When you want an ice cream, you head to the store and ask for it.
When you want to meet a friend for lunch, you send them a quick text message and ask them to meet up.
But what happens when you want to build solid backlinks to your business's website?
Link building is a lot tougher than lining up lunch plans.
Backlinks don't always come naturally.
But while you might not have the SEO power of a site like Wikipedia or YouTube, that doesn't mean your link building options are limited.
When it comes to link building, "if you don't ask, you don't get."
(Yes, that's a phrase my dad taught me about life when I was younger, but it stands in the SEO world, too.)
In fact, there's a type of link building that can help you build solid backlinks to your site, and that's wholly defined by making the ask.
That's right: I'm going to walk you through the world of link building outreach, or what's otherwise known as manual link building.
With this approach, there's no limit to the backlinks you can get.
You just need to know how to ask for them.
Making the ask is often the most difficult part to get right.
You don't want to seem cheeky and have your direct approach be off-putting for site owners. But at the same time, you can't beat around the bush if you want to keep their attention. It's a fine line to walk.
Luckily for you, I'm taking the hard work out of link building outreach.
Use the "if you don't ask, you don't get" principle, and reference these outreach email templates to build solid backlinks to your site.
(Thank me later... Preferably with donuts or hot chocolate. Or both.)
1. Broken Link Building Outreach
Ah, the beauty (and success) of broken link building.
I say success because this type of link building outreach tends to get the highest success rates. Since the site owners have already covered something similar to what you have to offer, it's pretty easy to reach out and ask them for a backlink.
To recap, broken link building happens when you:
1. Find a site you'd like to get a backlink from.
2. Use a tool like Broken Link Checker to find external links pointing to 404 errors or broken pages.
3. Create a resource to replace the broken link with.
4. Let the site owner know about the broken link, and mention how you have the perfect resource to replace it with.
Simple, right? Well, at least the first three steps are. The last might take a bit more work to perfect.
Having said that, making the ask in a broken link building outreach email isn't as tricky as you might think. It's nothing like guest posting or link round-ups where you're pitching with no major benefit for the site owners.
You have two crucial things to offer:
1. A reason why they should link to you (links to 404 pages are bad for SEO and user experience), and
2. Something relevant they can use to replace the broken link, rather than spending time finding it themselves.
...hence why broken link building is so effective when planning your link building outreach campaigns.
Talk about a win-win!
Here's an example outreach email that you can use when contacting site owners to let them know about their broken link (and your replacement):
I was browsing your blog after finding it on [Google/social media/other]. I love what you're posting—especially your article on [Article with a broken link].
However, I spotted a broken link that leads to an error page over the anchor text "[Anchor text]".
I actually created a resource on this topic, which might be interesting for your readers if they're looking for further information on this topic.
Would you like me to send it over?
Have a great evening,
Now, if you read this link building outreach email and thought:
...hear me out.
First of all, we mention where we found them to give them an ego boost. By telling the company you found them through Google, they're happy—it shows that their SEO activity is paying off.
Secondly, we need to mention the anchor text so it's easy for them to find on the page. Instead of clicking every link to find the broken one we're talking about, they can search the page for the anchor text and find it instantly.
Thirdly, and most importantly, we didn't send the URL of the replacement because we want to build trust before delivering the goods.
Brian Dean from Backlinko found that the two-step approach (asking and sending) had a 40% reply rate, compared to just 16% when directly pitching.
2. Link Round-Up Outreach
You might already know that link round-ups are a fantastic way to manually build backlinks to your site.
They happen when bloggers share links to articles on a specific topic—like this one by Ninja Outreach, sharing the advice of 55 experts in an SEO trends round-up post:
Round-up posts are so great for link building because you're able to get contextual backlinks from high Domain Authority sites, with optimized anchor text.
The process for building links in a round-up post is:
1. Find sites that do round-up posts by searching "industry + round-up"
2. Contact the editor with a link you'd like to include, asking for it to be included in their next round-up.
Simple, right? But just like broken link building, making the ask can be tricky.
Here's a simple link building outreach email you can use for round-up posts:
I was browsing your blog after finding it on [Google/social media/other]. I love what you're posting—especially your round-up on [Round-up topic].
I've been reading your blog for a while, and wanted to reach out to see if I could be included in your next feature?
I regularly write about [Topic/s] over on [Name of your blog]. If you see anything that might be a fit, feel free to include it.
Similar to the first email template, we want to give the person an ego boost by mentioning where we found their site.
We also want to include a link to our site, but instead of sending a URL to one article, direct them to your blog's homepage. That way, they have more control over the link they give, and you have more chance of building one.
This form of link building outreach isn't instant. It may be a while before the blog publishes their next round-up (many do them monthly), but there's no reason to say that you won't build a backlink from it.
3. Guest Posting Outreach
I've said it before, and I'll say it again: Guest posting gets a bad reputation, but it works.
Writing an awesome piece of content is a great way to build backlinks to your site—especially when you're creating 10x content that'll benefit the blog you're pitching to.
Guest posting happens when you:
1. Find a blog that accepts guest post submissions by searching "industry + guest post"
2. Pitch your article ideas to the editor
3. Write your article, including a backlink to your site
4. Build a backlink as soon as the article is published.
It works so well because you're building relationships in the meantime. Long-form blog posts are complex, and you might need to work with the editor to create a piece that suits both parties.
They want a great piece of content, and you want the link.
...But in order to do that, you'll need to craft an amazing pitch that'll actually get a response.
Something like this is a great way to get started with guest blogging outreach:
I found your blog through [Google/social media/other] and noticed you publish a lot of content on [Industry or niche].
I especially liked your article on [Topic]—and loved that you included [Specific point they mentioned].
I'm reaching out because I'd love to contribute a guest post to your site. As an [Industry or niche] expert, I could write about:
- [Article idea #1]
- [Article idea #2]
- [Article idea #3]
Please let me know if you'd be interested in publishing one of these articles. I'll write them for your site, make them unique and be sure to promote it (when live) on my social media profiles.
Here's why this link building outreach template works:
- You're mentioning you're an industry expert, and not a spammy link builder with no expertise on the topic.
- You're providing them with three article ideas, which prevents the annoying back-and-forth on article ideas (and speeds up the process, in general).
- You're sharing what you can offer as a bonus: uniqueness and promotion on your social media channels.
They'd be crazy not to respond to this pitch!
4. Influencer Outreach
Influencers provide great backlink opportunities. Because they've already got a great reputation which Google is known to prefer, you could land a high-quality link from their blog, Twitter or YouTube profile.
Feel like it's too good to be true?
It might be. Influencer marketing can be an expensive marketing task because influencers often want something in return for coverage. That could be:
- Discounts on your product for their audience to use
- Free products
...but it's proven to get a fantastic return on investment.
Here's how you can begin to work with influencers:
1. Find influencers in your niche by searching "industry + influencers/bloggers/vloggers"
2. Send them an invitation to collaborate, offering something in return
3. Get a backlink once they mention your brand or product on their channels
But how exactly do you pitch an influencer and persuade them to work with you?
Here's a free link building outreach template you can use for influencer collaborations:
I noticed your name on a [Round-up/Google/recommendation].
I'm reaching out because my company, [Brand name], offer [Product/service description].
We think our [Product/service] would be a great fit for [Blog name] readers, and we'd love to collaborate with you!
I can offer [$X/discount codes/free products] for this collaboration, and it'd be great if we could get the ball rolling with ideas.
And again, why it works:
- You're telling the influencer where you found them, helping them to see which areas of their marketing strategy are performing well.
- You're telling the influencer about your brand, and the connection it has with their audience.
- You're offering some benefit for them, rather than hoping they work for free—which isn't usually the case!
5. Press Release Outreach
Although PR relates more to reputation-building than driving sales, you can combine your PR and marketing strategy to gain backlinks from outreach.
Without sounding like Captain Obvious, you can collect press release backlinks by writing and sending press releases.
...But you already knew that, right?
If not, the process for press release backlinks goes a little something like this:
1. Write a landing page for your press release.
2. Write your press release with a backlink to your landing page.
3. Craft an email pitch for your press release, attaching the full text to your email.
4. Wait for people to cover your release and let the backlinks roll in!
Sounds simple, doesn't it? However, you'll need to write a great link building outreach email to land those juicy backlinks.
Here's a template you could use for pitching a press release:
I'm getting in touch because my company, [Brand name], recently announced [News].
I've attached a press release which covers [Detail/Hard-hitting snippet of your press release].
If you have any questions or would like to cover this on [Name of site], give me a shout.
By using this template to pitch your release, you could soon collect backlinks from national publications and other high-authority sites.
Just take a look at this press release backlink on RealBusiness, pointing to a survey by Printerland.
RealBusiness is a strong site with fantastic SEO metrics, which is bound to pick up Printerland's SERP rankings!
6. Brand Mention Outreach
Have you ever spotted someone talking about your brand online? Whether they used your infographic or mentioned your company name in their coverage of your press release, they're a fantastic opportunity to build backlinks.
That's because you can use a link building outreach email to ask the person who's mentioned you to turn their brand mention into a backlink.
That's the basics of link reclamation.
And, because the hard work is already done, link reclamation has the highest success rate of many other manual link building strategies. The writer has already covered what you've created—you're just asking for credit!
You can find brand mentions to reclaim by:
- Using a tool like Mention to find mentions of your company name
If you find anyone using your resources without giving credit (in the form of a link), fire off this email to get it changed... Pronto:
I noticed you [Mentioned by brand/used my infographic] on your site, here: [URL].
Thanks so much for covering it! I'm so glad you think your audience will find it useful.
However, would you consider adding a link to my site as credit? The landing page for this [Press release/infographic] is here: [URL].
Our team put a lot of time into creating this resource, so I'd really appreciate it if you could update the article with this link.
Thanks again for including my brand!
How to Get the Most from Your Link Building Outreach Emails
You've worked your way through these link building outreach email templates, but you want to do something that'll really set you apart.
Especially when you're looking to stand out from the 270 billion email messages that are sent every day.
(And you thought you received a lot, right?)
Use these five tips to make the most of your link building outreach emails. They're bound to make your emails unique—and more importantly, get those juicy backlinks.
1. Address the person by name
Did you know that personalized email messages can help to boost the effectiveness of your link building outreach? In fact, personalizing your emails has been found to improve click-through rates by 14% and conversions by 10%, on average.
By not including the name of the person in your email, they might click the "delete" button faster than they opened your message.
Or worse, not open it at all.
Avoid this by always addressing the person by their name. Forget the "Dear Sir" and "To blog editor"—stick to a simple "Hi," followed by their name.
But what if you don't know their name?
That's not an excuse! Even if the address you're emailing is a general email@example.com address, you can still find the person behind it. Here's how:
1. Search for the company/blog on LinkedIn
2. Click "See all employees on LinkedIn"
3. Search for the "content marketing manager," "blog editor" or "marketing manager"—these people are likely to be behind the blog.
4. Use Find That Email to find their company email address. (Only do this if an email address isn't listed on the main contact page, or if you want to contact the person who wrote a specific piece—like with the broken link method.)
5. Use this email address and name to open your message.
Boom! You're now on James Bond spy level after that name hunting 101.
2. Introduce yourself properly
After you've addressed your link building outreach email to a real person, it's time to introduce yourself.
This part is so important because it does one main thing: builds trust.
Let's face it: You're unlikely to link to a nameless, faceless person on the internet just because they asked for it, right? The people you're targeting are no different; they want to know that you're trustworthy before they give you a backlink.
So, use this as an opportunity to tell the person about yourself. On a basic level, include:
- Your name
- Your job title or who you're working for
...but you could also liven up your outreach email with fun, unique facts about yourself.
I like to add something like this:
"I'm Elise, a freelance B2B content writer from Manchester, UK. (Yes, that does mean I drink too much tea.)"
Simple, to-the-point and fun; that's all you need.
3. Use a company email address
Following on from building trust, it's wise to use a company email address for your link building outreach.
Lots of spammy link builders use Gmail addresses with a firstname.lastname@example.org format, which can be spotted a mile off—and are likely to get blocked by spam filters, which kinda defeats the point.
Instead, use a professional company email address like email@example.com.
That way, you're proving that you're from a trustworthy brand, and aren't going to ask for random backlinks to rubbish sites.
Remember: Site owners don't want to link to spammy websites—that could ruin their own reputation. Google rewards sites that are relevant and high-quality with higher rankings, and it could damage their site by linking to one that doesn't fit the bill.
They want to link to high-quality ones, like the one tied to your company email address!
4. Do your research on the site you're emailing
Earlier, I mentioned that giving the site owner an ego boost is a great way to warm them up to your outreach email.
You could take that a step further by doing research on the company, blog or brand you're emailing.
- Been mentioned in the news?
- Recently launched a new product or service?
- Announced a new feature on their website?
Whatever you can find, include it in your email.
If you can prove that you've spent time learning about their company, they'll spend more time reviewing your email. That gives you more time to persuade them to dish out a backlink.
Granted, it takes a bit more effort—but gives a lot more success!
5. Customize every link building outreach email template
If I had a dollar for every time someone opened a link building outreach email with this sentence, I'd be a millionaire:
"I know you get a ton of spammy submissions, so I'll get straight to the point..."
Being one of the most overused email templates for manual link building, you don't want a site owner to throw your message into their virtual trash can.
Instead, customize every link building outreach email template that you use... Even the ones I've shared in this post.
Although these templates are great, site owners delete pitches they've seen a million times before.
So, use the templates as a starting point and add your own pizzazz to spice it up.
What About Link Building Outreach Services?
So you've worked your way through this post but aren't sure about where to start. If you're feeling overwhelmed with the number of things you need to do when completing your link building outreach process, you're not alone—especially if you're a small business without the budget to hire an SEO manager.
Enter: link building outreach services.
You can delegate link building outreach to a company who specializes in it.
Sounds great, right? It is—but you'll need to be wary.
Unfortunately, the SEO world is full of scammers. I receive hundreds of emails every day from "SEOs" who promise I could rank #1 for "writer" in a day (which is almost impossible, FYI). Sadly, link building outreach services can be the same.
There are two types of services in this industry:
Can you guess which is the better option? That's right: the second one.
It's much better to have fewer links with high SEO value than lots of links with a low Domain Authority and other quality metrics. That's because Google focuses on quality over quantity, and these so-called "SEO experts" could give your site a Google penalty if they're building tons of low-quality links.
When choosing a link building outreach service, find one that focuses on quality. Granted, they might be more expensive, but you'll never have to worry about the difficult task of removing a manual penalty from Google as a result of their work.
Here are the warning signs of a dodgy link building outreach service:
- They promise to rank you on Page One for a competitive keyword within a matter of days (particularly if your site is small).
- They guarantee that you'll get a certain number of backlinks in a certain period of time (e.g. 100 backlinks in two weeks).
- They advertise "links for sale."
Avoid them at all costs!
Instead, head to reputable companies that promote white hat link building services. Some examples include Ghost Marketing, FATJOE and Gotch SEO.
While link building outreach services can be worth the investment, remember that naturally-earned links are always preferred. You might hire an SEO agency to do the link building outreach for you, but you should still keep building relationships and networking with people in your industry.
In the long term, these relationships can lead to fantastic natural backlink opportunities that money can't buy.
Track the Results of Your Link Building Outreach
Now that you've sent link building outreach emails to sites you'd love to get a backlink from, it's time to sit back and watch your hard work pay off!
So, are you ready to make the ask?
If you're willing to tackle link building outreach head on, your inbox will be full before you know it.
Not only with positive responses to your outreach emails, but with new backlink notifications, too!