It’s Not (All) About The Links: Communicating For Outreach
You've researched and identified your link building targets, but what's the best way to speak to them?
When executing a link building campaign, we try to gather as much information as we can about a site, a site’s audience and the person we’re reaching out to.
We may try to get to know the person through social media; we may think we have a good understanding of what they like to write about and share; and, we may feel as if our outreach is spot on.
However, do we really know what the person we are reaching out to actually understands (or believes) about links, SEO, or even marketing? Probably not.
As search marketers, I think we tend to forget a very important thing…
Non-SEOs Don’t Care About Links!
It’s true! Have you ever talked to a friend not in the SEO or marketing industry about link building?
Your friend may understand the concept, but it can take quite a bit of explaining. You walk them through the steps and logic and reasoning, and even then you may still hear questions like, “Do you add a link to them?” or “What do they get from it?”
This is a common issue that we as link builders face every day. It’s also something that we need to consider and incorporate into our campaigns.
Shifting The Message
If you search for link building email templates, you’ll come across a number of examples that say things like “broken link,” “guest post,” “link to site.”
This is SEO jargon. While this language may work in some circumstances, we need to shift the message away from the link itself.
In my last column, I discussed how, for a particular client, we were identifying potential link opportunities via their partnerships. As part of this, we were having the client use their existing partnership manager do the outreach. After a few non-responses, we realized that the people we were targeting were the wrong people; and in turn, the language in the outreach was wrong.
We readjusted the strategy and worked on connecting the client with the marketing managers. We also left out the “link” messaging in the outreach. Instead, we focused on how the companies could work together to gain additional business exposure through their overlapping target audiences.
Did this campaign result in links? Yes. Blog posts were created or partner pages were created and links were built. However, the “link” itself was never explicitly asked for or addressed.
Think Big Picture
A few months ago, I wrote a column, “Are You Building Links Or Building A Business?” The general theme was that the link shouldn’t be the end all, be all. Businesses should focus on their brand, their customers, and making money. A comment left on the post stated:
“I tend to find that when I think about the business first, then this usually leads to high credibility, genuine link opportunities.”
I love this comment because it’s exactly what you should be thinking about as you create a campaign. See the big picture and what you can get beyond the link.
Qualified traffic? New leads? Sales? A better relationship? These are what’s important to the business and what’s likely important to the person you are contacting.
This type of thinking is how we get things like co-branded webinars, events, eBooks, surveys, etc. I can’t believe I’m saying this, but this type of content is also what tends to drive those magical “natural” links we hear so much about.
When creating your messaging, don’t focus on the link. Figure out the goals of the person you are reaching out to and provide some ideas on how you can work together to achieve those goals. Need some inspiration? Here are a few posts worth checking out:
- Link Building & The Power Of The Customer
- How to Create Content Partnerships that Build Ethical Links and Authority
Know What They Know
As mentioned at the beginning of this post, how much does the person you’re contacting actually know about link building? Does it even matter?
Take the time to understand who your target is — not just what they like or what they write about or what they share online, but what their goals are. What keeps them employed? What gets them that year-end bonus or raise?
By identifying this and showing them that working with you will help them achieve those goals, you will get their attention and likely create a successful partnership and plenty of beautiful links.
The key here is making sure you are able to relay your intentions and desire to help in your outreach. Remember, the average person sends and receives ~120 emails per day. That’s on top of sales calls, TV ads, display ads, and for those on social networks, the millions of messages passing us by every minute. Your messaging had better be good to get through all of that.
Need some tips on writing a good outreach email or getting the attention of a person? Here are a few resources:
- The Complete Guide to Outreach: 52 Curated Resources
- How to Email Busy People (Without Being Annoying)
- Be Memorable: 10 Practical Ways to Successfully Get Influencers’ Attention
What other tips have you found in creating outreach emails? Do you tend to mention links specifically?
Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land. Staff authors are listed here.
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