10 Steps To Mastering SEO Outreach and Linkbuilding

Making your content rank on Google is hard work. One method marketers use to dominate search results for their chosen keyword is SEO outreach. This is the practice of building backlinks to a piece of content through guest posting or link exchanges.

To vastly oversimplify 

SEO, the more of the right links you can get to your content, the higher it will rank in the search results. SEO outreach allows you to build these links while avoiding SEO penalties from unethical link-building.

A lot of people are using this strategy. To help you dominate Google, we pulled together this list of 10 steps you can take to master SEO outreach.

1. Keyword Research

Your first step to creating a winning SEO outreach strategy is working out the keywords you’re going to target. This is called keyword research. To do this, begin by thinking about what kinds of problems your customers face, and how you can solve them.

I often create a customer persona before coming up with keywords. To come up with relevant keywords for your business you should answer these three questions.

  • What are people searching for? 
  • How many people are searching for this? 
  • Who else is targeting these keywords?

Luckily, these questions can be answered for free using Google Keyword Planner. Let’s pretend I run a cookery school for a minute. I might enter terms like Cooking Lessons, How to Make a Roux, and Cook Healthy Food into keyword planner.

If I did, the result would look like this.

Keyword Research

Select the keywords with the highest monthly searches and lowest competition. These keywords should align with your business goals. You want to choose keywords with decent search volume that are likely to be interested in your products or services.

Another trick is to use your competitor’s top keywords as a source of inspiration. This can also be one in Keyword Planner, like so.
Keyword Planner

You can also do this with a search tool. For example, I use Ahrefs when doing a competitor analysis to identify relevant keywords to target. This is a simple strategy for coming up with keyword ideas.

2. How To Find Sites You Want Links From

The next part of your SEO outreach prep is to find websites or blogs to contact. You might already have a couple in mind. You might find a couple more with a quick Google search.

However, later on, we're going to look at scaling your SEO outreach efforts, so we don't want a couple of sites. We want a lot of websites. To find these, we'll use Ahrefs' free Backlink Checker.

Identify a couple of market leaders in your niche. For example, in the marketing niche you might decide to review Forbes.

Pop their URL into Backlink Checker, and then see which other relevant sites are linking to them. Backlink Checker will provide you a list of the top 100 referring domains. A quick rinse and repeat will give you lots of sites to target.

Domain Rating

The next step is deciding which sites to prioritize for your SEO outreach.

3. Analyzing Link Authority

Not all backlinks are created equal. Some backlinks have more value than others. There are three metrics which make for a great backlink, and therefore a site to target for SEO outreach. These are;

  • Domain Authority / Domain Rating
  • Monthly traffic
  • Relevance

If you scroll down your Backlink Checker results, you’ll see something like this beside each URL.

Link Analyzer

For DR and Traffic, the higher, the better. As a rule of thumb, eliminate sites with a DR of less than 50 and less than 5,000 monthly visitors. For relevance, use your common sense. Place all your new target sites in a spreadsheet. You’re almost ready to start SEO outreach.

4. Email Outreach Template

A good email outreach template should get straight to the point. The best email templates have a clear value proposition. Part of the value proposition is the guest post request. Try to offer something of value in return as well. For example, you could help build backlinks to their content.

Below is a guest post outreach template to use for your business. Tweak it to fit your needs:

Hi [there/ name],

My name is [your name] from [your site]. We’re also in the [your niche] niche, and our blog has a combined audience of [figures]. I’m interested in writing a guest post for [their site]. These topics will be a great fit because [...]. Here’s what I’m thinking.

[Title 1]

[Summary of headings]

[Title 2]

Summary of headings]

[Title 3]

[Summary of headings]

Which of these sounds best? I’d love to work together, because [reasons you’re a natural fit]. For now, here’s a couple of portfolio pieces that cover similar topics.

[2-3 portfolio pieces from high authority sites]

Chat soon,

[Your name]

P.S. I’m writing a lot of guest posts at the moment. I’m looking for great resources to include in future articles. Please let me know what content you are looking to promote.

Since you have a long list of sites to reach out to, you may be tempted to use an email automator. I recommend a balanced approach. For some sites, say the ones with 5,000-10,000 visitors a month, use an automation tool. It’s good to take a more personalized approach with sites that get more traffic.

5. How To Gather Email Addresses

You may be thinking, wait a minute, who am I supposed to pitch? In fairness, this is a good question. Let's take a few seconds to look at how you can find the right contacts.

Your first step is to find the person who deals with content requests on a blog or site. You can do this using LinkedIn. You're looking for titles like the content manager, editor, marketing manager, or even founder, depending on the size of the organization.

To find a contact's email address, I recommend Voila Norbert. This uses published email addresses from a company to work out the format they use for their employees' accounts. All you need to do is enter the URL and the person's name.

Sometimes, emails will be hosted on a different server to the website. In this case, follow these steps to find the server, and then use Voila Norbert.
Voila Norbert

6. Outreach Tools

Earlier, I mentioned you should use a mix of manual and email automation software for SEO outreach. If link building in this way becomes a big part of your overall SEO strategy, a good automation tool is essential.

MailShake has features explicitly aimed at SEO outreach. I especially like the range of tested and true templates they offer. They also make it easier to personalize emails when doing mass outreach.
Mailshake

As I say, this is a good option if you find SEO outreach begins to make up a lot of your marketing efforts

7. How to Come up with Endless Guest Post Ideas

Another concern you may have is coming up with enough guest post ideas. I want to share a little trick with you to make this easier. The trick is to look at what’s already out there. In reality, your ideas don’t have to be completely groundbreaking.

To find topics that are guaranteed to perform well, you can use BuzzSumo. Create a list of 10 popular sites in your niche and look at their most popular content. This will provide you with a list of popular content to steal in terms of both views and social shares.
Top Articles

In the marketing niche, you can do the same thing using Zest. This is a platform for sharing content. Select article ideas that have performed well in your niche. Take the best of these and check if they have been written about on the site you are targeting.

You can check what content is on their blog by doing the following. On Google, enter: site:website.com topic. Press enter and you get a list of published content that includes the keyword.

Below is an example for Monetize Pros looking at the topic content marketing.

Site Search Google

Just remember, you still need to come up with your articles. This trick helps you to find topics to pitch to editors, and how those articles should be structured.

8. Creating Content for Backlinks

Now for the fun part. Aside from obvious things like check your work and make sure you don’t spell anything wrong, there are a couple of tips you should keep in mind when writing guest posts.

Firstly, editors are a strange breed. That is, some of them have strong opinions or preferences on things which you might not think are all that important - and none of them seem to agree with each other.

To make everyone’s life easier, make sure you read the site style guide before putting pen to paper or finger to keyboard. If there’s no style guide, check out their existing content. Specifically, look at how they format subheadings, when they spell out numbers, and whether they use the oxford comma, etc.

In terms of getting your backlinks, the onus on you is to make them relevant with appropriate anchor text. Trying to shoehorn links in where they don’t fit won’t make you any friends.
Business Signature

The links in your article should usually link to blog posts and relevant content. You can try and add links to the product or service pages in your bio. Editors tend to be more forgiving about this.

The links in your article should usually link to blog posts and relevant content. You can try and add links to the product or service pages in your bio. Editors tend to be more forgiving about this.

9. Measuring your SEO Outreach Success

There are two parts to measuring the success of your SEO outreach. The first is reviewing how successful your outreach is. It's important that you track the number of emails you send, and measure the success. You should:

  • Track the number of emails that you send
  • Keep tabs on how many people reply
  • Track the number of guest posts published

Each of these metrics is important. If you are sending a lot of messages, but very few people are replying, then you should review your email template. On the other hand, if a lot of people are accepting your guest post ideas, but only a few articles are published, then you need to improve your article writing.

The second thing to track from your SEO outreach is your traffic. SEO takes time. An increase in organic traffic won't happen overnight. You should see a gradual uptick in traffic as you get more of the right backlinks to your target content.

As you acquire more backlinks, your site's authority will increase. The higher the authority of your website, the easier you will find it to get your content ranking. Of course, you still have to build the links to make that happen.

10. Scaling SEO Outreach

With an optimized system in place, all you need to do is rinse and repeat. You'll soon get into the flow of SEO outreach.

Once your SEO outreach process is off the ground, you can start thinking about scaling up. This means that once you're generating enough revenue through your extra traffic, you can think about hiring people to take care of outreach.

Hiring people to undertake tasks for you requires a different mindset than completing the tasks. You'll know this if you already manage someone. 

Conclusion

In this guide to SEO outreach, I shared a step-by-step strategy you can apply to scale your guest posting. The guide started with a brief look at how to find a list of sites for guest post outreach. I then covered how to create a shortlist of relevant sites and how to conduct that outreach using online tools. I also shared some hacks for coming up with good guest post ideas.

By following the strategies outlined in this guide to SEO outreach, you should be able to land a steady stream of guest posts for your site. These new links will help you in your quest to rank on Google. That’s it; just rinse and repeat.

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