What Are Outreach Links? (+ How They Help SEO)

Adam Steele
Sep 12
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Succeeding in the competitive realm of search engine results pages (SERPs) is, ultimately, one big reputation game.

One of the most important factors that Google takes into account when determining which sites are most relevant and reputable is the number and quality of backlinks a site has. Outreach links are backlinks secured through—you guessed it—outreach.

Let’s get into why they matter, and how to secure more of them for your website.

What Are Outreach Links?

Link building is a key activity in SEO. Backlinks are links pointing from an external website to yours, and they give search engines an important clue about how your content is perceived by others.

If a website is opting to link to your blog post on a subject above all the other similar posts out there, perhaps your post is significantly more valuable. If enough websites do this, Google gets a strong signal that your content is relevant and of high quality, and that it deserves a spot at the top of the SERPs for relevant search queries.

The principle is the same as a real-life recommendation: the more recommendations you have from friends and family about a certain product, the more likely you are to buy it.

But all recommendations aren’t created equal, and the same is true when it comes to link building and SEO. If you only hear recommendations for a product from people who, say, get paid to recommend products, you might have your doubts.

Outreach links are backlinks that are generated through one-to-one relationship building with the websites you want to link back to you. When it comes to your overall backlink profile, they’re the equivalent of recommendations from a trusted friend rather than a smarmy salesman.

For example, if you create a comprehensive ultimate guide type piece of content, you could reach out to a website in your niche with an audience that would be interested, share the content with them, and mention that you think their audience might find it useful.

If they link to you, the resulting backlink is an outreach link.

There are tons of benefits to building your links this way:

  • Long-term relationships – it encourages building relationships with others in your niche that can be mutually beneficial over the long term, rather than just securing quick wins.
  • Find interested audiences – since you have control over which sites you solicit with your outreach, you can focus on those with audiences that will be truly interested in your product or service.
  • Get social proof – a few links from high-DA, noteworthy sites can do wonders in terms of demonstrating your value to others. The more of these you get, the easier it will be to secure more.
  • No shortcuts – this is an honest, above-board way to boost your SiteRank and rise in the SERPs.

Sometimes, you might get lucky and get some amazing backlinks without any outreach. Maybe a big, reputable site in your niche came across a fantastic piece of content you created and wanted to share it, or an influential blogger picked up your product and wrote about it. However, most of the time, those juicy, rankings-boosting links are the product of some kind of outreach. In very simple terms, link outreach means asking for links while highlighting what’s in it for your outreach target. There are several effective ways to go about this, which we’ll discuss, but first: why exactly are outreach links so much better than other links for SEO?

Outreach Links and SEO

Outreach links may not be the easiest or fastest links to build for your website, but they are well worth the effort. That’s because Google’s algorithm bots have proven themselves very good at sniffing out backlinks that seem unnatural, and devaluing them or even punishing the website they point to.

In the earlier days of SEO, marketers tried all manner of link-building techniques in an attempt to make websites seem more influential, authoritative, or relevant than they really were.

From buying links on websites that existed almost entirely for the purpose of selling them, to including links in comments and forum posts all over the internet, the idea was that more links would trick Google into pumping up the rankings of a website.

Ultimately, Google always catches up to these inauthentic techniques, and if a website is abusing them Google can even de-index them making them impossible to find through search.

Outreach links are safe, future-proof, and build genuine value for a website because they appear natural and authentic. Plus, since you can choose which sites to focus your outreach efforts on, you can ensure you’re building links with websites that are relevant to your niche and have large audiences.

The result, over time, is a sturdy, honestly built reputation that Google will never have a reason to doubt the authenticity of. That means higher SERP rankings, more traffic, and more conversions.

Outreach Link Techniques

We’ve said that outreach in simple terms basically boils down to asking for links, but in practice, it isn’t quite as simple as firing off a bunch of emails asking “hey, will you link to my site?”

It’s helpful to remember that you’re not just reaching out to some faceless domain, but rather to an actual person who is reading your email. Plus, they likely get a large number of emails every day with similar requests. This means that for your outreach emails to stand out they should have some personalized element and provide something valuable to the recipient, too.

Here are some techniques you can use to craft your outreach emails.

  1. The moving man method

This term has become popular to describe the technique of asking website owners to move a broken link off their site and replace it with one of yours.

Broken links happen all the time. Sometimes a website or brand will change its name and get a new domain to go with it. As a result, any links to the old domain will now be broken. The same goes for links to products or any other pages that no longer exist.

It’s generally not a good idea to have a broken link on your website, since it indicates both to readers and Google’s crawlers that the page hasn’t been recently maintained. It’s also very easy to miss these.

To implement this technique, the first step is to find broken links on websites you’d like to get backlinks from. If you just happen to come across one when browsing a website, that’s perfect. You can also use a tool like Ahref’s free backlink checker to identify broken links to target websites.

Next, create a piece of content that would be suitable for the replacement link. Maybe you already have one, or maybe you’ll have to create it. The idea is to offer your target a link they can easily plug into their existing content in place of the broken link.

Finally, it’s time to reach out. Let them know you’re a fan and reader of the site, and that you came across the broken link. Then, offer your perfectly tailored piece of content as a potential replacement for the broken link.

Yes, you’re asking them for a favor, but you’re also offering a service in return. If your link is a good fit, the recipient will appreciate the effort and hopefully secure you a new outreach link.

  1. One-up the best content

This technique involves searching for high-performing content in your niche that gets lots of backlinks, then creating something even better. Sure, this may be a high-effort approach, but it has the potential to result in many outreach links.

Identify a piece of content by searching for keywords relevant to your niche in Google and looking at the top hits. Then, using Ahref’s backlink checker, note all of the sites linking to that content.

Go through the content and brainstorm everything you could do to make it better. Could the information be better organized, or illustrated with a fantastic infographic? Is it missing information or does it contain out-of-date information? Take all of these insights and use them to make a new and improved version of the popular content.

With your content complete, you can begin your outreach. Email all of the sites in your niche linking to the original piece, and send a friendly message sharing your content and explaining why they may want to share it with their audience. Hopefully, they will appreciate the complimentary upgrade and provide you with an outreach link.

  1. Guest posting

Guest posting is great because the websites you reach out to don’t have to do any writing themselves, but they’ll hopefully get a bump in clicks and traffic as a result of your post.

When pitching your guest post, make sure to demonstrate a strong understanding of their website and audience. People can sniff out a generic mass email pretty easily. Explain why your guest post will help their audience and their business goals.

Then, in the body of your guest post, you can naturally incorporate a link back to your site. You can also include links in your author bio, but these tend to be less valuable from an SEO perspective.

  1. Exchange links

While link exchanges have a bad reputation in the SEO world, since they’re seen as dishonest link schemes by Google, there are effective ways to go about exchanging links.

Rather than asking other sites to link to you in exchange for a link on your site, think of link exchanges as the natural fruit of relationship building. By creating relationships with other site owners, and favorably mentioning them on your site when it’s appropriate and natural, you may enjoy some links in return.

Don’t be afraid to let other sites know that you linked to them. You can write a casual, friendly email alerting them so that they can take a look if they’re interested.

  1. PR outreach

Good old-fashioned PR is another effective way to generate outreach links. Maintain a list of PR contacts at websites that might want to report on your business, and when you have something newsworthy to share, send out press releases to these contacts.

You don’t necessarily want to send a press release for every little thing that goes on in your business; save these for noteworthy updates that can be written about compellingly.

7 Outreach Links Best Practices

Since developing a strong profile of outreach links can be time and resource-consuming, you want to make sure you’re going about it the right way so you don’t spin your wheels without any results. Keep these things in mind as you go about your outreach efforts.

  1. Create quality content – your targets will check out your website, so make sure it’s filled with high-quality content that they’ll be happy to be associated with. Plus, great content is content that people want to share. You’ll make your job a whole lot easier by focusing on developing valuable content.
  2. Focus on how you can benefit your target – your goal may be to secure an outreach link for yourself, but your outreach should demonstrate how your target will benefit too. For example, their audience may find your content particularly valuable or interesting.
  3. Reach out to relevant sites – this may be obvious, but it can be easy to get carried away and start reaching out to sites that don’t have much to do with your niche. Keep it relevant for the best SEO results.
  4. Spend time on your email copy – Craft strong outreach emails, and test out lots of different approaches. This is the only way you can find out which approach works best for you.
  5. Conduct backlink checks – scoping out your competition’s backlinks with backlink analysis can help you identify websites to target for outreach.
  6. Keep track of your outreach – you can do this with a simple spreadsheet, but you’ll thank yourself as the number of sites you’ve reached out to grows longer. This will keep you organized and ensure you aren’t over-contacting targets.
  7. Personalize your outreach – finding out the name of the person you’re reaching out to and demonstrating familiarity with their site are both good ways to do this.

Summary

Outreach links tell Google your content is valuable and that it should be discoverable by people when they search for relevant terms.

By ensuring your backlink profile is full of plenty of outreach links, you can be confident you’re working toward your long-term SEO goals.

Sure, you may not be able to build these overnight, but with a little help, you can start securing valuable outreach links that drive real results for your business. Loganix can help you with everything from content creation to securing guest posts, so you can focus on your business while we deliver SEO results.

Written by Adam Steele on September 12, 2022

COO and Product Director at Loganix. Recovering SEO, now focused on the understanding how Loganix can make the work-lives of SEO and agency folks more enjoyable, and profitable. Writing from beautiful Vancouver, British Columbia.

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