In the SEO world, blogger outreach is nothing new. For years, many SEOs and marketers alike have reached out to websites in the hopes that their content is posted, read, shared, promoted and an ever-valuable link points back to their site (or their client’s site). Even with Matt Cutts’ recent announcement proclaiming guest posting’s demise, many people are still reaching out to influential blogs and websites to place their “game-changing” guest article or their “really cool” infographic. The problem is- many people are doing it wrong.
You’d think it would be easy. “I have a piece of content to market. The site I’m reaching out to needs content to stay relevant. I could email a Beyonce GIF or my little cousin’s math homework and still get my content placed.” Wrong. Bloggers and webmasters have grown calluses from having dealt with marketers trying to exploit and use their website for personal gain. They’re savvy, sophisticated and can smell an SEO gimmick from a mile away. So what do you do? How can you stand out from the other hundreds of outreach emails they receive daily? The answer isn’t in what you can do. The answers can be found in what you shouldn’t do.
Here are the 5 biggest mistakes to avoid when doing outreach:
1. Don’t forget that you’re talking to a human being.
There are a number of programs and software packages that exist for the sole purpose of scaling outreach and making it more efficient on a larger scale. These programs aren’t bad; they’re just being used in the wrong way. The issue is, many times the emails themselves lack any hint of personalization (Who wants to see an email that addresses them as “Dear Webmaster”?). Templates where guest article topics are inputted or website names are switched in and out lack a human element and are obviously the work of someone who is looking for something in return. Put yourself in the blogger’s shoes; it’ll go a long way.
How to fix it:
Take your time and craft each email to address the person you’re reaching out to. Read one of their recent blog posts and make a comment in the email about a key takeaway that the post highlighted. Look at their “About Me” section of their site and comment on one of the hobbies they list. The more you customize the email, the more likely the recipient is to read it and respond.
2. Don’t forget to communicate your content’s value to their site.
Before jumping in and shoving your content down the blogger’s throat in the first line of the email, think about the best way to showcase and communicate your content or content ideas. No one wants to get pitched. This includes blog owners who might be actively looking for content. Even if I was desperate for a vacuum, when a salesman knocks on my door and his first words are “Buy this vacuum!”, I’m shutting the door in their face.
How to fix it:
Despite this dirty-feeling, overly transactional interaction you’re embarking on, you need to properly communicate the value that your content will have to their site and, more importantly, to their visitors. Do this by relating it directly to their site’s persona; this in turn relates the content to the loyal visitors of the site. Continuing to appeal to their target audience is the site’s end-goal most of the time, and if you align with that notion, you’re money.
3. Never pitch content that the site already has (unless it’s vastly different)
Nothing can be more frustrating than receiving an email from a marketer who has clearly not read anything on your website. This includes pitching content that is the exact same as content that already exists on the site. Unless your piece of content is bringing something completely new to the table and approaching the topic from a unique perspective, don’t waste your time and subsequently the webmaster’s time.
How to fix it:
Take 3-5 minutes to scan the site you’ve prospected and make sure your content or ideas haven’t been done before. This may seem like an unnecessary step that wastes time, but in the long run you’ll actually save yourself time by only pitching strong options. If you do in fact find a similar piece of content, you can use it in the email and explain how your content differs from that piece that was previously published.
4. Proofread: spell check isn’t correct 100% of the time
If you’re sending an email requesting to have content published on a website, that email better be grammatically flawless. What does it say about your content if you’re pushing out emails willy-nilly with spelling errors? Grammatical errors signify a number of things to the recipient including: sloppiness, laziness, unprofessionalism and a bevy of other unflattering dispositions. Once you’ve lost them, you’ve lost them for good.
How to fix it:
Do your due diligence. Proofread your email 3 times before hitting send to assure everything is in its right place (one handy trick is to read your email backwards, forcing your mind to pay more attention to the words). Go to the site’s “About Me” page and triple check that the recipient’s name is spelled correctly, and more importantly, that the site’s name is spelled right (“I want to write for TMIE Magazine”…uhhh, no).
5. Never mention anything about a “link”
Nothing can turn a good email bad like the mention of a link. Asking for a link is even worse. A good majority of bloggers and webmasters know enough about SEO to know that links are in high demand and that linking to a website is the proper way to give attribution. With that being said, having a link in exchange for posting and article or posting an infographic is implied 99.9% of the time. Even when it’s not implied, there is always an opportunity to ask the webmaster or blogger nicely to add one after the content is posted on their site. Unless the webmaster or blogger mentions linking, never broach that topic.
How to fix it:
Instead of asking for a link you can talk about who you worked with to develop the content or mention where the original content is hosted. Sometimes, just linking to the original content in the email will signal the webmaster to link to that URL if they decide to post the content on their site.
Now that you know what not to do in your outreach emails, you can send away in confidence. Just remember, you often only get one shot to catch the eye of an influential blogger, so make it count.