Stop Smelling Like Spam: Effective SEO Outreach
For link builders and SEOs, nothing is more frustrating than sending out emails only to sit idly by and twiddle our thumbs while shooting off the odd follow up email every so often. We have no way of knowing if our fragile bytes of text found their way into a comforting inbox just waiting to be opened like a present in December, or if they are experiencing a baptism by fire and duking it out with free online gambling ads and prescription medication in the spam folder.
Webmaster’s Note: This is a guest post by Thomas McMahon
Truth be told, editors, bloggers, and site owners have become swamped with requests to link, share, endorse, promote, host, publish, and bend over backwards for us with little in return. More likely than not, they’re scanning over their inboxes fit to burst and skipping over anything that looks remotely like SEO outreach. Make sure you’re putting in the effort on your emails or get lost in the crowd.
Get Rid of Canned Responses
Guess what else comes in cans… SPAM! You don’t want to look like spam, do you? Sure, canned responses are easy to copy, paste, and send and you save a lot of time, but they sound like a robot wrote them and tend to be generic to a fault. Take the time to write out and personalize every email you send off. This might sound like a “waste of time,” but outreach needs to be viewed as a priority, not just a chore.
Catch Their Eye
Just like the cutie at the bar, you need to stand out in order to catch the recipient’s eye. Since the only thing you can see in the inbox is the name and subject, make sure these aren’t boring and vague. Your name should show up fully as “Jon Smith” not jumbled up with a company name like “jonsmithsandsonstaxidermy.” The subject is the most important aspect and should give as much information as possible. Rather than simply writing “Guest Post,” write out “Guest Post Submission: How Taxidermy Saved Our Marriage.” Putting the title, or whatever it is you’re looking for, helps the recipient find which emails are worth reading, and who wouldn’t open that email?
Don’t Be Greedy
Why should an editor or owner link to your site and help your rankings out? Sometimes the site is a great benefit to their readers or visitors and they have no problem listing you or your client’s site as a resource, but usually they won’t hurt from not linking. Show the recipient that you’ve done something to help them out, “Hey, check out this article that we referenced you in…” Subtlety goes a long way as well so you shouldn’t demand payment – just show that you’re sharing the love makes people want to help you out in return.
Make it Easy
At the end of the day, you’re asking a favor and should make it as easy as possible for that favor to happen. If you want a link on their site, tell them where you think a good spot for it is and give them the link to the page. Want them to share or tweet an article of yours? Once again, provide them with a link so they can do it with a click of a button. Want to guest post? If you can, always submit an article with the outreach. Here at Page One Power, we ran the numbers on three months of published guest posts and found that 65% of the links were obtained by attaching the article in the email rather than just pitching a title. If you can’t attach an article, at least give as many details about the article as you can so the editor has a full picture of what you want to provide.
I’ve found that being conversational, friendly, and cracking the joke every once in a while leads to a much higher return rate on my emails than just shooting off requests day in and day out. Even if the response is a no, be friendly. You’ve at least established a connection and you can always try to haggle or come back at another time. Always be direct and honest because you’ll find the internet is smaller than you thought – especially if you are operating in a tight niche – and spurning one webmaster might burn a lot of bridges. Remember that you’re talking to a person, not a website, and you should be fine. Happy link building to you!