Search engines crawl through billions of websites to determine if they’re worthy of ranking on the search results page. Some of the key elements they look for are backlinks and referring domains.
If your webpage has a lot of referring domains – meaning other sites are linking back to it via backlinks – then that signals to search engines like Google that yours is a site of authority. Google will likely rank your page higher, which means you can get a higher click-through rate.
Besides SEO, link-building will also drive quality traffic from authority sites to your website. However, you must adopt a good SEO outreach campaign to build backlinks from authority sites. Here are ten tips to help you with link-building:
1. Know the keywords to target
The keywords you want to rank for will form the foundation of your SEO outreach campaign. Keeping a list of these keywords will help you reach out to sites that rank for your targeted query.
Let’s pretend that you’re trying to build links to your SEO solutions software.
Source: Google Keyword Planner
The first step is to identify what search query you want to appear for. Once you input it into Google Keyword Planner, you can view relevant search terms that you may want to rank for. In this case, searching for the keyword “SEO software” also suggested “rank tracker”, “small SEO tool”, “best SEO tools”, among others.
When choosing your anchor text, make sure you pick one that accurately describes what you’re linking to in the first place. So, in the example above, Poptin added a link to their blog post “7 Best Practices for Website Popups that Convert” to the anchor text “website popups” in its guest post on website popups that was published on Webflow. This brings us to our next tip:
2. Identify the key sites
Link-building is no longer a numbers game. You might have gotten by with inserting backlinks and guest posting on every site that would accept your content. However, Google now penalizes spammy backlinks and rewards links from niche-relevant sites. You need to identify niche sites to post your content on them. There are a couple of ways to do this.
First, you can take note of the sites that already rank for the keywords you’re searching for. For instance, searching for “best seo tools” yields the results below:
If we’re feeling confident, we could tap the immediate sites we see for our SEO outreach. In this case, Oberlo, Techradar, and PCMag. However, chances are that these are highly established domains, and getting backlinks from these domains is close to impossible unless your brand is well-known too.
Another method would be to tap the sites that link to these high-ranking blogs. Use a backlink checker like Ahrefs’ or Linkody’s backlink checker to see a list of domains that link to a chosen URL.
Source: Ahrefs’ Backlink Checker
In this case, we’re looking for sites that link to the #1 ranking blog for the search term “best SEO tools,” which is Oberlo’s blog. List down the domains shown on the backlink checker you’ve used. Use your common sense to determine whether these domains cater to your niche or not.
3. Examine their link authority
Not all referring domains will help your SEO. Building links from non-reputable and scam-y sites may even hurt your SEO.
Source: Ahrefs Backlink Checker
Aim to tap sites that have a domain rating of higher than 60. Looking at the above results, only a few referring domains to Oberlo’s blog have a rating higher than 60. One of them is Business 2 Community, and another is Member Press at 79. Scrolling down the results, you may note down more domains.
Source: Linkody Backlink Checker
For reference, Oberlo – the domain that contains the #1 result for the search term “best SEO tools” – has a domain rating of 90.
4. Research Your Prospects
You may be compelled to send an email immediately to each of your qualified domains. We have to take a few more steps before getting to that part. The first step is to research your prospects.
You’d want to know the following about each of your prospects:
- What’s their niche?
- What are some of their blogs that have caught your attention?
- What is their product/service?
- Are they a start-up or an established company?
Simply knowing these things (a quick search will give you the answers to those questions) will allow you to engage with them better and even propose topics that they could use. That will help foster a better connection with them, instead of when you out to them with a copy-pasted template, not knowing who they are.
5. Create outreach templates
You’d want your emails to be unique to the domains you’re reaching out to. That is the #1 rule to cold emailing. If you’ve researched your prospects, writing personalized and unique cold emails will be second nature if you’ve researched your prospects.
On the other hand, you also want to maximize your time by not writing from scratch each time you send an email to a new recipient. By preparing multiple templates, you can mix up your outreach emails and ensure that no two emails are the same.
There are complete guides on the internet for cold emailing and some very effective cold email templates you may use. These will save you time on your SEO outreach, but you should also remember to personalize each email so that they’re unique to your recipient.
Tailored emails have a higher open rate and better response rates than copy-pasted ones.
6. Collect the email addresses
Once you have your email templates, collect the necessary email addresses to connect with key personnel.
You’d want to look for marketing heads, editors, content managers, or company founders. Simply knowing the names of these people can get you a lead into searching for their email addresses.
Let’s try to tap Business 2 Community, as they are one of the domains qualified in our earlier link authority assessment.
The first thing you should do is check the company’s LinkedIn page. Next, scan through the list of employees until you find someone you’d want to reach out to.
We can immediately see Business 2 Community’s Managing Editor, Renee DeCoskey. We may shoot her a direct message on LinkedIn or continue looking for her email.
Source: Voila Norbert
Searching for emails is tricky. Most LinkedIn users don’t make their email addresses visible on LinkedIn. In this case, you may use email hunting software such as Voila Norbert or Hunter.io to guess these emails. All you need to know is the person’s name and their company.
7. Draft guest post ideas
Drafting guest post topics lets your prospects know what you’ll be writing for them, increasing your chances of getting a client. Here are a few ways you may come up with guest post ideas:
- Search for queries within online niche communities
- Re-angle existing blogs
- Read reader comments on blogs you’ve guest-posted to gain more insight
- Focus on new trends around your niche
Your guest post ideas may also depend on the prospect you’re writing for. Propose different topics for each industry. If you’re an SEO company writing for a digital marketing or web design niche, consider that readers from those niches will have differing levels of understanding towards SEO.
You may go the extra mile and create outlines for each of your guest post topics. That will show your prospects that each topic already has a concrete flow. The outlines will also make it easier for your writers to write those topics.
8. Create quality content
It’s not enough that your prospects agree to publish your work on their blog. Your content must appeal to your target audience, engage the reader, and provide actionable insights for your SEO outreach campaign to work.
Here are a few ways you can create quality content:
- Ensure your blog has a seamless and progressive flow
- Use engaging visuals for your blogs
- Don’t shoehorn in your links. Links should serve as a footnote and not mislead readers’ train of thought
- Check for grammatical errors. Edit and proofread your content
- Write according to your prospects’ chosen style guide. Many websites use either AP Style or the Chicago Manual of Style
Creating quality content will give your prospects confidence to keep working with you and provide a decent portfolio for new clients.
9. Monitor results
Look at your numbers. Do they show the effective use of time and resources? Here are some of the key metrics you’d want to note for your outreach campaign:
- Email open rate
- Email response rate
- New prospects per month
- Guest posts published per month
- Daily traffic to the URL you’ve built links for
A good email open rate suggests that you’re using a compelling subject line and/or have the right sender name. A good response rate suggests that you’re using an engaging email body. You may use email tools such as Hubspot or Mailchimp to monitor email metrics.
The number of new prospects you get and the number of guest posts you publish regularly suggests your team’s efficiency in landing new projects.
While this is all and well, the end goal is always to improve your site’s SEO and drive traffic to your company’s site(s). You may use Google Search Console to assess your domain’s current SEO and what keywords your site’s ranking for. Backlink checkers let you see your URL’s authority and the number of backlinks and referring domains your site has.
Source: Search Engine Land
You should also monitor your competitors’ metrics to see if you’re performing relatively well. If you’re way behind, then you’re doing something wrong. Use backlink checkers on your competitors’ domains to assess their domain authority and compare it with yours.
10. Expand the scope of outreach
Once you’ve guest blogged a couple of times, tap other domains to expand the reach of your website.
Eventually, you’ll get a flow for the process. You may then hire your SEO outreach staff to write cold emails and tap prospects needing your guest blogging services. Automating the outreach process will allow you to focus on other things, such as editing.
It may be wise to tap content sites outside of your niche. Be careful, though, as you still need to stay within a reader interest area. You may build backlinks to your SEO topic articles from business, web development, and digital marketing blogs for as long as you can insert your links naturally in those articles on topics relevant to those blogs.
However, it might be impossible to build SEO-targeted backlinks from gaming or cryptocurrency content websites if you’re a site selling shoes, for example.
Building links via an SEO outreach can effectively increase your domain’s authority and drive quality traffic to your website.
Before starting your SEO outreach, know which keywords you want to target. Identify sites to tap. You may do this by doing a Google search or selecting from the referring domains linking to ranking search results. Once you have a list of domains, filter them out by assessing the domain authority of each one.
Search for key personnel from your select sites you may want to pitch topics. Look for them on LinkedIn, or you may use email hunting software. It helps if the topics you pitched already have an outline.
See to it that your guest posts are well-polished and engaging for your prospect’s niche. That will help optimize your SEO outreach efforts. Tap other industries that may be interested in your website’s content or product.
Follow these steps, and your SEO outreach and link-building will yield results.
Nicholas Rubright is the communications specialist for Writer, an AI writing assistant designed for teams. Nicholas has previously worked to develop content marketing strategies for brands like Webex, Havenly, and Fictiv.