Real, contextual mentions of your company inside high authority publications are one of the best ways to rank for competitive keywords. But how can you reliably and repeatedly get these links?
If you want links in real publications, you must master the art of pitching to bloggers successfully, from grabbing their attention to making them an offer they can’t refuse.
The bad news? Most of these outreach emails end up straight in the bin.
But by learning exactly how to pitch to bloggers in a smart and personalized way, you’ll be able to acquire high-quality links that actually increase traffic and improve rankings in a measurable way.
Before we get started, here is a quick example shared by one of our clients as a reference point. Here’s what a run-of-the-mill pitch looks like:
The mistakes may seem small, but in many cases are the difference between getting a positive response and not.
With this example in mind, let’s get started.
70% of consumers prefer learning about a brand through relevant articles rather than ads, which is one of the reasons why guest posting is key for brand awareness. When done right, it’ll also help you be perceived as a trusted authority in your field.
Still, the juiciest benefit of guest posting comes from an SEO perspective for two main reasons:
It’s vital to remember, however, that not all links are created equal.
After living through several generations of Google’s algorithm updates, we can confidently say that in 2021 your backlinks also need to be real and contextually relevant.
When embarking on your link building journey, don’t fall into the trap of believing it’s all about the DA. The truth is that most sites offering paid placements violate Google’s guidelines—even at the higher end of the DA range.
The rule of thumb is that backlinks must be real, relevant and reliable. You want links from real sites with real readership, that are contextually relevant to your niche, and that don’t disappear after a few weeks.
If you’re in the education sector, for example, you should be going for EDU backlinks. If you’re running a crypto project, you want links in high-trust blockchain blogs. And so on.
And the only reliable, repeatable way to get these links is by pitching.
When pitching to bloggers and other publications, you should focus your efforts on emails that give you the highest chances of success. It might seem obvious, but we’ve seen so many SEO agencies base their blogger outreach strategies on bulk emails.
Here are eight tips to give your pitch the maximum chance of landing.
It’s alluring to save time by writing a single email and sending it to dozens or even hundreds of blogs, right?
Unfortunately, that’s a one-way ticket to the trash can. Not only because that’s where bloggers will drag your email, but because you’ll eventually stop reaching their primary inboxes as you’ll quickly be marked as spam.
Bloggers and editors behind high-profile blogs and websites receive countless pitches per day (let alone other emails!). How is a generic one going to catch their attention?
Using email automation tools can be helpful, but you have to be very careful. Nobody wants to be pitched by a robot. As a general rule, your link building strategy should focus on quality over quantity: pitch to bloggers individually and in a personalized way.
Once again, specificity and relevance over numbers. If your client sells mountain bikes, stick to publications about the outdoors, for example. This both maximizes the chance of your pitch being taken seriously, and also of Google looking favorably upon your link.
A handy way of finding websites that are relevant to your clients and are actively looking for contributions and guest authors is to Google:
"your industry/core product" blog
And then when you’ve found a few sites, check if they have featured similar posts in the past with:
site:theblog.com "your product"
In this way you can search each specific site for posts relevant to your company or product—and give you a good idea of whether or not they’re likely to accept your pitch.
You can then use domain authority checkers like Ahrefs or Moz to check the site’s metrics, including DA/DR and traffic.
We can’t stress this enough: You need to actually read the blog.
Browse the latest blog posts, see if they’re relevant, not spammy, and that the site passes the sniff test. You should also check that recent posts are indexed by Google:
If this query brings up no results, it means the post is not in Google’s index—meaning this blog may not be a good target for outreach.
Not only will you kickstart genuine conversations, but you’ll probably catch the attention of the editors and bloggers to whom you’ll be pitching later.
If you’ve followed our advice up to this point and selected a real, relevant publication, they aren’t going to accept any old article—you’ll have to put in some work.
The trick here is to strike the right balance between hitting their niche and offering something novel. You want a post that:
Search their website (if their internal search box doesn’t cut it, use a Google site: query) for inspiration.
Always remember that bloggers, contributors and webmasters want to make their own lives easy, so you want to pitch something high quality that slots into their existing workflow.
You’re unlikely to land a topic that’s completely outside of their niche. At the same time, though, you should avoid suggesting sub-topics that have already been tackled before (e.g. ‘How to create a social media strategy’ if that blog already has an article titled ‘The ultimate guide to social media marketing’).
Before firing off your proposal, check if there’s any published editorial or pitching guidelines.
Many blogs that rely on freelance contributors or offer guest posting opportunities also include a page on how to approach them.
Whilst we don’t recommend posting anywhere with an overt “Write for Us” page lest you fall afoul of Google’s guidelines, it’s always worth looking to see if there are any specific requirements. Sometimes these instructions appear on their contact page.
While many of them are fairly standard, it’s always worth checking for specific topic requirements, word counts, limits on links inside articles, and so on.
Before you begin pitching to bloggers, start with a mindset shift from ‘asking them to do you and your client a favor’ to ‘offering them value.’
Unfortunately, this is something that many business owners get wrong: they get in touch asking them to ‘please, publish my article’ as if the blog were some kind of charity.
Are you confident that the guest post idea that you’re providing will benefit the blogger and their readership? Because, if you’re not, they’ll definitely be able to tell from your email.
You need to keep in mind that bloggers are busy and working towards growing and maintaining a loyal readership.
Paradoxically, the ones you want to talk to most are often the ones who will have least time and interest in your pitch.
They’re not there to do you a favor by publishing your guest post, and they most definitely haven’t got time to explore options together.
Focus on saving your prospect time and energy. This is the trick to get your cold emails noticed when pitching to bloggers.
Now, let’s get into the nitty-gritty. Always strive for a cold email that’s short, clear, and personal:
Popular bloggers and editors are busy, have tons of other things to work on, and can genuinely forget about emails from time to time.
Unless their guidelines specifically state otherwise, it is always good to send a follow-up after a few days, but always be polite and professional.
Don’t get emotional or point out overtly that you’re unhappy you still haven’t received a reply.
Instead, you could acknowledge that you know they’ve probably been super busy and just wanted to see if they got a chance to review your blog post idea.
This is also a handy opportunity to restate its benefits. Even better, try to add some more value to the exchange and tell them something you didn’t tell them before.
Finally, don’t be afraid to change medium! If your pitch still hasn’t received a reply, find the right phone number on their website and give them a call to see if they received and read your email. A phone call often shows you’re serious, and rises you above all the low-effort pitches they will be receiving.
As a starting point, try using the following template:
Hi ___ [blogger name]
I really enjoyed your recent article on ___ [blog post topic].
I’m writing to you because I work for __ [business name] and I had an idea that I think would be perfect for __ [blog name].
[your blog post idea]
Since it tackles a topic that you haven’t covered before and ___ [establish why your client is the right person to write it], I’m confident that it’d be incredibly useful/appealing/interesting for your readers.
Given the current interest in [topic], I also think this would be great way to increase your readership among [new niche].
Let me know what you think.
Remember, the key is being sincere, helpful and also persistent.
If you spend the time and effort to find well-qualified target blogs and pitch something that is genuinely useful for their audience, you are guaranteed to land some strong backlinks and begin building authority for your brand.
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Tiered link building is a little-used but powerful backlinking strategy that you can use to boost your existing links. Learn more about it in this blog post.
Talk to our link building team to see how we can help.