If you either have your own business to grow or work in a company that needs to do the same, then you are in the right place.
In this tutorial I give you everything you need to have in order to successfully run an outreach-based link building campaign.
In fact, I’m using our existing client, Spreadsheeto.com, to show you the exact process over the shoulder.
So if you are ready, let’s do it…
Must Watch Video
In this 1+ hour video I cover the entire process (so it’s the same stuff that I wrote in this article) + go really deep in the detail which I do NOT mention in the article (it’s a lot easier to show in the video).
The video is a MUST watch if you want to build links for your company.
The number of backlinks you need on a monthly basis depends on things like your size, budget, competitors…
Generally speaking, your goal should be getting between 5 and 30 backlinks a month, with 10-20 being a median interval.
Now, where would these links come from?
There are 2 types of strategies available for you, depending on the amount/quality of content you have.
If you have great, detailed evergreen-type content that’s genuinely useful (like this guide), then you should try:
- Resource Page Link Building
- Competitor Outreach
- Infographic Link Building
If you barely have any content (that’s super weird in 2019) or it’s pretty thin, then you can only do guest posting.
1. Campaign Design
The time to design our campaign and use Spreadsheeto for illustration purposes.
I’ve looked through their website and found quite a number of quality articles. Here are some examples:
- How to Use The Excel Functions INDEX+MATCH With Multiple Criteria
- How To Use Excel: A Beginner’s Guide To Getting Started
- The Excel Viewer: Download, Install & Use
On top of that, Spreadsheeto itself can be seen as a very reputable Excel training resource.
Given that, I want to build 20 links for their website in the next 40 days with 10 links coming from guest posts and the other 10 – from a combination of resource pages and competitor-style outreach.
Certainly, we could get them all using guest posts but we want to diversify our strategy for 2 main reasons
- Guest posts are really time-consuming.
- Link building, just like traffic source itself, needs to be diversified
We are set with planning and moving on…
2. Finding Prospects
2.1 Guest Posts
First, let’s deal with guest posts.
The best way to find guest post prospects is by using standard search operators:
- keyword “guest post”
- keyword “write for us”
Where “keyword” is a word or phrase relevant to what you do.
In case with Spreadsheeto I would use “excel training” as my keyword so here is what I would be searching for in Google:
- excel training “guest post”
- excel training “write for us”
It really depends (like really-really) but the average conversion rate for guest posts is around 20%.
So if we need 10 backlinks, we would need around 50 websites to pitch to.
See I look for GP opportunities and assess their quality in the video.
Now to resource pages.
2.2 Resource Pages
The best way to find resource page prospects is, again, by using standard search operators:
- keyword inurl:links.html
- keyword inurl:links.htm
- keyword inurl:links -inurl:links.htm -inurl:links.html
- keyword inurl:resources.htm
- keyword inurl:resources.html
- keyword inurl:resources -inurl:resources.htm -inurl:resources.html
I’m going to use exactly the same “keyword” as with guest posts earlier:
- excel training inurl:links.html
- excel training inurl:links.htm
- excel training inurl:links -inurl:links.htm -inurl:links.html
- excel training inurl:resources.htm
- excel training inurl:resources.html
- excel training inurl:resources -inurl:resources.htm -inurl:resources.html
Conversion rate of resource pages is typically at 5%.
Given that we want to obtain 5 links using this method, we need 100 prospects.
Here is how I look for RP opportunities and assess their quality in the video.
2.3 Competitor Pages
To do this, you will need Ahrefs/Semrush/Moz.
The idea is that you will find a resource similar to what we are trying to promote AND that also has a high number of inbound backlinks.
We would then scrape all those websites and reach out to them.
The conversion rate here is similar to resource pages, so we will need another 100 prospects.
See how I look for CP opportunities and assess their quality in the video.
3. Work Plan
Given our goals and expected conversion rates, here is what we need to find:
- 50 guest post opportunities
- 100 resource pages
- 100 sites for competitor-style outreach
A normal, trained human being can find and record around 10 quality opportunities in one hour.
This means that we will spend 25 hours on prospecting (250 prospects / 10 prospects per hour = 25 hours of work).
If you are doing all the work by yourself, I recommend not going over 3-4 hours of prospecting per day because your heard will explode.
If that’s your scenario, here is what the prospecting schedule will look like for you:
- Monday: 30 guest post prospects
- Tuesday: 20 guest post prospects + 10 resource pages
- Wednesday: 30 resource pages
- Thursday: 30 resource pages
- Friday: 30 resource pages
- Monday: 40 competitor pages
- Tuesday: 30 competitor pages
- Wednesday: 30 competitor pages
Our outreach would start on Monday of Week 1 with 20 guest post opportunities (yes, we have 30 at hand but we don’t want to pitch too many at the start because our email deliverability can suffer) and go like this:
- Monday: 20 guest post pitches
- Tuesday: 20 guest post pitches
- Wednesday: 10 guest post and 10 resource page pitches
- Thursday: 20 resource page pitches
- Friday: 20 resource page pitches
- Monday: 20 resource page pitches
- Tuesday: 30 resource page pitches (slowly increasing volume here)
- Wednesday: 30 competitor pages pitches
- Thursday: 40 competitor pages pitches
- Friday: 30 competitor pages pitches
By the end of Week 2 our active stage of campaign is over and we only have to do follow-ups (essential part of link building).
Now, if you have someone doing prospecting for you, you can be done by the end of Week 1.
4.1 How to Find Prospects
Finding prospects is very simple – all you need is a list of relevant keywords, search operators and Google the almighty.
- Combine the first keyword with the first operator (e.g. “excel training inurl:links.html”)
- Plug it into Google and click search
- Look through first 50-100 results
- Check them for relevance and quality
- If they fit, record their URLs, contact details and first name
- Repeat for the next keyword/operator
The same goes for guest posts.
Competitors are a little different since you need to use Ahrefs/Moz:
- Google for a keyword that’s relevant to the article you are promoting
- Look through first 10-20 results and find the ones with high number (>30) referring domains (Ahrefs/Moz toolbar really helps here)
- Plug those results into Ahrefs/Moz and scrape all the sites
- Check them for relevance and quality
- If they fit, record their URLs, contact details and first name
- Repeat for the next keyword
You can speed up contact finding by using Hunter.io or FindThatLead (we use the latter).
You also need to verify each email for deliverability (also possible to do using the above tools).
4.2 How to Write an Outreach Template
Your link building campaign’s success really depends on three things:
- The “coolness” of what you are pitching
- How relevant that content is to your prospects
- The outreach message
The first contact can make or break your entire campaign – it is very important.
To be honest, writing a template takes a lot of time (and practice) because it’s not as simple as “can I have a link please”.
Here are some tips:
- If it’s a “one man show” type of website (i.e. you can tell there is one person that the website evolves around), you need to indicate that you actually looked through it.
- If it’s a big corporate-type site, you need to be short and straight to the point.
- Write like a human (it’s a lot harder than you probably think).
Here is a sample template you can use for resource page link building.
A hardcore Star Wars here…I totally agree with you – Episode 1 was terrible 😀
My name is Artem and I’m reaching out from Spreadsheeto, a place where we believe that spreadsheets…don’t suck.
You obviously got a resource page (and that’s really why I’m sending this email on the first place) and now that I spilled the beans I am wondering if you are still updating it?
We are essentially a massive website with a ton of pretty Excel tutorials and, perhaps, there is a space for us in your list.
Thank you for the opportunity to be included and an awesome day to you.
Let’s break this template down a little bit:
- I’m opening the first sentence with something he has mentioned on his website (if it was a corporate-style website, this sentence wouldn’t be there) to show that I did, at least, look at it
- I then introduce myself in a quick and fun way (“spreadsheets…don’t suck”).
- I’m then being honest about what I’m here for.
- Being grateful for the opportunity.
4.3 How to Send Your Emails
The best way (from the deliverability’s perspective) is to send all your emails manually via Gmail’s (or whatever you use) interface but there are two disadvantages of doing that:
- It takes a lot of time
- It will take a lot more time when you need to follow-up (which is is a must)
This is when Buzzstream comes into place because it allows us to automate outreach and save us precious time.
The tool itself has a somewhat steep learning curve and if you are a one-man show, you can opt in for something that’s a lot simpler – Mailshake (or even Gmass).
Once you have everything loaded into Buzzstream, it’s time to start the outreach!
See how I upload prospects and the outreach template to Buzzstream in the video.
4.4 How to Reply & Follow Up
You will start seeing replies in no time and they would consist of these 3 categories:
- Definite YES. Usually these are least common replies and you’d only get them if what you are pitching is really great.
- MAYBE. People in this category can be swayed either way so you should put some real effort in these conversations.
- Definite NO. If people are not interested, you can just skip them OR you can still offer them something else (we usually pitch them guest posts).
Quite a large number of people (that, of course, depends on the size of your campaign) will not even bother replying to your emails so you can’t really do anything about that.
Fun Fact: infrequently the non-repliers actually look at your content and end up linking to you.
We’ve seen that happen to our clients so keep you Ahrefs open and monitor these things.
The moment you get someone with a positive reply, you get a link Agreed.
If it’s a guest post, you should write it as soon as possible.
If it’s a resource/competitor page, then you need to keep in eye on it since quite a few webmasters take quite some time to update the page (if you think about that, logging into the website, finding the page and including the link takes quite some work), so it’s a good idea to follow up with them every 7 days or so.
Here is a simple message that you can use:
It’s Artem from Spreadsheeto again annoying you with this message…
You were probably busy (I’m usually lazy in situations like these to be honest) to update the link so I thought to ping you up (wink-wink).
I also thought to share this joke with you in a hope to make you smile:
– Knock knock.
– Who’s there?
– Cash who?
– No thanks, I’ll have some peanuts.
(please be smiling now :D)
Emails like this really get the needle moving because they are fun, honest and moving.
5. Rinse & Repeat
Link building is a never stopping process (even if your target is 1-2 links a month), which means that you need to continuously prospect, pitch, follow-up and remind people about linking to you.
If you need any help with link building, contact Linkshero.