Nothing kills my link building buzz more than receiving this email after (what I consider) a top-notch pitch:

Burn.

I don’t know the exact moment when marketers started getting this bad reputation, but I’m seeing it a lot. Frankly, if you’re getting good content or getting more value for your website, it shouldn’t matter if I’m a freelancer writer, a webmaster, an in-house marketer, or an agency. But it does.

We live in a world where SEO leaves a bad taste in people’s mouths and marketers are seen as pushy people who’ll do anything for a product mention. (Thanks for that, Black Hats.) So, you have to adapt your approach if you want a successful link building campaign.

Above All, You’re A Writer

I would almost guarantee that if I wrote the exact same pitch from an email address that didn’t have “media” in it, I would have gotten a much different response. (We’re testing this now: I’ll update you with the findings.)

When you’re pitching blog posts, yes you’re a marketer, but above all, you’re a writer. Your focus shouldn’t be on the outbound link: It should be on the content.

Writers want to provide quality information; writers want to add value; and writers want to share advice. Your pitch should reflect that.

Good pitch + great content + Gmail = link win

Even if you’re an in-house marketer, you can (and should) still use Gmail if you’re making straight pitches for most one-off guest blog posts.

You’re Also The Client

Remember: I said most guest blog posts. There are instances where it makes sense to be the marketer. In-housers, no problem there: You’re already “the client.”

Agencies, always have access to an @clientdomainname.com email address. Always.

Not only do many directories and local citation sources require you to have an email address that matches the domain you’re listing, it gives you a stronger tie when pitching expertise and not just content.

Client's email address = more credibility and more expertise

For example, one of my clients is a mortgage lender. Not only are we writing articles where we could mention them as a resource, but part of our strategy is furthering their expertise within the home loan industry. When I’m pitching articles that need more credibility behind it than just “writer,” I opt for the client’s email address to show that expertise.

Don’t Forget The Golden Rules

Bloggers are busy, and they get lots of pitches every day. So before you pitch, think about how you would want to be pitched to if you had a blog. (In fact, go start a blog, say you offer guest posts, and put yourselves in their shoes.)

Keep in mind, this not just with bloggers. Whether you’re hoping to get listed as a resource, joining a community or forum, or asking for product reviews, always treat your sources how you’d want to be treated. Link building is a strange combination between art and science, but you’re always going to deal with people.

Finally, never be afraid to follow-up. Because they get lots of pitches from unknown email addresses, spam filters are likely on high alert.

Whether they’ve seen the original email and forgot about it or it ended up in their junk mail, there’s no harm in checking in to get a status update. I typically wait a week before sending a follow up email, and when I do, I’ll email it off the original email I sent so they have the thread right there and don’t have to go hunt.

Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.

Related Topics: Channel: SEO | Link Week Column

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About The Author: is the director of digital marketing at 352, a digital agency creating websites, software and marketing campaigns. Follow her on Twitter @erinever.

Connect with the author via: Email | Twitter | Google+ | LinkedIn



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  • http://steveg.com/ SteveG

    I don’t blame the black hats for this at all.. I blame the thousands, tens of thousands, of people that want to be SEOs or marketers or writers that simply flood inboxes with hundreds of requests every day. There is nothing black hat about them, they are just incredibly low quality and chasing the next big thing.

    But, as a marketer, the only way we’ve been able to gain any traction for guest posting is to present ourselves as an employee of the person we are promoting. It also helps when we can point to other articles on high profile sites that have been published in the past. But coming in fresh with no history has become a massive challenge for anyone trying to break in.

  • http://twitter.com/javaun Javaun Moradi

    I agree with Steve, the problem is not black hats, it’s the prolific number of pitches coming from marketers. The first issue is intent. Any blog/media site will be suspicious of the intent of a writer who is representing a client’s marketing interest. And they should be unless the conflict is fully disclosed. 

    You are right in stating that content quality is all that matters. If marketers (or SEOs) want to write articles about SEO or marketing, they’re likely qualified to do that. The problem is that these same individuals are usually wholly unqualified to be writing posts on other complex subjects. It doesn’t matter what email address you use, a simple Google or LinkedIn search will reveal a person’s experience and background. If someone is qualified to write on mortgages, they will have years of experience in that industry and may or may not have been previously published in that space.
    Otherwise, it’s just PR. 

    Edit: I’m rereading this. The only point I think I agree with Steve on is that SEOs are doing this to themselves. The reason the industry has a bad reputation isn’t the fringe practices of Black Hats, it’s the mainstream practices of white hats. “Presenting ourselves as employees of the client” (aka “lying”) is no way ingratiate yourself to bloggers and it will ultimately hurt your clients too. Trust is increasingly the only thing that matters.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_SBARHI262JEDSA3SO3NOH5BGVI s2kreno

    What drives me crazy when I’m actually looking for input, whether guest post or quote for article (I write for Fox Business among other sites) is that of the 60-100 responses I get to a HARO query, 80% do exactly what I ask them NOT to do — namely, I write 10,000 words a week and don’t have time for conversations — I provide a list of questions I’d like quotes for, ask them to answer any or all of them via email, and indicate their title / company / preference for credit. I specifically say that I don’t have time for anyone who provides a number and says “call me to discuss.” And I get a slew of responses from PR folks, extolling the virtues of their clients and directing me to call them or to call their clients. It’s like they don’t bother to read the query at all. So the next time I see them in my inbox, I delete. Period.

    If you want to do guest posts, I recommend responding to HARO queries, in the manner requested, providing a few useful quotes, establishing a relationship, and THEN asking for the guest post. I’ll work with you all day long if you respect my time.

  • http://www.burnseo.com Chris Burns

    This is exactly why I prefer to use a service where authors and publishers can come together with the INTENT of connecting. Rather than pitching and pestering for guest posts I use http://www.guestblogit.com to get my content out to publishers.. but they come to me instead!

  • http://www.seo-theory.com/ Michael Martinez

    The real problem is that Web marketers continue to put far too much emphasis on obtaining links from other Websites.  The strategists and decision-makers driving this demand continue to practice short-sighted marketing because the pressure to get more links inevitably leads to the production of lower quality content and to another wave of search engine filters and penalties.

    You can NOT be a successful search marketer if your strategy is based on acquiring links.

  • http://twitter.com/basilpuglisi Basil C. Puglisi

    We just opened up dbmei.com to guest posters in January, I have to say that while there is A LOT of mail to go through, I think that when we respond with a clear explanation of our publications expectations for content it helps us seperate those who provide valauble content and those who just spam our box.

    If you havn’t yet check out Digital Brand Marketing Education & Interactives, we love to promote content that brings values to our readers and promote those that provide it.

    dbmei.com

  • http://twitter.com/BzzContent Jessica Lee

    Couldn’t agree more with this part: “When you’re pitching blog posts, yes you’re a marketer, but above all, you’re a writer. Your focus shouldn’t be on the outbound link: It should be on the content.” I hate it when people approach me with the link being the focus. And even if they don’t outright say it, you can smell that from a mile away with who they are (their experience and their company), what content they’ve written in the past and how they present their intentions.

  • http://www.endlessrangemarketing.com/ Hilary St Jonn

    Being a blogger and a marketer, I find this surprising. But I guess if they get tons of pitches, they have to start weeding out one way or another. I’d be very interested in what your findings are with a gmail account. Might need to start using my personal email more! 

  • Matthew Barker

    Nice point – does anyone else use this or other services that can be recommended?

  • http://steveg.com/ SteveG

    Technically we are employees of the client, and the client does write the articles. But there is no way she has the time to chase down and find great places for her content to appear. She has more important things to do than spend her days emailing people looking for venues to share her expertise.

  • http://twitter.com/javaun Javaun Moradi

    Thanks Steve, I apologize if I rushed to judgement. I love this point you make: “But coming in fresh with no history has become a massive challenge for anyone trying to break in.”

    That’s the writing business alright. You’re nobody til you’re somebody ;-)

  • David_Rush

     I work on a website which I have little to no idea about. But I have done my homework and tried to get comfortable enough to understand the target audience. But that doesn’t mean that I’m qualified to write about the subject. However I’m still qualified to market the website. I hire writers based on their educational background and experience and they usually produce useful and insightful article about any issue in their industry almost effortlessly. The problem I see with guest blogging is that marketers are doing all the work. Just because you can make a sales pitch, it doesn’t mean that you can write about the subject matter you are pitching about.
    I’m getting great results by separating marketing from writing. I think most marketers also should do it this way. And unlike some comments above, as long as the host gets value out of the guest post, I don’t feel that asking for link is a bad thing. I though thats that is the point of all of this

  • http://steveg.com/ SteveG

    There are quite a few sites like this, of varying skill levels. Unfortunately they tend to top out at the middle of the spectrum as best. You won’t find top tier sites participating there.

    As was said before, HARO is really the best spot to find top tier sites, but they generally are very short notice and require the client to take a pretty active role in the process.

  • http://twitter.com/johnabrena John Abrena

    Good wake-up call for people who do guest blogging campaigns. For me, it’s all about how marketers should interact with website owners/webmasters, rather than target those links. It’s relatively easy to do e-mail outreach to prospects, but it’s hard to CONNECT with them. Knowing what the prospect’s site is about, understanding your industry and market, and giving off an aura that you do want to contribute (and actually having a mindset that you do!) will give of guest blogging campaign a more positive response. Heck, you might be given a free space in their website if you did really good.

  • http://joey.jp Joseph Miller

     MyBlogGuest.com is good.  BloggerLinkUp is okay.

  • http://www.brickmarketing.com/ Nick Stamoulis

     Steve makes a great point. “Newbies” that have little experience and no solid reputation are all trying to make a name for themselves, which means they have to be reaching out to every blogger they find. And while there is nothing wrong with trying to build your brand (we’ve all been there!), that clutters up the inboxes the rest of us are trying to get into. I don’t really know if there is a solution.

  • Viktoria A

    I got similar emails of asking if I am a marketing firm. Also got emails saying if I am a marketing company they only accept guest posts if I pay. I think some blog owners feel if marketing firms get paid for building links, they should get some too. That’s why there are webistes like blogguests.com. No questions asked, everyone knows that marketers do pay a few bucks for a guest blog posted. Less hoops to jump through. I love guest blogging. Guest blogging brought my websites up to the first pages of Google. It is time consuming, it is definitely not an over night process but nicely and slowly our websites are getting stronger.

 

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