Off-page SEO is no longer as essential as it once was. However, it does still play a part and if you run an SEO company it’s something that countless clients will ask of you. I own a number of websites and all of them receive regular requests relating to backlinks. I’ve also worked on many similar projects for my clients and myself. I have a good idea of what tips for outreach work, what doesn’t and what will simply annoy the hell out of the people you’re emailing.
Here are my top tips for outreach:
7. Personalize your Outreach (Without Being Obvious)
I receive 5 to 15 requests a day for backlinks across all of my websites. You’d think there would be a lot of variety there, but 99.9% of them are the same and they make the same mistakes. The main issue is that they all use copied and pasted spam letters that lie about the site, ignore guidelines and spam me with nonsense requests.
Make sure you tailor each request to the website your contacting. Don’t just send a form letter with their domain copied in. I see this in nearly every message I get and it drives me insane because it’s so obvious what they are doing.
6. Be Honest
Be honest—seriously, you’ll get more replies if you are. I have never had a request that was honest and i’ve had thousands. It defies belief, but if they came, they’d get what they wanted.
The most common lie I hear is “I have been a fan of your site for X months”. Sometimes it’s years, sometimes it’s 6 to 12 months, it’s never less than 6 months. This might make sense if most of my sites were not 3 to 5 months old. I also get “I love your content, especially [copy and pasted URL or title]”. It’s not natural and it reeks of spam, which every webmaster will ignore.
5. Don’t Hire Other People to do it
If you’re going to hire someone else to make these requests for you, make sure it’s one person and that their only job is to outreach for one site, otherwise they’ll make mistakes and end up spamming websites. You should also hire a professional and not a cheap VA.
There is one particular website out there that has emailed me over 300 times across all 20+ of my websites. They always use the contact forms on my sites, they always send exactly the same request (telling me they love my site and are avid readers each time) and they come from about 6 different email addresses/names. The site in question is quite reputable and if they hadn’t hired a group of spammers to mail bomb me, I might have agreed to their requests. As it happens, I have since had to report them to their ISP, because despite replying to tell them I can’t help them, and despite emailing the company direct, those spam requests still flood in.
These “marketing” companies don’t care about your reputation. They will mass mail every site they can find and they will spam the hell out of them. You will suffer, not them, so do it yourself. What happens if they end up spamming someone less patient than I am and that site gets their legal team on the case? You could lose your site, your server and your ISP.
4. Send Full Articles
I know it’s tricky, but I find that the best way to get hits with outreach is to write and submit a few full length articles. There are several reasons for this. Firstly, I can say for a fact that 99% of other submitters will not do it, even if the guidelines specify it. As a result, anyone who sends a full article will stand out.
Secondly, webmasters like me will prioritize these requests because we know that someone has really spent their time on it. If we are going to reject we will do it quickly so they can submit elsewhere and avoid wasting their time; if we’re prepared to accept then the fact that we have a tangible article already will make us more inclined to do so.
Of course, the article has to be unique. The first thing most webmasters will do is run it through Copyscape, and if they did out it’s not unique then they’ll ignore you.
3. Don’t Beg
I use to reply to requests to politely say that I didn’t offer guest posts. You know what happened then? They thanked me for replying and wished me well.
By which I mean they pestered me and practically begged me to link to them. They saw my reply as a weakness, a sign that I was available, and they went on a mission to try and get what they wanted. They promised insane things, they made excuses, they lied, one of them even told me that their friend had recently died and that this backlink was what he always wanted. It’s insane and it drives webmasters up the wall.
If you receive a rejection, thank the webmaster for taking the time to reply, ask them to keep your site on file if they change their mind, and don’t contact them again. If you pester them and beg like this, they’ll block you and report you for spamming.
2. Keep it Short and Write Well
You don’t need to write out a long email. It’s often a sign that the message is copy and pasted. Keep it short, but make sure it’s also professional and well written. Use proper English, be polite and don’t make demands. You’re asking for a favor, so there should be a pleading, thankful tone, not a demanding one.
1. Do Your Research
90% of the requests I get are for the wrong genres and 100% of them have not checked my guidelines, because if they did, they would see that I don’t accept guest posts. This can and will drive webmasters insane. Most of the requests I get are for casino links, with writers asking me if they can write and publish gambling articles on my site, even though those sites are about health, pets and food.
Doing your research will take up more of your time in the short run, but it’ll get you more hits long term and you’ll annoy far fewer webmasters. You can take a few liberties, but only if you are upfront with your reasons.
For instance, if you’re doing off-page work for a legal site then don’t contact a car review site and make a generic request. However, you can contact them with a specific request that you write an article about legal claims involving car accidents, with a link to your legal page on the same subject. I recently did something similar for a pet site, talking about restraining lets in cars and getting links on car sites.