My People Card?

The details you add to your Google People Card should reflect your personal branding. And adding more relevant info results in a more effective search card. Ideally, include your name, contact info, and links to your social media profiles.

Can I Create a Google People Card Immediately?

Yes. But, before a Google People Card shows up on the search engine’s database, the team at Google will evaluate it first. If it passes the evaluation, Google will approve it.

Can I Edit Anyone’s Google Virtual Business Card?

No. You need access to the Google account that you used to create a Google search card. You can only edit a Google card that you created.

Is a Personal Google Account Necessary to Use Add Me to Search?

Yes. It’s necessary because it’s where Google gets information to fill out for your email address and phone numbers. You can use your existing account or create a new Google account.

Why Is Add Me to Search Not Working?

Not using a mobile device or mobile browser is a common reason the Google Add Me to Search option isn’t working. Other reasons include not turning on Web & App Activity and not choosing English or Hindi as your language.

Is Add Me to Search Available for All?

Unfortunately, not everybody can use Add Me to Search and Google People Cards with ease. These Google features are exclusive to people in India, Kenya, Nigeria, and South Africa. Google also had no prior announcements of its plans to make these features available to everyone.

How Can I Make Add Me to Search Available in My Location?

A workaround is to use a (VPN) Virtual Private Network to create your search Google Card. Then, set your location to India, Kenya, Nigeria, or South Africa. Even if you search for how to create a Google People Card elsewhere, you still can’t create a search card in an unlisted location.

Why Is My Google Card Not Reflecting the Edits I made?

Don’t panic if you don’t see the edits you made right away. Google reviews every submission and while quick, the process isn’t immediate. Wait a few hours and check it again.

What Happens If I Don’t Edit or Manage the Information on My Google People Card?

You need to manage your people card regularly. If not, Google can take matters into its own hands. It can penalize you or remove your people card.

How Can I Help People Find My People Card on Google Search?

You can use digital marketing and SEO techniques to generate traffic and improve your chances of getting featured in search results. From there, an increasing number of people will search for you online and stumble upon your Google card.

Conclusion

Add Me to Search and Google People Cards are great for everyone, especially job hunters and digital marketing service providers. These can strengthen their professional profiles and boost their chances of getting hired. 

Your Add Me to Google card is your intellectual property. They should paint you in a good light and help put your best foot forward. You need to make changes if it isn’t the case.

And while these features are not available to everyone at every location, find a workaround — it’s an ideal solution. After all, having a Google People Card can dramatically improve the online presence of anyone.

Add Me to Search: How to Create Your Google People Card

If you want to learn more about a person, a natural response is to use the Google search option. From Google search results, you can access a wealth of information.  You can learn about their biographies, social media links, public records, professional networks, and more. Everything about their online reputation, you can have it. Are … Continue reading “Add Me to Search: How to Create Your Google People Card”

Read More

How to Follow up on an Email (What Gurus Forgot to Mention)

The idea to follow up on an email that got no reply is as old as time.

Or at least as the web.

I’m not gonna tell you for the billionth time that follow-ups increase response rates. Many gurus and studies have done it for me.

I wanna talk about another side to the story, usually unreported.

Along with a growth of response rates, the number of spam reports on each consecutive follow-up you send grows too. Unfortunately, there’s currently no tool that would let us collect stats on this. What happens in someone’s inbox remains in their inbox.

But the reality is a good portion of outreach emails land in my spam folder.

No, they don’t have any spam triggers like “buy now” or “discount.” And I must admit I occasionally see quite good emails there. Still, they go directly to spam and do it for a reason. Their senders must have abused outreach tactics earlier, which annoyed recipients to the point that they started reporting spam on them.

And criticism from social media only proves it.

follow-up tips

Source

Do you get what I’m saying?

While a lot of follow-up tips sound promising, they don’t always have the outcomes promised.

Let’s dig deeper into controversies about follow-ups, based on the feedback from people who receive them all the time. Their insights should help you understand how to follow up on an email the right way.

1. How many follow-ups would be TOO many?

follow-up strategies

Gurus say you should create an entire sequence of follow-ups. Opinions differ on the exact number, but I’ve seen suggestions of up to nine follow-ups.

I wonder how many follow-ups would be enough.

It’s one thing when someone forgets to reply to your original email and is too busy to do it the first time you follow up.

follow-up tips

Source

But when people keep ignoring you intentionally, which follow-up should be the last one?

Opinion from Jeremy Knauff – CEO at Spartan Media (digital marketing agency that provides web design, social media, SEO, and PPC services).

Connect with Jeremy on LinkedIn & Twitter.

As with most things in the world of SEO, the answer is this – it depends.

If you know the podcaster personally, you can get away with more follow-ups than you could if you were reaching out to a stranger. But in any case, you have to weigh your follow-up against the risk of alienating them. If you push too hard, you could kill any chance of ever being on the podcast, and that line is never black and white.

You never know what someone is going through at any given point, so be mindful that their lack of response could have nothing to do with you, and may just be indicative that they’re overwhelmed at the moment.

I’ve reached out to podcasters and got no response, and then suddenly, months, or in one case, more than a year later, they replied and brought me or a client on their show.

The important thing is to treat this like any other relationship because that’s exactly what it is. Don’t ever let anyone tell you it’s just a numbers game.

A good rule of thumb is three emails spread at least a week or more apart. Depending on a number of factors, you might consider emailing again once per quarter if you still haven’t received a response, but in the meantime, you should be working to build a relationship through social media.

My two cents. The more follow-ups you send, the more risks you get your brand exposed to.

The risks you could avoid…

1. Some recipients will report your follow-ups as spam and get your new emails landing in spam folders later.

Such actions won’t just harm your outreach visibility. Many people do check their spam folders once in a while. The problem is they automatically treat in-spam emails with a grain of salt, without even reading the first line of an offer.

2. Others will remember your name or/and brand to make sure not to deal with you ever.

3. Catch someone on a bad day, and your email will go public on social media. Their followers (and often followers of followers) will see it, and you’ll end up with more haters than you deserve.

To be honest, there’s an unspoken rule to use a different domain for outreach, e.g. name@company.tech instead of name@company.com. It can help you secure your domain reputation against spam reports, but certainly not the reputation of your brand.

2. Is the fortune in follow-ups, as they say?

follow-up strategies

Gurus say the fortune is in follow-ups.

You can’t just send one follow-up and call it a day. The competition in people’s inboxes is huge. If you give up too soon, someone else will show up and reap the benefits of what you started but never ended.

I wonder if people actually reply after, say, the third or fourth follow-up.

I understand that someone might have forgotten to reply to the first email. But isn’t it naive to hope they also forgot to react to three or four follow-ups?

Opinion from Darren Shaw – Founder of Whitespark (tools & services that help businesses with local search marketing).

Connect with Darren on LinkedIn & Twitter.

I can think of some times when I’ve actually responded to something positively after the 4th follow-up. It certainly depends on the offer and who it’s coming from. If it’s some random person pitching guest posting services, I’m never going to reply. If it’s something that could benefit me or my company, then maybe I just need a few follow-ups.

Sometimes, it’s just my mood at the moment. An email comes in, and I don’t have time or interest in it, so I ignore/archive. Later, the follow-up comes in, and they may have caught me when I have more time to consider it, or it might now be the time I’m interested in whatever they’re pitching, so I reply.

In general, sending more than one follow-up may net you some additional conversions, but at what cost? You will burn some potential brand trust by annoying people, and you’re likely going to increase the number of spam reports you get.

My two cents. So, people may ignore you for a while because of time constraints, mood, and no interest in their current circumstances.

You can’t control anything about that on your end, can you?

I can’t speak for everyone, but my circumstances don’t change overnight. Considering that commonly suggested intervals between follow-ups are a few days, you’d better let some more time pass before/if you reach out again.

In general, I can think of only one legitimate reason to go beyond one follow-up – offering different or more value each time. Sending reminders about the same stuff over and over is a dead-end job.

3. Are you supposed to get a response to your follow-ups?

follow-up strategies

Gurus say you should keep on following up until you get a response.

Any response…

Even if it’s a no, you can discuss with prospects what could change their mind or suggest an alternative. As a last resort, you can agree to play by their rules, whatever it takes.

I wonder if recipients owe anybody a reply back.

follow-up tips

Source

Opinion from Maddy Osman – Founder of The Blogsmith (SEO content writing and strategy development for B2B technology companies).

Connect with Maddy on LinkedIn & Twitter.

In many situations, it’s the follow-up that gets the sale or the backlink placement. We often catch people at the wrong time or their inbox fills up and your backlink request gets lost in the chaos. It’s OK to follow up, perhaps even more than once.

That said, there’s a line that people frequently cross when it comes to requesting backlinks specifically. Nobody owes you a response (or a placement!) and to suggest otherwise in your follow-ups is ludicrous.

Don’t keep following up when someone tells you no or doesn’t respond after your third attempt – just move on.

My two cents. By following up with your prospects over and over, you’ll probably squeeze a response out of them eventually.

But are you sure you’re gonna like it?

In the best-case scenario, they’ll just reject your offer with a polite “no, thanks” reply. But some people can get more annoyed and demand that you never email them again. The end.

follow-up tips

Source

4. Should you follow up after rejection or let it go?

follow-up strategies

Gurus say you shouldn’t give up on editors who rejected your original pitch.

Feel free to follow up with an alternative idea – you don’t have anything to lose anyway. In the worst case, they’ll just ignore it or send you another no.

I wonder if editors don’t mind reviewing more stuff from someone they initially rejected.

Opinion from Elisa Doucette – Founder & Managing Editor at Craft Your Content (editing, writing coaching, and content management services) and Blogger at ElisaDoucette.com.

Connect with Elisa on LinkedIn & Twitter.

To be fair, the follow-up after a canned rejection is a hit-or-miss endeavor.

Depends if it’s thoughtful and obviously original, or just another time-wasting template. Keep it brief, address the editor directly on a human-to-human level, and do as much of the work as possible (e.g. don’t ask “What was wrong with it?” but instead ask “Could you give me one thing to improve in this piece to make it a great fit for you?”)

You can disagree with editors. You might even be right – shockingly, we are not always correct.

If you think an editor is not understanding your submission, or you really want to write for the publication, you’ll be surprised to know how many people will reply back to a well-written follow-up that you’ve put time and thought into.

Then, there are folks who write back to tell me that I’m wrong, we’re missing out for not including their writing, and they don’t care about our content guidelines.

There’s one that took me aback – the writer “updated” the piece to target our audience more by just dropping the word “programmer” into the SAME EXACT POST 5-7 times.

follow-up tips

Source

My two cents. If you’re gonna try to get a second chance with editors, keep one thing in mind.

It’ll require more work than you did earlier.

Editors don’t reject drafts because they are too lazy to make a few edits. They actually get paid for that. The reasons for rejections are usually more serious: a totally irrelevant topic, poor research, no new information that hasn’t appeared on hundreds of other blogs yet, or something along these lines.

Also, don’t neglect to mention the extra perks you could bring to the guest blog. Does your content target a keyword with a high traffic potential and a low keyword difficulty score? Do you have a solid social following to share it with the morning after?

Spell out what benefits editors will reap from your submission.

5. How to send a follow-up email to a busy person

follow-up strategies

Gurus say you shouldn’t delay following up for too long, until better times.

No, it doesn’t mean you can show up in someone’s inbox 24 hours later. But waiting for more than 3-5 days, you’ll simply miss out on opportunities. Your prospects will write you off and focus on others instead.

I wonder what if recipients have no time to consider an offer within a few days.

That’s definitely not enough for someone with a heavy workload. What would be a better way to follow up with people pressed for time?

Opinion from Kevin Indig – Director of SEO at Shopify (top eCommerce platform) and Owner of Kevin-Indig.com (where he blogs about SEO and growth trends).

Connect with Kevin on LinkedIn & Twitter.

Ask prospects, “Would it be okay to follow up in a couple of weeks instead of you having to make this decision right now?”

This way, if they come back to you and say, “Yeah, sure. Follow-up in a couple of weeks – now is just not like the right time, I don’t have the headspace for it,” they can show a bit of interest, but don’t have to make the decision right that moment.

My two cents. Trying to get an answer asap won’t always work in your favor.

On the other side of your outreach funnel, people struggle with busy schedules and can find it challenging to squeeze someone in.

It doesn’t take a minute to consider a pitch, evaluate its benefits, assess possible risks… Yep, not every pitch actually has value. Some marketers only ask for favors but never offer anything decent in return.

Thinking they need to decide right away, busy folks will find it easier to reject your pitch rather than give it some thought.

6. When is it legitimate to follow up early?

follow-up strategies

Gurus say you can’t follow up with editors the day after you sent your first email.

It’s just disrespectful.

Your prospects won’t drop everything to address your pitch as a priority. They have lots of others on the waiting list to handle. Be patient and wait your turn.

I wonder if there are any exceptions when following up the next day could be justified.

Opinion from Michelle Garrett – Founder of  Garrett Public Relations (writing, PR, social media, and content marketing services).

Connect with Michelle on LinkedIn & Twitter.

Many journalists say they don’t mind it when you follow up on a pitch. But it’s best to wait at least a few days, maybe even a week, before following up.

However, there are a few situations where you might need to follow up the next day. Pitching the breaking news would be one of those.

My two cents. When you follow up in a day or two, make it clear why you’re doing this.

What’s obvious to you isn’t always obvious to others. Editors have a lot on their minds and may not figure out a noble motive behind your actions.

To make sure they don’t see you as another inbox pest, emphasize that you pitch the breaking news. That’s why it makes sense to get it published before the buzz ends.

7. How to shift focus from the flop of your original email

follow-up strategies

Gurus say you can’t tell recipients that you’re following up.

With such claims, you basically admit that your original email failed. The first thing they’ll do is try to recall why it didn’t work with them.

I wonder how to avoid reminding prospects about the failure.

Opinion from Joanna Wiebe – Founder of Copyhackers (conversion copywriting courses and resources) and Co-founder & Head of Growth at Airstory (writing software).

Connect with Joanna on LinkedIn & Twitter.

If you have to follow up on an email, it’s probably because the contact ignored or deleted your first one. Which means you’d be kinda nuts to send a follow-up that’s like, “Hey, just following up on that email you ignored or deleted” – which is exactly what you’re saying when you send a “follow-up” email.

Instead, just send a brand new email, as if you’ve never reached out to them and been ignored before. Your contact doesn’t need to know you’re following up. Keep that to yourself.

Would it be better to start over with all the prospects or only those who never opened the first email? If someone didn’t see the pitch, you can’t know if they’re interested or not.

I’d recommend changing the subject line – you can certainly reuse the pitch if they never saw it.

But why didn’t they open?

It’s either your “from” name, your subject line, or your send time (in most cases, that’s what it comes down to).

My two cents. Another reason why your email can remain unopened is its first line. Being visible right in the inbox, this snippet can make or break the outcome of your outreach.

Let’s take link building campaigns as an example.

Many link builders use the same outreach template that’s been flying around the web for years. If you have a blog, you’ll probably recognize it in a blink:

Hey [name],
I’ve just found your post about [topic] and really enjoyed reading it.

Emails starting this way usually mirror one another, except for maybe some minor differences in wording. You don’t need to open them to understand how they will end:

I’ve actually written a similar post [link], which should make a great addition to your article.
Let me know what you think

My point is you can’t heavily rely on templates you found on Google. Others use them too, and people are getting more and more reluctant to read emails with opening lines they’ve seen like a hundred times before

8. What to say in a follow-up coming in a new thread

follow-up strategies

I still wonder what to say when you follow up in a new thread.

While the thread will be new, the offer will still be the same. Should marketers retell the story once again, as recipients won’t have easy access to it anymore, or say something else that would make them more inclined to reply?

Opinion from Brooklin Nash – Co-founder of Nash Content Consulting (B2B inbound marketing services for SaaS companies).

Connect with Brooklin on LinkedIn & Twitter.

Restate more briefly, then add value in a new way.

I’d suggest trying a new thread for a few different reasons:

  • It gives you room to try out different subject lines and CTAs.
  • It avoids giving the impression that you’re an “annoying” salesperson.
  • It focuses on adding value.

Too often, sales reps treat a follow-up email as simply a way to bump the thread to the top of the inbox. But all that does is remind the prospect they most likely weren’t interested in the first place.

By creating a new thread (and referencing the previous email), you’re given more of a fresh start. Instead of “Hey, any thoughts on the above?” it becomes “Hey, I saw your post on xyz and it reminded me…” or “Thought you might be interested in…”

If someone is truly focused on bringing value to the conversation, I’ll nearly always reply.

My two cents. Don’t use this tactic just for the sake of it.

Following up in a new thread has a clear purpose – offering more value or something different. If you don’t have anything else to add, which is quite common in outreach, you’d better stay in the same thread.

It’s not okay to increase the number of new threads in the inbox for no reason. What if everyone starts doing it? Just imagine how cluttered and disorganized that inbox will get. It will only set your prospects against you and other email marketers.

I can tell it from personal experience. Look at the follow-ups I receive in a new thread.

follow-up tips

All they do is change a word or two in the subject line and a few words across the message, but the key point remains the same. It can hardly feel like a fresh start – these are just reminders about the same email campaign that didn’t work out.

9. How NOT to start a follow-up email

follow-up strategies

Gurus say you should avoid cliches like “just checking in” or “just pinging you.”

That’s how every other follow-up starts. And today, many people get their right eye twitching whenever they see such an opening line.

follow-up tips

Source

I wonder how to start follow-ups in a way that would better resonate with recipients.

Opinion from Kristie Holden

SaaS Startup Marketing Consultant at KristieHolden.com.

Connect with Kristie on LinkedIn.

If you’re meaning a follow-up after you’ve emailed them once but not heard a response, I’d try something like this:

Hi [name],
I understand you’re busy and probably get a lot of emails.
Just looking for a quick response. Are you interested in [what’s the value you offer?]

Or you could do some research and try something like…

Hi [name],
Congrats on the award for [XZY]. I saw the mention on [your blog/news site], that’s great!
I was wondering if you’re interested in getting help with [what’s the value you offer]?

My two cents. I’m far from being a guru, but I do outreach once in a while to gather opinions for my articles.

Hey [name],
I’m picking possible publication dates, and the final choice will depend on your preferred time to submit the information.
Let me know if you have an approximate date in mind so that I could plan my editorial calendar accordingly.

Basically, you don’t need to reinvent the wheel. Instead of “checking in,” ask your prospects what exactly you want to learn from them.

Also, try to omit the word “just” as well.

I understand that you use it to emphasize that you’re not gonna load them with any more requests – you’re just trying to get an answer to the same simple question from your original email.

But on their end, your message won’t sound as if it’s just a reminder, not something important to respond to asap.

10. Is it a good idea to use humor in follow-ups?

follow-up strategies

Gurus say you should use humor to relieve the tension in overloaded inboxes. It’s more enjoyable to chat with a funny person than some whiner, after all.

I wonder if jokes like “were you recruited by wolves” are appropriate for business correspondence. Here’s some feedback on a humorous follow-up I’ve found recently.

follow-up tips

Source

Opinion from Dr. Pete Meyers – Marketing Scientist at Moz (toolkit that makes SEO, link building, and content marketing easy) and Owner of DrPete.co.

Connect with Pete on LinkedIn & Twitter.

While I’m generally fine with using humor and use humor often in emails and on social media (including work posts), it’s a lot different in the context of an unsolicited request from an unknown party.

That naturally feels more aggressive, and the tone of the humor is often too personal.

Coming from a stranger trying to sell you something, the wolf thing (which might be funny among friends) almost feels like negging.

My two cents. “Were you recruited by wolves/abducted by aliens/sucked into a black hole?” – these jokes are like old memes. Pretty much everyone heard them many times, and they’re not funny anymore.

Also, note that you can’t know what your prospects are going through.

Assuming your joke is creative, it may bring a smile to the face of a person who’s doing great. But how about someone who’s having a hard time, not necessarily at work? Your attempts to sound funny can only enrage them.

11. Should you be a bit pushy for your follow-ups to work?

follow-up strategies

Gurus say you’ll sometimes need to push recipients for them to write you back.

Just a little…

Procrastination is in the DNA of so many people, and your prospects are no exception. When they’re reluctant to react to your pitch, you could follow up, saying that you haven’t heard back from them yet and are still waiting for their reply. It should shake them up a bit.

I wonder if such claims won’t make them feel uncomfortable to reply back. Psychologically, it’s much easier for me to ignore someone than admit my fault for keeping them waiting.

Opinion from Anisa Purbasari Horton

Freelance Writer & Editor at AnisaPurbasariHorton.com.

Connect with Anisa on LinkedIn & Twitter.

In the ideal world, everyone would have time to respond to every single email, but we don’t live in that reality.

Many people see their inbox as a never-ending source of stress, and the last thing you want to do is contribute to that stress.

Phrase your follow-up without making the other person feel obligated to respond to you. In my experience, this has worked a lot better than writing something aggressive or resorting to shame and guilt.

My two cents. As someone who does outreach once in a while, I understand what you feel.

The deadline is around the corner, and you’re so ashamed to report miserable results to your manager. With each passing day of people’s silence, your frustration is only growing.

I am sorry but your prospects don’t feel sorry for you.

To calm down a bit, you can actually write a message in an accusatory tone. Just make sure you delete it before sending 🙂 Your follow-up isn’t the place for anger and other emotions. Keep them to yourself.

follow-up tips

Source

12. Should you apologize for following up (out of politeness)?

follow-up strategies

Gurus say you should be polite and say you’re sorry for messaging people again.

When you send someone an unsolicited pitch and then one more email to remind them about it, you basically distract them from something else. For the second time.

I wonder if making apologies out of politeness isn’t odd. Don’t senders acknowledge the fact that they bother recipients that way?

Opinion from John Doherty – Founder of Credo (platform to find the best digital marketing providers) and EditorNinja (copy editing & proofreading services).

Connect with John on LinkedIn & Twitter.

It’s better to avoid those apologies because they’re simply not necessary and clue people in that you think you’re bothering them, instead of being confident in your ask.

If you’re genuinely adding value to them, then there is no reason to apologize.

If you think you are bothering them, then maybe you need to rethink your approach and stop bothering them.

My two cents. Besides apologies, you should avoid any phrases that could provoke an objectionable counter-question from your prospect.

I’m referring to something like this:

YOU: I know you probably have no time for this…
THEY: If you know that, why do you keep taking my time away???

With such a reply, it’ll be much harder, almost impossible to sort things out and get the conversation back to a positive note. Don’t say anything that recipients could find fault with.

follow-up tips

Source

13. Do personalized follow-ups always feel right?

follow-up strategies

Gurus say you should mention something from your prospects’ social accounts in a follow-up.

That way, it’ll feel personal and indicate that you’re not a robot sending exactly the same email to the masses.

I wonder if it’s appropriate to comment on each and every personal detail in a business email.

People share different kinds of stuff on social media – pics of their tattoos, pets, food, trips, etc. When is personal too personal, especially in the case of cold outreach?

follow-up tips

Source

Opinion from Carolyn Lyden – President of Search Hermit (content strategy & SEO services for BIPOC- and women-owned businesses).

Connect with Carolyn on LinkedIn & Twitter.

I think there’s an element of personalization that says, “I understand who you are, and we’re on the same page about certain things,” but there’s also a fine line that feels almost like stalking.

The outreach I received commented on my tattoo with no context around where the person saw a picture of it, which felt very invasive. It made me go looking through my own website, social, and mentions to see where the person saw a full picture of my arm.

It also made me even more aware of my own privacy online and want to clamp down on it even more – if a total stranger can find pictures of and comment on my body for a sales email, then what other strangers out there know more about me than I thought and care to email me about it? It felt very unsafe and creepy.

It also felt like a big non-sequitur to what this person’s goal was – an attempt at a weirdly intrusive “in” that had nothing to do with my business or my potential needs related to what the company did.

In the SEO community, we get a ton of strange and creepy outreach for links and products/services (it’s a running joke), so it just came naturally to share it with my friends on Twitter to say, “Look, another one.” The reaction was quite validating, too – yes I wasn’t the only one who thought this crossed a line.

I always try to blur out details for the sake of the person reaching out, but others who do so might not be so kind.

My two cents. Emailing someone you know is different from emailing strangers.

There are some lines you shouldn’t cross with the latter, no matter how good your intentions are. While you want to show that you did your homework and took a personal approach to each prospect, it will look different to them. They’ll see you as a nosy neighbor or, even worse, a creepy stalker.

Keep comments on their personal stuff like tattoos for later, when you get better acquainted with each other.

14. How to write a value-added follow-up

follow-up strategies

Gurus say you should add extra value to each follow-up.

It simply makes no sense to send multiple reminders about your original pitch without bringing anything new.

I wonder what kind of additional value people appreciate enough to reply back.

Opinion from Sujan Patel – Managing Director at Mailshake (sales engagement & automation software to do outreach on autopilot).

Connect with Sujan on LinkedIn & Twitter.

This is an area where many people get stuck. You can add value by sending a helpful article, video (doesn’t have to be from your company’s website), case study, or asking if you can help them in any way.

Bonus if you find something they could do better and tell them how to fix it, e.g. a typo on their website.

I always prefer to send blog posts with a reference to a specific bullet, quote, or section. It helps get their attention. You can also follow up with a compliment on one of their recent posts.

Good point, but doesn’t such flattery sound fake to most people? I’ve seen a lot of public criticism of it lately.

Vague flattery does.

It seems disingenuous but if you’re specific on what part of the article helped you do differently, then it works.

You can be genuine at scale by referencing a specific section and a broader change that it helped you do.

My two cents. To send prospects a helpful resource, you should first figure out what kind of help they need. People usually ask for advice on social media, so this is the first place to check.

follow-up tips

Source

I must admit you won’t always find answers on social media.

That will be a pity, but surely not a disaster. You can always focus on values people commonly appreciate (I borrowed them from SparkToro’s outreach guide):

  • turning your prospect’s blog post into a visual animation;
  • translating their content in other languages and republishing it with attribution;
  • including their company in a case study for a popular publication;
  • showing how their product can solve issues on a webinar.

15. What if you can’t add more value to each follow-up?

follow-up strategies

I still wonder if it’s realistic to increase the value each time you follow up.

When I collected replies for this post, the only value I could offer was a backlink from our blog. I didn’t have perks to extend for, say, five follow-ups.

Opinion from Chuck Price – Founder & CEO at Measurable SEO (digital marketing company that helps businesses increase traffic, leads, and sales).

Connect with Chuck on LinkedIn & Twitter.

As with so many things in SEO, “it depends.”

It’s usually not possible to “sweeten” the request on subsequent emails, so in most cases, they are really just reminders.

Therefore, anything over one or two follow-ups is overkill. Beyond that, the diminishing returns aren’t worth the risk of being flagged as a spammer.

My two cents. Providing “decent” values isn’t something you can do at scale.

It’s one thing to do something minor like indicating a broken link or image on the page, but quite another to feature your prospect’s product on a webinar. With a hundred people on the outreach list, it’s just unreal. You’ll need to sort out your priorities.

Also note that even a value-added follow-up doesn’t guarantee a reply, especially if your outreach is cold. You’ll probably get more rewards for featuring your current partner on a top niche blog rather than wasting this opportunity on a stranger who won’t get back to you anyway.

16. Is it OK to go off-topic when following up?

follow-up strategies

Gurus say you should add more interest to your follow-ups.

For example, you could comment on something your prospects care about – the latest article on their blog, post on social media, industry events, etc. It will make them more enthusiastic about starting a chat with you.

I wonder what if such comments won’t relate to the pitch directly.

In 99% of cases, a link request will have nothing to do with someone’s latest tweets, let alone industry news. Is it OK to go off-topic? Especially since another common outreach rule is to always keep the message short and to the point.

Opinion from Colin Campbell – Head of Community at Outreach.io (sales outreach engagement platform powered by AI-driven insights).

Connect with Colin on LinkedIn & Twitter.

I think it might depend a little bit on your ACV and whether this approach is worth the time investment. But my gut would be to do what you’ve done here – build a conversation (any conversation) that interests your prospect that’s related to what they care about as a person. Even if it’s not related to their work at hand or the services/products you offer.

When someone mentions my recent tweet that doesn’t directly relate to their outreach request, they still motivate me to reply. It stands out – almost nobody takes the time to do that kind of work. So, I suggest that you play with personalizing the first touch just to start any conversation then move to the relevant ask vs the other way around.

My two cents. Commenting on someone’s point of interest, even if it’s off-topic to your pitch, can get the ball rolling.

It will show that you learned about them more than their email address and the URL of the page you want a backlink from. And most importantly, your follow-up didn’t automatically land in hundreds of other inboxes. Successful outreach requires an individual approach, you know.

What it also requires is some wit from you.

Let’s say your prospect often tweets on some upcoming event. Telling them that you’re looking forward to it too would be lazy. Try to come up with something more intriguing like “Did you know that Seth Godin might join the line-up? The hosts haven’t officially confirmed his participation yet but he dropped a hint about it on social media a few days ago.”

You get the point, don’t you?

Instead of telling prospects about your anticipation (who cares?), deliver them the news that would spark their reaction.

17. How to follow up publicly the right way

follow-up strategies

Gurus say you should follow up with editors on social media if they don’t reply by email.

I wonder if it doesn’t feel weird to tell someone to go check their inbox in public. Technically, when you tweet to someone or tag them on Facebook, other people will see it.

follow-up tips

Source

Opinion from Alexandra Tachalova – Founder of Digital Olympus (relationship-based link building agency) and Digital Marketing Consultant at AlexTachalova.com.

Connect with Alexandra on LinkedIn & Twitter.

I believe it’s absolutely fine, but as always, the devil is in the detail.

So, the main question is how to deliver this type of follow-up so that a person wouldn’t feel disappointed or even frustrated. The key to success in public follow-ups is to show that you really care about what they do.

The best strategy will be to leave a meaningful comment under this person’s most recent post on social media platforms. In P.S., you could say something like, “I’m still waiting for your reply. When you have a minute, could you please check your inbox?”

And if you do it this way, I’m certain that a person wouldn’t react negatively to your public follow-up.

My two cents. It feels less public to comment on someone’s recent post than tweeting to them directly, thus creating a new post on your thread visible to everyone.

Just imagine how tweeting to dozens of editors would look like.

follow-up tips

Some of them may check out your Twitter thread and come to a few conclusions.

  • It was automated mass outreach, which is a major turnoff.
  • They were not the only ones who ignored your pitch and probably did the right thing if many others did the same.

18. Should you load your follow-up with attachments?

follow-up strategies

Gurus say you should include attachments or links to something interesting in follow-ups.

It will help you engage with your prospects rather than remind them about their forgetfulness.

I wonder if such extras won’t load them up with more work.

I mean, if they find it hard to review a single resource from the original email, what are the odds they’ll want to check out more stuff?

Opinion from Austin Belcak – Founder of Cultivated Culture (where he teaches job seekers how to land jobs without traditional “experience” or connections).

Connect with Austin on LinkedIn & Twitter.

I think it’s all about the message and the copy. If you give them a compelling reason to check out a resource through good copy and good messaging, they’ll click the link or open the attachment.

I definitely think that fewer attachments/links lead to more engagement though. It’s no problem to get people to check out one thing, but each additional resource takes bandwidth away and reduces the engagement in my experience.

Anyway, I don’t think it’d hurt to send. Worst case you end up right where you were before sending it, right?

As for me, I typically aim to try and add value to the other person upfront before making an ask for a link, so I’m probably not going to be sending them more of my stuff. Instead, I’d try to figure out what their goals are and add value to that.

My two cents. I’d personally dare to send only one resource and only if it was somewhat controversial or new to the industry.

Let’s say your prospect often talks about link building. You’re unlikely to impress them with an article about the efficiency of guest posting, producing linkable assets, and doing outreach.

No big deal, they must have seen tons of such articles.

What could get them hooked is a post with a new link building tactic no one talked about before or a study debunking commonly suggested tips.

19. Can your connections help you with follow-ups?

follow-up strategies

Gurus say you should introduce your prospects to a useful business contact.

I wonder if that contact will be obliged to help them somehow.

What if that person turns out useless to them in the end? There’s no way to tell if third parties will be able to agree on something of mutual benefit. Is it necessary to negotiate possible scenarios with both parties before making such intros?

Opinion from Ian Brodie – Writer, Advisor & Coach at IanBrodie.com (resource with client-winning tips and advanced marketing training).

Connect with Ian on LinkedIn & Twitter.

You’d want to see that there would be a possibility of something positive happening between the two of them in the future. But it needn’t be an immediate opportunity.

Online we tend to think very short term in terms of relationships – like immediate JV partners. In the real world where most business is still done, introductions are usually made between people who might potentially be interesting to each other some time in the future. Like an accountant introducing their lawyer friend to a young surveyor who might pass them business over the next 20 years once they get more senior in their firm.

There’s been quite a lot of work in sociology on the power of heterogeneous networks and “weak ties”. In other words, having a wide and varied network is better for you than only having “like minded” contacts who are similar to you and move in similar circles. It means you get access to a much wider range of opportunities because the more diverse network interacts with different people and different situations to you – whereas people who are like you tend to see and get access to the same things as you.

Of course, if there’s something of immediate benefit for both parties, that’s great, but there doesn’t need to be. It just has to be clear to both that there could be some significant benefit downstream.

In terms of making the intros, I would ask permission from both before giving details.

My two cents. This tactic can open up new opportunities for your prospects, and many of them should take the bait.

Still, it’s quite a slippery slope where one wrong move can get you in trouble.

To be on the safe side, don’t make any promises. You’re not the one who’ll have to fulfill them in the end and can’t take responsibility for someone else’s actions. Don’t even drop vague hints that your prospects may misinterpret and later accuse you of foul play.

Ask that “useful contact” in advance which of your prospects they won’t mind dealing with. For example, if they publish guest posts, there’s no way they’ll want to accept them from each and every person on your outreach list.

20. Do you breach follow-up etiquette with social proof?

follow-up strategies

Gurus say you should drop names to add a sense of authority to your follow-ups.

By mentioning well-known companies you partnered with, you’ll prove that you’re not a nobody off the street. You’re someone who could find support from big names in the industry. Your new prospects will see you reliable enough to deal with.

I wonder if it’s ethical to involve third parties for the sake of social proof.

No doubt such mentions are the whole truth and nothing but the truth. To tell you more, I use this trick myself once in a while 🙂 But I’m getting a bit paranoid about what people would say if they found out about it.

Opinion from Dean Yeong

Head of Content at Sumo (free email capture tool).

Connect with Dean on LinkedIn & Twitter.

I think it’s ethical as long as we get permission from the person you want to mention beforehand.

While I can’t speak for others, I’m generally okay (even if the other person didn’t ask).

But it’s better to get permission before name-dropping.

My two cents. I personally don’t mind being mentioned as someone’s friend, partner, or customer without my prior approval.

Except for maybe a few rare cases.

Let’s say I once collaborated with some brand, and everything was perfect. But who knows what the future holds? Things may change there in a while. For example, they may cut the budget for outreach and start sending spammy mass emails, mentioning me for social proof.

Being associated with spammers isn’t cool, I guess.

21. How to follow up with people who repeatedly opened your email

follow-up strategies

Gurus say you need a different follow-up approach to people who reread your pitch many times.

If you see some prospects repeatedly opening your email, it means something’s going on on their end. You can’t treat them the same way you treat folks who read your pitch once and forgot about it.

follow-up tips

I wonder how follow-ups to “openers” should differ from follow-ups to “non-openers.”

Opinion from Gisele Navarro – CEO at NeoMam Studios (content marketing agency that produces linkable & shareable assets).

Connect with Gisele on LinkedIn & Twitter.

When it comes to recipients who are consistently opening my email, I assume they are either discussing internally or trying to figure something out so I try to insert myself into the conversation.

A quick email would suffice, “I forgot to mention that I’ve got X available as well, in case you want to see it: [link to Dropbox folder].” I still send my usual follow-up to these prospects later down the line, unless they reply of course!

I also like to try a different approach from my original email. For example, if I’m promoting the World Beer Index and my initial outreach was about the most expensive countries to drink a beer, then my follow-up will be about where to find the cheapest beer in the world.

I like to follow up no sooner than 4-5 days, and I always send my email on a different day of the week, just to try something else.

My two cents. When people get back to your pitch over and over again, they’re probably trying to identify something. In a short-term follow-up, you can clarify what kind of information they’re missing:

  • if they’re curious about how you collected the data for your research;
  • if they have any ideas of how to make it better;
  • if they have any questions about some specific part of your copy.

22. Should people know you saw them opening your email?

follow-up strategies

Gurus say you should use recipients’ behavioral actions as your follow-up excuse.

If you saw them opening your pitch a few times, you could mention that and ask if their actions might mean they’d be interested in learning more about it.

follow-up tips

Source

I wonder if commenting on what someone did in their private inbox doesn’t feel invasive.

Opinion from Mehdi Hussen – Digital Marketing Manager at SalesHandy (sales engagement platform to scale email outreach).

Connect with Mehdi on LinkedIn & Twitter.

It’s all good if done with the right intention. We ain’t breaching privacy rather trying to understand the recipient’s behavior.

This is handy when you have already built a rapport with your prospect in the initial calls or email. If there is an ongoing discussion, and there isn’t any response coming to your previous email, you can always follow up this way. It will get the recipient to take action faster.

However, it’s not advised if the conversation is new, and the recipient doesn’t know you well.

My two cents. I’m pretty sure a lot of your prospects know that modern technologies make it possible to track email opens and use them too. Still, what they do in their inboxes is none of anyone’s business.

In cold outreach, you never know what kind of person is behind that cheerful avatar.

Someone carefree will probably not read too much into your statement. But tell it to a sensitive person, and they’ll wonder if you have any shame to capitalize on their private actions.

23. How to follow up with editors uninterested in your pitch

follow-up strategies

Gurus say you should add more arguments in favor of your pitch each time you follow up. The fact that editors ignored it means your reasoning wasn’t convincing enough.

I wonder what to do if editors aren’t interested in that specific pitch at all. Following up on the same stuff over and over will get you blacklisted soon.

Opinion from Sarah Archer – Writer & Marketing Manager at SarahAArcher.com and Head of Content Strategy at Kona (a mini culture officer in Slack). 

Connect with Sarah on LinkedIn & Twitter.

If an editor isn’t originally interested, consider how you can pivot the pitch. Can you offer to contribute to their site? Can you turn this into a thought leadership opportunity and offer an interview with your executive team?

Put yourself in their shoes. Determine what their content strategy is, and pitch unique concepts that make their job easier.

Checking out their recent posts and pages that are linked from their homepage or navigation is a start. You can also input their domain into SEMrush or Ahrefs to identify their top-performing posts (either in terms of links or ranking), and reference them in your follow-up email to show that you did your homework.

My two cents. Pitching an alternative idea can improve your chances with editors. But you can’t just stab in the dark. Think about the reasons why they didn’t respond to your original pitch.

  • Are you sure you didn’t overlook something in their editorial guidelines?
  • Did you check if they had the same or very similar topic on their blog?
  • Was your topic too general for their specific audience?
  • What do their previous posts have that yours doesn’t?

Your alternative pitch should be based on learning from mistakes, not guesswork.

24. How to send the last follow-up without burning bridges

follow-up strategies

Gurus say you should send a “breakup email” after a few unsuccessful follow-ups.

This is the kind of follow-up when you ask recipients directly if you should leave them alone. With its help, you’ll identify and remove dead options from your outreach list. Here’s an example:

follow-up tips

Source

I wonder if such an approach won’t close the door for future interactions.

When someone tells you to delete them from their outreach list, that’s what you’ll have to do. You won’t be able to message them again.

But while your pitch is of no interest to some people now, things may change in the future. Your product can get a massive upgrade or you can come up with a better content idea. In the course of time, your authority will also grow, so some of your prospects will be more willing to deal with you later.

The question is, how to send the last follow-up without burning bridges?

Opinion from Forster Perelsztejn – Marketing Manager at Rooftop (email management software to streamline internal communication, customer support, and workflows).

Connect with Forster on LinkedIn & Twitter.

A lot of influencers recommend breaking up with your prospect by asking them if they want you never to contact them again. I don’t think that’s a good strategy.

If they haven’t responded yet, they’re at best neutral towards you. In that regard, asking someone who doesn’t care about you if you should stop contacting them isn’t the best approach because the fear of loss or FOMO is low.

Instead, by asking them what could’ve changed their mind, you’re putting them in a position where they have to think about their objections. And if what you’re offering is relevant enough, you might very well at least get a response.

My two cents. The question about what could change their mind should have a better outcome than the proposal to leave them alone.

Your prospects know more about their needs than you or any other email marketer could ever suggest. They won’t miss an opportunity to take advantage of you if they see it’s possible.

Folks who’ll ignore this question too are probably not open to new partnerships at all. Feel free to leave them alone (until your next campaigns), but don’t say it.

Let this outreach episode end on a cliffhanger.

25. Will bad follow-ups discredit you in public?

follow-up strategies

Gurus never say that your follow-ups can end up on the public wall of shame, e.g. in someone’s social thread.

It usually happens when emails are “one of a kind” or recipients just get tired of never-ending follow-ups. Sometimes, you can also show up in the wrong place and at the wrong time.

follow-up tips

Source

When sharing screenshots of a bad pitch, some people blur out the sender’s name, company, and email address. Others are not that kind and prefer not to bother with blurring.

follow-up tips

Source

I wonder when senders face a higher risk of ending up in public with their personal details.

Opinion from Dan Shure – Owner of Evolving SEO (SEO consulting services that help businesses with traffic, revenue growth, redesigns, site migrations, and more).

Connect with Dan on LinkedIn & Twitter.

As a rule of thumb, I would never make someone’s name, company, or email public when sharing examples of outreach. The point of sharing outreach examples tends to have more to do with using them as an example of what not to do, or what to do, and does not directly have anything to do with who sent it.

The only time I would consider exceptions is if the example being shared doesn’t make sense unless the sender is made known. And in that case, I would make sure to think carefully about how important it is to share, or in extreme cases maybe even ask for permission.

My two cents. People don’t always mean to disclose the sender’s identity, it’s true. But they can overlook a few minor details that will reveal who the sender is, like on the screenshot below.

follow-up tips

Source

While the sender’s name is hidden, you can still find out who that person is by googling one of the posts they listed.

Since Maddy blurred out their name, pic, and email, I believe she didn’t leave that loophole on purpose. She just didn’t bother looking into every possible detail to keep out of view.

The bottom line?

Even with noble intentions, your prospects can make you famous.

Final Word

I’m not against gurus and what they preach. Their follow-up tips probably worked for them and, in all honesty, helped me a lot in my early days.

Still, outreach trends come and go. What was appropriate for someone a while ago may look odd today. It’s easy to try different follow-up tricks but hard as hell to wipe your reputation clean.

When following up with someone, imagine how you would react to your own email. Would you find that joke funny? Okay, how about this – would you find it funny with tons of tasks to complete and the deadline around the corner? I doubt it.

If you have any questions or disagree with something you’ve just read, feel free to tweet to @NickCampbelll.

How to Follow up on an Email (What Gurus Forgot to Mention)

The idea to follow up on an email that got no reply is as old as time. Or at least as the web. I’m not gonna tell you for the billionth time that follow-ups increase response rates. Many gurus and studies have done it for me. I wanna talk about another side to the story, usually unreported. … Continue reading “How to Follow up on an Email (What Gurus Forgot to Mention)”

Read More

.EDU Link Building with Scholarships

There are a lot of link building strategies in the world of search engine optimization. And out of all of them, .EDU link building seems to be shrouded in somewhat of a mystery. Alright, maybe “mystery” is a bit too dramatic of a word, but there certainly are some misconceptions surrounding this technique.

Today, we will be covering scholarship link building, clearing all of those misconceptions out, and give you some advice on how to get the most out of your .EDU link building campaign.

But, first of all, we have to answer a simple question.

What is Scholarship Link Building?

Scholarship link building is the process of acquiring backlinks on .EDU resources, such as colleges, universities, and other institutional establishments. Can you guess how you would secure a link on an educational site? That’s right, by offering scholarships to that school’s students.

It is an awesome way of supporting your local community, and an even better way of improving your brand’s image.

And it’s healthy for your site’s SEO! A lot of search engine optimization agencies proudly advertise their .EDU link building services as if it was a be-all-end-all tactic that will blast your website to the top of Google’s search results within days.

But there seems to be a myth going around the Internet stating that .EDU link building is somehow dead. And this is the very first misconception about this strategy that we would like to discuss.

Does Scholarship Link Building Still Work?

When I was doing my research for this article, I found out that a shocking amount of people are convinced that this tactic simply does not work anymore. So, does it?

Yes, scholarship link building still works. Despite the belief that this tactic is dead, it is perfectly viable to this day. But, as with everything, there is a trick to it, and you need to know what you’re doing in order to see success with this strategy.

Before we move on, let’s take a look at why people would say scholarship link building is dead. And the reason for this is simple: too many businesses have offered too many scholarships to too many schools and didn’t follow-up on their promises too many times. So, when students applied for these scholarships and ended up receiving nothing, that left a bit of a sour aftertaste. As a result, a lot of schools actually stopped receiving scholarships from third-party businesses because of the fear of getting scammed.

But not all of them, and there are still plenty of schools that are completely open to scholarships.

Pros and Cons of Scholarship Link Building

As with everything, there are some downsides to building links using scholarships. But, let’s take a look at the pros first.

Pros:

  • It improves your brand image. Offering scholarships to cover students’ expenses is extremely charitable and generally a good thing to do (even though there is benefit in it for you in the form of improved SEO, but hey, people don’t need to know that).
  • If you run an essay competition for your scholarship, you will get a lot of potential content to publish on your resource, for practically free.
  • It’s great for your local SEO.
  • Depending on your campaign, .EDU links can turn out to be cheaper to build than other links.

Cons:

  • Contrary to a common misconception, .EDU links don’t have extra magical power simply because they’re different from .com sites. They are still viewed as regular resources by search engines.
  • Offering full-on scholarships is expensive.
  • It can take a long time to go through all of your submissions.
  • Sometimes your links will have the NoFollow attributes, and might not count towards your rankings.
  • Scholarships lists can be viewed as link schemes by Google.
  • If done excessively, your site might be flagged as being about scholarships, even if most of your content is on different topics.
  • The traffic will be directed to your Scholarship page, and not your homepage/landing page;
  • Your link will be removed after a scholarship ends.

How Much Does a Campaign Cost? Not so Obvious Fees

The biggest determining factor in this question is how much money are you willing to give out on scholarships. You could offer $5000, or you could offer $500 per scholarship, and end up getting pretty much the same result.

You can expect to land at least 15-30 responses from 200 outreach emails, basically landing you 15-30 backlinks for one scholarship. If you’re offering $500, that sounds more than a fair deal, especially considering that the average price for a backlink built by an agency is about $250.

As you can see, none of the external scholarships on the Colby Community College website exceed $1,500. So, it doesn’t really need to be any more than that.

But the scholarship itself is not the only expense you have to be ready for. What you also should be keeping in mind is:

  • The price of creating a Scholarship page.
  • The price for running an outreach campaign (unless you’re doing it yourself).
  • The price of reviewing all of your scholarship applications (unless you’re doing it yourself again, but be prepared for hundreds upon hundreds of them).

So, in total, you won’t be looking at more than $2000, if you decide to go for the $500 scholarship.

What Is Cheaper – Buying Links or Building Them?

If you look at the average link building prices, a strong link from a decent resource will cost you no less than $250. If out of your 200 outreach emails for your $500 scholarships, only 10 schools accept it, you’re still looking at $200/link.

So the answer to this question is simple: it is much cheaper to build those links yourself than straight up buy them.

Will Educational Links Help You Rank Higher on Google?

Yes. They will. But there are some misconceptions floating around .EDU links actual worth. Some people think that .EDU and .GOV links are more valuable simply because they are governmental. In reality, Google treats all links the same way, regardless of their domain.

But that doesn’t mean that .EDU links are not valuable. In fact, they are often more valuable than regular links, but for a different reason. And that reason is that .EDU websites are usually decades old. We live in a world where anyone can start a website of their own within days, and because of that, there are literally millions of trashy resources around.

With age, .EDU websites have accumulated thousands upon thousands of backlinks themselves and boosted their authority to an extremely high level. And backlinks from high-authority resources are much more valuable than links from tiny blogs that have just started out on the Internet.

Another factor that puts .EDU websites above others is the content they publish. Have you ever seen a university publish an article that’s not supported by any kind of study or research? Exactly. When they post something, they know exactly what they are talking about.

Scholarship Links and Domain Authority (and Other Third-party Metrics)

If you’re reading this article, you probably know your SEO and are aware of what Domain Authority is. For those of you who don’t: Domain Authority (DA) is a metric originally created by Moz to determine the value of a website. Other tools also have their own versions of Domain Authority, with different names.

It is commonly used by SEOs and SEO agencies as the go-to metric to show to their clients because it’s easy to understand. Bigger = better, right? Not so fast.

There is one problem with DA. And that is the fact that it is based only on data that a single tool has access to. And only Google has access to all your data. You can see where I’m going with this.

And even though it is a lot of fun to watch your metrics go up, especially if they have fancy, grand names like Domain Authority, they are not accurately indicative of your actual rankings on Google.

So, a higher Domain Authority does not always mean that your site performs better, gets more traffic, etc.

Are the links DoFollow or NoFollow?

Both. It all depends on the university. Some will place followable links, while other ones will assign it the NoFollow attribute.

In fact, most of your links will be followable. Another common misconception is that NoFollow links don’t help your SEO. That is simply not true.

Now, they might not be as valuable as DoFollow links, but Google knows about all of your links, including NoFollow ones, and it’s very likely the algorithm takes them into consideration as well.

So, don’t worry if some of your links will have the NoFollow attribute. A healthy backlink profile includes both DoFollows and NoFollows, and, at the end of the day, a link is still a link.

How to Get Backlinks from Awesome Colleges?

I already mentioned that too many colleges got scammed by businesses, which lead to a lot of schools changing their stance on accepting external scholarships.

So, most of your link building targets will be smaller, local establishments. That doesn’t mean it’s impossible to get a huge college to link to you, though. You will probably need to look for it.

Lamar University, for example, is completely up for those, and all you have to do to submit yours is to hit a button.

The process is pretty much the same as with smaller schools, with the exception that bigger universities don’t accept outside scholarships as often.

The Step-by-step Process of Scholarship Link Building

So, at this point, we’ve established that, despite a popular belief, scholarship link building is very much alive, and even though .EDU links aren’t magically more powerful than other ones, they still bring a ton of value to your website.

But how do you actually run a scholarship link building campaign? The most common way of going about it is running an essay competition, so let’s imagine you chose this as your method. We’ll discuss some other, more creative ways of doing it later, but for now, let’s focus on the step-by-step process.

As always, you should define your goal for the campaign first.

Why do you want to build .EDU links in the first place? Is it the SEO benefits that you’re after? Perhaps, you’re looking to get a bunch of cheap content to re-purpose on your site? Improve your relationship with the local community?

Prepare your Scholarship page and the legal papers.

In order to submit a scholarship, you’re going to need a Scholarship page for the school to link to. On it, you should clearly describe the requirements in order to apply for your scholarship, and, of course, the amount of money you’re offering.

A scholarship isn’t as simple as sending someone money over PayPal. So, you’re going to need to prepare an official document, reviewed by a lawyer, with all of the finer details laid out in “official speak”. This is especially important, and a lot of schools will not publish your scholarship before they see this document.

Create your prospect list.

Local schools are going to be the bulk of your prospect list, but you can go as far as sending your pitches nation-wide. You can even try foreign establishments, but the closer a school is to your area, and the more relevant your business is to what they teach, the better.

Write your pitch.

I like to say that email templates are evil, and you should never use them, but the reality is you can get away with using an email template for sending out scholarship offers. We’ll include some awesome scholarship email templates further down, but the main things you should keep in mind when writing one are:

  • Are you being clear on who you are and what you’re offering?
  • Do you sound honest?
  • Is your scholarship information easily accessible?

Do your outreach!

Now that you have your prospect list as well as the email ready, it’s time to start sending it out. Still, you should try to customize each email for each school as much as you can. Adding a bit of a personal touch to each of your messages makes you look more human, and that’s exactly what you need.

Once schools start accepting your scholarships, watch out for submissions.

As soon as your scholarships go live on schools’ websites, you’re going to start receiving submissions. Be prepared for a huge influx of submissions as you get closer to the due date.

Reviewing them on your own is going to get tedious fast, so you’re probably going to want to hire someone to do it for you.

Pick your winner(s)!

I’m sure this point needs no further explanation.

Run an extra round of promotion.

Now, you can promote your scholarship before you give it out, or after. The logical thing would be to do it before the due date, so more people see it and have time to apply for it, but there’s only going to be as many winners as you choose to have.

What matters during this round of promotion is that it makes your company look better by helping out students who are struggling financially.

You can do it on social media, on your blog, and even have a chance to get some local press coverage.

Tips for a More Successful Scholarship Link Building Campaign

Offer your scholarships to relevant schools. 

In order to get the most out of your links, you need to ensure relevance between what your business does and what your target school teaches. After all, it makes sense for videography students to submit their best video works to compete for a scholarship, for example.

This influences both the application process and the impact of the link you will be getting from that resource. Relevancy matters a lot, especially in the world of search engine optimization.

Also, if you make students write a bunch of industry-specific essays for you, you will get a whole bunch of content to repurpose on your site.

Target your local schools.

I already mentioned this, but the majority of your prospects should be in the same area as you. Sure, you could offer scholarships to an establishment on the other side of the world, but would it actually help with your local SEO? 

Check your prospect’s websites manually.

Most schools won’t send you an email saying “hey, by the way, your link is live, you should check it out”, so you’ll have to do that on your own to check if they’ve implemented it or not. This isn’t because they are lazy, but rather because their webmasters usually have more than just their website to worry about. 

Don’t send out all your emails at once.

Do it in batches, so you can take note of what works and what doesn’t for your outreach, and improve it on-the-fly. 

Besides, it’s easier to deal with a handful of responses at once than with all of them.

Use a backlink checker to identify prospects faster.

Manually sifting through every university’s website is extremely tedious. So, to speed up the process, you can use any backlink checker. Ahrefs, for example. 

But instead of inbound links, you’re going to be looking for outbound ones to see which schools link to other resources, and are much more likely to be open for scholarships.

Use link building tools to speed up your campaign. 

There are hundreds upon hundreds of link building tools, both free and paid that you can use to quickly filter out prospects, analyze their sites, automate outreach, and perform many more tasks that are tedious to do by hand much faster.

Search Operators for University Emails on Google

A lot of the schools who accept external scholarships actually have a separate email for receiving offers. You should definitely target that one because if you just send your message to one of their regular addresses, you probably won’t get a response.

If you struggle with finding your prospects’ emails, be sure to check out our guide on how to find email addresses more easily.

Here are some search operators for finding university email addresses much more easily.

[linkio_search_operators limit=”5″ keywords=”business,mba,law,communications,medical” options=”any” categories=”24″]

General scholarship pages usually avoid listing scholarships from other businesses. For that, they usually have separate external scholarship pages. Here are some search operators for finding those.

If you know the name of the person whose email you’re looking for, you can also try using a tool like Hunter.io.

Outreach Email Templates

I promised some outreach email templates to speed up your outreach campaign a bit, and here they are. Feel free to grab them for your own use, but make sure to personalize them for each school!

All of these templates are from our own collection of 80+ cold email outreach templates for different link building strategies.

[linkio_email_outreach_templates limit=”10″ templates=”4″ categories=”.EDU Outreach”]

Want to learn how to write outreach email pitches that get approved more?

We’ve got a guide for that as well.

What’s Google’s Take on Scholarship Links?

Google is perfectly fine with scholarship links. What Google isn’t fine with, though, is link schemes. “Low-quality directory or bookmark site links” is one of the categories that fall into the link scheme description.

This isn’t going to be a problem for bigger colleges with high-authority websites, but smaller, lesser-known schools’ scholarship pages can indeed sometimes appear as low-quality directory (or bookmark) sites. 

Back in the day, your site would actually be penalized if you built unnatural links excessively, but you don’t actually have to worry about it anymore. The worst that can happen to your link if Google views your prospects’ site as low-quality is that it would be disregarded by the algorithm.

And while getting your links discarded doesn’t feel good, it’s not nearly as bad as getting a Google penalty.

Speaking of directory link building, it’s not inherently bad either, and we have a list of over 600+ directory submission sites for your directory link building campaign.

Things NOT to Do While Building Scholarship Links

As with all link building strategies, there are some things that you should absolutely avoid, because you could get in serious trouble. Can you guess what the first thing is?

Don’t be like the businesses who are the reason why scholarship link building is considered dead by many. If you’re promising students money, make sure you actually deliver your promise.

Other than that, there are some not-so-obvious things that could have some unpleasant consequences for you and your website.

  • Don’t overdo it. A healthy backlink profile features all types of links, not just .EDU ones. If you get too many links pointing to your Scholarship page, your site will be flagged by Google as being primarily about scholarships, which is not accurate. 
  • Don’t get .EDU links as your first link building campaign. This could actually get you a manual penalty for an unnatural link profile. 
  • Be careful about how you name your scholarship. Avoid using your keywords and anchor texts, because it looks obviously spammy not only to Google but to the universities you’re offering your scholarships to.
  • Don’t offer too many scholarships at once! The more resources you invest in scholarship link building, the less natural your backlink profile will become. It will only keep providing you benefits as part of your link building strategy, not its main focus.

Some Original Scholarship Ideas

I already mentioned essay competitions as one of the most common ways of going about scholarship link building. But it’s far from the only way it can be done.

For example, you could receive submissions in video form. Maybe a little self-presentation and why your scholarship would be important to them? Or who could make the best-looking, most informative, industry-specific video about a niche topic?

But scholarships don’t need to be all formal and serious. If you dig around, you will find tons of scholarships given out for something ridiculous. For example, Duck Brand offers a $10,000 award to whoever can design the best prom costume out of duct tape!

With Halloween coming up, I’m sure you can think of something similar…

Since we’re in the world of IT, maybe a good idea would be to have students design some of their first websites. This would both give them the experience they will desperately need in the future, and give them a chance to win some much-needed cash along the way.

When you’re coming up with scholarship ideas, you have to think of something related to your business. If you run a restaurant, a recipe competition for culinary students would be a perfect idea, for example.

Remember: you make the rules, so if you’re going to go through hundreds of applications, might as well have some fun with it while you’re at it. Don’t limit yourself and the students to obligatory essays that are boring to write and review.

Here are also 10 ideas for getting .EDU links that don’t necessarily involve scholarships.

Conclusion

So, scholarship link building is not dead after all. And if this was your initial thought before you read this article, I hope I managed to change your mind!

As with everything, .EDU link building is only beneficial in moderation. To keep a healthy backlink profile, you need to acquire all types of links, and focusing on only one would do you more harm than good.

.EDU Link Building with Scholarships

There are a lot of link building strategies in the world of search engine optimization. And out of all of them, .EDU link building seems to be shrouded in somewhat of a mystery. Alright, maybe “mystery” is a bit too dramatic of a word, but there certainly are some misconceptions surrounding this technique. Today, we … Continue reading.EDU Link Building with Scholarships”

Read More

How to Find Email Addresses (2K+ Free Credits Inside)​

What’s the easiest way to find someone’s email address? The first thing that usually comes to mind is checking their contact page.

Sounds logical.

This is what that page is for, after all. But what if all it has is a generic email like info@domain.com? Sending messages, especially marketing pitches, there feels like throwing them into a black hole. Unless you offer a six-figure paycheck, of course. 🙂

Then, how about visiting their team page that should reveal more info about employees, including their email addresses?

Makes sense.

But I checked around 1,3K team pages during my last email search, and only 11% of them had employees’ contact details. In 89% of cases, I was out of luck. That’s what you should expect too, give or take.

The good thing is an email search doesn’t end on contact and team pages.

Although people are cagey about any personal info today, it still surfaces here and there on the web. Some companies collect that data into email lists from Facebook groups or pages, blog posts, and many other places to further share it with their customers via email finder tools.

Learn how to find email addresses, both with the help of such tools and other tricks you didn’t think of before. Not only will you improve email deliverability, but also will have more responses in your inbox at the end of the day. 

Free email finders and how to use them

Let’s start with email finders, as they can let you do the job much quicker than a manual search. No web browsing for hours. The whole process comes down to typing in a few words like your prospect’s name or their domain or both.

There’s no shortage of email finding tools on the market for sure. Some require a paid subscription only, while others offer some sort of a freebie:

  • a free plan where email search credits get renewed every month;
  • a trial with a limited amount of free credits given one time only.

Like I said in the title, this post includes only tools providing free credits. In total, you’ll get 2,288 credits at no cost (1,873 per month and 415 for once). 

While email lookup tools work the same way, their feature packs still differ. Imagine how much time it takes to test them all yourself and filter out those that lack necessary functionalities. It’d keep you up late, right?

To save you long hours of testing, I took it upon myself. Below, you can learn about the major features and how they differ in each tool on my list.

1. What options you can set for an email search

In email prospecting, you can find yourself at different stages.

Sometimes, you know your prospect’s full name and employer. Other times, you only have a list of companies to connect with but have no idea whom to contact there.

To get you covered in any circumstances, email finders provide various search options. 

Email search by name and company (or domain)

This option will come in handy when you have a clear idea of who your prospect is and where they work.

To discover their email address, type in both their full name and company (or its domain).

Example of how to find email addresses by name and company from GetProfiles

Email search by company (or domain) only

Do you know the company you want to collaborate with but aren’t sure about the best person to reach out to? 

Then, this option is for you.

Type in your target company’s name (or its domain), and you’ll see all the employees available in the tool’s database, along with their emails and oftentimes job titles.


Example of how to find email addresses by domain from Email Discovery Tool

The cool thing is it usually costs a single credit to check many emails under the same domain.

Email search by name only

With this option, you can find someone’s email address by their first and last names. 

It’s convenient, as you may not always know where your prospect works at the moment. 

For example, you might have found them on the page of 2017. Back then, they represented Apple but could have switched jobs over the last three years. 

It can hardly make any sense to look up emails by their name and the company they worked for a few years ago. That’s why some email finders let you leave out employer details.


Example of how to find email addresses by name from RocketReach

What if your preferred tool lacks such an option? Check your prospect’s current employer on LinkedIn beforehand.

Email search by city, address, and prospect’s other details

To narrow down your search, some email finder tools provide a bunch of extra filters.

Let’s say you are at an early stage of email prospecting. You still wonder what companies to contact but have a clear understanding of their location, industry, size, revenue, and stuff like that. 

By mentioning any of these search criteria, you’ll get more relevant results.


Example of extra email search options from LeadMine

Here are 30 email finders compared by their search criteria and filters.

Email FinderSearch by
name + domain
Search by
domain
Search by
name
Search by
other prospect details
Hunteremail type;
department
RocketReachlocation;
phone number;
job title;
education (major, school, degree);
employer (current / past);
revenue;
employee count;
industry;
SIC / NAICS codes;
keywords
Clearbit Connectjob title;
role;
seniority level
Snovioemail type (ext. only)
Lusha
ContactOutlocation;
job title;
skills;
years of work experience;
education (school, degree);
industry
Skrapplocation;
job title
Adaptlocation;
job title;
department;
seniority level;
industry;
employee count;
revenue
GetEmail.io
SalesQL
Prophet II Turbolocation;
job title;
skills;
social profiles (checkboxes only);
exclusions
SignalHirelocation;
job title (current / past);
employer (current / past);
years of work experience;
industry;
keywords
FindThatLeademail type
GetProspect⛔ (bulk only)location;
job title, industry;
employee count
Apollolocation;
phone number;
job title;
department;
seniority level;
industry;
employee count;
revenue;
funding;
technologies;
job postings;
Alexa Rank;
foundation date;
supported languages;
keywords
Find That Email
LeadGibbon⛔ (bulk only)location;
job title;
department;
seniority level;
industry;
employee count;
revenue;
SIC / NAICS codes
AeroLeads⛔ (bulk only)⛔ (instead, check company’s other valid emails)
Kendo Email Applocation;
job title
VoilaNorbert
Finder.Expert✔ (for generic emails only)
FindEmailslocation;
job title
LeadMinelocation;
job title;
department;
seniority level;
industry;
employee count;
revenue;
exclude (country, company name)
ColdCRMlocation;
role;
social profile URL (additional, not standalone) keywords
Email Discovery Tooldepartment
GetProfiles(ext. only) location;
job title;
industry
SellHack✔ (ext. also)social profile URL (additional, not standalone)
Anymail Finderjob title
Slik
MailDBemail type

2. Install Chrome extensions to find email addresses outside the apps

In the first place, email search tools are available as web apps but many of them also come packed with extensions, mostly for Chrome. 

With their help, you won’t have to switch between your app interface and other open tabs all the time. 

Just click the extension icon in your browser to discover emails from wherever you are. It can be your prospect’s site, social profile, or even Google search results.

Kudos to someone who’s come up with such a clever idea and others who’ve shamelessly replicated it! 

Kudos aside, email finder extensions can expand your search with a few more options. Here they are.  

Social media email search

It’s perfect for those of you who want to find someone’s email on LinkedIn, Facebook, or Twitter. 

When you enter your prospect’s social profile, click the extension icon and wait a few secs for their address to show up.


Example of how to find someone’s email on LinkedIn from Slik


Example of how to find someone’s email on Facebook from SignalHire


Example of how to find someone’s email on Twitter from Prophet II Turbo

Besides extensions, this option is sometimes built right into email finder apps. To perform a search, copy and paste someone’s social URL into the app dashboard.


Example of how to find emails by social URL from FindThatLead

There are some Chrome extensions, such as LeadDelta, that can help you organize your existing Linkedin contacts by bringing them all into a single-view table (CRM).

Besides useful options like tagging, filtering, and sending personalized messages, it also allows you to auto-unlock and export your connections’ information such as email, phone, industry, and more.

On-site email search

Ever found yourself on a website showing high potential and got curious about their contact person?

No need to start a new search for that.

On click, you’ll find email addresses from websites straight away, while you’re on them.


Example of how to find all email addresses on a website from Adapt

Google email search

Your prospects are people involved in your field in one way or another. Logically, content on their sites should match your strategic search queries.

This option can make your email prospecting on Google easier. 

When you check sites ranking for your queries, it lets you extract their emails from Google search along the way.


Example of how to find email addresses on Google from Snovio

Feel free to compare email finder extensions by their search options and popularity.

Email FinderSearch on
social media
Search on
websites
Search on
Google
Browsers supportedRating (out of 5)Number of users
HunterChrome
Firefox
4.7 (12,243 users rated)400,000+
RocketReachLinkedin
(app also – LinkedIn, Twitter)
✔ (if you google a name only)Chrome4.3 (324 users rated)300,000+
Clearbit ConnectChrome4.4 (1,349 users rated)100,000+
SnovioLinkedin;
Twitter
(app also – LinkedIn, Twitter)
Chrome4.9 (4,102 users rated)200,000+
LushaLinkedinChrome
Firefox (unavailable from Firefox Add-ons)
Edge
4.7 (1,871 users rated)200,000+
ContactOutLinkedinChrome4.3 (651 users rated)100,000+
SkrappLinkedinChrome4.3 (548 users rated)100,000+
AdaptLinkedinChrome4.7 (2,567 users rated)70,000+
GetEmail.ioLinkedinChrome4.6 (2,457 users rated)50,000+
SalesQLLinkedinChrome4.9 (1,037 users rated)80,000+
Prophet II TurboFacebook;
Twitter
Chrome3.7 (258 users rated)30,000+
SignalHireLinkedIn;
Facebook
Chrome
Firefox
4.5 (127 users rated)40,000+
FindThatLeadLinkedin
(app also – LinkedIn, Twitter)
Chrome4.4 (191 users rated)20,000+
GetProspectLinkedinChrome4.8 (307 users rated)30,000+
ApolloLinkedinChrome4.8 (45 users rated)40,000+
Find That EmailLinkedin;
Facebook
Chrome4.5 (1,829 users rated)10,000+
LeadGibbonLinkedinChrome3.4 (43 users rated)10,000+
AeroLeadsLinkedinChrome4.7 (160 users rated)10,000+
Kendo Email AppLinkedin
(app also – LinkedIn, Instagram)
Chrome4.9 (687 users rated)20,000+
VoilaNorbert✔ (you also need to type in the name manually)Chrome4.5 (15 users rated)7,000+
Finder.ExpertLinkedinChrome5 (2 users rated)3,000+
FindEmailsChrome3 (4 users rated)1,000+
LeadMineChrome4 (4 users rated)1,000+
ColdCRMLinkedinChrome5 (2 users rated)2,000+
Email Discovery ToolChrome5 (3 users rated)under 100
GetProfilesLinkedinChromeunder 50
SellHack✔ (you need to enter the name and domain manually)Chrome
(unavailable from Chrome Store)
Anymail Finder
SlikLinkedinChrome4.1 (9 users rated)1,000+
MailDB

3. What types of email addresses you can find

Generally, all you need is your prospect’s business email. But there are cases when things turn out more complicated than they seem to be. 

That’s why such tools let you search for different types of email addresses. 

Personal email search

Personal email addresses aren’t tied to company domains. Instead, they come from Gmail, Yahoo, and other free webmail providers.


Example of how to find personal email addresses from ContactOut

Wonder why you may need to find someone’s personal email? 

Imagine that your prospect quit their job at the company where you found them but didn’t indicate that on LinkedIn. 

Not sure about you but I can’t think of any other way to learn about their job change. 

If you search for their email address by name and domain, your tool will return you their old business email that’s already inactive. Even if it’s not yet, you can hardly expect a reply from there. 

While business emails come and go, personal addresses remain with us regardless of our employers.

Does it mean you should contact your prospects via their personal emails only? 

Definitely not. 

But every time no one opens your message from their business address, try to resend it to the personal one.

Business email search 

Business email addresses are tied to domains that your prospects use on behalf of their companies. 

They should be your top priority except for the force majeure cases when there’s no info about someone’s current employment.


Example of how to find business email addresses from VoilaNorbert

Generic email search 

Generic email addresses are tied to company domains, but not to someone specific on the team (contact@domain.com, info@domain.com). 

Such addresses are also called “role-based,” as they often indicate departments (marketing@domain.com, sales@domain.com, support@domain.com).


Example of how to find generic email addresses from Finder.Expert

Note that you should turn to them only as a last resort when you can’t find business email addresses. But life is pain, and I have to admit that you’ll have no other choice at times. 

Learn what types of email addresses each tool on my list can help you find. 

Email FinderPersonal emailsBusiness emailsGeneric emails
Hunter
RocketReach
Clearbit Connect
Snovio
Lusha
ContactOut
Skrapp
Adapt
GetEmail.io
SalesQL
Prophet II Turbo
SignalHire
FindThatLead
GetProspect
Apollo
Find That Email
LeadGibbon
AeroLeads
Kendo Email App
VoilaNorbert✔ (in the company profile only)
Finder.Expert
FindEmails
LeadMine
ColdCRM
Email Discovery Tool
GetProfiles
SellHack
Anymail Finder
Slik
MailDB

4. Use a company email format finder in case the data is missing 

Email lookup tools aren’t magic wands, and they won’t provide the data in 100% of your requests. That’s especially common to new hires, as their addresses don’t appear in the tool database overnight. 

What can help you figure them out is an email format finder. It will show you the most common email format used at your target company.


Example of how to find a company email address format from LeadGibbon

Then, you can manually check if your prospect has an email formatted that way too. 

Enter it into your mailbox address field to see if there appears a pic on hover. If it does, someone must have added it, so that email should be in use.

Note that some tools reveal email formats in company directories. As a rule, you can access them from the footer.

Unfortunately, such a feature isn’t available in too many tools on my list. 

Email FinderCompany email format finder
Hunter
RocketReach
Clearbit Connect
Snovio
Lusha
ContactOut
Skrapp
Adapt
GetEmail.io
SalesQL
Prophet II Turbo
SignalHire
FindThatLead
GetProspect
Apollo
Find That Email
LeadGibbon
AeroLeads
Kendo Email App
VoilaNorbert
Finder.Expert
FindEmails✔ (in bulk only)
LeadMine
ColdCRM
Email Discovery Tool
GetProfiles⛔ (instead, you can check other email formats used at the company)
SellHack
Anymail Finder
Slik
MailDB

5. Check the data accuracy with email verifiers

Using email finders is no doubt the quickest way to find contact details but you can’t blindly trust everything they show.

Their owners don’t even conceal the fact that they can’t guarantee 100% email accuracy.

What they can do is send some tell-tale signs your way.

Email confidence score 

The first metric to check email accuracy is a confidence score calculated in percent. It shows how reliable an email address is according to their estimates and checks.

Here’s how you can interpret the different scores you see.

  • High means an email address is deliverable.
  • Average means an email address is risky.
  • Low means an email address is undeliverable.


Example of an email’s confidence score from FindEmails

Email verification status 

Another way to find out if an email address is valid is to check its verification status. It appears next to or instead of a confidence score, depending on the tool you use.

When verifying email addresses, you’ll come across a few statuses.

  • Valid means an email address passed all their checks and is deliverable.
  • Catch-all (or accept-all) means an address is tied to one of those domains that accept all emails, whether you send them to name.surname@domain.com or blahblahblah@domain.com. That’s why it’s impossible to check email validity in such cases.
  • Invalid means an email address failed to pass at least one check and is undeliverable.


Example of email verification statuses from Skrapp

Email verification process

To verify if an email exists, the system gives it multiple checks. 

While each tool has its own verification algorithm, they commonly focus on the following aspects. 

  • Domain Type. The system makes sure an email isn’t tied to one of those domains used for disposable addresses.
  • Server Status. The system verifies MX records on your target domain and the possibility to connect to its SMTP server. 
  • Email Format. The system checks email syntax, whether it’s valid (name.surname@domain.com) or looks like mumbo jumbo (1e99cs3bp7@domain.com).
  • Email Status. The system tests whether an email can bounce and checks if the server has a catch-all policy. 


Example of email validity checks from Hunter

Standalone email verifiers

When you perform an email search, you’ll see its verification status right in your email finder dashboard. 

But things don’t end there.  

Some tools also provide standalone email verifiers. They’ll come in handy if you’ve already found contact details elsewhere and want to double-check them for validity.

Enter any email address you have, and the tool will verify if it’s deliverable.


Example of a standalone email verifier from SellHack

Email address sources 

Email lookup tools boast of having millions to billions of contacts in their indexes. But where does that data come from?

Unless an email is their best guess, they should have found it somewhere. 

To prove their data reliability, some tools back it up with sources. These are URLs of pages where they discovered people’s contact details.

At least, you can rest assured that their suggestions aren’t taken out of nowhere.

To find the source of an email address, you don’t need to perform any specific search. If your tool has such data, it’ll appear next to emails.


Example of email address sources from MailDB

User rates

Wanna do a good deed and earn a few karma points?

Some tools involve their users in email verification, so this is your chance. They provide an option allowing you to rate their suggestions.  

If an email identified as valid bounced for you, feel free to report such a failure by downvoting it.


Example of how to rate email accuracy from Lusha

Here’s how the tools on my list differ in everything related to email verification. 

Email FinderConfidence scoreEmail verification statusesStandalone email verifierEmail sourcesUser rates
Huntervalid;
accept-all;
invalid
RocketReachgreen (verified);
yellow (most likely valid, but it’s impossible to verify);
red (bad and should not be used)
Clearbit Connect⛔ (all emails are reportedly accurate)
Snoviovalid (correct and exists);
unverifiable (accept-all);
invalid (non-existent or not active)
Lusha⛔ (coming soon)
ContactOut⛔ (all emails are reportedly 97% accurate)
Skrappverified;
catch-all
Adapt⛔ (99% accuracy on contacts validated every fortnight)
GetEmail.iogood;
bad
SalesQL
Prophet II Turbo✔ (ext. only)
SignalHire⛔ (all emails are reportedly verified in real time)
FindThatLeadgreen (correct – found and fully verified);
purple (web email – found and fully verified);
light green (high probability guess – found but partially verified);
orange (guess – found but cannot be verified due to the mail server);
red (not found – hasn’t been found yet or is incorrect);
gray (no data available yet)
GetProspectverified (95% accuracy) unverified (80% accuracy)⛔ (they redirect to a different service with its own pricing)
Apollo⛔ (you can use it as an additional search filter only)verified (fully confirmed and valid);
pending manual verification (it takes 24-48 hours);
guessed (unable to fully verify but found multiple sources);
bounced (no longer exists);
no email (unable to verify or guess with high confidence)
Find That Emailvalid (verified);
invalid (unverified);
risky (catch-all but has at least one source);
catch-all;
unknown (non-existent mail server or no response);
not found
LeadGibbonvalid;
accept-all
AeroLeadsconfirmed;
accept-all;
not confirmed
Kendo Email Appvalid;
unverifiable (catch-all – 85% confidence);
invalid;
questionable (wasn’t verified in the last 120 days – 65% confidence)
VoilaNorbertgreen (passed all checks and is valid);
yellow (passed some checks);
red (found but cannot be verified)
Finder.Expertverified;
not found
⛔ (they redirect to a different service with its own pricing)
FindEmailsdeliverable;
not deliverable
LeadMinevalid;
invalid
⛔ (the number of sources only, without URLs)
ColdCRMvalid;
extravalid (catch-all);
predicted
Email Discovery Toolvalid;
catch-all
GetProfilesvalid;
best match;
catch-all;
unknown;
invalid
SellHackverified;
accept-all;
unknown
Anymail Finderverified;
not verified;
not found
Slikverified;
catchall
MailDBdeliverable;
risky;
undeliverable;
unknown

6. What else you can learn about your email prospects 

Email prospecting goes far beyond a search for contact details. 

You do need to find people’s email addresses to get in touch with them. But at the same time, it won’t hurt to dig deeper into their backgrounds and figure out a better approach to them.

For that reason, many email finders reveal people’s full or at least partial profiles. It’s quite convenient to explore additional details about them along with their emails, all in one place. 

You can check anything from their personal data like social accounts, work experience, and skills to company information like size, HQ locations, and even phone numbers. 

I don’t advise that you contact people by phone, though. 

Let’s face it, the reputation of cold emails is anything but good. And what can be worse than sending cold emails is only making cold calls.


Example of an email prospect profile from GetProspect

Below, you can check what these tools include in their email prospect profiles.

Email FinderEmail prospect profile
Hunterjob title;
department;
social profiles (LinkedIn, Twitter);
phone number
RocketReachlocation;
job title;
skills;
education;
work experience;
social profiles;
phone number;
company (foundation date, location, industry, size, revenue, SIC code, phone number, web visits)
Clearbit Connectlocation;
job title;
social profiles
Snoviolocation;
job title (current / previous);
industry;
social profiles (LinkedIn, Twitter)
Lushajob title;
department;
seniority level;
phone number;
social profiles (LinkedIn);
company (about, foundation date, HQ location, industry, size, social profiles)
ContactOutlocation;
job title;
industry;
skills;
education;
work experience;
social profiles (LinkedIn);
phone number
Skrapplocation;
job title;
company (foundation date, HQ location, industry, size, LinkedIn page)
Adaptlocation;
job title;
phone number
GetEmail.iolocation;
job title;
industry;
connection;
social profiles (LinkedIn, Twitter)
SalesQLlocation;
job title (current, past);
industry;
skills;
education;
social profiles (LinkedIn);
phone number;
company (foundation date, location, industry, size, LinkedIn profile)
Prophet II Turbolocation;
job title;
skills;
work experience;
social profiles
SignalHirelocation;
job title;
skills;
education;
work experience;
languages;
certifications;
publications;
social profiles
FindThatLeadjob title;
company (social profiles, related domains)
GetProspectlocation;
job title;
social profiles (LinkedIn);
company (about, HQ location, industry, size)
Apollojob title;
social profiles (LinkedIn);
phone number;
company (about, HQ location, industry, size, revenue, language, social profiles, Alexa ranking, keywords)
Find That Emailjob title (ext. only)
LeadGibbonjob title;
department;
seniority level;
phone numbers (mobile, office);
social profiles (LinkedIn);
company (location, industry, size, revenue, SIC / NAICS codes, phone number)
AeroLeadslocation;
job title;
phone number;
social profiles (LinkedIn)
Kendo Email Appjob title;
department;
social profiles (Linkedin, Google+);
company (about, industry, revenue, social URLs, phone number)
VoilaNorbertlocation;
job title;
social profiles;
company (location, other employees, social profiles, phone number)
Finder.Expertlocation;
job title;
skills;
work experience;
social profiles
FindEmailsjob title
LeadMinelocation;
job title;
phone number
ColdCRMjob title;
social profiles (LinkedIn);
phone number
Email Discovery Tooljob title;
social profiles (LinkedIn)
GetProfilesjob title;
social profiles (LinkedIn);
company (about, foundation date, location, industry, size, revenue, LinkedIn profile, phone number)
SellHacklocation;
job title;
social profiles (LinkedIn);
company (foundation date, location, industry, size, phone number)
Anymail Finderjob title;
social profiles (LinkedIn)
Slikjob title;
social profiles (LinkedIn);
company (location, size)
MailDBjob title

7. Speed things up with bulk email finders

It doesn’t take long to check email addresses when you have a dozen prospects or so. 

But we don’t run such small outreach campaigns as a rule, do we? If we did, how many responses would we get?

Guys from Mangools consider a 16% response rate to be a good result, and they’re absolutely right. With a dozen prospects, we could expect 1-2 responses. 

Next to nothing…

With hundreds of prospects on the list, imagine how much time it drains to perform an individual email search for everyone.

To put an end to this time-wasting, such tools provide a bulk email finder. 

Using this feature, you can upload many email requests in one go and then export results with a single click. 

An hour’s work comes down to minutes.


Example of how to find emails in bulk from ColdCRM

Email address verification can go in bulk too.

Did you get hundreds of addresses from God knows where? Use bulk email verifiers to check them all for validity in one go.


Example of how to verify email addresses in bulk from Find That Email

Learn what kind of email searches each tool lets you perform in bulk.

Email FinderBulk email finderEmail export formats
Huntersearch by name + domain;
search by domain;
email verifier
CSV
RocketReachsearch by name + domain;
search on social media (LinkedIn)
CSV
Clearbit Connect⛔ (for individual searches)
Snoviosearch by name + domain;
search by domain;
search on social media (LinkedIn, Twitter);
email verifier
CSV;
XLSX;
Google Sheets
LushaCSV (for individual searches)
ContactOutCSV (for individual searches)
Skrappsearch by name + domainCSV;
XLSX
Adaptsearch on social media (LinkedIn)CSV
GetEmail.iosearch by name + domain;
email verifier
CSV;
XLSX
SalesQLsearch on social media (LinkedIn)CSV;
XLSX
Prophet II TurboCSV;
XLSX (for individual searches)
SignalHiresearch on social media (LinkedIn)CSV;
Google Sheets;
PDF (for an individual prospect profile)
FindThatLeadsearch by name + domain;
search by domain;
search on social media (LinkedIn, Twitter);
email verifier
CSV
GetProspectsearch by name + domain;
search on social media (LinkedIn – ext)
XLSX
Apollosearch by name + domainCSV
Find That Emailsearch by name + domain;
email verifier
CSV
LeadGibbonsearch by name + domainCSV
AeroLeadssearch by name + domainCSV
Kendo Email Appsearch on social media (LinkedIn);
email verifier
CSV;
XLSX;
JSON
VoilaNorbertsearch by name + domain;
email verifier
CSV
Finder.Expertsearch by name + domain;
search by domain
CSV
FindEmailssearch by name + domain;
search by domain;
email verifier;
email format search
CSV
LeadMinesearch by name + domainCSV
ColdCRMsearch by name + domain;
search on social media (LinkedIn, Facebook)
CSV;
XLSX
Email Discovery Toolemail verifierCSV
GetProfilessearch by name + domain;
email verifier
CSV
SellHacksearch by name + domain;
email verifier
CSV
Anymail Findersearch by name + domain;
search by domain
CSV
SlikCSV (for individual searches)
MailDBemail verifierCSV (for bulk email verification only)

8. Request the data via an email lookup API

Good news for those of you who want to find people’s emails programmatically. 

Most of the tools reviewed here provide an email lookup API. With its help, you can integrate their functionalities into your website, app, or CRM and send email requests through API calls. 

Email FinderEmail lookup API
Hunter
RocketReach
Clearbit Connect
Snovio
Lusha
ContactOut
Skrapp
Adapt
GetEmail.io
SalesQL
Prophet II Turbo
SignalHire
FindThatLead
GetProspect
Apollo
Find That Email
LeadGibbon
AeroLeads
Kendo Email App
VoilaNorbert
Finder.Expert
FindEmails
LeadMine
ColdCRM
Email Discovery Tool
GetProfiles
SellHack
Anymail Finder
Slik
MailDB

9. How much it’ll cost you to find email addresses 

Here comes the part that will determine your choice of an email finder like nothing else. 

Pricing… 

All the tools on my list let you search for emails for free to a certain degree. But still, if you have a crush on one of them and need more credits, you can subscribe to its premium package. 

I compared their monthly prices for the cheapest plan along with the number of email credits available there. That’s what a price per lookup is based on.

Email FinderStarting price
(per month, billed monthly)
Price per lookup
(for the cheapest plan)
Number of free creditsEmail required for registration
Hunter

$49 for 1,5K credits:
500 credits for search;
1K credits for verification

$0.10 for search;
$0.05 for verification
25 (per month) for search;
50 (per month) for verification
personal;
business
RocketReach$59 for 125 credits$0.473 (per month)personal;
business
Clearbit Connect100 (per month);
invite friends to earn more credits
personal;
business
Snovio$39 for 1K credits$0.0450 (per month)personal;
business
Lusha$79 for 100 credits$0.795 (per month)business only
ContactOutundisclosedundisclosed100 (one-off)business only
Skrapp$49 for 1K credits$0.05150 (per month)personal;
business;
LinkedIn
Adapt$49 for 500 credits$0.10100 (one-off) for the extension onlypersonal;
business
GetEmail.io$49 for 300 credits$0.1610 (per month)personal;
business
SalesQL$39 for 1,5K credits$0.03100 (per month)business only
Prophet II Turbo$25 for 2,4K credits or 80 (per day)$0.01600 (per month) or 20 (per day)personal;
business
SignalHire$49 for 350 credits$0.145 (per month)personal;
business;
LinkedIn
FindThatLead$49 for 5K credits$0.0150 (per month)business only
GetProspect$49 for 1K credits$0.05100 (per month)business only
Apollo$49 for 200 credits$0.2650 (per month)personal;
business
Find That Email$29 for 1K credits:
250 credits for search;
750 credits for verification
$0.04 for search;
$0.12 for verification
50 (per month) for search;
100 (per month) for verification
business only;
LinkedIn
LeadGibbon$49 for 1K credits$0.055 (one-off);
email format finder is completely free
business only
AeroLeads$49 for 1K credits$0.0510 (one-off)business only
Kendo Email App$14 for 600 credits$0.0250 (per month)personal;
business
VoilaNorbert$49 for 1K credits$0.0550 (one-off)personal;
business
Finder.Expert$39 for 5K credits$0.01300 (per month)personal;
business
FindEmails$29 for 1K credits$0.0310 (one-off)personal;
business
LeadMine$29 for 100 credits$0.2910 (per month)business only
ColdCRM$99 (unlimited credits)50 (one-off)business only
Email Discovery Tool$9.9 (unlimited credits)150 (per month) or 5 (per day)personal;
business
GetProfiles$10 for 250 credits$0.04100 (per month)personal;
business
SellHack$5 for 100 credits$0.0510 (per month)personal;
business
Anymail Finder$49 for 1K credits$0.0590 (one-off):
20 at once;
70 after watching their videos
personal;
business
Slik$49 for 750 credits$0.0720 (per month)personal;
business
MailDB$9 for 1K credits$0.0110 (per month)personal;
business

Note that some free email finders won’t let you in with your personal Gmail or Yahoo address. To sign up, you’ll need to use a business, domain-based email only. 

They had to set such a barrier due to long-term abuse of their free packages. Sounds kinda fair, doesn’t it?

How to find email addresses yourself, without lookup tools

Email address finders are mighty, but they are by far not almighty. 

People can hide their contact details so good that no email crawler will ever see a trace of them.

You can also run out of credits before you reach the bottom of your prospecting list. Can you wait for the end of the month, when your credits get renewed? I doubt it. 

Here are a few ways to find email addresses without lookup tools.

1. Find emails in source code 

When your email hunt is on, the first place to go should be your prospect’s site. But as I said earlier, contact and team pages don’t always reveal email addresses.

If your prospect is an author of some blog post, scroll down to its bio section.

Nothing?  

Try to hover your mouse over their name or any other snippet that’s hyperlinked. Sometimes, email addresses appear in bios but you can’t see them with the naked eye.

Still nothing?

Then, you need to dig deeper into code. The question of how to find an email address in source code usually throws people into a panic. No worries, it’s easy even for non-techies like me. 

Right-click somewhere on the page and select “View page source.”

Before you feel dizzy with what you see, click CTRL + F and type in mailto: or @domain.com. If there’s an email hidden in the page code, you should see it this way.

2. Find emails from websites via subscription 

This trick isn’t for people fed up with too many promos coming their way. ‘Cause there’ll be even more… 

Many newsletters come from people’s business emails rather than generic addresses. No matter if it’s an individual blog or corporate site. So, I suggest that you subscribe to your prospect’s mailing list.

No luck? 

Then, respond to a generic address like newsletter@domain.com, and you may hear back from a business email of someone on the team.

If you target a company offering a free product trial, sign up for it. Nine times out of ten, you’ll get a message from their head of marketing or sales rep.

With this trick, the number of promos will grow in your inbox but better focus on the bright side. Your response rates will grow too. 

In business, people are more willing to reply to their leads rather than strangers who don’t give a damn about their products. 

3. Guess email addresses based on common formats

Every time your tool returns nothing, you can try to guess an email address yourself.

Business emails are commonly based on formats that include your prospect’s domain and variations of their first and/or last names.

Here are the most popular email formats according to Hunter’s analysis of 12 million addresses.

Substitute your prospect’s details for the default values, as shown in the Example column, to come up with their possible emails. One of them should be valid.

To identify it, copy and paste them all into your Gmail address field. The one that shows a name or pic on hover should exist.

You can also check them one by one in Google using an exact-match search operator.

Unfortunately, it takes a while to create a lot of possible email addresses manually. With Email Permutator, you can skip such a monkey job. 

Enter your prospect’s full name and domain, and it’ll generate many email variations automatically.

Example of business email address formats from Email Permutator

Next, you’ll need to check if they’re valid, though. 

If you don’t even want to bother with that, install Name2Email in Chrome. This is a completely free email lookup extension.  

It’ll generate possible emails right in your Gmail address field and highlight the valid one in green.

Example of company email address formats from Name2Email

4. Search Google for email addresses using advanced operators 

Email finders mostly collect their data from the public web. That’s what you can do too.

To search for an email address on Google, use its advanced operators. Here are examples of how to use them specifically for an email search.

  • [name] + email 
  • [name] + email address
  • [name] + contact
  • [name] + contact info
  • [name] + contact me
  • site:domain.com + [name] + email
  • site:domain.com + [name] + email address
  • site:domain.com + [name] + contact
  • site:domain.com + [name] + contact info
  • site:domain.com + [name] + contact me

Should there be anything out in public, Google will bring it to the surface.

5. Run a Twitter email search

In moments of desperation, when emails don’t show up anywhere, people request them on Twitter. 

Go check if someone has asked such an awkward question for you and received the answer you need.

Here’s how. 

Enter Twitter’s advanced search, add “email” or “contact” to the Words section and your prospect’s user name to the Accounts section.

People often try to hide their contact details from email crawlers. Instead of name@domain.com, they can share their addresses this way: name at domain dot com.

So, you can also specify “at” or “dot” in your search. 

6. Perform a WHOIS email search when targeting website owners

WHOIS is a free service providing basic info about any domain, including its physical address and contact details.

Emails available there mostly belong to company owners. So, if your outreach request is meant for corporate blog editors, the service will be of no use to you.

Don’t bother CEOs, especially of bigger companies, with link requests. Most of the time, they have more important issues to handle. 

Note that a WHOIS email lookup won’t always work for you. Some businesses share generic addresses there, while others hide them from public view.

7. How to ask for email addresses yourself 

Tried all the tricks but still nothing? Unless your prospects live in a cave, there’s no way they don’t have an email. 

You only have one option left… Ask yourself.

I know what you think: how can I ask someone for contact details when I’ve no idea how to contact them?

First, reach out to a generic email like info@domain.com or use their contact form.

Don’t disclose your offer right there. Simply ask about the best person to discuss it and how to get in touch with them.

As an alternative, you can request your prospect’s email on Twitter. 

Better tag them with your question rather than send a private message. Speaking from experience, there’s usually so much spam in the Twitter inbox at the end of the day. Your request can easily get lost in it.

Final Word

Now that you know how to find email addresses, I hope for some responsibility on your part. Imagine that you and thousands of others sign up for email finders and spam the hell out of the same people. 

The outcome?

Those people will insist that their contact details are deleted from email databases in no time. Please, don’t provoke them to go underground. It’ll end badly for all of us. 

If you need some help with your outreach pitches, follow this detailed guide.

I can hardly imagine you couldn’t find someone’s email with so many tools and tricks. But still, if you couldn’t, let me know. I’ll try to figure out how to handle your specific case.

How to Find Email Addresses (2K+ Free Credits Inside)​

What’s the easiest way to find someone’s email address? The first thing that usually comes to mind is checking their contact page. Sounds logical. This is what that page is for, after all. But what if all it has is a generic email like info@domain.com? Sending messages, especially marketing pitches, there feels like throwing them into a … Continue reading “How to Find Email Addresses (2K+ Free Credits Inside)​”

Read More

How To Write an Email Outreach Pitch That Gets Approved

Let me read your mind about the last outreach email you wrote and sent.

You found some template in Google, made a few quick edits, sent your pitch to many recipients, and ended up with results as if you did no outreach at all. If you’re not your own boss, you must have felt ashamed to report such a “progress” to your manager.

How do I know?

Mind-reading is not my thing. It’s just what happens to many outreachers, basically for two reasons:

  • their content sucks;
  • their outreach email sucks.

If your content takes you down, check out this guide.

If the problem is your message, read on.

For years, I’ve received tons of email pitches made wrong and, truth be told, sent no better pitches myself. No friendly tone, no decent personalization, no emphasis on the value for recipients…

I bet that’s exactly what you’re missing too.

Let me guide you on how to write an outreach email pitch with all the key points in mind. At the end of the day, you should get closer to your prospects and further away from their spam folders.

But before I start talking about how to write an email outreach pitch, I want you to promise one thing – you will not send spam emails to anyone no matter how tempting it might be.

Yeah, you probably nod your head and say you’re not sending spam emails, but in practice, you still do so. Remember when you last opened a spammy email? What did it feel like? What did you do right after?

Don’t make others feel the same way!

OK, now let’s get back to the guide on how to write a great outreach email.

How to write email subject lines that get opened

The first roadblock on your way to a successful email marketing campaign is your subject line.

Day by day, bloggers get their inboxes filled with outreach emails of any kind – newsletters, guest post offers, interview requests, and a lot of spam that doesn’t always make its way to the corresponding folder. No one physically can read them all.

If your subject line gets lost among others, your pitch will remain unopened.

Check out the best practices for email subject lines. I included those that helped me increase the open rates of my letters.

Cut your email subject line length

Problem. Long email subject lines get truncated in inboxes, especially when people check them on smartphones. And we’re all on the go today, aren’t we?

Solution. Minimize your email subject length so that it could fit on the screen of any size. It’ll improve your open rates on mobile devices.

Being a foreword, your subject shouldn’t reveal everything you have to say. Just drop a hint of what your message is about or how it’s related to your outreach prospects.

Note. Don’t take my words too literally. Yes, your subject line should be short, but not so short that it doesn’t convey the main idea of your email pitch.

Let’s take the “about SEO” subject, for example. Are they going to hire me as an SEO for their project? Do they want to discuss some SEO news like the latest Google algorithm update? Have they noticed any SEO issues on my blog?

Forcing people to make such guesses is nothing but bad manners.

Avoid capitalization in email subject lines

Problem. A lot of personal outreach emails remain unnoticed because they look like automated newsletters.

We all know the rule to use capital letters in post titles. By analogy, subject lines are titles of our emails, but this rule doesn’t work here.

Email subject capitalization only gives a licked-clean, promo look to a message.

Your goal is to send a pitch reminding of a friend’s message. Do you ever capitalize words when chatting with your buddies? I don’t.

Solution. Use lowercase letters only in your subject lines.

Here’s how an all-lowercase subject stands out among newsletters in the inbox.

Note. It’s justified to capitalize email subject words like acronyms or, say, personal names.

Make your email subject lines sound relevant

Problem. When people read your subject line, it should ring a bell for them. If it doesn’t, they will just scroll it by, thinking your outreach email has nothing to do with them.

Solution. The most opened subject lines are those that sound relevant to recipients. To achieve such an effect, use their post titles.

That way, you won’t need to specify which post you’re referring to in the email body. Such a subject makes it obvious and helps you reduce your email length (more on this in the next section).

Note. Don’t copy and paste the entire post title. It’ll only make your subject longer and give it a hint of automation.

If you copied and pasted the title, the odds are your entire message is a matter of copy and paste too. Such a thought will push recipients away if they notice your email at all.

Due to copypasted titles, personal outreach emails don’t stand out among newsletters visually. Guess which of the three emails below is personal 🙂

Shorten post titles to keywords only. That’d be enough to let your prospects know which post is on your mind.

Arouse some curiosity with your email subject line

Problem. To read boring emails at the end of the day or close the mailbox and go home, that is the question…

The answer is often not in your favor, I’m afraid.

Without an engaging email subject line, people will be reluctant to read your entire message. That’s something I can say with confidence, from personal experience.

Solution. Arouse your outreach prospects’ curiosity with a question about their content.

Logically, everyone who’s interested to write about some topic should also be interested to discuss their write-up consequently. Many recipients will be curious to check what kind of question you have.

Note. Don’t ask your question directly in the subject line. People can say no in their minds and move on to other email pitches, leaving yours unopened.

Also, your question will make more sense in the context of your arguments rather than on its own.

Accentuate the value for your outreach prospects

Problem. People skip many outreach emails because they don’t see any value there. Just another hard sell or stuff like that.

Can you blame them?

Many outreachers are focused on their own benefits only. Asking for links and shares, they aren’t ready to give anything in return.,/p>

That’s why folks have been quite skeptical about unsolicited email pitches lately.

Solution. The best subject lines to get emails opened are those that accentuate the value for recipients.

Tell your outreach prospects that you have an idea or tip for their content.

No one’s canceled a writer’s block after all. Many bloggers face it at one time or another but few admit though 🙂

Your content idea offer should motivate them to open your email and check if it’s worthwhile.

If you’ve done a case study, offer bloggers to embed your graphs in their articles. That way, they’ll back up their ideas with stats instead of sounding proofless.

Note. Don’t use any clickbait tricks to increase your email open rates. As the end goal of your outreach is to ask for a backlink, such exaggerations look ridiculous.

First, you’re not the one who’ll provide “big help” in the end. It is your outreach prospect who will help you with a backlink.

Second, you’ll look like a boaster calling your ideas “awesome,” “exclusive,” “great,” etc. Self-praise is not the quality people normally respect.

The same goes for fake flattery like “your amazing blog.”

I want to assure you that everyone knows you’re insincere. When they see your link request at the end of your message, you’ll prove that one more time.

Don’t let such dirty tricks alienate your prospects from you.

Get straight to the point in your email subject line

Problem. When people have to deal with lots of emails, the last thing they want is empty talk.

Talkers and other time wasters are out of favor. So are their pitches with vague subject lines.

Solution. To save your outreach prospects’ time, get straight to the point.

Especially if it can trigger some sort of emotion like wonder or excitement. To come up with such a subject, answer these two questions:

  • How is your post better than the one your prospects link to?
  • What have you found out no one knows about?

Contradiction to common knowledge can give you an easy win here.

Let’s say your prospects link to a compilation of keyword tools. You can surprise them that not all of those tools turned out efficient for their industries, according to your tests.

Such a spoiler will strike the eye for sure, adding some intrigue to your email’s look and feel.

Here are examples of attention-grabbing email subject lines.

Note. Saying that you have a study related to their topic won’t work. It sounds too general.

Every content guru out there suggests doing research. As a result, so many people are doing case studies these days, but how is yours different?

To write a catchy email subject, you need to reveal the data that will surprise your recipients.

If you still want to prove that your findings aren’t taken out of nowhere, mention your content type in brackets at the end. It can be an interview of a niche influencer, a survey of many product users, or your test results.

It was the last of my email subject line tips for you. For more inspiration, check out this cool post with currently 164 ideas on the list.

What is the correct email format in outreach

Once your subject line passes face control, your outreach prospects will open your email where things usually go wrong.

Before even reading the first line, they’ll evaluate your message by eye. Make sure it doesn’t look overwhelming and has nothing that could turn them off.

Learn how to format an email pitch in a way to retain your prospects at this to-read-or-not-to-read stage.

Stick to a non-promotional email design

Problem. Any outreach email enframed in a professionally designed template feels like a promo in one way or another.

And any hint of promotion makes your pitch closer to the spam folder, no matter how beautiful that template is.

I apologize to designers of email templates but I have to state the obvious. You don’t use a $20 template to message your friend, do you?

Solution. The best email design practice in blogger outreach is to avoid any visual enhancements. 

Being plain and simple, your email will look natural. This is exactly the effect you need.

Note. Before template designers curse me for pushing their customers away, let me stress one thing.

Pre-designed email templates are OK for newsletters. If you send them, feel free to use such templates without worries.

Limit your email length to a few short paragraphs 

Problem. When you open an outreach email and see a wall of text as below, do you want to read it?

Maybe… But what if you have 30 more pitches like this to read? I doubt it.

Liz from AWeber has posted current email marketing stats, one of which says the average email takes 3.3 minutes to read.

Who wants to spend so much time on email correspondence, especially if it’s not their direct work duty? Unlike communications managers, writers don’t get paid for replying to each letter they get. And they are your major outreach prospects after all.

Don’t increase your email bounce rates with such walls of text.

Solution. As is the case with subject lines, “less is more” should be your email length rule to follow.

Short, easy-to-scan pitches are your tickets to success in modern-day outreach.

Break down your message into a few short paragraphs to make the info easy to digest. If you have more than one talking point, arrange them in a bulleted list.

Look at the email formatting example below. It’s just an online newsletter that was automatically sent to multiple subscribers. But its brevity makes it a good read, which took me like half a minute only. Thanks!.

Note. If you keep your subject line concise (and I hope you do), there’ll be a short preview of your email pitch right in the inbox.

Make sure it doesn’t include anything meaningless. I’m referring to questions about people’s well-being, weather, and anything else that we say out of politeness.

Don’t let this blah-blah-blah disrupt your optimal email length and show yourself as talkative.

Use a friendly email tone

Problem. Trying to sound intelligent, outreachers often cross the line.

They use formal, complicated language that’s hard to read – long sentences, complex grammatical constructions, and fancy words that you can find mainly in classic works of literature.

The way you talk has a direct impact on how eager your outreach prospects will be to read your email.

Solution. Unless you reach out to university professors, stick to an informal email tone.

Ideally, your language should sound as if you’re talking to a friend. The friendlier, the better.

Here’s how to rephrase the overcomplicated message above in plain language.

Note. Speaking about email tone etiquette, there’s a fine line between being friendly and trying to butter someone up.

Many outreachers tell their prospects how much they love their blogs, particularly articles they want backlinks from. But such fake love confessions don’t work, sorry.

So, Anthony, you’ve been reading my blog for years.

Hmm, where are your likes, shares, and comments? Why can’t I find you in my subscriber base? Why have you linked to none of my articles over these years if you like them so much?

Come on, no one will buy it unless you can prove your words.

Btw, if you think about retweeting your prospects’ posts a few days before emailing them, don’t bother 🙂 This manipulation would be too obvious.

Spell check email pitches before sending 

Problem. Outreachers are usually quick to write an email pitch and hit the send button. It takes them only a few seconds to notice spelling mistakes afterward.

Oops…

If you don’t spell check email pitches, people will either put your IQ score in question or think you don’t respect them enough to approach with due diligence.

Yeah, I know that in the previous section I suggested writing a message as if it’s addressed to a friend.

While it’s no big deal to make a few typos when messaging pals, outreach emails require more attention to detail. There should be nothing that your prospects could find fault with.

Solution. Install a free email grammar checker like Grammarly to proofread your message before sending it. Quite handy!

Note. It’s OK to use colloquial speech (“ya” – “you,” “doin’” – “doing,” etc), even if your email spell checker highlights them as misspellings.

How to structure an email pitch

As mentioned in the previous section, your outreach email should be short, basically around ten sentences.

There’s no place for any digressions from the main point of your campaign. But I’m amazed how much info that’s beside the point outreachers sometimes shove into their pitches.

Just like every article consists of a few major parts (an opening, main part, conclusion), there’s a predefined structure of an email too.

Here are the main email parts you should include in your pitch.

Email greetings

Problem. When you don’t address your outreach prospects by name, it’s a red flag that your message ended up in hundreds of other mailboxes.

Unfortunately, bulk emails don’t get bulk replies.

The worst part is that people will figure things out without even opening your email. The snippet with its first line is visible right in the inbox.

Imagine how the lack of a personal email greeting will affect your open rates.

Solution. If you wonder how to address people in email pitches, the answer is obvious – by name!

In such a simple way, you’ll show that you actually know who you contact. It’s in our DNA to want to check out stuff addressed to us personally, at least out of curiosity.

Note. Don’t use anything like “Dear Editor,” “Dear Sir,” “Dear Madam,” etc.

No, such a formal address won’t show your utmost respect for recipients. What it’ll show is that you’re so lazy that you didn’t even bother to check out their names.

A proper email greeting is the easiest way of personalization but many outreachers still fail here.

Email opening lines

Problem. Email opening lines are notorious for being the most irrelevant part that recipients usually skip over.

When thinking about the ways to start an email, many outreachers tell a backstory about themselves, their interests, companies, products, whatever.

But who cares if all you want is a backlink.

Your pitch isn’t your CV. Such a backstory will only load your email with a few extra paragraphs to read. Taking someone’s time goes against email introduction etiquette.

Solution. Skip the intro of yourself in your email intro. Sounds like a paradox, doesn’t it?

Instead, let your outreach prospects know you’ve read their article and explain how it’s related to you. As easy as that.

Note. If your outreach campaign is all about your product rather than your content, sure thing you can drop a few words about it.

Let’s say you want to get your product featured in a compilation of similar items. Feel free to list its USPs (unique selling points) to convince your prospects it’s worth a mention.

But your email opener isn’t the right part to tell about your product USPs. You should mention them in a different part of an email, which you’ll learn about below.

Outreach excuse

Problem. The most important part of an email is your outreach excuse, the notion I first saw in this sarcastic post.

In simple terms, this is the reason why you contact your outreach prospects and, most importantly, why they should be interested in your offer.

No, gaining a backlink from them isn’t the right excuse. Neither is the fact that you’ve written an article on the same topic they link to.

That’s where many outreachers screw things up.

Having a similar article is the most overused excuse that makes no sense at all. There are many similar articles out there, so what? Why on earth should bloggers add a link to yours?

Solution. Similar to products, content can have a USP too. That’s what makes it unique compared to many other articles on the same topic.

There are two points to accentuate in this email part:

1) what you’ve found out as a result of your research, i.e. the USP of your article;
2) how your prospects and their readers can benefit from your findings.

In general, you can either contradict the main point of the article your prospects link to or bring more value than that article provides.

Contradiction. People interested in some topic usually want to explore it from different angles. That’s a perfect excuse to show up in their mailboxes and tell them your research proves the opposite of what the article they link to says.

More value. If you have no contradictory arguments, emphasize the additional value your content provides. The value that the article they link to is missing.

If you follow the email writing tips above, you should have no problems with your outreach excuse.

Note. Having a similar article isn’t the only outreach excuse doomed to failure. Anything unspecific like a more detailed or up-to-date article is a no-go too.

If you say your content is more up-to-date, clarify what exactly went out of date in the article your prospects link to.

You can’t only indicate a problem without providing a solution. It’s just useless. You should also suggest a fresh alternative to the outdated stuff for the time being.

Email closing lines

Problem. Here comes a culmination of your outreach email, when you need to tell folks what you want.

Outreachers can be quite impudent in email closing lines. Some of them beg for backlinks as if their prospects owe them.

Do you know how people treat pushy salesmen? The same goes for pushy outreachers.

Unless your prospects live under a rock, they should know that Google bans sites for any link manipulations.

Seeing a blunt backlink request in your email closing, they’ll wonder if it could get them in trouble somehow.

Solution. Tactfully ask people about the possibility to get your article or tool featured in their content. That’s the best way to end an email.

Avoid any backlink-related wording. Instead of “add my backlink,” use phrases like “refer to my study” or “suggest my findings to your readers.”

Note. While impudent begging can push your outreach prospects away, veiled requests can confuse them.

For example, if you ask for a content share in your email ending, that’s exactly what you may get – a share on social media.

It’s a faux pas to follow up and ask them one more favor, i.e. a backlink. Especially if you offer nothing in return.

Let people understand that you suggest a link without saying it out loud.

For example, you can say you want a share with their blog readers. Such a clarification will make it obvious that things should go on their blog rather than on Twitter, Facebook, etc.

Check out a few more things to make sure you don’t sabotage your outreach.

 How to personalize email pitches

Ever felt a forbidden desire to stalk someone? This is your chance to fulfill it and, most importantly, to do it legally. 

Addressing your outreach prospects by name isn’t the alpha and omega of email personalization. It’s the easiest, most primitive thing you can do. 

To go further, try to mention something personal that you have in common with them. 

First, it’ll help you get them on your side, as people are friendlier to like-minded individuals.

Second, you’ll show them that you’ve bothered to check more than their email address.

Social media, particularly Twitter, is a true goldmine for email personalization. You can find there what your prospects have been up to both in their private and professional lives.

Here’s how to personalize emails based on those insights. 

Use your prospects’ interests for email personalization

Problem. Since we all hang out on social media today, it’s no big deal to check someone’s likes and dislikes. Everything is out in the open. 

But the thing is it’s a true art to make a comment on point.

Saying you like their favorite movie too is not enough. Such email personalization fails most of the time. 

There are millions of other fans around the world. What’s the point of your comment? How does it set you apart from the masses?

Solution. Comment on your prospects’ favorites only if your words can be of any benefit to them. 

You can tell them the latest news on their fav TV show or make a joke about its last episode. If you can’t think of anything like that, check Google’s News tab.

For example, Anna seems to be a fan of Stranger Things, according to her Twitter bio.

In your email pitch, don’t say you’re a fan of the show too. Better let her know that Netflix has finally announced the release date for the upcoming season. 

Since they made an announcement only a few days ago, Anna may not know about it yet. Imagine how grateful she will be for your heads-up.

As such info is unrelated to your pitch, feel free to add one more email part – P.S.

Besides hobbies, people often reveal something distinctive about them in Twitter bios. You can refer to those one-liners in your email closing lines or outreach excuse. 

Brittany says she has a sitcom quote for every sitch. 

That’s what you can quote in your pitch to show you’ve done your homework and know about her a bit more than her domain URL.

Instead of a banal request to share your study, ask what would be the sitcom quote for such an idea.

Note. Unfortunately, you can’t use every piece of info posted on Twitter for email personalization, at least as is.

If the info is too general, and you have no time to look for specifics, don’t comment on that point at all. 

Adam says he’s into sports, but unless you know exactly what kind of sports he does at night, that mention won’t help. I don’t advise you to rely on your imagination here 🙂

Today, many people have pets or dream of getting one. I hardly doubt you’ll surprise Brie if you tell her how much you love dogs.

There’s a long list of things about Adam, but only his being a Vikings fan can work. The rest is too general.

Be ready that your comment can develop into a long talk. Make sure you have a good understanding of the topic you briefly mentioned.

If it turns out that you know nothing but the name of his fav team, that’ll be a shame.

Personalize mass emails with your prospects’ professional activities 

Problem. Showing interest in what your outreach prospects do as opposed to what they like, you can get even closer to them. But it’ll work only if you know a thing or two about their undertakings.

While you might be lucky to watch the same series, you can’t have bought products from all the 200 prospects on your list. And I bet you have no time to watch 200 webinars each of them recorded, right?

Still, you can’t praise their product or speech at some event without a single proof point.

It’s crystal clear that you’re saying good words to butter them up. But in reality, you don’t give a damn about their work. That’s not how email marketing personalization works. 

Solution. Mention something professional only if you have at least a rough idea of how things work there. You’ll need to back up your comment with some proof to convince people you’re sincere. 

Last winter, Steven announced the release of a new extension in his pinned tweet. Try to install it and play with it for a while, especially since there’s a free trial.

In the case of a paid product, you can learn more about its use cases on the landing page.

In your outreach email, mention if you found their extension handy and why. It won’t hurt to impart some humor into your message. Just don’t make fun of their tool.

As James will be speaking at WCEurope, notify him that you’ve registered for the event. But still, the question is how to personalize your email to make it sound believable.

Try to give some reasoning behind your decision, e.g. what you expect to learn from him. As his speech is about pitching journalists, say that you hope to gain a link from NYT in the end.

Another thing to emphasize is your outreach prospects’ experience or achievements. For example, Arianne won the UK search award in 2019.

Sure thing it’s too late to send her congrats on the award of 2019. But it makes perfect sense to address her as a search award winner when asking her opinion about your content.

Note. When referring to someone’s long-time experience, better watch your mouth.

In her bio, Motoko says she’s been in search marketing since the mid-90s, which is like 25 years. Unless you can phrase your comment delicately, say nothing. Don’t accentuate anyone’s age, as it’ll sound offensive.

How to increase email response rates

Here’s some food for thought.

When people receive your outreach email, they understand there’s always some benefit for you behind it all. What they also understand is that they’ll get no more than a “thank you” note out of this. 

Still, they’ll have to spend their time on you – read your post, enter the admin panel, embed your link, edit its anchor, and adapt the surrounding text to it. 

I’m sorry to say this but many people aren’t inclined to volunteer. That’s why email response rates don’t fulfill our expectations in most cases.

You’ll find it easier to convince your outreach prospects to do you a favor if you can pay them back.

No, I’m not talking about money now. You can do much more for them than you can think of. And it won’t cost you a dime. 

Check out a few hacks to boost the response rates of your email pitches. 

Get on your outreach prospects’ radar ahead 

Problem. Not everyone is willing to reply to strangers, let alone do them a favor. And they have every right to ignore unsolicited outreach emails, I’m afraid. 

Solution. Get into your prospects’ lives before showing up in their inboxes. 

Social media is a perfect place to attract attention to yourself. You can like their posts, share them with your followers, and exchange a couple of words. 

Abby thanks everyone who tweets her Google Discover study. If you do it too, she’ll be grateful and should recognize your face when your email comes. 

If you have a low response rate, this trick will increase it a bit.

Besides scrolling through tweets, check out the tab with likes. 

For example, Aleh likes re-tweets of his guest contributions, so yours should be much appreciated too.

Since Lily responds to comments on her case study, that’s how you can get on her radar upfront. Especially if your comment is meaningful and timely.

Don’t comment on old posts, unless you found something groundbreaking about that topic. Better focus on fresh articles that your outreach prospects are promoting now. 

Note. These are not direct tips on writing a pitch email. This is more of a preparatory stage to make your face recognizable when people receive a message from you. 

 Make sure you have the same name and avatar in your email and Twitter accounts. If you have a different pic in your mailbox, it may not ring a bell for them. All your efforts will be in vain. 

Do what your outreach prospects ask 

Problem. Some people call their followers to do them a favor. That’s your opportunity to build a bridge between you and them at an early stage. 

But outreachers often go over the edge here, making their little help look like a bribe.

If you voted for some item in their survey, it doesn’t give you the full right to demand something bigger like a backlink. Come on, it took you a few seconds and one click only!

Solution. Do what your prospects ask, but make it sound like a “by-the-way” note rather than a favor they should return. Especially since people don’t ask for anything difficult or time-consuming, as a rule.

For example, Danielle seeks advice on marketing materials that would be worth her money.

If you know about any, mention them in your email closing statement, since this info goes off the topic of your outreach purpose.

Clark shares a link to join his mailing list. Well… Looks like you’re gonna receive more newsletters at the end of your outreach campaign 🙂

In your email pitch, don’t just tell him you joined his subscriber base. Put the focus on how his newsletters turned out helpful for you.

Beverley calls her followers to register for her free, five-day webinar. Since there’s no registration fee, this is something you can and should do.

Let her know about you being her 71st student and what kind of problem you hope she could help you solve.

These small favors will help you grow response rates for your email campaigns. 

Note. Always pay attention to the timeliness of your prospects’ requests. What mattered yesterday doesn’t always matter today.

Alexander’s interview was published more than a year ago, so it’s kinda too late to vote it up.

Point out an issue on your outreach prospect’s site

Problem. Any issue on the page doubles the excuse for your outreach prospects to update it.

The focus isn’t on you anymore. It’s on the need to bring their page back in order (and insert your backlink along the way).

People mostly use this strategy to indicate the issue of broken outgoing links. Broken link building is great and all, but it’s become overused lately. 

Solution. Check out if there are any other on-page issues. Some of them are visible to the naked eye, e.g. image issues.

In your outreach excuse, speculate on why that issue makes the page anything but user-friendly. Your request should make a connection to the necessity to edit that post. 

Note. You can use site audit tools to find on-page issues if you can’t notice anything with the naked eye. 

But don’t be too technical. Otherwise, your message will look suspicious. People may wonder why you performed a technical audit of their site. How will you bluff it out? 

Link out to your outreach prospects 

Problem. The fact that you’ve linked to your outreach prospects will put your pitch over others. It’ll increase your email campaign response rates for sure. 

You may wonder what could be a problem here, but there’s one. 

Unfortunately, people usually don’t give a second thought to this strategy. They just link to the homepage, which is already the most linked-to page in 99% of cases. 

Such a backlink will be appreciated but not as much as backlinks to pages that have a few or no links at all. 

Solution. Link to pages that are of higher value to your prospects’ businesses.

It especially makes sense when the author of your target post is a company founder or head of marketing rather than just a staff writer. 

Here are a few examples:

  • product pages (it takes a helluva lot of work to build links to promo pages compared to blog posts);
  • posts with affiliate links (you’ll be the one who helped them with their affiliate earnings);
  • pages you want backlinks from (that’s when your empty claims to like their content will turn into well-grounded statements). 

Learn more about linking out in this post.

Note. Better link out to your prospects from guest posts rather than from your blog. 

Let’s say you linked to a hundred sites from your domain, and they did the same for you in return. That’s an obvious link exchange scheme, which Google forbids.

My point is this strategy isn’t for every prospect on your list. If you have hundreds, I doubt you’ll be able to write so many guest posts to link to each one.

Set priority on stronger pages that:

  • have a higher page rating (UR) and domain rating (DR) scores, as they’ll send you link juice of higher quality;
  • drive organic traffic, as they can bring you some referral traffic besides link juice.

Share your product with your outreach prospects

Problem. Having a product that you can share with your outreach prospects is such a privilege. But some outreachers leave me speechless because of their greed.

Providing two-week access to your tool for free is not enough, to say the least. 

First, people can probably get it themselves by signing up for your free trial.

Second, your prospects may be too busy to use your tool straightaway. And the fact that you urge them on can cause the tension between you and them.

Solution. Share at least a few months of free access to your product. 

That way, they’ll be able to check it out and hopefully get used to it after a while. When the time is up, some of them may ask you to extend their free accounts in exchange for more perks you’d like. 

Note. Even if your prospects decline your backlink request, don’t discontinue their free acc. Tell them they’re still welcome to use it. 

If people like your tool, they may turn into your paying customers or suggest it to their readers who may turn into your paying customers. 

Higher email response rates are just the tip of an iceberg here. Your generosity will pay off in all kinds of ways. 

For more inspiration, check out cold email case studies with great reply rates.

Outreach email templates to get links

Problem. To do the work at scale, you definitely need an outreach email template. Before I share a few, let me clarify one thing. 

The problem with templates is that many people use them as is. Yeah, they add details like their names, post titles, and links, but hardly ever rephrase the default body text. 

As a result, bloggers receive almost the same templated emails and understand they’re not personal. Just look where we are now – “Delete” and “Report spam” have become the most clickable buttons in the inbox. 

Solution. Do a bit of rephrasing of your outreach email template copy. The templates below are more for email structuring rather than word-for-word usage.

For a full list, visit our email outreach templates page.

Final Word

I hope I could guide you on how to write an outreach email pitch at every stage. None of these strategies is rocket science. All you need is some wit and a lot of practice. 

Do A/B testing of different email subject lines, outreach excuses, personalization hacks, etc to figure out what works best with people in your niche.

If you want to do outreach at scale, don’t turn it into spam. Try to make the most of each email pitch you send, learning more about your outreach prospects beforehand. Yeah, you’ll need to invest some time, but it’ll help you boost response rates.

Do you have any questions about the whole process? Feel free to drop me an email, and I’ll try to help 🙂

How To Write an Email Outreach Pitch That Gets Approved

Let me read your mind about the last outreach email you wrote and sent. You found some template in Google, made a few quick edits, sent your pitch to many recipients, and ended up with results as if you did no outreach at all. If you’re not your own boss, you must have felt ashamed … Continue reading “How To Write an Email Outreach Pitch That Gets Approved”

Read More

How to Sort and Filter Link Prospects

Got stuck sorting out your link prospects?

Every other guide out there suggests that you should rely on the domain authority, relevance, traffic, and social signals. The higher, the better.

While there’s absolutely nothing wrong with such advice, it’s the tip of the iceberg.

Once you dig deeper into your spreadsheet with link prospects, you’ll run into a bunch of controversies that no one explains how to deal with.

Should you cross ALL the low-authority domains off your list? What if you’re just starting out, and influencers ignore your outreach emails?

Are nofollow links ALWAYS no-go options? How about the fact that a backlink profile looks natural to Google only when it contains both dofollow and nofollow links?

Is there a way to distinguish bloggers with a genuine interest in content from time-wasters?

I could go on with arguable points like these… But let me shed some light on them instead.

This chapter talks about how to sort out link prospects in your sheet and beyond it.

No superficial info – I’ll guide you through the process from the inside, where confusion arises all the time.

We also have a free backlink filtering tool that will save you hours on sorting through your list of prospects. You can test drive it here or use the dedicated page for a more clutter-free workspace.

Pre-stage of getting your spreadsheet with link prospects ready

But first things first. If you haven’t prepared a spreadsheet with your link prospects yet, follow these three easy steps.

0.1. Go to your backlink checker and export backlinks to your competing pages.

Just like in the previous chapter, I’ll stick with the example of needing link prospects for my compilation of keyword tools.

For my research, I exported backlinks to 33 similar compilations, which totals 3383 URLs.

0.2. Combine many spreadsheets into one following this easy, two-minute guide.

0.3. Depending on your backlink checker (I use Ahrefs, as it’s probably the best platform for SEO for SaaS at the moment, especially when it comes to link building), your sheet will contain a lot of columns to make you dizzy.

I suggest that you keep columns with the following metrics (or their analogs if you use a different tool):

  • DR (how strong a backlink profile of an entire referring domain is);
  • UR (how strong a backlink profile of a single referring page is);
  • Referring Page URL;
  • Referring Page Title;
  • Link URL (the URL of your competing page);
  • TextPre (a snippet of text that precedes a backlink anchor);
  • Link Anchor (a clickable snippet of text in a hyperlink);
  • TextPost (a snippet of text that follows a backlink anchor);
  • Type (dofollow or nofollow);
  • Language;
  • Traffic (how much traffic a referring page receives from Google’s organic search monthly);
  • Linked Domains (how many domains your target links out to via dofollow backlinks).

As for the rest, feel free to remove them. With too many columns in your sheet, you won’t know where to look first. It’s distracting.

Now that you have all the necessary data in one place, let’s start.

What kind of referring pages should you get rid of?

Dealing with your actual link prospects isn’t the first step, as you might have expected.

You’ll be surprised to see how much trash your spreadsheet contains.

The crawler of your backlink checker can go into the deepest corners of the web and find links where you’d never imagine.

My point is not all the URLs you see in your sheet are actual link prospects. Let’s put on gloves and clean it up.

Check out what kind of referring pages you should get rid of at this stage.

Spoiler. Having filtered out referring pages in my sheet, I kept only almost 31% of them.

1.1. URLs of referring pages in foreign languages

A German-speaking writer shouldn’t suggest to the German-speaking audience that they check a post in Italian. Logically, most of them won’t understand the copy.

That’s why you don’t need to contact authors of foreign-language posts with a link request. To find and remove them, sort your spreadsheet by language in a corresponding column.

At times, that column can be empty or even contain your target language code (en – English in my case), but pages are still foreign.

To detect such cases, scroll through the sheet and double-check the titles of your referring pages.

Note. If you promote a product rather than content, you can gain backlinks from foreign-language pages. But make sure you have a localized version of your product page.

1.2. URLs of duplicate referring pages

This is the biggest category of unwanted URLs you’ll have in your spreadsheet – 40% in my case.

The web is full of duplicate pages, which end up in backlink databases eventually.

The reasons for such a web pollution phenomenon vary.

Some writers repost their content on platforms like growthhackers.com and medium.com. It’s called content syndication in marketing and is a good strategy indeed.

Others repost someone else’s content because they don’t have time, resources, or skills (excuses vary individually:) to produce their own.

Some bloggers don’t even repost the entire copy. They just publish the first few paragraphs of the original or write a short overview of it. You can treat such cases as duplicates too.

While sorting out your sheet, you can come across reposts of

  • referring pages;
  • competing pages;
  • other pages on competitors’ blogs.

Since people who do reposts aren’t actual authors, there’s no need to reach out to them. They won’t edit the original.

It’s like changing interviewee’s quotes in journalism – unethical and can have consequences if the word gets out.

All you can do here is identify duplicates and remove them asap. Here are three quick ways to do it right in your sheet. No need to click through each URL.

Note. When removing duplicates, make sure you keep the original. As a rule, it will have a higher DR than reposts.

1.2.1. Sort the data by title (Referring Page Title column).

You may notice minor variations in titles of the same reposted page. It happens because some authors update their articles over time.

As shown below, there were 8 tools on the list at first. Later, the author added a few more and rephrased the title a bit.

 Tip. When you update your content, add minor changes to the title. Leave the main keyword as is, but rephrase the surrounding text. It will help you diversify your backlink anchors in the long run.

In the previous step, you should have removed domains with the same name yet different TLDs for foreign languages.

I’m referring to cases like hostinger.pt for Portuguese, hostinger.ru for Russian, hostinger.co.id for Indonesian, etc.

At this stage, you may still find domains with the same name and language yet different TLDs. Keep the URL with higher DR & UR metrics and delete the rest.

1.2.2. Sort the data by surrounding text (TextPre and TextPost columns).

Many people who do reposts have a nasty habit of editing original titles. The most common scenario is adding blog names to the beginning of page titles.

Due to such edits, you won’t be able to identify duplicates if you sort URLs by title.

The good thing is there’s another way out.

While page titles differ, backlink anchors and surrounding text remain the same, just like the rest of the content.

So, you need to sort your sheet by the text preceding the anchor (TextPre) to see more identicals.

Note. Wonder why you should sort by the preceding text rather than anchors?

The thing is identical anchors don’t always signify duplicate content.

Anchors can match when authors refer to brand names, entire post titles, or use natural language like “click here” or even keywords.

But if the surrounding text differs, these are different articles.

When a link stands at the beginning of a new paragraph, there’ll be no preceding text. In such cases, sort the data by the text following the anchor. (TextPost).

To find more duplicates, check if anchors and surrounding text contain any of the following phrases:

  • source;
  • original;
  • appeared first, etc.

Note. Phrases like “Source” don’t necessarily indicate duplicates.

Writers can use them to attribute to resources whose stats or quotes they borrowed for their articles.

Better double-check such cases by clicking through referring pages.

1.2.3. Check your spreadsheet for the names of popular blogging platforms.

Have you noticed that tons of duplicate URLs are hosted on BlogSpot? I bet you have.

This is a popular blogging platform where writers repost articles originally published on their blogs.

If you still have any URLs hosted there, feel free to remove them.

Even if they’re not duplicates, their metrics are still too miserable to get any value from. Check out URLs with a zero or near-zero DR below.

In fact, there’s no need to reach out to owners of such BlogSpot pages. You can easily register there yourself and publish as many posts as you like.

BlogSpot isn’t the only platform of this kind.

In the example below, you can see that Startup Institute reposts content on Squarespace. So do Magnetika and others.

Here are more examples of such blogging platforms. Their names are mostly “blog” derivatives (bluxeblogtblogzblogolize), which will help you identify them at a glance.

Note. As you can see, many results have a high DR unlike pages hosted on BlogSpot and Squarespace.

Don’t let it mislead you. The reason for such an overrated DR is the imperfection of the tool I use, not the high quality of those pages.

Ahrefs treats each subdomain on BlogSpot and Squarespace as a standalone domain, which makes sense.

But they don’t seem to keep track of all the blogging platforms out there, so they can’t estimate DR correctly in such cases.

No matter what the tool you use says, these are all low-quality pages you need to delete.

1.3. URLs of referring pages that look like trash

Once you get done with all kinds of duplicates, you’ll notice more trash in your spreadsheet.

The rule of thumb is to delete everything that doesn’t look like a normal URL of a content page.

1.3.1. Remove URL shorteners.

1.3.2. Remove URLs with an IP instead of a domain name

If you sort your sheet by the name of the referring page URL, such results will be at the top.

1.3.3. Remove URLs of feeds, social networks, and content curation platforms.

Such URLs typically include “feed,” “rss,” “@”, or user names.

1.3.4. Remove URLs that look like abracadabra.

1.3.5. Remove URLs that are not meaningful content pages

For easier identification, check your sheet for /site/, /search/, /find/, /comment/, /tag/, sign-uplogin and the like.

Some referring pages can also have “domain.com” at the end of their URLs, as shown at the bottom of this screenshot.

Note. In rare cases, sites use /tag/ in the URL structure of blog posts. Don’t remove them from your list of link prospects.

Pages related to coupons and promo codes are also subject to removal. Check URLs for anything like “coupon,” “promo,” “deal,” “discount,” “voucher,” etc.

These are common examples of link trash for the SEO industry. You may find some other schemes, depending on your niche.

1.4. URLs of referring pages from forums and communities.

To make it clear, I don’t mind building links on forums, communities, and Q&A sites.

But since there’s no need to contact anyone with a link request, you should remove such URLs from your outreach list.

They generally contain “forum,” “thread,” “community,” “discussion,” etc.

1.5. URLs of any pages but blog posts

These are homepages, about pages, portfolios, product pages, etc.

To identify such URLs, check your sheet for /about/, /portfolio/, /product/, /service/, or simply by eye in the case of homepages.

People prefer linking to their partners and customer testimonials from homepages.

I hate to be the one who brings you bad news. But if you’re not a well-known figure in your niche, your testimonials aren’t in demand, sorry.

1.6. URLs of podcasts, webinars, and interviews

This type of content is somewhat time-sensitive, at least from a link prospecting angle.

If someone recommended your competitor’s article in an interview a while ago, you can’t go back in time and change it.

What’s done is done.

No one is going to edit an audio or video file, which makes it pointless to edit its transcript.

You can identify such pages by “episode,” “podcast,” “webinar,” “interview,” or interviewee’s name in URLs.

Note. You can reach out to interviewees and show your content. If they still talk about your topic, they may give you a mention in their future interviews.

Or you can contact podcasters and arrange to participate in one of their upcoming episodes.

But you won’t be able to gain a backlink from past podcasts you have in the sheet.

Which good-looking URLs are pseudo link prospects?

Got done with duplicates and other meaningless pages?

Take a one-minute break and welcome a new portion of trash masked behind good-looking URLs.

This time, the analysis of link prospects will go beyond your spreadsheet. You’ll need to click through URLs and practice analytical thinking.

Here’s what kind of referring pages will drop out at this stage.

2.1. Non-openers

Check out the URLs below. In terms of structure and wording, they look pretty normal, don’t they?

But good looks can be deceiving, especially in link prospecting. None of those URLs open for one reason or another:

  • the server is down (error 521);
  • the page could not be found (error 404);
  • the IP address could not be found;
  • the domain name has expired;
  • the website took too long to respond;
  • the website couldn’t provide a secure connection.

Curious about how those pages got to your spreadsheet if they don’t open?

Here’s how it works.

The bot of your tool re-crawls URLs once in a while to check if links are still there. Since its database contains millions of URLs, it can’t re-crawl every URL every day.

Due to such a delay, the bot can’t learn about such issues immediately, so non-openers remain in the database for a while.

Note. Some issues can be temporary. Double-check later if any of those pages got back to normal.

2.2. URLs of referring pages with third-rate content

Let me clarify the idea of blogger outreach to loot competitors’ backlinks.

When you want someone to replace a backlink to your competitor’s article with a link to yours, that person should deeply care about the content.

Content enthusiasts usually publish long-form guides, unique life hacks, studies based on their personal experience, etc.

Are bloggers who post a few paragraphs of basic info content enthusiasts? I doubt it. At least, not to the extent of wishing to replace a current backlink with a better one.

Nine times out of ten, a site that publishes short articles is nothing but a content farm.

Such companies hire a lot of low-paid writers who produce loads of third-rate content.

Since there’s an SEO rule to link out to a few websites from each post, those writers pick the first page they find in Google. Whatever.

They don’t respond to link requests or charge fees when they do.

Content farms usually don’t reveal their writers’ identities and publish articles under an unidentified admin in the bio section.

Note. Don’t make decisions based on the word count only.

Some writers are skilled enough to fit their original ideas into a short piece of text.

Skim through the text to figure out if the info is basic indeed and can be found in every other post in Google.

2.3. URLs of referring pages with rewrites

Analyzing link prospects, you’ll notice that some articles sound familiar to you. The so-called feeling of deja vu.

Such pages are close to duplicates, but they aren’t. I wish they were… That way, you’d be able to identify them as quickly as you did earlier, by sorting your sheet by the text surrounding anchors.

What can disclose rewritten content is a double bio on the page.

Or you can spot the same table of contents in different articles.

Check out the example below. It’s not even a good-quality rewrite.

They just used a tool that automatically replaces words from the original with synonyms. The structure of sentences remains unchanged, though.

2.4. URLs of referring pages with mumbo jumbo

While gaining backlinks from short articles can be debatable, you don’t need them from awful copy for sure.

I’m referring to articles with tons of grammatical errors. Commonly written by bad English speakers, they all sound like gibberish.

2.5. URLs of referring pages with awful typography

Besides awful copy, you can stumble upon pages with awful typography. It devalues the content and your link prospects accordingly.

Now, riddle me that. How many paragraphs are there in the screenshot below? One?

It may blow your mind, but there are three more paragraphs under the first one. You need to strain your eyes to see them.

This is the first time I’ve seen headings smaller than the text in paragraphs. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Another example is a weird-looking menu that takes up the entire screen space. You can call it anything but user-friendly navigation.

What makes it all especially ridiculous is the fact that those guys provide web design and development services.

How about creating a user-friendly menu for your site, huh?

Should you gain backlinks from domains with low authority?

The main stumbling point in link prospecting is whether you should deal with domains that have a low authority score.

To answer this question, let’s figure out what this metric is all about.

Many SEO tools have it but call it in different ways: Domain Authority, Domain Rating, Trust Flow, etc. Learn how they describe their metrics.

Trust Flow (TF) by Majestic

Domain Authority (DA) by Moz

Domain Rating (DR) by Ahrefs

While the names of this metric differ at each company, it’s based on the same thing – backlinks and nothing else.

The problem is you can’t get a clear idea about the entire domain quality from one angle only.

To understand its true value, you should analyze more metrics and people behind it.

3.1. Metrics-based approach

If your SEO tool has a batch analysis feature, you’re lucky. It’ll save you a lot of time.

You won’t have to analyze a lot of domains with a low DR one by one. Instead, add them all to your tool to get the necessary data in one go.

Here are the metrics that will tell you if a site is a worthy link prospect.

Organic Traffic. Let me remind you of the main purpose of link building – the growth of search rankings and traffic.

Backlinks serve as proof that sites are good enough to rank in the top 10, from where they’ll attract more visitors.

If Google ranks some sites high without tons of backlinks, that’s freaking awesome! Such sites don’t suck at all, as their low DR suggests.

Some of them can get hundreds and even thousands of monthly visitors.

To compare, not all sites with a medium-to-high DR can boast of such traffic stats.

Regardless of their heavy backlinks profiles, they drive only a few hundred visitors per month. That’s when this metric doesn’t indicate true domain quality.

Organic Keywords. Some sites with a low DR aren’t of low quality – they are just new. Their owners haven’t earned many backlinks yet to increase their authority.

Ranking in the top 10, from where most traffic comes, doesn’t happen overnight either. That’s why newcomers don’t even get a hundred visitors per month, as a rule.

On the other hand, some of them can rank for hundreds of keywords in the top 100. If Google approves ranking a site, it’s not a piece of crap for sure.

Besides traffic, always check how many organic keywords your link prospects with a low DR have.

The sites above are still far from their goal, but they’re already on their way. It’s just a matter of time before they see a traffic boost.

Linked Domains. A high DR gives the impression that such a site can send you a lot of link juice. But is it always true?

The thing is a website’s link juice spreads among all the domains it links out to via dofollow links.

The more linked domains your prospect has, the less link juice you’ll receive.

Assuming that DR stands for the entire amount of a website’s link juice, here’s how it works on the example of crownmediatech.com:

8 (DR) / 6 (linked domains) = 1.33

Note. It’s not the exact formula of Google’s algorithm, but still gives a clear idea about link juice distribution.

Now, let’s compare how much link juice activerain.com with a high DR provides:

81 (DR) / 330,967 (linked domains) = 0.24

As you can see, crownmediatech.com with DR 8 can send more link juice than activerain.com with DR 81:

1.33 vs 0.24.

To conclude, you don’t always need to approach sites with a high DR to get a lot of link juice your way.

3.2. Bloggers-based approach

No doubt, metrics can give useful clues about a website’s overall performance. But link prospecting isn’t a math lesson to use figures only.

What if your prospects fall short of all the key metrics?

Don’t erase them from your spreadsheet straightaway! Learn more about people behind your target domains to understand if they can be of any value to you.

You may find a few hidden gems among them.

Prospect. Let’s take sammyseo.com as an example. It looks like a no-go in terms of metrics: no traffic, 3 organic keywords, and near-zero DR.

While this domain sucks, its owner doesn’t. According to LinkedIn, Sam Partland is a director of DigiSearch and was previously the head of growth at Urban.com.au.

No wonder he’s not too active with his blog.

With such an impressive work record, Sam is the right guy to build relationships with. The chances are he’ll reward you with a backlink from a better performing domain, digisearch.com, one day.

Besides LinkedIn, Twitter can also give you insights into your link prospects’ background.

Sam’s following isn’t big, but let’s scroll down a bit.

One of his latest posts got a retweet from a niche influencer with 66.2K followers, which proves he has a knack for SEO.

Prospect. Another example is marcomm.io that doesn’t look promising due to its miserable metrics.

Let’s check a LinkedIn profile of its co-founder, Michelle Burson. She launched this site about a year and a half ago with her partner.

Just like many other startups, MarComm founders probably don’t have resources for heavy link building. And there’s no other way to grow a DR.

But while their domain is relatively new, Michelle isn’t a newbie in the business. She’s been a marketing manager since 2007 and eventually founded her own company. Way to go!

You should welcome people like her on your outreach list.

No-go. Another underperforming domain that came my way is elccopywriting.com.

The first thing that catches the eye on the homepage is its niche. Erika who owns the blog does content writing for beauty and personal care.

Unless it’s your target niche, making friends with her won’t get you anywhere.

Whether she links to you from her blog or guest posts on beauty sites, such backlinks will be irrelevant to your domain.

No-go. Renovatiocms.com doesn’t look promising regarding both the key SEO metrics and visual appeal.

The outdated design suggests this site is not new. Enter archive.org to find out how long it’s been around.

Well, the history dates back to 2010. If no one from their marketing department has grown its DR for 10 years, most likely no one will 🙂

The bottom line is, you should analyze your link prospects from different angles to make the right decision. It’ll be good practice for your analytical thinking.

Note. While sites with a low DR don’t look promising, their owners usually turn out more responsive.

Unlike bigwigs, they haven’t become cocky yet, and building connections with new people is on their priority list.

Tip. Your choice of link prospects should depend on the quality of articles you’re going to promote.

Have you discovered anything eye-opening as a result of a massive study? Such content definitely deserves the attention of thought leaders.

If all you have is a banal rewrite of well-known facts, it makes no sense to approach the big league.

They already know everything you’re trying to knock into their heads, and won’t waste time on you. Better focus on weaker domains in such a case.

Can link prospects providing nofollow backlinks be of any value?

The value of nofollow links is a matter of dispute in SEO circles. To cut a long story short, let’s consider the pros and cons of such links.

Con. They don’t pass any link juice and therefore can’t improve search rankings. You can build hundreds of nofollow links, but neither your domain authority nor organic traffic will grow as a result.

Pro #1. Technically, nofollow links don’t have a direct impact on rankings. But they can still bring you visitors who, in turn, can link to you via dofollow links.

Pro #2. Google thinks a natural backlink profile should consist of both nofollow and dofollow links.

Do they have a point? Let’s think. How high are the chances that everyone will link to you via dofollow links without any actions on your part?

Not much chance!

Gaining only dofollow links will look like some sort of manipulation to Google.

And all the manipulations have the same ending – penalties, from a decline in rankings to the entire ban from organic search. This is not what you need, believe me.

Verdict. Based on the above reasoning, you should reach out to bloggers that link out via nofollow links, but not all of them…

Regardless of the pros, the con is still weighty.

Nofollow links can’t help with organic traffic, and if they have no referral traffic potential, they are absolutely useless.

I suggest that you limit your prospects’ list of nofollow links to pages driving organic traffic.

The logic is simple here.

If someone clicks to a page from Google search, they may click to your link too. If no one visits that page, getting referral traffic is out of the question.

Sort pages with nofollow links by traffic and remove URLs that don’t have any.

No worries, you won’t have too many link prospects of this kind. So, it won’t take too long to send them outreach emails.

According to my study, no more than 5% of pages with nofollow links usually have organic traffic.

Should you deal with blogs that haven’t been updated since last year or earlier?

Once you clean all the trash off your sheet, you’ll need to add one more column with the last blog update. It will help you identify abandoned domains and remove them.

The main contenders for removal above are blogs with no updates for a year or so.

But just like any rule, this one has exceptions.

The lack of new content since last year doesn’t always mean there’s no life behind that domain.

Also, some blogs don’t show publication dates at all, which makes it hard to tell anything about their publishing schedules.

Here are a few hacks to figure out if your target domain is still alive, and you can expect a reply.

5.1. Active live chat

The last post on samadeyinka.com was published in November 2019 🙁

Too early to give up on it!

Look at the lower right corner of the layout. There’s a live chat saying that Sam Adeyinka typically replies within a few hours. The blogger is still active regardless of such a long delay in his editorial calendar.

Note. Pay attention to the date when the chat was last active.

On peppyacademy.com, no one has used their live chat since fall, 2019. Neither have they published new content.

You’ll need to look for other signals of bloggers’ activity, which brings us to the next hack.

5.2. Recent blog comments

The next place to check is a comments section at the bottom of blog posts if it’s not disabled.

Readers comment on makealivingwriting.com and, most importantly, Carol Tice who owns the blog responds to them.

5.3. Post titles with the current year mentions

Check the titles of the latest blog posts for the current year.

Although youcanmakemoneyonlinenow.com has no publication dates, they posted an article about marketing trends for 2020. Looks like they’ve been active this year.

5.4. Archives in the sidebar

On some blogs, layouts have a sidebar with monthly archives of content. There, you can check the last month when new articles were published.

5.5. Fresh copyright date

Scroll down to the footer to see if blog owners have updated the year in a copyright notice.

Is it still 2018 there? The chances of hearing back from them in 2020 are slim to none. Feel free to remove such link prospects from your sheet.

If they’ve edited the year like guys from bullsolutions.co.uk have, you can try your luck with them.

5.6. Active social media profiles

Are there no signs of life on your target domain? Head over to their social media profiles to check if things are different there.

The last article on blurbpointmedia.com dates back to March 2019, but their official Twitter account is quite active.

Read carefully what the tweet below says. Noticed? Now, they have a different domain blurbpoint.com, where they post more often.

That’s what you can discover if you do a quick analysis of your link prospects.

5.7. Current occupation of blog owners

When you have seemingly abandoned personal blogs on your list, look for answers on LinkedIn.

A common scenario is that their owners got a full-time job and have no time for their side projects anymore.

Brandi M Fleeks hasn’t updated bellavitacontent.com for more than a year, but she hasn’t abandoned it.

According to LinkedIn, she just switched to a different project a year ago. Her personal blog is still her property.

What should you do if your target referring page is a guest post?

The next columns to add should include your link prospect’s details, particularly the name, position, company, and whether that person is an in-house employee or a guest writer.

You’ll see that a bunch of pages on your list are guest posts.

Since guest authors don’t own those domains, they have no access to the admin panel. It’s beyond their power to edit their posts and embed your link there, even if they want to.

Shall you reach out to guest contributors anyways? It all depends on your purpose.

Purpose #1. Gaining a backlink to your blog post (from that specific page).

Most likely, it’s a no. Especially if you’re not ready to reward guest writers in return.

No one will bother to contact blog editors and ask them for a link change. They already got what they wanted from those domains, and your weak backlink profile is your problem.

Editors aren’t dumb either. They smell link manipulations a mile off and don’t tolerate such things.

It’s all like chasing windmills – long and useless.

Purpose #2. Gaining a backlink to your product (from that specific page).

If there are guest posts strategically important for your business, be ready to sweat a bit.

A common example of such content is a compilation of competing products. Sure thing you want to get yours featured there too.

In such a case, you need to contact guest authors with an offer to test your tool. Make sure you create free accounts for them.

No response? Then, reach out directly to blog editors or owners if editors don’t reply either. Don’t forget to provide free access for them.

Purpose #3. Gaining backlinks from guest writers’ upcoming posts.

Face it, getting your backlinks embedded in older guest posts is almost impossible.

But why not reach out to people who do guest posting and make friends with them?

They publish content on multiple resources – guest blogs, sites they write on behalf, their personal resources, etc. These are all your potential link targets.

The more people will check out your content, the more links you’ll earn in the long run.

Note. Check LinkedIn profiles of in-house writers to make sure they still work there. In rare cases, people remain in the same company for ages.

For example, Zoe Stoller created content for Splat last year.

But things changed in September 2019. She migrated to a different company and is still there.

Just like guest writers, former employees can’t edit their posts anymore.

But as Zoe is a content lead at Foyr now, you have an opportunity to get a backlink from that resource.

Exception. If you bump into guest posts by your competitor’s team, feel free to remove such link prospects. They won’t help you.

On the other hand, you can approach owners of those domains to submit your own guest posts.

Final Word

As soon as you finish sorting out your link prospects and remove the trash, you’ll come to a logical conclusion. They are not infinite, so you can’t approach them carelessly and waste your opportunities.

Invest some time in polishing your outreach emails to get link prospects on your side. This is exactly what the next chapter of this blogger outreach guide will teach you.

How to Sort and Filter Link Prospects

Got stuck sorting out your link prospects? Every other guide out there suggests that you should rely on the domain authority, relevance, traffic, and social signals. The higher, the better. While there’s absolutely nothing wrong with such advice, it’s the tip of the iceberg. Once you dig deeper into your spreadsheet with link prospects, you’ll … Continue reading “How to Sort and Filter Link Prospects”

Read More

Link Prospecting (How to Find Link Building Prospects)

Ever spent a lot of time on link prospecting but ended up with miserable results? You’re not alone.

The whole process seems straightforward. Take a backlink checker, download websites linking to content and product like yours, and voila! Your list of link building prospects is ready.

No rocket science.

But the problem is everyone who promotes their business via blogger outreach and link building follows the same blueprint.

The outcome? The same people receive tons of similar link requests.

Once the threshold of around 50 emails is crossed (the number depends on each blogger’s emotional stability), many of them start ignoring all the upcoming messages on the same subject, including yours.

While the reality is becoming harsh on the link building arena, it’s still too early to give up.

Learn how to do link prospecting in a way to face less competition.

P.S. For convenience, I divided the guide based on the type of blogger outreach targets.

Bloggers who link to content on your target topic

A short foreword. Bloggers who link to posts on your target topic, aka your competing pages, should go first on your list.

If they are fine with linking to a similar post, you have a fair chance of having that link replaced with yours.

Note that this contextual targeting will work only if your content is ten times better than someone else’s. Learn how to create 10x content in our previous chapter.

To find such link prospects, check pages ranking for keywords related to your target topic in Google.

Let’s say you’ve published a compilation of keyword tools.

Google a query like “best keyword tools” and switch to the top 100 results via settings.

Using a free web scraper, copy URLs of those pages and paste them into Google Sheets or Excel.

Next, see who links to each URL on your list with a backlink checker. This one shows 100 backlinks to a page for free. To see all of them, you’ll need to go premium.

What most folks do. Many people limit themselves here.

They check link prospects for a very basic query (“keyword tools” in our case) and probably a few variations (“best keyword tools,” “free keyword tools,” “keyword tools 2020,” etc).

While there’s nothing wrong with such a tactic, that’s what everyone does. Authors of articles ranking for those basic queries are bombarded with link requests like yours.

You’ll have to face tougher competition.

What you should do. Try to diversify the way you phrase your queries. It’ll help you decrease the level of competition at this stage.

Learn which keywords pages ranking for your basic query also rank for. For example, Ahrefs Keywords Explorer has a standalone report for this.

As shown above, pages ranking for “keyword tools” also rank for alternatives to Google Keyword Planner, Semrush, and other well-known tools.

Check out who links to pages ranking for those queries. Not only are they relevant for you, but also easier to approach due to fewer link requests they receive.

If you don’t have a tool at hand, you can use your logic.

In our example, keyword tools help users find people’s search queries. If you follow the logic, keywords are equivalent to topics to write about.

So, your link prospects could be bloggers linking to compilations of blog topic generators or, say, content idea generators.

In your email, tell bloggers that your tools let users find topic ideas with search traffic potential, not just those that sound good.

Most likely, their readers will find them more helpful, especially if they’re interested in driving more traffic to their blogs. And who isn’t? 🙂

Bloggers who’ve published content on your target topic

A short foreword. You and bloggers who cover your topics are pretty much on the same page.

They are interested in the same stuff you are and should be curious to check out any related content.

Finding like-minded link prospects in Google is a moment’s work.

If you followed the previous step, you should already have them. I’m referring to pages that rank for your target keywords in Google, those you extracted via a web scraper.

What most folks do. Many writers ask bloggers to check out their similar articles and never hear back from them.

No wonder.

While common interests can attract the attention of your topic allies, similar content can’t.

When you reach out to authors of posts on your topic, you’re trying to deal with your content competitors.

Not all of them will be responsive, especially if you don’t give them a compelling reason to be.

What you should do. You should approach such link prospects delicately and only if your content permits.

Find out what’s missing in a competing post and make sure yours can fill the gap.

Then, reach out and explain why your data could be a useful addition to the info already published.

For example, almost no one makes a feature comparison. Hell yeah, it requires a huge investment of time to test each tool and gain such insights.

But don’t regret spending time on unique content. Regret spending time on outreach that will bring you little to no backlinks.

If you compare features of tools, you can offer bloggers to embed your comparison table with link attribution to your original.

Their readers will appreciate such a convenient way to compare items on their list.

Note. Reach out to this category of link prospects only if you compete with them on the topic. If they are your direct competitors on the product, better stay away.

Bloggers who’ve published content closely related to your topic

A short foreword. At this stage of link prospecting, you should google articles where your content will fit in.

Let’s stick to our example of building links to a compilation of keyword tools. In this case, your link prospects are authors of keyword research guides.

What kind of keyword research can go without tools and their metrics?

The question is rhetorical 🙂

What most folks do. Just like in the first section, people stop too early here.

They usually don’t go any further than running a search for obvious queries like “keyword research guide,” “how to find keywords,” etc.

What you should do. To expand your list of link prospects, you should be more ingenious.

Try to brainstorm ideas of how your content could be helpful in more specific terms.

The easiest way in our case is to enter a landing page of any keyword tool and check what purposes its features serve.

FeaturesPossible search queries to target
Thousands of Keyword Suggestionsqueries related to content ideation: how to find topic ideas, how to overcome writer’s block, etc
Keyword Difficulty Scorequeries related to rankings: how to rank in the top, how to grow search rankings, etc
Search Volumes / Clicksqueries related to traffic: how to increase website traffic, how to get more visitors to your website, etc

In fact, you can expand each topic with even more specific subtopics.

For example, enter a query like “blog ideas” in your go-to tool and check long-tail keywords for it.

Your link prospecting list will include posts about blog ideas for different niches, e.g. lifestyle, travel, real estate, etc.

Speaking about queries related to traffic, you can find link prospects for different types of sites (online stores, blogs) and platforms (Shopify, WordPress).

Bloggers who link to your competitors

A short foreword. Competitors’ backlink profiles are sources of information on any question:

  • which of competitors’ backlinks can bring them referral traffic;
  • what kind of content works best in terms of link building in your niche;
  • if they participate in interviews and podcasts;
  • if they record webinars with tools like Zoom to teach their audiences;
  • who links to them on an ongoing basis;
  • where they submit guest posts.

If your competitors are welcome in those places, you should be too.

What most folks do.  Analyzing competitors’ backlink profiles, many people try to imitate them way too close.

They consider all of their competitors’ referring domains to be their link prospects.

For example, if someone’s case study has many backlinks, people research the same topic and end up with similar findings.

But do link prospects need another study that proves what they already know?

Another common failure is when people see competitors’ backlinks from testimonials, they start offering their feedback too.

But unless they are big names in their niche, there’s hardly anyone who’d be interested in testimonials from them.

What you should do. There’s no need to replicate every backlink of your competitor.

Instead, focus on backlinks strategically important for your business exposure.

First of all, these are compilations of products like yours that don’t link to you.

If your product is a keyword tool, run a search for “best keyword tools” and click through results to see where you aren’t on the list.

Next, ask bloggers who ignored you to check out your tool and give it a spin if they find it worthy.

To sound persuasive, you can analyze competitors’ pricing and reach out under the excuse that your tool is more affordable than many others listed. That way, it will be a better option for startups and everyone else who sticks to a tight budget.

Make sure you provide free access for them if your product isn’t free.

Compilations with monthly organic traffic are more valuable link prospects in this case.

Besides backlinks, you’ll get website visitors who can convert into paid users eventually.

Bloggers who accept guest posts (for free, of course)

A short foreword. Guest blogs are basically the only link prospects that give you some control over the anchor text.

Does your backlink profile contain mostly branded and URL anchors? Then, do some guest posting to mix them with keyword anchors.

What most folks do. Many guest post seekers use the same search strings to find guest blogs:

keyword “write for us”
keyword “submit content”
keyword “guest post by”

And the list goes on.

The truth is blogs that have “write for us” pages receive multiple pitches daily.

Some of them have become so picky that they discard good pitches.

Others have come up with a more creative way of selection. They welcome only writers who won’t mind paying them a “small publishing fee,” which is nonsense if your content is good.

What you should do. Take a look at guest blogging from a content angle – it’s not all about link building.

If you offer bloggers high-quality content for free, it’s in their best interest to publish it.

To accept your pitch, bloggers don’t necessarily have to have a “write for us” page. Neither should they mark some of their articles as “guest posts.”

And they do have a point.

Especially since Matt Cutts from Google said any backlink manipulations via guest blogging are forbidden.

The bottom line?

To find blogs potentially interested in your topic, google it without any search strings.

Next, check out if your target blog accepts guest contributions. Head to an author’s bio to see if that person is an in-house writer or from an outside company.

Let’s enter the first blog in the top 10 and click through its articles.

Many of them are written by Buffer’s staff, except for this one. Its author is Anum Hussain from a different company Acciyo.

There’s not a single mention on the page that it’s a guest post, but it still is!

So, Buffer does accept guest posts, regardless of the fact that they don’t have a “write for us’ page.

Also, install a free extension from Moz to make sure outgoing links in a guest post are dofollow.

Bloggers who link to dead pages

A short foreword. Known as broken link building, this strategy is about helping both parties.

You’ll earn new backlinks, while your link prospects will fix broken link issues on their domains.

Use a broken backlink checker to find competitors’ dead pages that still have live backlinks.

What most folks do. Dead pages exist not only on live domains. And that’s what many people overlook in broken link building.

Over time, some companies grow into seven-figure businesses, while others go broke and shut down. Naturally, their domains with many content pages get expired.

Bloggers don’t keep an eye on every company they’ve ever mentioned. So, live backlinks to expired domains are still on their blogs.

What you should do. Find expired domains related to your business using this free service.

Type in your target keyword and sort results by backlinks (BL) to check the most linked-to expired domains.

Note that expired domains relevant to your business won’t always include your target keyword in their names.

 And expireddomains.net shows only domains you can buy, but many of them aren’t on sale.

 As a plan B, you can search for articles published years ago and check if they feature any discontinued items.

 Let’s search for “free keyword tools” with a date range of 2010-2015.

The first article suggested links to a discontinued tool that used to be hosted on wordpot.com.

Now, let’s inspect the backlink profile of wordpot.com. Although it’s been discontinued for a while, it still has backlinks from 363 referring domains. 72% of them link to it via dofollow links.

Bloggers who mentioned you but never linked to your site

A short foreword. There are cases when you’re much closer to gaining backlinks than you think.

These are sites with unlinked mentions of your business. By default, they’ll give you privilege over others who will reach out to owners of those blogs.

You are not a complete stranger to those bloggers. They should have a good impression of your business if they decided to give it a mention.

Half the job is already done for you.

To find unlinked mentions, you can use Google and a bunch of advanced search operators:

intext:

Use this operator to find pages containing your business name.

– (a minus sign)

This operator will help you exclude pages from domains you don’t need to check. These can be your site or sites, guest blogs you contribute to, or any other sites that make no sense for link building like social networks.

Since Google won’t show you all the results found, make sure to exclude as many unnecessary domains as possible.

For example, there are 11,900 results for OutreachMama, social networks excluded.

But you’ll be able to check only 196 results.

If you include omitted results, the number will grow to 319, but that’s still not even a thousand.

Is it a dead end? No, you can filter results by different date ranges to extract more URLs, e.g. first for 2020, next for 2019, and so on.

 

 

 

 

 

 

What most folks do. Many hunters for unlinked mentions check their company or domain names only and call it a day.

But that way, a lot of other business mentions drop off their radars.

What you should do. Expand your list with more possible mentions related to your business. Here they are.

Branded product names

If you give unique names to your products, check them for unlinked mentions.

For example, Apple’s branded product names are iPad, iPhone, Mac, Safari, iTunes, etc.

The U.S. developer of website templates, TemplateMonster, brands their products with creative names too – Woostroid, Apparelix, etc. You got the idea.

Mentions of team members

When quoting someone, bloggers usually refer to the company’s representatives rather than the company as a whole.

That’s why you should google mentions of your team members to see if they’re all linked to your site.

Stolen visuals without link attribution

The reason why people steal content is a mystery [sarcasm]. But the fact is they do, and visual content isn’t an exception here.

Do a reverse image search to check if someone has re-posted your pics and forgot to link to the original.

Right-click on your target image and then left-click on “Search Google for image.”

You can perform a search for any visuals, including custom featured images, research graphs and charts, infographics, logos, flyers, etc.

This one is a favorite tactic for many blog outreach companies because its easy to find prospects and straightforward for landing links.

Links to social media profiles

At times, bloggers link to companies’ social media posts and profiles instead of their websites directly.

Such links do give some exposure, but they are absolutely useless for growing website authority and search rankings along the way.

You can find such wasted link opportunities with a backlink checker you have at hand.

Enter URLs of your company’s social media profiles and team members.

For example, guys from Tribute Media link to OutreachMama’s Twitter profile via a dofollow backlink. But there’s no outreachmama.com among the domains tributemedia.com links to.

Since tributemedia.com has a high DR of 72, it makes sense to redirect the currently wasted link juice to outreachmama.com.

Misspelled backlinks

Lack of attention is quite common among bloggers, and some of them misspell domain names when linking out.

While such incorrectly linked mentions are legally yours, link juice they send still doesn’t reach its destination.

To find misspelled backlinks, generate possible typos of your domain name via this free tool.

Next, use your backlink checker to see if any of those misspelled domains have backlinks.

For example, fromthedogspaw.com links to outreachmOma.com instead of its correct version outreachmAma.com via a dofollow backlink.

Bloggers you link out to from your site and guest posts

A short foreword. In SEO circles, there’s a rule to link out from every post to at least 3-4 relevant websites with high authority.

Such outbound links serve as trust signals and prove content relevance to search queries Google will rank it for.

In terms of link prospecting, you can use this scheme for your own good.

Each time you link out to bloggers, notify them about how useful their content turned out for yours that you referred to it.

They will be thankful for such a nice gesture.

Some prospects will link to you in return. Others will at least share your write-up with their social followers who can link to you in their turn.

What most folks do. When writers need to link out somewhere, they randomly pick one of the first pages they see in Google search.

But the thing is another backlink won’t do much good to those top-ranking pages.

Think about it. They already have what they want and got it without your help. You won’t do them a big favor with another backlink, you see.

What you should do. You should help the needy rather than well-off folks.

Instead of linking out to posts that already feel good in the top 10, better target pages lagging behind. Look for them on the 2nd or 3rd pages of search results.

Your backlink will help them get closer to the top, where most traffic comes from.

Underperformers will appreciate your link much more than those in the top 10.

That way, they’ll be more willing to cooperate with you and pay you back with a backlink eventually.

Note. I’m not saying you should pick some untrustworthy domain with a zero or close-to-zero DR.

Google does dictate that we should link out to authority sites only. But such sites don’t necessarily rank for all the keywords they target in the top 10.

You’ll find a lot of credible domains with a medium-to-high DR on the 2nd and 3rd pages of Google search.

Check out what kind of pages ranking below the top 10 results you should target.

Pages that drive less traffic

Let’s say you want to link out to a compilation of the best keyword research tools.

Currently, pages ranking in the top 10 generate hundreds to thousands of monthly visitors from organic search. You can figure it out with a SERP checker like this.

To compare, many pages ranking in the top 11-20 don’t get even a hundred visits per month.

Help one of them rise above in SERP to get more traffic with your backlink.

Pages that have fewer referring domains

If a page has backlinks from 297 referring domains like #11 result, you won’t impress its author with your 298th.

With a ratio of 1 / 298, you understand how miserable the value you provide is, don’t you?

Instead, target pages with fewer backlinks like #12, #13 or even #15 with no referring domains. Your contribution will look more valuable in the eyes of such link prospects.

Are you curious why I estimated referring domains instead of backlinks? Here’s a short foreword about how the unspoken formula of link juice efficiency works.

It makes more sense to get 10 backlinks from 10 domains rather than from the same domain. That way, you’ll receive link juice from 10 domains, not just one.

Pages of strategic importance to businesses

Today, almost no one agrees to link out to promotional content they are not affiliated with.

Editors get so frustrated with links to product pages in guest posts that they remove them before even reading the first sentence.

That’s why building links to such content is a challenge.

Instead of linking out to any random stuff on your target domain, focus on pages strategically relevant to their business.

Here they are:

  • product pages;
  • news about product releases or updates;
  • guides to doing things with the help of their products;
  • compilations of their products;
  • blog posts that have affiliate links.

Let’s check out the page ranking #13 from the screenshot above. It has many affiliate links that you can recognize by the following URL pattern:

https://website.com/go/affiliate/

Imagine how thankful bloggers will be for your backlink if it moves their post up, bringing them more visitors and affiliate sales.

Final Word

Following this guide, you should find bloggers who will be more responsive to your emails.

Note that link prospecting tactics that most folks use don’t always fail.

With a solid product (or content) and some luck, you’ll be able to find a bunch of cool link prospects that way.

But you’ll also have to beat off more competitors there, which will result in lower response rates of your link requests.

And the goal of this guide is to bring you to places with easier backlink wins.

Link Prospecting (How to Find Link Building Prospects)

Ever spent a lot of time on link prospecting but ended up with miserable results? You’re not alone. The whole process seems straightforward. Take a backlink checker, download websites linking to content and product like yours, and voila! Your list of link building prospects is ready. No rocket science. But the problem is everyone who … Continue reading “Link Prospecting (How to Find Link Building Prospects)”

Read More

Search Engine Optimization Tutorial (An Introduction to SEO)

Before I get into why this SEO tutorial is the perfect starting point for your learning journey, let me first give you some context on why I decided to make this 5 video, 9000+ word guide.

When I first started learning SEO, I found the guides to be either be too high level, too detailed, or too fragmented.

As a beginner, I just wanted to understand the big picture first, and then start getting into the specifics.

That’s what this beginner’s guide is all about.

Whether you prefer watching video or reading text, I’ll take you through the core concepts of what it takes to be successful with SEO.

If you want to know how to get your SEO content ranked highly in Google fast, this guide is the place to start.

After reading this article, you will have a clear understanding of exactly what SEO is, how Google ranks websites, and, most importantly, how you can play the game the right way so that your content ranks on the first page of Google for years to come.

This is an incredibly in depth guide so you might want to bookmark this page and refer back to it as needed.

These concepts take time and patience to master so sit back, relax, and get ready to take some notes.

We are about to level up your search engine game… Forever.

Before we get started, it’s important that we have a clear understanding of what search engine optimization actually is.

According to Search Engine Land, SEO:

…stands for “search engine optimization.” It is the process of getting traffic from the “free,” “organic,” “editorial” or “natural” search results on search engines

In layman’s terms, SEO is the art and science of optimizing your website and content so that it organically appears on the first page of Google (or any other search engine) for your respective high-intent keywords or phrases.

For example, if you run a local marketing agency in Denver, having your website optimized for Google would mean that when someone types in “Best marketing agency in Denver” your website would be on the first page.

The Importance of SEO

One of the first questions that inevitably pops up for many business owners and online marketers is “Do I really need to practice SEO to achieve long term success?”In a word? YES!

If you will recall our previous definition of SEO, “It is the process of getting traffic from the “Free”, “Editorial”, or “Natural” search results on search engines”.

This is an important distinction to make because, unlike product marketing or other traditional marketing methods and paid traffic, SEO is the process of earning free visitors on autopilot for years to come.

If you optimize your website properly according to SEO KPIs, you will experience a massive influx of organic visitors (read: potential customers) without spending a single dime on advertising or marketing.

What would that do for your business?

How would your life change if each and every day you had thousands of highly qualified leads being attracted to your website… automatically?

I don’t think I need to spell things out any further.

SEO is, without a doubt, one of the single most important marketing strategies of today and, if you can get this right, you will never have to worry about your bottom line ever again.

Do I have your attention now?

I hope so!

What Google Wants

What does Google want?

At the end of the day, it’s important to remember that Google is a business like any other.

However, unlike most businesses, their product isn’t a piece of information or a physical object, it’s access to relevant content.

As a business, Google’s goal is quite simple.

They want to figure out what their customers are searching for and then provide them with the most relevant web pages possible.

It’s that simple.

Think of Google as the world’s most effective librarian.

There are millions of “books” or search results in the online library (aka the internet) and it’s Google’s job to help you find the most relevant “books” for your specific questions and concerns.

If you search “How to gain muscle” or “How to find love” or “How to do SEO”, it’s Google’s job to provide you with the most relevant and valuable content related to your query.

Fortunately or unfortunately, there is no way to change what Google wants in order to make our existing content and web pages more appealing.

Instead, our job is to play nice and give Google exactly what it wants.

And the only thing that Google wants is highly valuable content.

It wants content that is:

  •  Trustworthy, credible, and authoritative
  •  Unique
  •  Popular
  •  Useful and informative
  •  Neither deceptive nor malicious
  •  Highly valuable!

But the question still remains, “How in the world does Google actually know what content meets these criteria?”

How Google Finds the Most Valuable Content

While human beings have five senses, Google has only three “senses” for finding and determining the value of content on the internet.

  1. Google Bot
  2. Traffic Data
  3. User Metrics

Each of these “Senses” or methods for finding and ranking content is important to understand because it will have a tremendous impact on our ability effectively optimize our content.

Here’s an overview of how they work.

Google Sense #1: Google Bot

The first of Google’s three “Senses” is the Google Bot.

Googlebot “crawls” the internet in search of new and updated web pages and links.

Once it finds the information that it’s looking for, it will then take that information back to Google’s data center where it is stored and organized in a supermassive database known as the Search Index.

If Google were a treasure hunter, you could imagine Googlebot as their proverbial metal detector.

It scans the earth (internet) in search of treasure (high value websites), but it will pick up anything that is made of a metallic substance (e.g. any website).

Much like a metal detector, Googlebot isn’t responsible for sorting or deciphering what it finds. It’s sole purpose is to find and index content so that other programs, such as Google’s RankBrain (which we will discuss later) can rank it.

The four ways that Googlebot searches for information are:

  •  URLs
  • Metadata
  • Anchor Text
  • Content

Here’s a quick overview of how you can optimize each of these factors to be more easily understood by Googlebot.

Your URL: From Google Bot’s Perspective

A URL or, Unique Resource Locator, is the method that we use to find a single specific web page.For any given URL, there can only be one web page, and this is an integral part of how the internet works.For example, if you type in https://www.linkio.com you will always land at the Linkio home page, you will never be taken to a different site or a different page unless the web page owner sets up a 301 redirect (but that’s a topic for a different time).

In order to optimize your URLs, you must first understand the three types of URLs that are present on the internet.

1. Home page URL: https://www.linkio.com
2. Inner page URL: https://www.linkio.com/seo-tutorial/
3. Sub-domain URL: https://app.linkio.com/

A common SEO practice that still works today but worked better a few years ago was purchasing an Exact Match Domain or EMD to get an SEO edge.

Basically, you purchase a domain name that contains the exact keyword that you want to rank for.

For example, If i wanted to build a business around SEO tutorials, I would have bought the seotutorial[dot]com domain name.

In 2010, I’d have ranked for SEO tutorial quickly.

But ever since 2012 when Google announced their EMD filter, websites that appear to be scamming Google by exactly matching their URL to their desired search query are having their website lowered in the SERPs.

And it’s no secret a lot of SEOs had their businesses brought to zero by this update.

In fact, around this time, I owned about 200 plumbing websites for just about every city in Orange County.

It was the same type of pattern for each one, i.e. emergencyplumberirvineca[dot]com.

Every time the phone rang, my plumbing client would write me a check.

But after this update, the sites were a lot more difficult to rank.

So what does this mean for you?

If you don’t have an existing domain name already, then you might consider purchasing a domain that has some keywords present but isn’t an EMD.

For example, if I wanted to really focus on SEO tutorials, my domain name might be tutorialsbyajay[dot]com or seobyajay[dot]com instead of seotutorial[dot]com.

Just think of it this way when choosing a domain name: what name can you pick that will give Google and your visitors a pretty good hint of what industry you’re in, without being overly blatant.

If you can’t think of a domain name that includes a part of your keyword, that’s also totally fine.

Just look at my domain name, Linkio. Even though we provide marketers with SEO tools, there is no mention of SEO or tool in the domain name.

Why?

Because there are plenty of other ways to optimize for SEO besides the domain name.

Next, let’s explore what else the Google bot is looking for as it crawls through the web.

Your Metadata: From Google Bot’s Perspective

Metadata, as the name implies, is information about other information.

For example, in the “Real World” we have social security numbers, VIN numbers, dates of birth, model numbers, and serial numbers.

On web pages, there are three primary types of metadata.

  1.  Page Meta Title
  2. Page Meta Description
  3. Schema

These pieces of information are designed to help Google understand what your site is about so that it can rank it for the appropriate query.

Ironically, even though this information wasn’t originally intended for humans to interact with, they are actually the very first things that a person will see on the search engine results page (SERPs).

It’s important to note that the information you include (or don’t include) in your metadata can encourage or discourage people from clicking through to your website from the SERPs.

Optimized metadata is when the meta title, meta description, and schema are all technically accurate for SEO purposes.

For example, if you were a plumber in Newark, NJ, this is what optimized metadata would look like.

  • Page meta title: Plumber in Newark, NJ.
  • Page meta description: Licensed and bonded plumbing repair company based in Newark, New Jersey. Our prices can’t be beat!
  • Page schema: Name Address and Phone Number (NAP)
  • Local Business: This is the type of entity
  • Name: Chris Plumbing
  • Street: 22 Newark Avenue
  • Town: Newark
  • State: New Jersey
  • Zip Code: 07101

If we go back, once again, to our library analogy, metadata is very similar to the cover of a book. In order to quickly and effectively find the information that you are looking for, the library needs to have an accurate book title (meta title), back cover (meta description), and identification number (Schema).

You could still find any book that you were looking for with only one of these three factors, however, having all three fully optimized makes it much easier to quickly find and obtain the information that you need.

Anchor Text: From Google Bot’s Perspective

Anchor text is clickable text in a hyperlink that’s on a webpage. Typically, you can recognize anchor text by the blue color and underline, although savvy web designers can customize colors to their liking.

Linkio, is an example of anchor text.

So is this.

As is this, The Ultimate Guide to Anchor Text.

When someone clicks on an anchor, the link is opened either on the same
page or in a new tab on your browser.

In the modern world of SEO, anchor text has become an even more important factor for effectively ranking your content than keywords.

I could write an entire guide focusing exclusively on anchor text, but for the purposes of this guide, I want to give you a brief runthrough of the different types of anchors and how you should use each to optimize your content for search engine success.

● Branded: This is an anchor that is associated with your brand name. For example, if you run grubhub[dot]com then your branded anchor text would be “Grub Hub”.

● Keyword: This is an anchor associated with keywords you’re trying to rank for. An example of a keyword anchor would be someone who is trying to rank for the query  “Online Marketing Tricks”  would be  “Online Marketing Tricks” or  “The best online  marketing tricks”.

● Hybrid: A hybrid anchor is usually a combination of both branded and keyword anchors. For example, “Linkio’s beginner’s  guide to SEO”

● URL: This is one of the simplest types of anchor texts. A url anchor is exactly what it sounds like, a URL. For example,  https://www.linkio.com is a URL anchor and so is linkio.com

● Natural: Natural anchors are anchors that are not related to your keyword or brand. For example, click here, this website, and our new article are all natural anchors.

You can play around with our anchor text generator tool to come with more ideas for how to vary your anchors.

Content: From Google Bot’s Perspective

Content is anything and everything that can be viewed by your audience from the web. In your run of the mill article, there can be several types of content including:

● Written content
● Videos
● Images (such as infographics)
● Sound files

In order to ensure the highest ranking possible, it’s important that you clearly define what each piece of content is about by optimizing the metadata so that Google can quickly and accurately determine the topic of your content.

Content Type 1: Written Content

Written content is any text that appears on a web page. This spans everything from long form articles to single sentences to the headline above an image or video. If it can be seen on a website (by humans or Google) than it’s considered content.

Google will look for certain keywords and related phrases to determine what your content is about and how relevant it is to a given search query. This helps web pages rank in the SERPs.

Content Type 2: Images or Photos

Any sort of photographic content such as pictures, infographics, charts, flyers, etc. are considered content.

This is something that many novice webmasters overlook but it plays a huge role in helping Google understand and effectively rank your content.

In order for Google to understand and view your content, you need to optimize the metadata for your specific keyword.

This includes the file name, alt text, and title.

Here’s an example of how you would optimize an image in WordPress for the keyword, “Guitar Lessons in Seattle”.

Content Type 3: Videos

Video files such as MP4s or MOVs are optimized for Google in the same way as image content with a file name, alt text, and title.

Content Type 4: Sound Files

Any sort of embedded sound files such as MP3’s are considered sound content. This must be optimized in the same way as image and video content to ensure that Google can properly understand and rank your content.

Pulling All The Content Types Together: The Importance of a Multimedia Experience

The online world is changing. In years past, it was normal for a website to focus exclusively on one type of content such as written blogs or video content (like YouTube).

Today, however, Google is placing an increased focus on webpages that offer a multimedia experience to their users.

In order to achieve the highest ranking possible, it’s important that you embed image, video, and sound files into your written content to give your users a more complete experience and Google a greater understanding of what your content is about.

Think about it this way…

If you were teaching a class of students about a particular skill, you are going to have different types of students who learn in different ways.

In the same way that there are kinesthetic, auditory, and visual learners, and your teaching style should incorporate resources and techniques that appeal to each one, Google wants web owners to provide a variety of content types both to increase its usability and the ease with which Google can understand it.

Google Sense #2: Traffic Data

Once a website has been crawled and indexed in Google’s database, the next step in the ranking process begins.

Since Google’s search engine has yet to achieve sentience, it has no direct way of determining the value or validity of any given website.

Instead, it looks for clues about the quality and value of a web page by paying attention to how audience members and other websites interact with that information.

The first way that it does this is by analyzing the amount of traffic that a given web page or piece of content receives.

Specifically, it looks for:

● Clicks on search results
● Chrome browser data
● Traffic data purchased from high traffic sites
● Traffic on sites that Google owns (such as YouTube)
● Adsense and Google Maps

It’s kind of like deciding which movie you are going to see based on how many other people are in line for a given film.

When Google is trying to determine whether or not a website has high value content, the first (although not necessarily the most reliable) way to determine the value of a site is by how many visitors it has.

However, with the abundance of paid traffic options available to your average webmaster, this isn’t always an accurate way to determine value.

In the same way that countless people can line up to see a terrible movie (I’m looking at you Transformers), a website with subpar content can still receive tons of traffic.

As such, Google has a third way of determining the value of a web page or piece of content…

Google Sense #3: User Metrics

Once Google has found and indexed a website and then analyzed the amount of traffic being directed to that site, it analyzes how users interact with that website in order to determine its value to searchers.

It does this by analyzing a variety of factors such as:

● The amount of time spent on a given URL (dwell time)
● The number of videos that are played and watched
● Advertisement clicks
● Clicks on internal and external links
● Button clicks (such as opt-in or purchase buttons)

Using the movie analogy I mentioned earlier, this would be like a staff member taking notes about how many people left a movie, fell asleep during the movie, laughed at specific jokes, or clapped during exceptionally pivotal scenes.

Google knows that it’s easy to buy traffic and game a “Quantity Only” algorithm so they place a special importance on user metrics when ranking and rewarding specific web pages.

For more ideas on how to generate great user signals that rank your page, check out this case study on how we ranked without backlinks.

What Happens Next?

Once Google has found and indexed a website, its traffic data, and user metrics, it will then analyze and rank those websites to determine which pages will show up first for a specific search query.

Google’s process for ranking content is known as the Google Algorithm.

Their algorithm is an incredibly complex series of mathematical equations that analyze data and then rank websites with the goal of presenting users with the most relevant possible content.

So, for example, if you searched “Beginner’s Guide to SEO”, Google wants to ensure that the first result they present to you is the best and most relevant piece of content on that subject.

Google’s algorithm uses a number of different factors to determine relevance and, over the course of this guide, I’ll be sharing the most important of these with you.

Differentiating White Hat and Black Hat Tactics

Before we go any further I want to leave you with a word of warning.

There are dozens of different tactics that you can use to improve your search engine rankings, however, many of them are designed to “Game” Google’s algorithm and gain an unfair advantage by using shady tactics.

This is known as black hat SEO.

Such tactics include:

● Creating duplicate content
● Keyword stuffing
● Invisible text
● Redirecting users to another website
● Buying backlinks from non-relevant websites

And I will be the first to say it.

These tactics work… for a while.

However, after more than a decade in the SEO game, I can confidently say that I’ve never seen a website sustain success with black hat SEO tactics.

Google’s algorithm is one of the most advanced algorithms in the world and the constant patches and updates are designed to ensure that anyone trying to game the system is penalized and punished for their sins.

Sure, you can leverage black hat techniques to achieve short term success. However, over the span of months and years, you will eventually incur Google’s wrath and have your website penalized or worse… De-indexed.

As tempting as it might be to try and shortcut your way to success, I must urge you to reconsider.

Although white hat SEO takes time, hard work, and patience, it pays off in the long run and can help you achieve financial and business success beyond what you previously thought possible.

I’ve published some month-by-month case studies to prove you can be aggressive with your SEO without crossing the line. Here’s my SEO case study of how I ranked this Linkio website and this is my e-commerce SEO case study on how I’ve ranked a side business.

Optimizing Your On Page SEO

Now that you understand what Google wants and how you can make it easy for Googlebot to understand your website, it’s time to discuss specific tactics for optimizing your website and content for performance.

Website Speed

By far one of the most underrated aspects of a successful SEO strategy is your website speed.

Google has estimated that websites with a 6 second load speed (or slower) lose more than 24% of their organic traffic due to sluggish page speeds.

But the reality is much worse.

47% of consumers expect a website to load in 2 seconds or less and more than 40% of them will abandon a website that takes longer than 3 seconds to load.

As such, improving the speed of your website is one of the most important things that you can do to improve user signals and traffic metrics and, by extension, your search engine performance.

But how do you actually get started boosting your website speed?

For a long time, I was guilty of disregarding site speed and just focusing on creating helpful content and tools.

Before I knew it, my WordPress backend had 90(!) plugins installed, 3 different page builders, and awful site speed scores.

After making several changes, here are my current scores.

While there are dozens of great resources and tactics for ramping up your site’s speed, here are a few of the simplest and easiest things I did squeeze the extra speed out of my website.

Choose the Right Web Host

The first and most important thing that you can do to ensure that your website loads as quickly as possible is to select the right hosting package from the best company that you can afford.

There are four primary hosting options to choose from:

● Shared hosting
● VPS hosting
● Dedicated server
● Cloud Hosting

Shared hosting is by far the slowest and least effective type of hosting since you share resources such as RAM and CPU with other websites.

VPS hosting, on the other hand, is still shared with other websites but allows you to access a dedicated portion of the servers resources.

It’s kind of like living with a roommate vs. living in an apartment building.

When you have a roommate you share all of the resources such as living space, the bathrooms, and utilities.

When you live in an apartment, you are still living in the same building with other people, but you have your own dedicated area that is exclusively for you.

A dedicated server, on the other hand, is like living in your own house.

You don’t share any resources with anyone, however, the cost is greater and the technical requirements are much more taxing.

Finally, Cloud hosting is hosting your website through a cloud provider like AWS or Digital Ocean. No servers to manage and you typically pay for what you consume.

I switched from dedicated hosting to cloud hosting in haven’t looked back. It’s pretty technical to setup though, so it’s better to go through a managed-cloud provider like Cloudways, Kinsta or ManageWP.

The one I chose is Cloudways VULTR WordPress hosting. It’s pretty much one of the fastest options out there right now.

Minimize Image Sizes

Another common mistake that many newbie web owners make is that they forget to minimize the images on their website.

Oftentimes, stock photos will download at pixel sizes of 4500 x 4500 and up. Even if you proceed to resize the images in WordPress, your website will still have to load the full image and then resize it to the appropriate length and width, slowing your website even further.

I ended up using Imagify to bulk shrink my 4 gigs of media down to 400 mbs. You do notice the images get worst looking – especially since I chose the most aggressive settings, but I’d OK with it.

Enable Caching

One of the easiest ways to increase your website’s load time is to enable browser caching.

Whenever someone visits your site for the first time, their browser will have to load all of the elements on your site by sending an HTTP request to the server. This takes a lot of time and can result in very slow page speeds.

However, if you enable browser caching, their browser can load many of those same elements from its cache, or temporary storage.

This means that your repeat visitors will have a faster and cleaner experience which, of course, means a greater possibility of conversion.

I picked WP Rocket because most bloggers were recommending it. After installing it, it worked decently enough, but it honestly broke lots of things too. It’s default optimization options rarely work out of the box, unless your website is simple. I ended up hiring a developer and the first thing he said is how much he hates all caching plugins, including WP Rocket.

But I had noticed it’s lazy loading settings are quite useful, and I preferred a plugin over his custom solution because custom things are hard to maintain year after year.

So he begrudgingly help fix the stuff WP Rocket broke and the pages are loading quite well now.

If your website is simple, then simply install the plugin from WordPress then enable caching once it’s installed.

Audit and Enable Compression

When it comes to boosting your website speed, compression is the name of the game.

Start by running a compression audit at GID Network and then enable a browser caching software such as W3 Total Cache and select “Enable Compression”. I haven’t seen compression settings in WP Rocket though.

Limit Plugins and Other Third Party Software

Although I’ve already recommended a number of great plugins that you can use to speed up your website’s response time, it’s important to note that most plugins will hinder, not help, your website’s performance.

As such, it’s important that you minimize the number of plugins and third party software that you use.

If you don’t need ‘em, delete ‘em. Trust me, I know it’s easier said than done.

WordPress plugins are amazing and save a ton of time. But I’ve learned the hard way, there are tradeoffs.

While fixing Linkio’s speed, I’ve gone down from 90 plugins to 33.

Some will say 33 is still way too many, and they’re probably right. But I’m running a business and I need a robust awesome marketing site, so a little bloat is cool with me. I ended up using an awesome plugin called  Asset Cleanup Pro that helps me selectively unload plugins sitewide with specific page exceptions.

You can test your site speed with GTMetrix and Google Page Speed Insights.

Website Design

Website design is a critical aspect of on page optimization. Although you won’t directly gain any points from Google for having an aesthetic design or beautiful visuals on your site, the importance of web design for user experience cannot be overstated.

If you’ll recall, one of the key factors that Google uses to determine a website’s value is dwell time or, the amount of time that individuals spend on a given page or URL.

And your website design will impact dwell time in a way that few other things can.

Sure, there are plenty of ugly websites that still rank highly in Google simply because of the celebrity status of their owner or the massive marketing budget behind them.

However, they are ranking in spite of their design, not because of it.

Just think about your own experience. How many websites have you visited and promptly left for no other reason than the layout and design of the site?

If you’re anything like me, the answer is “Hundreds!”

Don’t be like those sites.

If you haven’t done so already, I highly recommend that you invest in a responsive website design (there are plenty of themes that are surprisingly affordable).

It’s important that your website is optimized for mobile devices since Google is looking to roll out something known as their “Mobile First Index” later this year.

The mobile first index is exactly what it sounds like. After its launch, Google will begin crawling and ranking your mobile site first. This means that any website that is not fully responsive and optimized for mobile users will be penalized and experience a massive drop in its rankings.

I don’t care if you have to hire a company or redesign your entire site yourself. If you want to succeed at the SEO game in 2018 and beyond, you need to optimize your site for mobile users. Period.

Content

It’s been said that “Content is king”, and you can rest assured that the king still reigns supreme.

Without high quality content, none of the tactics or techniques that I’ve shared with you thus far will make a difference.

You can optimize your website all you want. You can have a killer backlinking strategy (which I’ll talk about in the next section). You can do everything right.

But without exceptional content that clearly shows Google that you are the authority when it comes to your target keywords and phrases… None of it will matter.

But what makes content “Good”?

Simply put… Context.

Here’s what I mean.

In the olden days of SEO, Google ranked web pages based on their content. In other words, the only thing that Google wanted to see was content that was stuffed with the target keyword.

Since then, Google’s algorithm has evolved and become much smarter.

Although it still cares about content, it places even greater importance on the context of that content.

In other words, Google wants to see content that covers all aspects of its topic, not just its respective keyword.

For example, if you wrote a piece of content teaching people how to gain muscle, Google would want to see you including dozens of long tail keywords throughout your article that are related to your specific topic such as:

● The best supplements for gaining muscle
● How to recover from a workout
● Gain muscle for beginners
● High intensity interval training

The key to creating comprehensive content that proves to Google that you are the authority on your chosen topic is simple…

Create highly valuable content that is difficult to replicate.

Yes, it’s hard work. You will need to pour several hours into any article that you create (just like I poured several days into this guide).

But at the end of the day, you can’t game the system. All of your content should be 2,000 words or longer and cover your given topic as thoroughly as you’re able.

Here are a few other tips to help you level up your content and improve your website’s search engine performance.

Use Clever and Benefit Driven Subheadings

Few people have the time or attention span to read through an entire article or mega guide these day. Just think about it…

Have you actually read all of the content up to this point? If so, then I salute you.

However, if you are anything like me (or 99% of the population) then you’ve probably been skimming through this guide, zeroing in on important headlines, and reading the parts that seemed important to you.

This is how most content on the internet is consumed.

In order to make your content as accessible as possible to your audience and thereby increase the dwell time on your important pages, be sure to break up your content with lots of subheadings, bullet points, and numbered lists.

The more skimmable your content is, the better.

Embed Lots of Images and Videos

They say that content is king, but it would be far more accurate to say that “Visual content is king”.

In recent years, we’ve witnessed an explosive growth in video and image based content like infographics.

The more videos and images that you can embed into your pillar content, the better the user experience will be and the more highly Google will rank your content.

It’s that simple. You can do all of this using common sense and a little bit of research but if you have more money than time, try using a tool like SurferSEO. It’s basically a search scraper that tells you what words to include in your articles.

Don’t forget to link out generously to your relevant blog content or services pages throughout.

Understanding RankBrain and User Signals

The final piece of the on page SEO puzzle is something known as Google RankBrain.

According to Google, RankBrain is the third most important ranking factor that Google uses to determine how to rank a web page.

At the most basic level, RankBrain is a machine learning system that helps Google understand their search results.

While this might sound futuristic and incredibly complicated, it really isn’t.

RankBrain simply measures how users interact with the current search results and then changes the ranking accordingly.

Here’s how it works.

Let’s say that you search “How to invest in real estate”.

After looking at the SERPs, you decide to click on the #3 result. Upon entering, it’s the most comprehensive and in depth guide to real estate investing that you’ve ever read.

You spend nearly 40 minutes delving through all of the content and then bookmark the page to view later.

RankBrain is going to take notice of this and, if enough people have a similar experience, they will likely boost that result to the #2 spot.

Conversely, if you automatically click on result #1, realize that it’s a garbage article, and immediately exit, RankBrain will take notice and demote that result.

As you can see, RankBrain pays attention to only two factors:

1. The click through rate or CTR
2. The dwell time or time on page

I’ve already shared how you can increase your average time on page by creating more comprehensive content that is embedded with stunning visuals and videos (if you’d like to jump into that yourself, you’ll need an online video editor as a starting point), and now I want to take a minute to talk about optimizing your content for clicks.

The trick to optimizing your click through rate is simple.

Write a compelling and “Magnetic” meta description that people cannot help but click.

Let’s look at a couple of examples so that you can see what I mean.

Using the real estate investing query from before, take a look at the #8 search results meta description.

Notice how the description is clunky. It doesn’t make any promises or scream “Click Me!” the way it should. In fact, it doesn’t look like they optimized the meta description at all…

Now compare this to the #2 search result

Notice how the meta description is succinct, to the point, and makes a powerful promise.

When I read this description, my first inclination is to click on the article so that I can uncover the “Right” way to become wealthy through real estate.

This is how all of your meta descriptions should sound.

If you make a conscious effort to create compelling copy that entices readers and convinces them to click through to your content, the battle is yours and your content will continue to ascent the ranks (assuming that your content is valuable and comprehensive).

How to do Off Page SEO

With more than 2,000,000 new blog posts being published every day and more than 644 million websites currently being indexed by Google, it’s hard to grab the attention of humans and search engines alike.

Responsive design, and diverse anchor text you can still go completely unnoticed and be lost in the online crowd.

Unfortunately, SEO is a lot like a high school popularity contest.

You can wear all of the latest clothes, rock a pair of Raybans, Louis Vuitton shoes, and drive a BMW, but if the other people don’t recognize you as one of the “Cool Kids” then you aren’t cool. Period.

So how do you convince Google that you are indeed one of the popular kids?

Let me show you.

Understanding the Popularity Contest

In order to maximize your website’s popularity, you must first understand how popularity is determined.

When it comes to SEO, being ‘popular’ isn’t enough.

Just like there are cliques in high school, there are different groups within the realm of SEO. It’s our goal to be a part of the group that Google prefers.

High SchoolClaim to FameBenefitsRisksEnd Results
HackersLove to mess with the algorithm They get SEO results.Rank first, rank cheaply, rank with less effortUse hacks instead of best practices, ticking timebomb tacticsThey’ll rank but eventually get penalized and have to start all over again
GreeksCreate amazing content, Really know their stuffCreate some of the best content of the webFocus on the content, but not the promotionGoogle likes the content but doesn’t think they are popular enough to show as number 1
Emo KidsHighly experimental Get discouraged easilyWilling to take risks and jumps into the SEO gameVulnerable to getting impatient and quitting before the work pays offThey do things right and were on their way to getting results, but got discouraged and quit before Google acknowledged them
Jocks / CheerleadersHighly popular Not as focused on academicsThey generate the right popularity signals for GoogleThe content they create may not be up to Google’s standardThey might rank well on the sheer power of their popularity, but eventually, Google could de-rank them because of poor user engagement signals
HipstersLike to experiment with new things.Always looking for the latest SEO edgeMay think the basic are played out and chase new stuffThey optimize for new things like voice search and latest best practices but ignore foundational activities of building popularity
PrepsAcademically inclined and popular tooThey can create great content and they can be popularMight play it too safe, not aggressive enoughThis well-balanced approach to SEO would have the best chance to succeed

While it might seem boring to be in the “Play it safe” group, you can rest assured that, in the long run, this is the strategy that Google prefers and rewards.

So how do you increase your website’s popularity the right way?

Simple… By earning highly authoritative and relevant backlinks.

Domain Authority

The first, and arguably most important, aspect of a backlink quality is the domain authority of the linking website.

The best way to think this is in terms of referrals.

In the real world, different referrals hold different levels of importance with potential employers and clients.

For example, a referral from your mother probably won’t hold much weight when it comes to getting that sweet new tech job. However, a referral from a C-level executive at a famous Fortune 500 company will have clients and employers knocking down your door to work with you. So, whether they use an employee time tracking or special task management tools, you will be ready for it all.

Backlinks are the same way.

Earning or purchasing a backlink from a low domain authority website (anything under 30) isn’t going to do much in terms of boosting your search engine success.

However, earning a backlink from a high quality website with a high domain authority can give you an (almost) instantaneous ranking boost and loads of SEO ‘Juice’ for years to come.

But this is just part of the picture. After some of the more recent updates to their algorithm, Google has begun placing a higher premium on the relevance of the linking site as well.

Backlink Relevance

Google doesn’t just want to see people earning authoritative backlinks. In order to rank a site highly in the SERPs, Google also wants to see a high degree of relevance in your backlink profile.

What does this mean?

Think about it this way.

Imagine that, once again, you are approaching a new client who has requested referrals for a marketing job.

As you flip through your Rolodex you have two primary referrals that you are debating between sending them.

The first referral comes from a high ranking executive in a well known company, however, the referral is related to a commission only sales position that you held more than five years ago.

The second referral comes from a relatively unknown entrepreneur who you’ve been consulting over the past six months. You’ve helped the client in question more than double the efficacy of their marketing campaigns and drive their revenue through the roof.

Although the first referral is undoubtedly more authoritative, the second is far more relevant to your desired position and, if you were forced to choose between the two, it would be a wise move to send your new prospect the second referral.

SEO works the same way.

Google wants to see sites that not only have high DA backlinks but backlinks that are highly relevant to their particular niche.

For example, if you want to rank for the term “Link Building Software” then you could get a link from a general online marketing site and it would still be a ‘good’ link.

However, getting a link from a slightly less authoritative site with the keyword “Link Building” in the title or URL would be a better and more relevant link.

As you develop your link building strategy and campaign, it’s important to keep this fact in mind.

The more closely related to your niche a given website is, the more importance Google will give that backlink.

Although I don’t have the space to dive into specific link building strategies, you can check out my blogger outreach guide for step-by-step ideas.

Schema Helps Google Understand Your Site

The Schema Markup is a tricky concept to understand and even trickier to implement. However, if you’re willing to suffer through the learning curve, it can provide a much needed boost to your long term search engine success.

Schema is a type of metadata that you can add to a web page to provide more information about the content to Google so it can display more relevant and informative results to users.

For example a cinema may have schema markup such as:

● Movie times
● Movie titles
● Address
● Phone number

When properly executed, schema helps clear up any ambiguity that Google may experience when trying to determine what your content is about.

For example, searching the phrase “New Book” without schema would leave Google to wonder whether you meant

● A book that is new
● A business named “New Book
● A book named New
● A new edition of a book

When you implement schema into your toolkit of search engine tactics, you can clearly and precisely tell Google exactly what your web page is about.

Here’s an example to help you understand this concept a little better.

Imagine that Google crawls your website and saw the following data:

● New SEO Guide
● New SEO Guide is Here
● Company
● 704-444-4444

This doesn’t make much sense to Google because there is no clear definition of what this information means.

However, if we add schema or a title to each piece of information, Google can instantly determine the significance of the information.

● Page Title: New SEO Guide
● Page Description: New SEO Guide is Here
● Anchor Text: Company
● Phone Number: 704-444-4444

Think of schema like Google’s version of a filing cabinet.

Anytime that it crawls a website and finds new information without schema, that information is simply dumped into the index without any form of organization… This doesn’t do Google or your SEO much good.

However, when you include a schema markup, your information is clearly organized into neat “files” so that Google knows exactly where to store it within its database.

Does this make sense?

Now that you have an understanding of what schema is, let’s talk about how you can implement it on your website as quickly and painlessly as possible.

Getting Started with Schema

Go to Google’s Structured Data Markup Helper and Select Your Data Type and URL

The first step in getting started with schema is to go to Google’s Structured Data Markup helper.

From here, you are going to select the type of content that you wish to markup. For the sake of this example, we’re going to use “articles” since it’s the most common.

Then, with your content type selected, copy and paste the URL that you wish to markup.

Click “Start Tagging” and then move on to the next step.


Select the Elements that You Wish to Markup

Once you are inside the markup helper, you can begin highlighting and tagging different elements on the page from the title, author, date published, images, etc.

It’s ok if you can’t effectively tag everything (you probably won’t). Just do the best that you can and try to get the biggest elements taken care of.

Create the HTML Code and Add it to Your Website

Once you’ve finished tagging all relevant elements, you are going to click “Create HTML” in the upper right hand corner.

From here, you will be given a HTML code that you can then download and import into WordPress or whatever other content management system you are using to power your website.

Simply copy and paste the highlighted snippets into the appropriate spots in your HTML code and Voila! You’ve successfully implemented schema on your website.

I recommend that you head over to schema.org, a resource created by multiple search engines, in order to gain a better understanding of how schema works and how you can effectively implement it into your search engine optimization efforts.

Although schema is relatively easy to implement, most businesses have yet to take advantage of this powerful tactic and, by getting started now, you will have a competitive advantage over your competition that can mean the difference between a first page ranking and getting lost in the internet forever.

SEO Quick Tips

Now that you understand your core SEO strategy, I want to leave you with a few quick tips for additional search engine optimization in 2021 and beyond.

Place an Importance on Voice Search

Voice search is growing at a rapid pace. Considering that more than 40% of adults perform at least one voice search per day, it’s important that you make a conscious effort to rank your content for voice searches. So how do you actually rank for voice searches? Well, the first step is to get your content on the first page. Once you’ve accomplished this goal by following the strategy I’ve outlined in this guide the best way to rank for voice search is by creating question and answer based content. For example, if you wanted to rank for the voice search “What is SEO”, you would want to create a piece of content that asks and answers that question like this: So what is SEO? SEO or search engine optimization is the act of creating and optimizing content that will appear “Organically” in a search query and drive free traffic to your website.

Encourage Comments and Social Shares

I think commenting is dying fast as more people hang out in Facebook groups, Slack channels etc, but if you have an engaged audience that likes interacting with your blog, GREAT! because Google will love all of that engagement.

Get Active on Social Media

Although social media doesn’t have a direct impact on your search engine performance, it is a powerful tool that can drive traffic and engagement and help your content achieve virality. I suggest that you pick 2-3 social platforms (I prefer Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn) and go all in on your profile. Share your content regularly, build a user base of raving fans, and encourage people to share and comment on your posts. Use special tools to post to Instagram from Mac so that you have the best content quality possible. The higher your engagement rate on social media is, the more traffic you can drive to your website, and the higher you will rank in the search engines.

Become an Influencer Maniac

One of the fastest ways to improve your ranking is to develop relationships with high level influencers who can help you generate high quality backlinks through reciprocal link building and guest posting. Engage with top influencer content. Regularly share their posts and articles. Link back to their content from your own website and try to find any way that you can to build rapport and gain their trust. The more influential web owners you have in your corner, the easier it will be to dominate the search engine game in 2018.

Leverage Quora to Indirectly Rank Your Content

If you are not doing so already, I highly recommend that you get started on the question and answer platform, Quora. Quora is quickly becoming one of the largest social sites on the planet and it’s based entirely on influential individuals sharing their expertise with others. If you regularly create high quality content on Quora and answer the right questions, you can have your answers ranked on the first page of Google for specific key phrases. Quora is also an excellent way to generate high quality backlinks as editors from Forbes, Inc.com, The Huffington Post, Entrepreneur, and Times regularly syndicate answers from Quora and publish them (and the links to your content) on their website.

Produce Helpful Content

Google has its crosshairs on AI content and SEO content. Writing for the user first and then optimizing for SEO afterwards will keep you safe with Google while making your customers love you. That’s a win-win.

Conclusion

I hope that this guide was able to simplify SEO and help you understand the core strategies and tactics required to get your content to the top of Google’s SERPs.

Now it’s your turn.

Use what I’ve shared with you to accelerate your search engine success, drive thousands of new visitors to your website, and experience an explosive growth in your company’s bottom line.

I’ll see you at the top!

Search Engine Optimization Tutorial (An Introduction to SEO)

Before I get into why this SEO tutorial is the perfect starting point for your learning journey, let me first give you some context on why I decided to make this 5 video, 9000+ word guide. When I first started learning SEO, I found the guides to be either be too high level, too detailed, or … Continue reading “Search Engine Optimization Tutorial (An Introduction to SEO)”

Read More

Broken Link Building Guide

Broken link building is a popular link building strategies out there and there’s a good reason for it. Similar to guest posting, with it you’ll be able to secure high-quality links from authoritative websites, in exchange for a strong piece of content.

So, today we’re going to focus on this awesome tactic, discuss its pros and cons, and even dive into a step-by-step guide for carrying out your own broken link building campaign, along with a few tips and tricks.

But first, let’s get the initial question out of the way.

What is Broken Link Building?

In short, it is the process of acquiring links by finding resources with dead links and offering them your own content instead of the one they originally linked to.

There are tons of reasons why a link would get deleted. Pages get edited, moved, URLs get changed, domains expire, and it happens pretty much constantly. So, why not take advantage of it?

The more backlinks a website has, the bigger the percentage of dead ones is going to be. You just need to know how to look for them.

The great thing about broken link building is that the conversion rate is higher than some other link building techniques. After all, nobody wants dead links on their site (since they hurt both SEO and the user experience), and if somebody was nice enough to point a dead link out, and offer a good replacement article to plug that hole, there are literally zero reasons to turn down that offer.

The not-so-great thing about broken link building is the fact that you will likely need to produce a new article for each prospect. That is, of course, unless you find a dead resource that a lot of other websites used to point it. That it’s a jackpot, pretty much.

Broken Link Building Pros and Cons

And even though broken link building might be more effective, that doesn’t mean it’s the ultimate link building strategy out there, and like everything, has its own disadvantages.

Let’s start with the pros first, though.

Pros:

  • High-quality backlinks from relevant, authoritative websites.
  • High conversion rate.
  • Lots of link building opportunities that are relatively easy to find.
  • Quite effective as a strategy.
  • The possibility of acquiring multiple links with a single piece of content.

Cons:

  • Producing new content solely for building links can be quite time-consuming.
  • Sometimes the prospects will not reach back to you after they’ve replaced the link.

So, as you can see, the benefits greatly outweigh the disadvantages, so this strategy is extremely viable. Anyhow, let’s take a closer look at how to actually run a broken link building campaign of your own.

How to Do Broken Link Building

If you have any previous experience with link building, you already know what the first step is going to be.

Finding Broken Link Building Opportunities

Like any link building campaign, the first step to this one is to fill up your prospect list. But, unlike, say resource page link building or guest posting, finding them is not quite as simple as typing your keyword in Google and adding “resource pages” or “guest post”.

Although, resource pages can make pretty good link building prospects for this strategy as well and you shouldn’t ignore them. In fact, here’ are some search operators that can help. Find the operator you like and then check each page in the results for broken links.

“keyword”+”top 10 internet resources”+&num=100
“keyword”+\”top 10 online resources\”+&num=100
“keyword”+”top 10 sites”+&num=100
“keyword”+”top resources”+&num=100
“keyword”+”top sites”+&num=100
“keyword”+”favorite articles”+&num=100
“keyword”+”favorite links”+&num=100
“keyword”+”favorite resources”+&num=100
“keyword”+”favorite sites”+&num=100
“keyword”+”favorite tools”+&num=100
“keyword”+”favorite websites”+&num=100
“keyword”+”guide”+&num=100
“keyword”+Broken Link Building+&num=100
“keyword”+”recommended articles”+&num=100
“keyword”+”recommended links”+&num=100
“keyword”+”recommended resources”+&num=100
“keyword”+”recommended sites”+&num=100
“keyword”+”recommended tools”+&num=100
“keyword”+”recommended websites”+&num=100
“keyword”+”round up”+&num=100
“keyword”+”round up” + intitle:weekly/daily/monthly+&num=100
“keyword”+”top 10 articles”+&num=100
“keyword”+”top 10 resources”+&num=100
“keyword”+”top 10 tools”+&num=100
“keyword”+”top 10 web resources”+&num=100
“keyword”+”top 10 websites”+&num=100
“keyword”+”top articles”+&num=100
“keyword”+”useful articles”+&num=100
“keyword”+”useful links”+&num=100
“keyword”+”useful resources”+&num=100
“keyword”+”useful sites”+&num=100
“keyword”+”useful tools”+&num=100
“keyword”+”useful websites”+&num=100
“keyword”+”interesting articles”+&num=100
“keyword”+”interesting links”+&num=100
“keyword”+”interesting resources”+&num=100
“keyword”+”interesting sites”+&num=100
“keyword”+”interesting tools”+&num=100
“keyword”+”interesting websites”+&num=100
“keyword”+”suggested articles”+&num=100
“keyword”+”suggested links”+&num=100
“keyword”+”suggested resources”+&num=100
“keyword”+”suggested sites”+&num=100
“keyword”+”suggested tools”+&num=100
“keyword”+”suggested websites”+&num=100
“keyword”+”top internet resources”+&num=100
“keyword”+”top tools”+&num=100
“keyword”+”top web resources”+&num=100
“keyword”+”top websites”+&num=100
“keyword”+intitle:”round up”+&num=100
“keyword”+intitle:list+&num=100

So, how do you actually find sites with broken links? Do you just manually check each one? Well, nobody’s stopping you, but there’s a much better way. There exists a large variety of backlink checking tools and software, and you’re going to need its help.

For now, I’m going to focus on one way of finding broken link building prospects, and discuss some other ways of doing it later, just not to overcomplicate this step-by-step part.

Take a look at the top-performing websites in your niche. Those are the ones that have the most backlinks built already. And the more live links a site has, the more dead ones are going to appear over time. So, those should be in the first round of your link building prospects.

Useful Tools for Finding Broken Links

  • The Ahrefs backlink checker is perfect for quickly getting an overview of the backlink profile of absolutely any resource. It also reveals all dead links, which is exactly what you’re going to be on the lookout for.
  • Dead link checker was built specifically for this purpose: it will scan your, and any other website just in order to reveal its dead links. And it’s 100% free!
  • Expireddomains.net is a daily-updated database of expired domains all across the Internet. Why would you need to know about expired domains? Because after a site dies, all of its links remain, but in 404 form. That’s just prime link building real estate if you can replicate the content!

Finding Your Prospects’ Contact Emails (and Some Helpful Tools for It)

After you’ve established your list of prospects, it’s time to start searching for their contact emails. Preferably, the person’s who is responsible for links and not just some generic “info @ domain.com”.

Sometimes, you will be able to find those down in the site’s footer or on their Contact page, but a lot of the time you will need to do some good searching to get actual results.

Luckily, you don’t need to do it manually, and there are some pretty awesome tools designed to help you out with this somewhat tedious task.

  • Hunter.io is one of the tools I can’t recommend enough. What it does is reveals all emails related to the domain you feed into its search bar. Yep, absolutely all company emails, at a click of a button. But, as good as it is, no email scraping tool is perfect and for every 9 found emails you’re going to have to search for the 10th one elsewhere.
  • This is where the Email Permutator comes in. Now, this one doesn’t actually do any searching for you. Instead, it permutates all possible email combinations if you know your prospect’s name and domain. After it gives you the list of emails, it’s very likely that one of them is going to be their actual address. To check which one it is, you just need to paste emails into Gmail until one lights up with an account.

Create Content to Plug the Hole Created by the Dead Link

This is probably the hardest and most time-consuming part of the entire campaign. Look at what kind of content the site used to link to, and do your best to replicate it.

Pro tip: if you want, you can actually try to snatch links that aren’t even broken by producing content that is longer, better, and more informative than the one linked to (but that’s a slightly different strategy).

Make sure it is actually relevant and fits in the place of the old link organically. By offering pointing out a dead link and offering a good piece of content to replace it, you’re offering the site owner an extremely high amount of value, so don’t waste it away by sending irrelevant articles on entirely different topics.

Yes, writing articles for each backlink is extremely time-consuming, but there is a way to use just one article for multiple links. If you find an expired domain as I mentioned earlier, and take a look at the links pointing to it, you’re likely to find some links to the same page. Write a replacement article and send it out to all of the sites that link to it to kill a whole bunch of birds with one stone.

We actually have a whole article dedicated solely to how to write outreach-worthy content and get more links out of it.

Writing Your Outreach Pitch

At this point, you’re almost ready to start sending out your outreach pitches. You can use a template to speed things up a little, but every message you send should be customized enough so that your prospect never even realizes you used a template in the first place.

There are some general rules that you should follow when crafting your pitches. The first one is rather obvious: be polite, and at least take the time to start your email off with your prospect’s first name instead of “Dear Sir” or something like that. If you go with the latter, there’s almost a 100% chance of your pitch ending up in the trash bin.

Be clear as to who you are, and why you’re actually messaging them. Be sure to pinpoint the exact location of the broken link you’re trying to replace, maybe even add a screenshot.

When offering your content, be sure to explain why you think your content would be a good replacement for the dead link, and exactly what kind of value it will bring to your prospects’ audience. Is it topically relevant? Perhaps, you’ve managed to write an even better, more informative article than the one they used to link to?

If you’re having trouble with any stage of the outreach process, you can check out our blogger outreach companies article to see a vetted list of agencies that do real outreach.

If you would like to get more in-depth into how to write an email outreach pitch that gets approved, we have a full guide on it as well.

Outreach Email Templates

I have picked some top-tier outreach email templates for broken link building from our collection of 80+ cold email outreach templates.

You can grab and use them if you want, but remember about customization! If the prospect notices that the email you send them came from a template, they will get a sense that they’re not the only one you sent it to, which makes you look spammy. And that’s exactly the opposite of how you want to be viewed.

Remember the pitch crafting rules and deliver actual value to your prospects.

Template 1

Hello {{prospect.first_name}},

I was looking for some good data on {{topic}} and stumbled upon your {{article name}}.

I found what I was looking for, however, I noticed that the link directing to the {{site name with 404 error}} leads to a 404.

{{broken link URL}}

I feel like one of my own posts on {{topic}} would be a great addition to your page and a good replacement for the broken link. {{elaborate why}}.

{{Your post’s URL}}

Let me know if there’s anything else I can help you with.

Thanks {{prospect.first_name}},

{{inbox.name}}

Template 2

Hello {{prospect.first_name}},

I was just reading your post about {{topic}} and noticed you linked to {{site name with 404 error}}.

It looks like {{competing website’s name}} have moved or deleted that page, so when I try to follow the link, it leads to a 404 error. I was wondering whether it would be possible to replace the broken link with a working link to my own article.

I did some research on {{topic}} and found out that {{your article’s summary}}.

You can find it here: {{Your post’s URL}}.

I feel like my post would fit right in and your readers would find it interesting, because {{elaborate why}}.

Let me know what you think,

{{inbox.name}}

Template 3

Hey {{prospect.first_name}},

I was digging around for information on {{topic}} today and came across your post: {{link to their post}}

This is great! Lots of good advice. I even {{implemented something, learned something}}.

However, I did find some broken links there. Let me know if you’d like me to send you the list I made.

Cheers,

{{inbox.signature}}

Template 4

Hey {{prospect.first_name}},

I was researching {{topic}} for my next {{blog post, presentation, etc.}} and stumbled on your post:

{{post title + hyperlinked}}.

This was awesome. Seriously, it helped me {{insert pain point that was solved}}.

Great work.

However, I did notice that a few links weren’t working. I went to click on one for more contextual info, and it gave me a 404.

Let me know if you’d like me to send you the exact details on that.

Best,

{{inbox.name}}

Template 5

Hey {{prospect.first_name}},

1. I was looking for a few resources on momentum trading and I came across your very informative guide: {{post title + hyperlinked}}
2. I noticed that one of the resources you mentioned on online brokerage comparisons no longer exists.

I recently created an extensively researched guide on how to choose the right online brokerage for you: {{post title + hyperlinked}}

Considering trade volume, trade frequency, invested amount and other key factors, it might make a good addition to your article.

Either way, keep up your insightful articles – Google sure loves those 10 000+ word tomes.

{{inbox.name}}

Template 6

Hello,

I’m a licensed {{industry specialist}} and a {{topic}} writer – I recently visited your site while researching for an article I’m working on…

This is a note for your webmaster, as I found a dead resource on your site that visitors like me surely miss. It’s on this page: {{post title + hyperlinked}}

I got an error message when I tried to click on this site: {{dead URL}}

It looks like they made a change to their home page but didn’t update it… anyhow, the correct link is here: {{working link}}

And while you’re updating your page, I wondered if you’d be open to including some further resources that could help people struggling with similar issues.

{{Compelling Content Title + link}}

{{Compelling Content Title 2 + link}}

Thanks for your help and for providing great resources!

Best,

{{inbox.name}}

Template 7

Hey {{prospect.first_name}},

Are you still updating {{prospect.domain_name}}? I found a broken link I’d like to point out.

{{inbox.name}}

Sending Out Your Pitches

Laid out a structure for your emails? Good! Send them out. You can do it the old-fashioned way, manually, but if you have hundreds of prospects even a dedicated email address can get a bit messy.

There’s actually a variety of marketing automation software that can speed up the outreach process, send follow-ups on its own, and help you track each conversation in an intuitive and manageable interface, including our own!

Following up

Regardless of whether you got a reply or not it is a good practice to follow-up after your initial email.

If the prospect didn’t answer, wait for 2-3 business days, and re-send your original message. You can start it with “did I get the right person?” or something similar, but that’s entirely optional.

If you did get a response or even got your link, it’s a good idea to follow-up with at least a simple “Thank you”. Beyond that, it is generally a good idea to stay in touch with your prospects, especially those that are closely related to your niche since that can open up a lot of other link building, and joint project opportunities in the future.

Broken Link Building No-Nos

This one is rather obvious, but you should focus on only topically-relevant websites. Don’t offer your content if it doesn’t fit in with your prospect’s theme and doesn’t replace the resource they originally linked to perfectly, if not better.

Make sure you find the right person to contact and avoid “info @ domain.com” as much as you can. If you’re lucky, they will actually direct you to the person you need, but it can take them a couple days, if at all.

Choose your prospects well, and don’t go for low-hanging fruit, or websites that link to a bunch of unrelated websites. Also, avoid bookmarking sites since those fall into the category of link schemes.

On the other hand, resource pages are great to build links on, if they actually gather niche-specific pages to create a huge well of information.

And, finally, DON’T be afraid to follow-up. Bloggers are busy people with hundreds of emails bombarding their inboxes every day, and it’s easy for a message to get buried underneath other pitches, offers etc.

Conclusion

Broken link building is a very powerful strategy that can yield amazing results if you put your mind to it. Broken links aren’t hard to come by on the Internet, and there’s a chance to get multiple prospects from just a single dead link, so it’s quite awesome in that regard.

Its only real downside is the fact that you need to create new, unique content per each broken link, and that can take quite a while.

Broken Link Building Guide

Broken link building is a popular link building strategies out there and there’s a good reason for it. Similar to guest posting, with it you’ll be able to secure high-quality links from authoritative websites, in exchange for a strong piece of content. So, today we’re going to focus on this awesome tactic, discuss its pros … Continue readingBroken Link Building Guide”

Read More