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Link Building for SEO: 6 Steps to Earn Links with Outreach

Proper Outreach for Link Building Helps You Earn Editorial Links

April 29th, 2015 by Shawn Kerr

This article, which deals with the steps to take to earn links with your outreach efforts, is the fourth part of my series on Link Building for SEO. If you aren’t familiar with link building basics, how to start a campaign, or what outreach is I recommend you read:

link building graphicThere are just a few basic steps to earning editorial links with outreach.

  1. Find an Author
  2. Connect with that Author
  3. Establish Rapport
  4. Demonstrate Value
  5. Request a Link
  6. Continue the Relationship

Each major step of outreach is, of course, made up of little steps.

Step 1: Find an Author

Magnifying GlassI cover the basics of this step in the Adding Outreach to Your Link Building for SEO post. The steps involved with identifying sites are:

  1. Choose your targeted keyword phrases
  2. Review websites with high-ranking in search engines for your targeted keyword phrases
  3. Make sure the websites and their content authors you target:
    • link to relevant content on other websites
    • do not use “NoFollow” links
    • do not require payment for review or link

Step 2: Connect with That Author

wave helloIn the “old days” of link building (think late 1990s) it was common practice to contact website owners via email or contact form on the targeted website to request a link.  Submitting these as “form letters” to as many websites as possible was the norm as each link the sender received counted as a “vote” for their website.

As time marched forward into the 21st century these emails became more personalized to entice action by the recipient and specialized by contextualized targeting.  Still, outreach generally boiled down to a letter requesting a link submitted via email or online contact form in the 2000s.

Today, emails and online contact forms should typically be your last resort.  As a means of contact they are impersonal and it’s too easy to be considered just another spammer by the recipient.  So how should you connect?

Connect Personally

When you are seeking a link from an online author, always remember they are a person and will want to be treated as such.

No-Spam logo

Email and contact forms should be your last resort for link building outreach since your request will likely be misconstrued as a junk message.

A personalized e-mail message may seem like a good bet, but think about it: when you receive e-mail from a stranger that’s not directly related to your business activities do you tend to read it thoroughly or do tend to think it’s spam?  For most of us it’s usually the latter.  I no doubt have trashed messages that may have been beneficial link building requests.

Find Common Ground

Instead, find a way to engage the author in other, more personable ways.  Social media is an appropriate venue for following the activities of the author and initiating the contact.

Follow the Author in Social Media and Subscribe to What They Publish

Chances are the author you want to get a link from is a blogger, columnist and/or commentator.  Show your interest passively at first by following them in whatever social media platform(s) are regularly engaged by the author.  Subscribe to their e-newsletter(s) and any other subscriptions.

Doing so will allow you to get to know the author a bit and see how they prefer to communicate with their fans and followers.

Engage the Author, But Don’t Be Creepy
Laptop Looking

Don’t set yourself up to be seen as an online stalker when trying to earn links from online authors.

No one likes aggressive engagement via social media or blog comments and it certainly won’t help you attain your goals for link building.  If you don’t get a response to a comment you make to an author it’s not the end of the world.

Continue to follow the author and engage when you have something to say that’s likely to generate that response.

Once you’ve received a reply from that author it might be tempting to jump right in and ask for a link.  Sometimes that works, but generally there are a couple of steps between that you should follow.

Step 3: Establish Rapport

After receiving an initial reply to you comment to a blog or social media post, it’s time to grow the relationship with that author.  Point the author to another author’s online article to establish common ground around a subject that interests you both.

Once you receive a positive response to that it’s time to start introducing your own material to the author.

Step 4: Demonstrate Value

You might think this should be the step where you ask for a link, but I recommend holding off on that until you establish the value of your writing with the author in question.  Point him to an article you’ve written, but don’t ask for link – the idea here is to show what you write is worthy of comment.

If you’re lucky, the author will leave a comment on your article; you may even get a link from the author at this stage, but the goal is simply to demonstrate your value as an author and receive feedback of some form.

Step 5: Request a Link

links in a chain

Follow the best practices of engagement with authors and you will be more likely to earn the links you need for greater SEO value.

Once you’ve established rapport with an author and demonstrated the value of the content you write to them it’s time to request that link as part of your outreach efforts.  Keep the request informal unless the author prefers formal correspondence and weave it naturally as part of your engagement with that author.

Step 6: Continue the Relationship

If you truly establish rapport with that author, continue to follow and engage them.  Your link requests should be infrequent and only come when what you write complements the subject of an article the author has written.  Doing so will help maximize the effectiveness of your efforts at outreach for link building SEO.

Once you start receiving links from the authors who have established their authority for your targeted topics and keywords you will start to see the search engine visibility of your published blog posts start to rise.

Contact us if you need help in with link building.  We offer consultations and ongoing services for link building outreach and other SEO-related services.