I regularly mention outreach as an important part of link building so, in this post, I wanted to take the time to fully explain what it is any why its important.
‘Outreach’ refers to the process of connecting with another individual or website in some kind of targeted way. This is usually done by email but can also be through other mediums such as social media or over the phone. Within the context of SEO, outreach can have several objectives, including;
- Promote a linkable asset, such as your latest in-depth article, with the objective of attracting links
- Promote an asset with the objective of getting social shares and other kinds of online promotion e.g. links from newsletters
- Gain feedback, ideas, input etc. that will help you to build or improve a linkable asset
These objectives could be achieved using other communication mediums but the targeted and personal nature of outreach makes it relatively effective. Content promotion via outreach (as long as there’s no value exchanges involved) is also a white hat link building strategy which will help you mitigate SEO risk.
The most popular way to do outreach in the SEO world, and the medium we primarily use, is email. There’s a few reasons that email is a particularly useful medium for outreach;
- Its cheap and easy
- Most people still use email as their primary communication medium, particularly in the B2B world, so its a good way to make sure they receive and see your communication
- Providing your email gets opened, you can reasonably expect to have the majority of the reader’s attention
- The process can be scaled using templates and software, such as Buzzstream
- No restrictions on length or type of content
Some of the downsides of email include;
- Your emails must compete with other pitches/requests and general spam which can lead to your message being missed or ignored
- Its not as personal as something like a phone call
- You need to worry about email reputation and how it might be affected, particularly if you are aggressive with your outreach
In general, though, the advantages outweigh the disadvantages.
How to do Email Outreach
This will be an overview of how to do email outreach with links to some more detailed tutorials.
The basic tools and processed involved in email outreach are;
- A plan of attack – why are you doing outreach? (probably one of the three objectives I defined above)
- A list of people to do outreach to, including their email addresses and, ideally, first names – you’ll probably be collecting this list manually using simple Google searches or by using some tools, as explained in our broken link building tutorial
- An email program and email address – Gmail works fine, but an email address at your domain will work better than a generic @gmail.com address
- An email template or some guidelines to help you write your emails – here’s some examples of outreach templates you can adapt for your outreach campaigns
- Some way of measuring the effectiveness of your campaign so you can determine what’s working and what isn’t – at the basic level a simple spreadsheet will do
Once you’ve got the basics down-pat, you can look at integrating these advanced techniques into your process;
- Develop ‘linking audience personas’ to characterise your outreach targets and tailor your approach and templates. Here’s a guide on how to do that: Content Based Outreach for Link Building
- Develop your own personas/identities (not to be confused with ‘linking audience personas’ described above) – this means you will have several identities that you can assume when doing outreach. You can select the identity that you think will be able to relate best to the person you are reaching out to
- Use some tools to make the process more efficient and effective;
- Buzzstream – helps with prospecting, auto collects email addresses, manages templates, measures response rates
- Yesware – measures email open rates so you can test which subject lines are most effective at getting the email opened
- Link Prospector – helps with faster and more effective prospecting, to build a list of websites to do outreach to
- Rapportive – inserts a pane of information into Gmail which will be populated with publicly available personal information associated with email addresses you are using, including profile photo, social media links, website links etc. This will help you to tailor your outreach approach to be more personal and get a better result
For more tutorials, tools and articles check out this epic curated list of outreach resources.
Outreach is an effective an efficient part of a white hat link building strategy.
Email outreach is cheap, easy and particularly effective.
Do you have any tips for effectively reaching people by email? (or other mediums)