Link building is an essential part of any digital marketing strategy, all businesses big and small should be invested in growing their websites backlink profile to get them above the competition.
The only issue is when you’re a small business & you don’t have the marketing budget to run a large campaign, with all the tools an agency might have; you have to do it as simply as you can, without any fancy software.
So, I’ve put together a quick guide on how to run an outreach campaign, with just an email account, Microsoft Excel and an internet connection.
For this, I recommend that you have produced creative content already, that can provide value to any websites that may host your link. This can be an instructional video, detailed infographic or an article that you or one of your team has written, with expert knowledge included.
Essentially, this simplified outreach process is just finding relevant websites to get a link from and contacting them before negotiating for a link.
Your leverage for negotiation will be whatever content you are using (be that an infographic or an article written with your expertise & insight)
Here we have a few parts of the process that we shall go through later on in the guide:
1) Harvesting (gathering sites for outreach)
2) Pre-Outreach (getting the sites ready to be emailed)
3) Outreach (sending out emails to the sites)
How do I get the sites for my outreach?
Manual harvesting is a long and sometimes tedious process, of getting a stockpile of websites to get in touch with.
It’s quite simple to get into because essentially, all you need is Google, an excel sheet and a bit of common sense.
You start out simply, by going into Google and typing keywords to find websites that have content relevant to your business.
For example: here are a few searches you could use if you were a small jewellery company.
As you can see they aren’t directly related to your business, but this should bring up websites & blogs that have posted articles related to your industry in the past. This means they’re more likely to accept your proposal and host your content on their site.
Once you have searched for this, you will be shown all the results of this search. You then need to open the first 100 results for the search (one by one or in batches, never all at once or you’ll kill your computer).
Once you have the individual sites open, you’ll have to flick through them & decide whether to add them to your excel for outreach or just dump them.
This is done by looking through the site’s content & making sure that it’s relevant to you!
Here are a few things to remember when you’re looking through sites:
- If the site belongs to a competitor, they won’t give you a link.
- If it is an overly large site (Facebook, Huff Po, BBC etc.) in all likeliness you won’t be getting a link from them, so best not to waste your time.
- It’s not a beauty contest, just because a site looks old or bad doesn’t mean it will be a bad link. At the end of the day, if the website is relevant it should be a good link.
Then if the site passes those checks and you think it’d be a good site for a link, shove it in your excel sheet and hopefully it’ll end up hosting some kickass content from your team.
But hold up I haven’t got the emails
Getting emails is probably the easiest part of the process, all you need to do is open up the sites you decided to keep & outreach to.
Next, find the contact page on the website (if there is not a contact page, check their ‘about’ page) then, take the email from there & add it into your excel sheet.
Here are a few emails that are usually pretty good:
If you see any of these they’ll be a good shout for the email you select. Obviously, there are cases where a site won’t have any of those emails, but you’ll have to use your common sense & judgement, we trust you.
(If you can’t find an email on a site but you have found a contact form instead, put the URL of the contact form in your excel sheet and put your outreach email in the contact form when you go out)
Anyway, you’re just about ready to get on to outreaching, so fingers crossed it’s all been good up to here.
Once you have found your sites, you’ve vetted them and now you have their emails, only one thing left to do here and that is to outreach!
You’re going to want to open your email provider of choice (personally I roll with G-Mail) & put together an email for each of the sites you’re going out to. In this email, you should be sure to detail how you can provide value to their site, with your creative content.
Here is a quick example of a rough template you can use for your outreach email:
“Dear *INSERT BLOGGERS NAME*
I was looking at your site the other day and noticed that you had a post here *INSERT URL OF RELATED BLOG HERE* regarding *TOPIC OF BLOG POST*.
I work for *INSERT YOUR BUSINESS* and obviously, with this, I’m an expert in that field and I’ve put together an article/infographic on the topic, including my personal expert insight on the topic.
If you would like to use my content or use it as a reference in a future article, I’d be more than happy for you to do that. All I ask is that if you use my work, you give my website (*YOUR URL HERE*) a link back!
Let me know what you think.
Obviously, I would recommend you customise each email to keep it relevant and original. However, if you’re trying to run a business your outreach campaign, it may be easier to use the template as it is.
Once you have put the emails together and sent them off, all you need to do is wait for their replies.
When they get back to you, there may be a bit of back and forth as you demonstrate the value you can provide to their website, but hopefully, it ends up with them giving you a well-earned link on their site!
Until then it’s ‘rinse and repeat’ the harvesting and outreach process, so keep getting some good sites in and hopefully you’ll be getting links in no time.