Imag eof lots of hands reaching in the air image
Guides & Advice

An introduction to: Outreach

By Lauren Henley / July 4th 2018

divider arrow

There’s a lot to consider when it comes to effective outreach. A big part of that is because outreach is all about earning useful links to your site.

In fact, links are one of the few confirmed factors Google uses when placing sites in their search engine ranking pages. 2016 research from Backlinko found that more unique domains linking to your site was the biggest correlation when it came to ranking higher in Google.

That’s why it’s important to know more about what outreach is and its importance. Understanding that, alongside knowing how to start effectively and what your goals should be, can ensure your efforts are successful.

What is it?

Outreach is the process of, well, reaching out. It involves contacting bloggers, social influencers and industry websites, with the aim that they publish or produce content on their site that’s associated with your industry, which links back to your site (backlink). Essentially, your business earns and builds a range of backlinks through your off-page content. You could write an article for a website about a fitting topic within your business sector. Or you could gift a product in exchange for an honest review and a link to your site.

While it makes up one area of a digital marketing strategy, outreach is a valuable tool and is important for different reasons.

Illustration of lots of hands reaching in the air

Why is it important?

Outreach is important because it’s about more than just building a collection of backlinks. It’s a way to develop and strengthen your brand, direct traffic to your site, and, importantly, improve your site’s authority.

Earning a handful of links on high-quality sites can be much more beneficial to you than having dozens of links from low-quality sites, with irrelevant content and a poor reputation.

There are a handful of SEO metrics that can often be used to judge a site’s quality, and each metric will measure the quality, trustworthiness and authority of a site in their own way. However, SEO metrics are just one piece of the puzzle. You want to look for several criteria hand-in-hand, rather than simply act on the merit of what an SEO tool suggests for a site.

For example, say you’re looking for a suitable website you could host content on. Some criteria to look for would be:

  • A well-designed site that loads quickly and is responsive
  • Well-written content on the site
  • High traffic and engagement on social media
  • Consistently updated with new content

Finding sites that meet these kinds of criteria will help make your outreach efforts a success.

Illustration of a notebook, a traffic light and some social media symbols

So the important thing to keep in mind with outreach is to make sure that every published article, every product review, or every blogger endorsement provides a definable benefit to your business. Building too many low-quality links, or links that aren’t relevant to your industry, can lead to decreased traffic and search penalties that will be hard to recover from.

What you should also understand, is that your backlink profile needs to have a natural balance of link quality. For example, suddenly building a large amount of low-quality links on poor-quality sites, or having the vast majority of your backlinks hosted on one specific domain can look really suspicious to Google. If your outreach looks suspicious or tries to directly manipulate your page rankings in some way, you could be at risk of significant search penalties.

You can find out more about why quality backlinks are so valuable in our blog post, Understanding the value of links and outreach.

Where to start?

When thinking about starting outreach, you need to consider a range of issues hand-in-hand. These include:

Having open dialogue with bloggers and influencers

It’s important to show bloggers and influencers that you respect their work. Show them you’re interested in the content and quality of their blog, and that you’ve got some great ideas for content that you think would really suit them.

Remember that outreach is mutually beneficial – a blogger benefits from a piece of great content, and you benefit from extra traffic while earning an additional link.

You should find out who their audience is and what kind of people visit their site and read their posts. What topics do they like to talk about? What sort of topics would they like you to talk about if you write for them?

Don’t forget that bloggers might enjoy writing articles themselves too — outreach isn’t always just content you send over for a blogger to publish. Think about the kind of content that would be appropriate for a blogger. It might be a product review, it might be something that ties into a marketing event or campaign you’re running, or it might be an article they write for you. The important thing is that you have an open conversation first to discover what works best for the blogger and yourself.

Sending a generic email with a pre-written article attached (that may not even be relevant to their audience) won’t give the best first impression. Instead, show your interest in their blog, find out what they like to host on their site, and go from there. This will also help you find out other things such as word counts and publishing waiting lists.

Considering what you can offer

You should think about what you provide as a business and how outreach can help. This can depend on the kind of industry you work in. An ecommerce site that sells clothing, for example, could organise a blogger product review. An interesting whitepaper or some research that you’ve done could help you secure a link on a popular business news site with particularly high traffic. Or you could publish a series of blog posts on sites with high traffic to help increase traffic to your website.

Keep in mind that interesting and unique research or especially creative marketing campaigns can earn your business far more than just one link too. These kinds of content can generate industry interest entirely on their own merit, or they might strike a chord on social media, generating a huge amount of shares and engagement, in turn leading to wider visibility for your business.

Think about how to put across your expertise in a manner that’s right for a blogger and will engage their audience. This includes the examples you use in an article or the approach and tone you choose. Doing this helps show a blogger that you’re not just trying to benefit your business, you’re a professional who they can rely on to give them what they want.

Reviewing anchor text and links

Anchor text is the word or phrase in your off-page content, which you hyperlink back to your website.

It’s important to keep this, along with your page links, varied. You don’t want every single piece of anchor text to be your brand, nor do you want every single hyperlink to lead to the same page of your site. This can lead to Google penalising your site for a suspicious link profile.

Instead, creating a healthy mix of anchor text and links is key to an effective outreach campaign. You should mix up the services or products you link to, while using different words or phrases for your anchor text.

Goals to achieve

Knowing what you want outreach to do for you is key. It can help you better plan how you’ll achieve your goals, and ensure there’s always a target to aim for. Useful goals to consider could be:

  • Earn links that are beneficial to you, such as from sites with high traffic
  • Foster positive relationships with bloggers and influencers for future outreach opportunities
  • Create a consistent and effective long-term outreach content strategy

You should also note that outreach isn’t an overnight journey to success. It might take time to find the right blogs and publications, and it can take time for a post to go live. It can also take several months before you see the full SEO benefits. However, with time and diligence, you’re sure to reap the rewards of your outreach efforts.

Helping you create effective outreach strategies

Understanding the different aspects and uses of outreach is key to making it successful and effective. If you can do outreach, and do it well, you’re likely to achieve an impressive ROI.

We’d love to explore how our outreach strategies could deliver results for your business. To arrange a brief telephone conversation with one of our team, call 08447 550 350 or get in touch to find out more.