Every SEO specialist knows what link building is! We do this almost every day, and this is one of the most important parts of SEO. There are thousands of courses, tutorials, agendas, and lists that teach, show and advise how to gain more links, and how to build a good and quality backlink profile.
BUT nevertheless “link builders” still do numerous rookie mistakes on their way to building the backlink profile of their dreams 🙂
In this article, I want to share my experience and let you in on the worst mistakes and failures that occurred during link building. I will also try to explain my solutions to having a really relevant and quality backlink profile and my recipe to create strong relationships between editors, website owners, and link builders.
Note: I am an SEO specialist with 4 years of experience working now at Hexact and still learning every day. During this 4 years’ journey I managed to work on various projects: from HVAC and heating systems, to SaaS and Ecommerce. Every business is unique, every business has its own “rules” and approach, so even today I am still learning.
Don’ts for SEO Link Building Outreach
These are the most frequent mistakes and fails that I see almost every day during my work:
- Fake authors – SEO specialists often create emails with fake authors for their projects’ link building. They do a lot of things to make these fake author emails look as “real” and as “natural” as possible. WHY? Why spend so much time and effort on a “fake” author creation, if you can be this author yourself?
Trust me, no one likes to cooperate and discuss a possible partnership with a fake author. You will find 100 times more opportunities with your real account than with a fake one.
Even if the author is not you, this is a normal process in SEO: SEO strategist finds opportunities, discusses the possibilities of collaboration with editors or content managers, and assigns the article request to the writer. This process is known to everyone that is involved in content publishing. Even if you work for websites with high DAs, good organic traffic, etc, you will not be able to succeed as much as you can with your real name. And I don’t even speak about getting into spam…
- Repetitive outreach email templates and grammatical mistakes – well this is really weird, but this issue still occurs! My name is Anna, this is an International name, so it is really difficult not to understand that I can’t be “Hello Sir” 😀
This means that all the emails in this campaign were sent by link builder in bulk, with no personalization at all, and with no icebreakers.
There are so many grammar and spelling checkers online for free, so leaving mistakes in your first email is really bad form.
The repetitiveness in templates is also really boring: you can see almost the same email template several times a day. This will not work as you expect, for sure.
- Exaggerations about the website in the outreach template – every SEO specialist got this kind of email “Hi, I know you are busy so I’ll keep this real quick. I’m your blog’s/website’s permanent reader and I adore it! Your content is so unique and catchy. Bla bla bla”. Well, most of the link builders see the website they outreach for the first time in their lives, so saying that you love the content they write is nothing but lies!
Often you don’t even review their content, you just find these opportunities by web scraping or SEO outreach tools, understand that the website is relevant for the topics or anchors you are targeting, check some metrics, and outreach them.
Won’t it be better just to say that the website is really quality and relevant and a content collaboration will be mutually beneficial?
- Not following the rules and requirements for guest posting or other types of link-building – this is also very common. When you find opportunities for guest posting, before just writing an email, check if they have any requirements and rules. There are a huge number of websites that have this section.
Be sure that if you don’t read these guidelines and just send the email, in most cases it will be deleted or even will be marked as spam. So you will get nothing! But if you follow the rules there is a big chance that you will have a good article published on the website you want.
- Improper tone of voice – during this month I already got several emails starting with “Hi dear”! Dear? This is too much I guess. There are also such variants, like “Hi [business name], Hi everyone, hi all, Bruce Here!, etc. So this seems really unprofessional for me.
Annoying people is also a big issue – “link builders” often lose the feeling of ethics and do not even care, that they annoy by writing every hour and even INSISTING to provide them backlinks.
- Emailing to a personal email – there are many ways to find proper email addresses (email address scrapers, LinkedIn, contact us page, etc), so try to avoid writing business emails to personal accounts. Of course, there can be people who are okay with it, but there can also be situations where you will get a really negative response.
If you can’t find the proper person for an email, trust me it’s better to write to “contact us” or even to “sales department” emails, than to personal ones (but try to verify the emails for example with Hexomatic before sending them).
My Solutions to an Effective Outreach Process
So as I said above I am not perfect, I always learn, and learn from my and others’ mistakes, but there are several important steps that I do to make the process easy, not annoying, grammatically correct, and effective.
- I use my business email with my real name – I do outreach for my SEO campaigns with my name and my position mentioned in the email! My email is under my company’s domain, and I am sure that it builds more trust between me and the person who gets my emails.
I mention that our content team works on specific topics or will write a relevant article for their website. I have a campaign that is representing our writer and her articles, and the response rate for this campaign is 17%, not bad I think.
- I try to write grammatically correct and unique cold outreach emails – as I am not a native English speaker (and even if I was), after writing the article I ALWAYS use grammar and spelling checker.
If you write your email template and you exactly know its target, then I assure you that your email template will be unique.
You can use various variables and icebreakers for your cold email outreach and edit the templates, make it match to the intent of the campaign and still remain unique.
For my campaigns, I use Hexospark which is an easy-to-use CRM and cold email outreach platform, that allows me to create campaigns, use unified inbox that is connected to my Gmail account, create various templates, bulk upload contacts which I mainly scrape with a keyword I need with my Hexomatic account via scraping Google search in several minutes and also verify the contacts there, or find them via ahrefs.
- How I write a polite, friendly, and still professional cold email template – well what I always do is that I talk about the company I represent (keeping it short) and I emphasize the quality of the content we produce and the value we provide.
Another tip is to add value upfront, for example suggesting an improvement to an existing article or an insight that could be helpful.
Even if I write to a website which I use everyday, I won’t write that I love their blog and I am a fan, because these words don’t seem to be true from the receiver’s point of view.
But as for me, I like broader templates, where I just talk about our websites’ partnership benefits and what we can offer. Short and to the point.
- Following the guidelines or requirements for a possible content collaboration – I do agree that sometimes websites write huge guidelines and rules for guest posting. And this seems so time-consuming and boring to read it all (in most of the cases I am sure that they can keep it shorter, but anyway they don’t).
BUT if the metrics of the website are what you are searching for, if the article you imagine is just a great fit there, and you think that you will get the results you want, the game is worth the candle!
- Use proper titles and personalize your introductions – if you are not going to use the variables, in most cases I use “Hi there”, “Hi”. I don’t want to be too friendly, but I also don’t want to seem too cold, so I think “Hi” is something between :).
- Outreach to business emails – There have been times that I used to make the mistake of trying to outreach to SEO specialists via their personal email, and it was a complete failure 🙂 I got very bad replies, and even threats to mark my email as spam.
So what do I do to find the prospects? I use the Hexospark extension that is scraping emails from Linkedin profiles in seconds. I never write to prospects by LinkedIn, though it is a common tactic.
To Sum Up
But from my side, I almost always answer to any link builder, even if my answer is “not interested, thanks”, even if the template is with mistakes or contains “Hi Dear”, or a huge list of link-mill websites, I still try to answer because I value their time and don’t want to leave them unnoticed.
Happy link building. If you have any other tips to share, do get in touch so we can help more link builders get epic results.
SEO Specialist | Content Writer
Experienced in SEO optimization, SaaS content writing. Covers SEO, digital marketing and tech related topics.
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