Links from reputable sites are one of the best ways to boost your company’s online presence, but building them isn’t exactly easy. Many SEOs write outreach emails to contact site owners and bloggers in the hopes of getting links, then wind up disappointed when no one responds.
As someone who has been on both sides of an outreach email, I understand that writing successful ones is a difficult process. You need to be polite and respectful, but also straightforward enough that your recipient understands what you’re asking, which can be a fine line to walk.
If you’re looking to promote a specific piece of content, write a guest post, or build a link to your site, the following tips will help you write effective outreach emails and start building beneficial relationships.
Have something of value to offer
Before you even start the outreach process, make sure that what you’re promoting has some sort of benefit to the people you plan to contact – and be honest with yourself. I receive a few guest post “offers” every week, and most of them look something like this:
Not only is the email poorly written, but the topics listed have all already been covered by other bloggers. There’s nothing new that would benefit WebFX readers, and nothing interesting enough that I even want more information.
If you’re thinking of contacting a blogger or site owner, make sure that what you plan to offer is unique or interesting. Generic, low-quality content and emails won’t get you anywhere – except for maybe generic, low-quality sites. Take the time to come up with something of value and you’ll be much more successful with your outreach efforts.
Find and spend some time on the sites you intend to pitch
Once you’re certain that you have something worth linking to, you’ll need to identify sites that are a good fit. There are many different ways of doing this, but it typically requires several hours of research.
Make a list of potential sites, then spend some time reading their existing content. If they publish articles or posts similar to what you’re offering – great. If not, take them off the list. From an outreach perspective, this will save you the time of contacting someone who is highly unlikely to respond. And from a blogger perspective, it will save your prospects from receiving emails like this:
Aside from the fact that I am not a “Sir,” I write for an Internet marketing blog – one that is entirely unrelated to health, home furniture, and education. And although this is a standard email that likely went out to thousands of other recipients (and didn’t cost the sender any time or effort), it’s still courteous to be polite and avoid wasting others’ time.
Of course, this is an extreme example, and I hope that the fact that you’re reading this means you care enough about sending quality outreach emails that you’d never send something like this. But it’s still a good idea to read a few posts before sending anything to anyone, and if the site has a “submissions” or “contact” page, it’s definitely in your best interest to look it over.
If the site doesn’t have a contact page, though, it can take some digging to find the email address of the exact person you want to contact. And if you’re not sure how to go about doing that, take a look at these three methods you can try.
Make it personal
Since you’ve already spent some time on the site, this should be easy. Address your contact by name (if possible), mention something specific that you like about their site, and explain why your content is a good fit.
In an inbox that is likely to be filled with hundreds of other pitches, this can go a long way. However, authenticity is the key here – don’t simply say you’re a “long-time reader” or that you “LOVE” their “amazing content.” This kind of empty flattery could be sent to just about anyone, and your recipient will see right through it.
Provide proof of your skills
The first thing your contact will want to see after reading your pitch is proof that you can deliver what you’re offering. The way you provide it depends on what exactly you’re outreaching, but it’s important to show that you aren’t making empty promises.
If you’re promoting a specific piece of content, like an infographic or resource, include a link directly in the email. And if you’re attempting to get a spot as a guest writer, link to examples of your past published work.
Also, be sure to double check all of your emails for typos and grammatical errors before pressing “Send.” This should come as a no-brainer, but a pitch that’s full of spelling and punctuation issues will be a red flag for anyone who reads it.
Keep it short
By the time you’ve included your credentials, content, offer, and a bit of personalization, your outreach emails can wind up looking a little lengthy. And while you may think this looks impressive, busy site owners don’t want to spend the time sifting through novel-length pitches.
Keep it brief, and get to the point quickly. Tell them who you are, what you’re offering, and why they should care – and not much else. This is especially important for large publications, where editors receive hundreds of emails per day from writers who want a shot at posting on their site.
Of course, you should still maintain a polite tone, and possibly mention that you’re willing to provide additional information if they need it. This will ultimately be much more effective than attempting to include every possible detail within the body of one email.
Building links is a tricky process, but can lead to great results when it’s done right. Take the time to create quality content and promote it using personalized outreach, and you’ll be much better off than the “bloggers” who send generic emails to thousands of unsuspecting site owners at once.
If you have any additional tips for outreach emails – or more examples of what not to do – I’d love to hear them! Just let me know in the comments below.