- Links and shares are important, but you also need a strategy to maximize SEO impact.
- Identify bloggers within your niche, but also look for passionate, engaged audiences.
- Find the right contact info, and pitch creative, relevant ideas that meet the needs of both the blogger and their audience.
- Build long-term relationships, not one-and-done campaigns.
- Create a scalable process. Use databases and templates to streamline your process, or partner with the right SEO company.
Imagine you’re in charge of digital marketing for a major brand and you just let your team pour 100 hours into a single, beautiful piece of content. It’s the kind of rich work search engines like Google loves: unique visuals, original research, and a premium user experience. You publish your masterpiece and wait for the links to roll in.
But they don’t.
While the content gains healthy organic traction, it doesn’t generate any backlinks. What gives? Great content is naturally shareable, right?
It’s shareable, yes. But usually, those social shares don’t happen spontaneously. Link building and shares are only as good as your blogger outreach strategy. And that rule doesn’t just apply to content marketing; it applies to everything your brand makes or sells.
WHAT IS BLOGGER OUTREACH AND WHY DOES IT MATTER?
In many ways, blogger outreach is similar to traditional PR. If you want people to mention your brand, you need to create and do things they care about. But blogger outreach focuses on influencers rather than large news publications, so you’ll probably email specific people instead of a general “media inquires” inbox. That means you can’t use the same spray-and-pray outreach strategy as you do for PR.
If you want to crush blogger outreach, then you must build relationships. When you reach out to influential bloggers, you reach out to your peers. Even if a team of editors controls the content for a large blog, you’ll probably work with an individual about how to satisfy (and thrill) their audience. So propose flexible and collaborative ideas and design goals around the blogger and their audience.
THE POWER OF BLOGGER OUTREACH
When Terakeet’s SEO team began working with an online bank, we performed a full site and competitor audit. The results convinced us that after some technical improvements, our biggest priority was to implement a robust outreach strategy.
The bank was the new kid on the block in a well-established online space. So, even the most sophisticated on-page SEO process wasn’t going to be enough. The bank didn’t suffer from a poorly optimized site; they suffered from lack of exposure.
First we produced a variety of creative content for the bank. Then, we engaged with publishers and influencers with a combined audience reach of 9.7 million to promote it. As a result, we were able to secure 200 organic content placements with high-authority blogs, increasing the website’s backlinks by 134% within 10 months.
The impact on organic traffic was a 143% increase in keywords on page one, amounting to a 358% increase in organic visitors per month (nearly half a million visitors per month). That’s organic traffic, not referral traffic (which also increased). High-quality links boost your website’s authority which can translate directly to SEO improvements.
Blogger outreach has a major impact on SEO, but the value extends way beyond backlinks. When you build relationships, your brand benefits from long-term brand awareness and audience trust. This is especially true of new brands like the online bank we discussed. Bloggers tend to have a more passionate and loyal community of readers than national publications. So when you partner with them, some of that trust transfers to your brand in a big way.
According to the Word of Mouth Marketing Association, word of mouth (WOM) results in at least 5X more sales than a paid media impression, and as much as 100X more for higher-consideration categories. Given the level of trust between bloggers and their audience, their recommendations act as a form of WOM and have the same economic impact.
BUILD YOUR BLOGGER OUTREACH STRATEGY
Many SEO teams fall victim to the “let’s do everything but blogging” mentality, spending months on the more controllable content development and on-site optimization instead.
And the bigger the brand, the more likely you are to encounter this mentality. That may seem paradoxical, but the scale of the outreach required to move the needle for an enterprise company makes on-site optimization the safer bet. When your company’s backlink profile is in the hundreds of thousands or millions, pouring hours into outreach campaigns for additional links doesn’t seem like a great use of time.
But, as Google attests, high-quality backlinks are one of the most critical factors in driving sustained rankings in the SERPs. Markets are being disrupted left and right nowadays. To take your foot off the pedal leaves your brand vulnerable to aggressive upstarts with a fresh message and exceptional customer experience that bloggers are eager to cover and link to. And with the right system, scalable blogger outreach is as achievable as it is essential to your brand’s organic search growth.
Here’s how to do it right!
Identify your bloggers
How do you choose the right bloggers you reach out to? Look for blogs that appeal to your audience. They don’t need to be pigeon-holed into your precise niche. However, they should cover important topics related to your industry. For instance, Nike might target healthy lifestyle bloggers that write about healthy eating and exercise.
You probably already have a list of relevant blogs in mind. But you can also use Google to uncover thousands of new opportunities.
If you prefer tools, you can use Pitchbox to identify a list of potential targets. Then, you can build an in-house database with a tool like Airtable.
Terakeet customers benefit from our technology as well as our process to perfectly pair brands with the ideal bloggers. We’ve built a strategic outreach solution called Chorus, which includes a database of more than 9 million publishers. With such a large filterable database, we’re able to achieve both precision targeting and scale.
Ask us how we can expand your reach from a few dozen blogs with limited reach to working with hundreds of blogs with an audience reach in the millions.
Segment your bloggers
Blogger research is a rabbit hole. You start with a simple Google search. That returns blogs in addition to posts full of curated blog recommendations and resource lists. Then before you know it, you have hundreds of targets in your database. That’s a good thing — we need options when we’re working at scale. But prioritization is key.
The most efficient way to prioritize blog partnerships is to focus on niche and SEO metrics like domain authority (Moz) or Domain Rating (Ahrefs). But you may also want to include entries for social followers, engagement, and estimated traffic.
Sort your blogger outreach list by domain authority and segment it by niche. This is especially important if your brand serves multiple audience segments. The bloggers you collaborate with for your women’s running shoe line will be entirely different than those you work with for your men’s activewear campaigns.
Find the right contact info
Finding contact information should be as simple as visiting an “About” or “Contact” page or their LinkedIn profile. If their messaging is turned off for anyone who isn’t a 1st connection, you can still use a tool like Sales Navigator to message them. And don’t forget to read their profile! Some bloggers include their email address there.
If it’s not that simple, then yes, there are tools that can scrape contact information for you, like Hunter, RocketReach, FindThatLead, ViolaNorbert and Findthat.email. There are also tools that can test standard email conventions until they find the one your target uses.
And remember, not every blog is owned or run by a single person. Many blogs belong to companies or publications. Some bloggers have been so successful that they now have a team. So be on the lookout for editors and content managers, too.
Interact on social networks
Get on your bloggers’ radar by engaging with them on social media. Share their posts and add your commentary — even if it’s something simple like, “Great reminder about the importance of XYZ.” Interact with bloggers directly, answer their questions, and share your opinions.
LinkedIn is the best place to connect with bloggers in your niche. Many share their posts on the platform, which gives you the perfect opportunity to comment and reshare. Interact frequently to boost your response rate.
Although Twitter’s character counts are a bit restrictive, it makes up ground as a networking tool due to its simplicity. It takes just a few seconds to follow, like, and comment, and that shows bloggers that you’re an active player in their industry.
You should also comment on their blogs directly. Bloggers love comments as long as they’re relevant and positive—especially from large brands.
Most importantly, act like a real human being, not a networking bot. Think about how you can help them to be more successful. Bloggers are much more receptive to your ask when they feel like they’re returning a favor.
Know what to ask for
Whether your emailing to inquire about guest blogging, or prospecting for a long-term content collaboration, it’s critical to know your goals before you start.
For instance, if you’re focused on SEO, you may identify the best bloggers for guest posts based on relevance and domain authority. Or, if you want social amplification, you might create an influencer marketing segment for new bloggers that lack website content but have a massive number of followers on Instagram or YouTube.
Work down your list of priority targets and decide what you should ask for with each one. Spend some time on your target’s blog and note the type of content that resonates with them.
- What do they share and how do they share it?
- What sort of posts get their attention?
- Do they: review products, link frequently to off-site resources, or allow guest posts?
Don’t waste your time on requests that aren’t in your blogger’s wheelhouse.
Make them intrigued
A salesy email subject line might land you in a spam folder or on an email blacklist. At the same time, a blogger probably won’t open your email if the subject line doesn’t clarify your intent. Split the difference by aiming for clarity and intrigue.
For clarity’s sake, you can even start your email subject line like this:
- “Article Proposal: ______”
- “Collaboration Proposal: _____”
That way, it’s clear from the start what it is you’re offering. Then, look for ways to add intrigue.
Without being vague about the ask itself, create a sense of tension by building an unanswered question into your subject line.
- Did a new marketing strategy lead to a 10X increase in ROI?
- Did you find it interesting that 90% of your customers were asking a certain question?
Leverage your findings from your blogger research to personalize your ask so your first email stands out.
Email templates are great, but bloggers must feel like you’ve considered them specifically and they’re not just a name on an email list.
Use email outreach templates for the informational stuff and tailor your opening to each blogger. Tell them why you loved a specific blog post, or bring up a common interest. If they have a running joke about the Goonies, break out your best Chunk impression. And if you had a meaningful interaction on social, remind them.
Personalization doesn’t mean writing your blogger a profound novel or showering them with compliments. It just means offering proof that you’ve actually read their stuff. That when you got to their name on your list during your outreach push, you actually thought about them. That you were careful in deciding they’re a good fit. And that you’re not going to waste their time.
Show them what’s in it for them (and their audience)
When you engage with a blogger, you’re proposing a partnership. There needs to be a sense of mutual benefit. If you’re sharing an infographic, what makes your infographic interesting to the blogger’s audience? How does your content add value to the blog? How does the content make the audience more passionate about the blog?
If you’re sharing a resource like a blog post, what makes your post different from all the other posts that cover the same topic? Did you find a different angle? Experience unexpected results? Make a compelling case study? How are you providing value to their target audience that the blog is not yet delivering?
Whenever possible, identify the gap in your blogger’s content that you’re hoping to fill. If your blog post is just a duplicate of the stuff they routinely write about, they don’t need your content. Try providing content that’s just outside the blogger’s wheelhouse, but still closely related to what their audience cares about.
To use ourselves as an example, if we were trying to get an SEO-related post placed we might reach out to someone who blogs about web design as part of our outreach overall. The blogger might swerve too far out of his lane if they write about SEO, but they still know how important it is to keep their audience up to speed on the subject. They need the post, but they don’t want to write it. That’s the sweet spot.
Make it easy
Those who manage a blog are typically inundated with inquiries and requests. But many of them are vague, or self-serving or not really adding value to the blog’s audience. All of this simply wastes the time of the blogger or blog’s editor, and puts more of an onus on them to figure out what to do with your inquiry. The more difficult you make it for them, the more likely they will hit the “Delete” button and move on.
But you can make the work as painless as possible. Offer to do everything short of actually logging into the blogger’s site and drafting the post (although some blogs do allow you to do this, as well). If you’re sharing a resource, bullet out the takeaways that apply to the blogger’s audience. Or if you’re offering to write a guest post, pitch a few post ideas and include details like who the post is for, what the reader will learn and why it’s a topical subject.
If you’re proposing a joint content project, make it clear the blogger can be as involved as they want to be. If they simply want ideas from you and prefer to create the content themselves, then fully support them in the effort with whatever they need, whether talking points, data, interviews, etc.
Finally, you might think you’re doing your blogger a favor by letting them pick the topic or handing them a flow chart full of options. But you aren’t. Your blogger doesn’t want to work to find the best option; they want to feel confident that you did the work.
The more consistently and memorably you engage with someone, the more likely they are to form a strong impression of you.
When a blogger with any clout says “Yes” to a pitch, nine times out of ten they’re saying “Yes” to you. When they give you a forum or link to your work, they’re saying, “This work is useful and true, and I’ve considered the risk of looking stupid if it’s not.” That risk grows smaller as you become familiar and trustworthy.
Another benefit of building relationships rather than treating outreach as isolated transactions is that it makes it easier for both of you to collaborate repeatedly over time. As you get to know the preferences of the blogger or editor, pitching new ideas that are well received will be easier and easier.
MAKE IT SCALABLE
Relationship-building, personalized outreach emails, actually reading the blog…there’s no getting around a certain amount of manual work. Outside of that, automate as much as possible to free up the time you’ll need to nurture priority relationships.
Make use of a database
As mentioned, Terakeet uses a proprietary platform called Chorus to connect to a database of over nine million bloggers and influencers. Chorus also has a built in discovery feature that outreach specialists use to continuously identify and feed our database with new online publishers.
Our technology allows us to filter potential partnerships based on relevance, social following and domain authority to curate a final list of high-quality, highly relevant options. That takes significantly less time than building a list of targets from scratch. (It’s night and day, actually.)
Chorus enables us to conduct meaningful, custom blogger outreach campaigns with hundreds of publishers for each customer.
Personalization is important, but so are templates. So create a template for your ask and include personalized sections. Your bloggers use templates too; they get it. They just want a friendly nod of acknowledgement before you begin your spiel.
We all get busy, and bloggers are no exception. Give them enough time to reply, and then politely follow up. It may help if you share some of their content on social and tag them so you have something to talk about in your follow up.
If you discover that your response rate is surprisingly low, and follow up emails don’t make a difference, look for email deliverability issues that could be sending your messages to the spam abyss.
Create an outreach processes
Systematize how you find new prospects
While there will always be industry staples, your list of new prospects should be dynamic as newcomers gain the authority you’re looking for. Create a system that can reflect this dynamic pace without forcing you to reinvent the wheel with every outreach push. Blogger outreach tools can help you automate prospecting through discovery and quality filtering. However, too much automation can lead to problems. That’s why Terakeet created our own proprietary technology to discover and connect with bloggers.
Cast a wide (but highly targeted) net
Marketers can fall into the trap of believing they can’t cast a broad net and stay targeted at the same time. But that belief doesn’t reflect the sheer volume of people who use the internet. Google sees 63,000 searches per second, amounting to over two trillion searches per year. Even the most niche subjects have some serious numbers behind them because of this scale.
Cast your net as wide as you can to make sure you’re genuinely including every opportunity you have, then narrow down your list. When we use our database of 9 million, we could narrow our list by the most precision-targeted set of criteria possible and we’d still have thousands of options.
Track performance and provide dashboard reporting
Systematize how you track the results of your outreach efforts so you can understand which types of blogs send you the most high-quality traffic. As your backlink profile grows, you’ll start working with more moving parts in your analytics. Customized dashboards are an essential way to handle that, pulling the exact information you want so you can view it on the go. Create a new view in Google Analytics and use it to build custom dashboards and set outreach-specific conversion goals.
Partner with an SEO company
Outreach at scale is an aspect of in-house marketing that’s primed for outside help. It takes specialized knowledge, outreach tools and processes. It’s time-consuming. And unlike PR, it’s rare to find people in-house who will actually put in the time and who want to do it week in and week out. Work with an agency that has their process down to a science and they’ll give you 10X the results in half the time.