Any SEO worth their salt knows that guest posting is one of the best ways to network with others in the industry, tap into a wider audience, and earn some valuable backlinks to your own site. But despite its importance, many marketers are failing at the first crucial step of guest blogging: reaching out to the websites you want a link from.
In this guide, you’ll learn about popular outreach techniques that every SEO blog recommends – and why you SHOULDN’T follow their templates. You’ll also learn about a more effective alternative strategy that’s guaranteed to improve your conversion rate.
For those that prefer video content consumption, I got a TLDR version for you right here:
The Worst Way To Write Outreach Emails
Chances are you’ve written or received an email like this:
At first glance, there doesn’t seem to be anything wrong with this email. In fact, if you read a lot of SEO or marketing blogs, this email follows every “outreach good practice” in the book— address the person by name, compliment the target’s blog, introduce your specialty, and offer to write a relevant, engaging, and unique article for their readers.
With this kind of email, don’t be surprised if you get these kinds of replies (if you even get them at all):
So why shouldn’t you use this? While this approach isn’t terrible, it’s also nothing new. It’s bland, generic, doesn’t stand out, and most of all, it doesn’t do a good job of convincing your target why they NEED your guest post.
It doesn’t matter if you write dozens of outreach emails a day. If you’re not getting replies and landing guest posts, you’re just wasting your time. This is why I developed a simple three-step process to writing outreach emails—one that actually increases your conversion rate.
Closing The Gap: An Out-Of-The-Box Outreach Strategy
Step #1: Identify Your Target’s Competitors
Choosing which websites to reach out to is almost as important as how you reach out to them, but that topic deserves a blog post all on its own! This first step assumes that you already have a list of your targets.
Now, take note of the website’s domain authority rating. In this case, it’s 82.
At the bottom right of the screen, you’ll see a helpful list of the website’s top competitors. Scroll through the list for a website that has a lower domain rating than your target. This is important—the lower their domain rating, the more leverage you’ll have in your outreach email.
Step #2: Do A Content Gap Analysis
On the left-hand sidebar, click on “Content Gap”. In this screen, you’ll get a list of the keywords that your target’s competitors are ranking for that the target isn’t utilizing. This is a core part of this three-step strategy—using this data, you’ll be able to pinpoint the topics or niches that your target is losing out on and where they can easily outrank their competitors…with your help, of course.
Remember, this information is extremely valuable to your target. You’re pointing out a ‘blind spot’ in their marketing that they could rank for if they tried, especially since their ‘main competition’ for those keywords are their weaker competitors. If their weaker competitors can pull it off, there’s no doubt that your target can too.
Step #3: Pitch To The Website
Finally, you are ready to write your outreach email! We’ll do a part-by-part analysis of what to do and why it works, but here’s what your pitch should look like:
Now, let’s break it down.
Always start your email by introducing who you are and what website you work with. You can describe your business a little more than I do here, but keep it short and sweet. Then, follow most blogs’ advice about writing cold emails and establish a connection with their site. The most common way of doing this is by complimenting their article or blog.
Now, onto the meat of the email!
Let your target know that they have a content gap that you can help fill. Really drive the point home by mentioning that there are topics or keywords that they aren’t using but their low domain authority competitors are ranking for.
Then, pitch three titles based on the keywords you identified in Step #2. Choose topics that are within your niche or expertise—this will come into play in a bit.
In this case, I chose “pick up lines” (121,000 search volume) and “conversation starters” (56,000 search volume). Make sure that the title is catchy and interesting, especially since it has to grab the attention of your target!
Let’s see how this strategy works for a different website.
Say you want to pitch to www.outdoorempire.com. Upon doing some content gap analysis against their lower-ranking competitors, I found plenty of keywords that Outdoor Empire is missing out on.
Let’s pick out a couple of them for our pitch: “gadsden flag”, “best survival knife”, “9mm pistol”. Below are some sample headlines you could come up with using these keywords:
- X Facts You Probably Didn’t Know About The Gadsden Flag
- X Ways You’re Cleaning Your 9mm Pistol WRONG
- The Best Survival Knife To Save Your Life (2020 Roundup)
Then, wrap up your pitch by offering to write any of these articles for free. Now you’ve made an offer they can’t refuse! You’ve established that there’s a gap in their marketing strategy that their weaker competitors are filling, and you’re giving them an opportunity to boost their rankings at no extra cost to them.
Last but not least, demonstrate that you are the right person for the job. Attach relevant samples of your work, link to your website, or show other guest posts that you’ve made within the same industry or niche.
Whatever you link to, make sure it’s highly-ranked or gets good traffic. You don’t have to provide hard data or charts, but do mention what its rank is or how many hits it’s gotten as proof that your work gets results.
Putting that all together, your email should follow the below structure. Just remember that this is merely a guide – customize it as much as possible so that it doesn’t sound generic!
Does This Strategy Actually Work?
Not only does this strategy make sense, it’s also PROVEN to be much more effective than the bland and templated outreach approaches that you see on most blogs. In fact, this method is so good at getting results that I use it myself all the time. Skeptical? Don’t believe me—believe the numbers.
When I was still sending out typical outreach emails, I was getting a response rate of 12.83%. With this modified approach, I’m getting a response rate closer to 20%—that’s a 54% improvement!
The conversion rates are even better. Out of those that reply to the typical outreach email, I landed only about 58.8% of those guest posts. After I developed this three-step strategy, my conversion rate soared to 98.2%!
Experience The Difference
Boost your reply rates in just three steps: 1) identify your target’s weaker competitors 2) find gaps in their content and 3) write an outreach email that they can’t refuse.
What makes this technique different from every other outreach strategy is that it focuses on value. It’s not enough to offer your services for free—anyone can do that. But if you demonstrate how you can help them in a concrete and data-driven way (like my “Closing the Gap” approach), then you’ll be so much more likely to succeed.
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