Alternative Approaches to Improve Blogger Outreach

by Jason Acidre on February 20, 2012 · 54 comments · Search, Social

Blogger outreach is one of the most predominant tasks of marketing a website these days, seeing that links acquired from blogs are considerably valuable in terms of obtaining better search rankings, sending leads as well as in developing brand presence in a targeted community.

There have been so many ways on how link developers/online marketing teams have successfully penetrated blogs for link opportunities, wherein most of the methods are already conventional when it comes to building natural-looking links. Some of the popular approaches include:

  • Experiential review
  • Pitching guest blogs
  • Offering branded-infographics
  • Fixing broken links

However, the more these tactics are being used – probably being widely used nowadays on any industry – the more they get saturated, making the competitiveness of link acquisition become more intense, which often leads to lower response rates and stricter editorials for outreach campaigns.

The list of alternative approaches that I’ll be sharing/discussing below is comprised of the methods that our team have recently been experimenting with and others that I’ve personally thought of that were inspired by various emails I’ve received lately.

Update: you can also check this post by Chris Dyson for more solid techniques and tools for blogger outreach

Help Install Authorship Markups

You’ll rarely see Google+ author profiles on non-tech related queries on Google’s SERPs, and one reason could be is that many verticals aren’t aware that this markup exists. That’s a good entry point to get into bloggers’ radar, especially on industries that aren’t that tech-savvy.

Offering to help them implement this markup on their blog/site is a good way to spark conversations with your link targets, as this can help build long-term relationships (preceding to content and/or link partnerships for instance).

Initially, it’s important to build a list of blogs that you can approach to using this angle for pitching, by identifying blogs in your industry that haven’t implemented authorship markups (rel=”author”)on their blogs yet.

The best way to do this is to first study your industry’s SERP for informational content-based queries (like how to’s, tips, blogs, etc…), and see their posts’ source code and check if they have the rel=”author” tag in it (just simply do a “ctrl+f” from the source code).

Once you already have a list of the blog prospects that you can reach out to (excel sheet), you can then start crafting your outreach template that will explain to your prospect why this markup is so important nowadays and how it can benefit them as bloggers (you can say that it can improve CTR on SERPs and can protect their content from scrapers, etc…).

Propose the idea of installing the markup by giving step-by-step guides on implementing it to their site as well as on their Google+ profiles, or you can direct them to a more extensive post that give instructions on how to implement authorship markups.

After building a good rapport with your link targets, it will be easier to pitch for a link, a guest post or they might just throw a link down your way if they chose to blog about the experience.

Giveaway Free/Paid Ebooks

Bloggers do need resources most of the time, especially for the active ones blogging on an industry-specific niche, as these resources validate the credibility of their works. Sending or offering them large documents that are based on extensive research (could be your own company’s whitepaper or others’) could be very substantial to them, as they may find it as a useful resource for their future blog posts.

I remember sending a blogger (that eventually became a friend) – Rob Sellen – the PHP for Dummies ebook, 2 years ago, and received a link from him. That’s one solid proof that this technique could work and initiate conversations that can lead to link acquisition.

And from a link building perspective, you can also gain more from this approach, particularly if the ebook that you’ve offered to bloggers are from your company (and is of high value), and have links within it directing to pages in your website. Since, if the bloggers you have reached out to decide to upload the PDF file in their domain, you can pretty much acquire a link from the document itself.

Suggest topics and tell them you’ll get readers to that post

I’ve been receiving several topic recommendations from my readers through email since last year (and I apologize if I haven’t written anything about those suggestions yet). Though I found most of the suggestions engaging and interesting, I think they lack a certain incentive that can really make me more excited to write about them.

If they’ll offer to help promote, build links and send traffic to those suggested posts, will I be more enthusiastic in publishing them? I think that’s a big yes (to me, in a bloggers’ point of view).

Treating your blog prospects with the way how you approach reporters/journalists when pitching a news story (for link building purposes), will make them feel more important and will increase the likelihood of getting your suggested topic being published.

When pitching a topic to bloggers, it’s best to provide resources that they can use to make the post more thorough. And offer compelling and click-worthy titles (here’s an excellent guide by Dan Shure on how to create click-worthy titles for blog posts) to increase the chances of getting positive responses from them.

Once your prospects agree to write about your suggested topic, you can start discussing the things that you can do to help promote the content. There are a lot of ways to do a solid promotion for the content that you’ll be suggesting such as:

  • Using the linker outreach method.
  • Promoting the content via related forum threads, Q&A’s and blog discussions.
  • Sharing the content on different social platforms and reaching out to other bloggers in your industry to see if they’ll be interested to share that content.
  • Referencing to the post through your own content distribution efforts (slide presentations, press releases and guest blogs).
  • Offer paid discovery for the content via Stumbleupon Ads (especially on highly authoritative blogs/sites).

Blogger’s posting frequency as the basis of your pitch

There are so many blogs out there (probably on any niche) that have busy owners and can only spend a little time in creating new content to update their blogs. Most of these bloggers (bloggers who can only write once or twice a month) could be constrained to write more frequently by their day jobs or own businesses.

Studying a blog’s weekly/monthly activities, and basing it from the volume of comments they receive for each post, the traffic they are generating, keywords they are ranking for in contrast to the amount of blog posts they are only able to publish each month, you can definitely see a hole from there, which can make it easier for you to make a way into their community by presenting yourself as a guest blogger or a regular contributor.

Leverage these facts when pitching a guest blog, and put emphasis on how their community can gain from that partnership. Let them know that you can cover for them just to keep the blog on attracting new visitors/readers/subscribers.

Using Social Media  

I’ve had few successful outreaches through social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter when requesting for guest blog opportunities (for clients), as bloggers seem to be more approachable in these areas (given that most people who spend time on these networks are in their “social” moods compared to the common atmosphere when reading emails).

There are no actual tricks here I suppose. All you really have to do is to get to know the person who you’ll be reaching out to, build conversations and somehow get into their radars.

Offer Premium WordPress Themes

I’ve just thought of this one a few weeks ago, when I realized that I have received several emails requesting if I can donate a premium WordPress theme to them. I do have quite a few of them – including Thesis, Genesis and ThemeForest – but never thought of donating it to other bloggers.

Many bloggers (both newbies and seasoned bloggers) out there use free WordPress themes, and many of them do provide high quality content to their readers, but have limited budget and couldn’t invest in a premium blog template – a flaw that you can easily fix.

Manually review your list of blog prospects (you can also use this link prospecting method to find blogs in your niche) and separate those who have poor blog layouts or are using free WordPress templates, but offer valuable content.

Once you have generated a segmented list, you can start creating your email copy for this type of pitch, which will focus on offering premium WordPress themes to your link targets.

Provide Logos

Personal and independent bloggers do sometimes have hard time working on their own blogs’ logos. Offering to create a logo for them and giving it away for free is a good way to create conversations and link opportunities as well.

Email them by first introducing yourself as a reader of their blog, and giving compliments on the way they deliver their content. Then try to ask if they’ll be interested to have a new logo for their blog created by you (for free), as a small contribution for their cause. More often than not, this kind of blogger outreach receives positive responses (whether the idea is rejected or not, most will almost always optimistically respond to the gesture).

We did this one for one of our link targets, he hasn’t used the logo yet, but he did like the gesture and gave us links (to our client’s important landing pages).

Introduce yourself as a blogger when pitching for guest blogs

Bloggers are more likely to entertain bloggers than outreach guys who present themselves as a part of a business website’s online marketing team (based on my personal experience). We’ve experienced so many frustrating situations when pitching for guest blogs (especially on industries that already know how this game works).

Many bloggers, nowadays, do realize the value of their blogs for the link building and branding campaigns of the bigger players in their field, which makes it a more lucrative business for bloggers, as most of them will only offer sponsored posts if they know you are in the big leagues.

Introducing yourself as a blogger and letting them know where they can see your works (the blog that you’ll be hosting separately and where you can publish your sample articles/posts to for your prospects to see the quality of your work) seems to have higher response and approval rates, pretty much on any industry.

Using this method actually allowed our team to acquire solid links from top and authority travel blogs/news websites (with links to our client’s website from the author bio as well), where all we had to do was to set up a new blog, put in some well-written blog posts and use it as our persona when pitching for guest blogs.

The common price range for sponsored posts in the Travel industry is about $50 – $300 per post. Now, think about how much you can save if you can just create a new blog, have an awesome blogger on board, and start building relationships and pitch for free guest blogs.

If you liked this post, you can subscribe to my feed and follow me on Twitter @jasonacidre.

Image Credit: Alexandreev

Jason Acidre

Jason Acidre is Co-Founder and CEO of Xight Interactive, marketing consultant for Affilorama and Traffic Travis, and also the sole author of this SEO blog. You can follow him on Twitter @jasonacidre and on Google+.

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