6 Ways to Make Link Building Outreach More Effective

Today’s post comes from BuzzStream customer Brian Dean, founder of Backlinko.com. He started his SEO career back in 2008, when article directories and blog comment backlinks were all the rage. Since then he’s built his namesake on discovering and sharing outside the box link building strategies.

Let’s face it: email outreach link building is monotonous, boring, and time consuming.

But you know what? It works!

In fact, I don’t know what I would do without my secret stash of proven email outreach templates. But I do know one thing: I wouldn’t be ranking for anything remotely competitive.

If you use BuzzStream then you don’t need any convincing about the power of email outreach. You already use the tool to build relationships (and links) with the movers and shakers in your niche.

That’s great.

But you may not realize what a small difference in conversions can make in your campaigns.

Think about it this way: let’s say that you send out 500 emails per month with a 2% conversion rate. That’s 120 links per year.

Not bad.

But if you bump that figure up to 5% you can turn those same emails into 300 links!

Today I’m going to share with you 6 simple ways that you can get more links from every batch of emails that you send out.

#1: Separate Your Prospects Into Tiers

Outreach is a give and take between personalization and speed. The more you personalize, the better your responses. But all that personalization takes time.

I used to make the mistake of taking the middle path: sending a semi-personalized email to every prospect.

A much more effective approach is to separate your prospects into tiers. You can divide them up based on PR, twitter followers, DA or traffic potential. For those that meet a certain objective threshold (important for outsourcing), personalize the heck out of your outreach. For lesser sits, send them a template.

I prefer to separate sites based on their likelihood to respond or place my link (see tip #6).

Either way, just make sure you don’t send the same email to CNN.com that you just sent to 10 mommy bloggers.

#2: Offer Value

Yes, straight up link begging can work.

But the conversion rate difference between begging and giving is night and day.

Let me give you an example:

Lately I’ve been pitching an infographic to sites in my client’s niche. I used to just say something along the lines of: “Hey, here’s a cool infographic. Please share”. As you might expect, my conversion rate was pretty dismal.

But when I added this at the end: “And if you want to share it, I’ll be happy to write a ‘mini guest post’ to complement the infographic” my response rate shot up like a rocket.

Another example of this is Nick Leroy’s broken link building pitch:

BLB Pitch

Note the insane level of detail he provides. That’s the kind of value that gets people to link!

#3: Use Their Name…A Lot

It’s hard to use the site owners name enough (if you can find it) in your emails.

I like to use it in the subject line, the first sentence of the email, and again at the end.

Remember that authority site owners get pitches all the time.

Including their name more than once proves to them that a) your email isn’t a mass email and b) you’re a real person.

Using their name also strokes their ego and makes them more likely to like you: increasing the odds that you land your link.

#4: Go With the Grain

I approach link prospecting a bit differently than most people. I don’t pay much attention to LDR or DA.

Instead, I look to see if they’ve already linked out to similar content (or at at least cover that topic on a regular basis). I’ve seen a massive difference in outreach results when I stick to “pre-linkers”.

You can easily find “pre-linkers” by checking the links of a similar piece of content in ahrefs or your favorite link analysis tool:

Ahrefs Check

And see who linked to this page:

Link Prospects

#5: Use a Yes Ladder

A yes ladder is a tried-and-true sales tactic that works great with email outreach.

The concept is this: get the person to say “yes” to a number of smaller requests before
making your pitch

Let’s say you wanted someone to share your infographic. Instead of hard selling them right away, try this instead:

First, ask them if they want to see the infographic (don’t link to it in the first email).

When they say yes, send it along. Ask for their opinion.

Once they’ve done that, ask them to share the infographic.

This way they feel invested in the interaction, which means that they’re more likely to say “yes” to your link request.

#6: Be Weird

Since reading Neil Patel’s awesome post, The Link Builder’s Guide to Email Outreach, I’ve changed the tone of my email templates.
Instead of coming off like a professional robot, I add some personality to every email I send out.


Because it’s VERY easy to delete an email. The cold text on the screen hides the fact that there was a real life human being behind it.

But when you add some personality to your email, hitting the delete button becomes that much more difficult.


  • Is it just me or is that math wrong? 500 emails at 2% conversion rate, wouldn’t 2% of 500 x 0.02 = 10

    So for every 500 emails you get 10 links? Is that right?

    If not then am I calculating it wrong?

  • Christy Kunjumon


    This was really informative, as we know recently after pengiun 2.0 the way of link building become more tougher & ethical. we must be striving for the best possible ways to make the process success. Recently I published a blog in which many seo experts have stated their opinion about the Top 3 Link Building Strategies in 2013 @ http://www.techwyse.com/blog/search-engine-optimization/expert-link-building-strategies-2013

    Hope this helps! Thanks!

  • Don

    Can you imagine getting an outreach email from Bobby? How many unnecessarily parenthesized words do you think it would contain? If this comment was any indication of his talent in writing, I think he is in the wrong line of work. Don’t quit your day job Bob.

  • Personally I think it’s fine. And Brian’s name is Brian.

  • Great tips to learn about something I’ve not much used. Just popped from Backlinko and loved reading the awesome content on your blog.

    Thanks for the article and for the great work sharing with people your killer strategies. If someone see this comment make sure to read Brian’s 12 tested strategies for On-Page SEO. you can also find it by Googling “FERNANDO BIZ” and landing on the Awesome Infographics section.

  • Thanks for your insights, Bobby 😀

    I’ve actually never tried that sort of massive outreach before (not because I’m opposed to it, I just don’t know how). It’s something I always think about after a long day of emailing random webmasters…

  • Bobby

    Thanks for all the details here, Brian (See what I did there).

    Like you stated in your first sentence, outreaching to links is a time consuming process (on a personal level) but also a necessary process most of the time.

    If time is of the essence (and resources/connection are none existent in that niche) I do prefer using platforms (with high quality control) where you can search for independent websites via filters. It might not be the most ethical way of doing things (light grey hat) but it gets the job done and makes the customer happy.

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