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Link building is something of a dirty phrase in some circles right now. But the fact of the matter is that even if the tactics have changed, your website’s search visibility still hinges largely on links.
And so we do outreach. Lots of it. Unfortunately, outreach is made much tougher by the sheer fact that bloggers and editors are getting increasing volumes of emails from people just like you. They’re also getting emails from spammers. All of this means it’s harder and harder to even be seen, let alone to get anywhere with your outreach.
It goes without saying that, before you even think about outreach, you need a compelling offering – either a sublime idea for some content you’ll contribute or an amazing piece of content on your own site that you’d like them to engage with, for example. But even then, that’s only half the battle. In this post, I share 5 ways in which you can improve your chances of having your outreach responded to.
1. First name terms
I despise receiving emails that say ‘dear webmaster’ or ‘dear blogger.’ I assume that it’s lazy spam work and I delete without reading on invariably. The majority of great bloggers use their names. You should too. Make an effort to find out the name of the person you need to speak to.
“Hey Andrew, I’ve just seen your blog post on the worst Android apps you’ve ever bought. Very funny!”
That has more personality about it than,
“Dear Webmaster. Your blog contents are very interesting.”
In my SMX London presentation in May 2013, I referred to the phone as one of my favourite tools. I meant it.
People’s inboxes are getting busier and busier. You’re a lot easier to ignore by email than phone. And let’s be honest, it’s much easier to convey your personality and your passion for what you’re talking about verbally. Wherever it’s possible, introduce yourself by telephone. Even if all you’re doing is making a call to get the right email address, speaking to someone makes you seem a lot more real to someone than an email could.
3. Spend half an hour with a brilliant sales person
If you work in an agency, you’re likely to have sales people to hand. You really need to spend half an hour with your best cold caller or top performing sales person.
Pitching an idea for a guest post or an existing piece of content on your site has a lot in common with pitching services to people. Listen to how your sales people grab the attention of prospects and apply some of the same methodology.
4. Spend half an hour with a brilliant PR exec
Outreach isn’t about ‘requesting a link’ or ‘requesting a guest post’ anymore. It’s about pitching a compelling idea to a publication. It has so much more in common with PR than it ever has. So you need to make friends with someone in PR and learn from them.
Treat your outreach more like PR. Stop thinking like a link builder and start thinking like you’re in PR.
5. Introduce yourself properly
Whether by phone or by email, remove the ‘anonymity’ as soon as you can. Don’t just offer your first name. Give them your full name and a couple of sentences about what you do, where they’ll find you online (social platforms etc) and what qualifies you to write about the topic you’re discussing with them. In short: be real.
Automated, faceless, high volume outreach emails don’t cut it anymore. In the words of Eric Schmidt,
“The true cost of remaining anonymous, then, might be irrelevance.”
This applies to outreach too.
Stacey is Head of Search at UK agency, Tecmark. She’s also a keen blogger, something of a compulsive social media user and a not-so-secret iPhone fan girl.