Guest posting remains a solid search engine optimization (SEO) strategy for accumulating backlinks. If you’re not already familiar with the practice, guest posting involves writing and publishing an article on another website or blog, with the aim of reaching a new audience and possibly gaining new backlinks for your website.
But before you can have a post published on someone else’s website, you have to reach out to the site’s webmaster to ask them if they can publish your content, preferably with the links to your site intact. The practice of soliciting webmasters so that you could place a link on their site is called link outreach or outreach link building.
Link outreach and guest posting are integral to link building as we know it. The potential business returns of link building are so substantial that many webmasters of high-traffic and high-authority websites will charge you for the privilege of a backlink. However, paying for backlinks can get very expensive, is widely considered unethical, is frowned upon by major search engines, and is often difficult to justify, particularly for low-budget link building campaigns.
Fortunately, there are millions of webmasters out there who are open to publishing high-quality articles with links from guest posters for free, provided that the content appeals to their site’s target audience and follows their publishing guidelines.
As with all things in SEO, there is a catch. Webmasters who manage websites with a high Domain Authority (DA) generally understand that their site is valuable to digital marketers. They know that guest posters want their high DA to boost another site’s link equity and they’re not going to jeopardize their high ratings by allowing poor-quality articles on their site. As such, they are likely to reject the majority of link outreach inquiries they get, especially if they see any red flags.
But while you can’t control everyone’s reaction to your link outreach efforts, you can do things that will increase your odds of getting published on a high-DA website. In this article, we’ll talk about the tried and tested steps that SearchWorks takes to ensure high positive reply rates for link outreach emails.
Step 1: Link Prospecting
Link prospecting is the process of finding websites suited for your link building campaign. Note that whether or not a site is suitable completely depends on the situation.
For instance, some SEO professionals may consider sites with a low DA if they are more localized or have stronger topical relevance. Some may even consider posting an unlinked article if the site has a high potential for boosting a client’s brand. For the purposes of pure link building, however, you generally want sites that have a high DA and sufficient relevance that also allow dofollow links on your submitted content.
It’s also a good idea to look at sites that may not be directly related to your landing page’s topic but are still relevant. For example, if you’re promoting a page about SEO, you can reach out to sites that primarily discuss digital marketing, PPC, advertising, or other related disciplines. Many webmasters are tired of discussing the same old topics over and over again and they may be more likely to entertain topics that shed new light on their own area of expertise.
Step 2: Narrow Down Your List
Not all the link prospects you’ll find will be good choices for guest posting. If they belong to a private blog network, are currently being penalized by Google, or are in a “bad neighborhood”, you should avoid them completely. If your site gets associated with these kinds of sites, Google and other search engines may eventually downgrade your site as well. You’ll also want to avoid sites that look spammy or accept paid links as linking to these may also cause problems for your own site’s link equity.
Step 3: Gather Contact Details and Posting Guidelines.
Once you’ve gathered enough good prospects, it’s time to gather and collate their email addresses and content guidelines. High-quality prospects will, in most cases, have a page that outlines their guest posting requirements, including the kinds of topics they’re looking for, their editorial guidelines, as well as tips that will help you score a post on their site.
If the site does have rules and guidelines, make sure to read and understand these before sending the prospect your pitch. Failing to read the guidelines will almost certainly cause your pitch or your submitted post to be rejected and may result in you being unable to tap that prospect for future link inquiries.
Step 4: Create Topics
Busy webmasters from high DA sites will often require guest posters to pitch multiple topics in the first email. In any case, you or the writers and editors you work with will have to come up with a selection of relevant topics for the webmaster to choose from.
Here are a few topic-creation tips to prevent your pitch from being rejected:
- Follow all the guidelines. Again, make sure that you’ve thoroughly read through the prospect’s guest post guidelines. Many of them will even tell you what kinds of topics they want for guest posts. If it’s clear that you sent them irrelevant topics because you didn’t read their guidelines, chances are you might even get blocked from their emails.
- Check if your topics have been covered previously. Even if you send a webmaster a relevant topic, they might still reject your proposal if they recently covered it. Fresh topics are much more likely to be considered for posting. You can use Google search operators to quickly find out if a topic you’re considering has been recently covered by your link prospect.
- Make sure your topics are useful and entertaining. You should propose topics that offer genuine value for a website’s audience. If you can send topics that are engaging or thought-provoking, even better. Comprehensive guides and original dissections of trending industry developments are usually good topics to pitch to busy webmasters.
- Offer a different angle. Don’t just propose the same things everyone else has written about before. Offer a fresh perspective or even an opinion that’s contrary to popular wisdom. This may help catch the webmaster’s attention and give you a better shot at a positive reply.
Step 5: Send an Outreach Email
Now that you have a selection of relevant topics, it’s time to send an outreach email. You have to understand that most high-value sites have high value precisely because the site managers worked hard on them. They’re very busy people and your outreach email has to show that you understand that.
Here are outreach email tips that will increase the odds of a reply:
- Keep it short. Remember, any webmaster worth contacting is probably busy. They will outright ignore or delete any email with a wall of text. They already know what you’re after so forget the unnecessary fluff and introductions keep your email as short as possible.
- Keep the subject line intentionally vague. We’re a fan of short subject lines as well. We’d often just use the word “inquiry” or something similar on the subject line to pique the webmaster’s interest and we’ve had great open rates with this pared-down approach. However, if the guest post guidelines specify a specific subject line, be sure to use that instead.
- Don’t BS. Most webmasters don’t care about who you are, so don’t bother with introductions. If you have a proper email address, they can already see what your name is before they open your email. When they see long intros and other unnecessary fluff, it usually sends a signal that you’re going to be annoying to deal with. Don’t try to be too familiar unless you actually know them in real life.
- Be honest. A lot of outreach emails include outright lies about how much the sender loves the site or a certain article. No one worth reaching out to is fooled by this approach. The webmaster probably already figured you were looking for a backlink even before they opened your email, so any line like this will result in you being blocked or ignored.
- Don’t use flattery. If it’s a site worth posting on, the webmaster will have heard it all before. They already know you’re reaching out for a link and there is little point in using flattery as an approach, especially for a prospect with any real value.
- Keep it to the point. Just stick to the business at hand and make your proposal concise and digestible. You can also use bullet points for your proposed topics to make things simpler to understand. In the video, you can check out some examples of typical SearchWorks outreach emails starting at 23:45.
- Follow up. Any webmaster worth reaching out to is probably busy. A lot of them will simply overlook your email so it’s a good idea to periodically follow up on your proposal to make sure it got through. Sending consistent and respectful follow-up emails is key. If the webmaster doesn’t reply to your first email, send an email the same day the following week to catch their attention. If they still don’t reply, you can try again the following week.
Step 5: Start Writing Your Guest Post
If the webmaster asks for a draft or a completed article, it goes without saying that you should follow all their guest post content guidelines. However, you should be prepared to go beyond this if you want the article to be accepted or if you want to tap the same prospect again for future link building campaigns.
Here are some guest post writing tips that will help you build good working relationships with high-value webmasters:
- Assign a knowledgeable writer. The best thing you can to ensure your submission will be accepted do is to assign a writer that is an actual subject matter expert in the approved topic. If that’s not possible, you should at least choose someone who can consistently deliver well-researched and properly constructed articles. Good guest post submissions are much rarer than you might expect and webmasters who receive a high-quality article might even try to rush it to publication.
- Be ready. Webmasters and other points of contact may need to get back to you with questions or suggestions. You’ll need to be ready to answer emails or do any required revisions as needed. Also, you’ll need to do your part to help the guest post succeed by sharing it on social media. Webmasters love this as it also brings them extra traffic and helps bring their site to a new audience.
- Consider paid ads. While you should definitely share the post on your social media accounts, you should also consider paid ads to give the post an extra boost. Paid social media ads don’t cost a lot of money but they can temporarily bring a substantial amount of traffic to the guest post, which will probably be noticed and much appreciated by the webmaster.
Bonus: Maintain Relationships with High-Value Webmasters
It’s a good idea to be able to maintain relationships with owners of high-DA sites — the more the better. Make sure to produce good content for them and also share their other content on social media. You can also consider hitting them up on LinkedIn or through other professional avenues. This may help you may earn their trust which may result in future collaborations and ventures. If you’re consistent, you will eventually accumulate a decent number of high-value connections who would be happy to accept whatever articles you send over.
Effective link outreach requires empathy and common sense. Webmasters are people too and you need to understand their challenges, motivations, likes, and dislikes to properly connect with them. By understanding how webmasters think and following the tips above, you can ensure that your link outreach and guest posting activities are consistently successful and ultimately sustainable.
Feel free to get in touch with our team to learn more about link outreach, guest posting, and other important link building activities.