7 Link Building Outreach Mistakes We See the Most
Here at WooRank, we receive a lot of link building outreach emails. Plus messages through our Help Center, Facebook and LinkedIn. All from people who want to pitch a guest blog post linking back to their site.
We get it. We do it too (although we don’t send messages on Facebook or to personal LinkedIn profiles).
Link building is important, and you can’t build links without doing some form of outreach.
But you have to do it right.
Some of these emails we get are great — we’ve built some really amazing relationships through email outreach. Many, though, aren’t so great.
They’re obviously automated form letters, sent by someone who’s never read our blog, sent by someone who has no experience in our topics, or all of the above.
In this post, we’ll cover the most common mistakes we see in the link building emails we receive here at WooRank, and what you can do to avoid them. Some of these don’t necessarily disqualify a pitch outright, but when someone has to go through dozens and dozens of emails, even a small mistake can send your pitch to the trash.
Note: We’ve modified some emails to remove any identifying information.
Pitching Irrelevant Topics
This sounds like it should be self-evident, but it’s possible that we receive more pitches for irrelevant topics than relevant ones.
Here at WooRank, our blog covers:
- On-page SEO
- Keyword research
- Link building
- Google updates and industry news
- Mobile SEO
- Structured data and the semantic web
Here are some topics we don’t cover on our blog:
- Video marketing
- Pay-per-click advertising like Google Ads or display advertising
- Affiliate marketing
However, every month, we receive pitches from several guest bloggers who want to write about topics that aren’t related to search engine optimization. Some of these topics make it fairly obvious they didn’t spend much time reading the content we’ve published.
Here’s a pitch we received just recently:
We’ve deliberately included this email as an example of outreach mistakes because it’s actually a really great pitch. It’s actually got almost everything we look for when considering guest blogs:
They tell us who they are and what they do
They include a link (both in the body and in their signature) to their site so we can check them out
They establish their credibility and expertise
They provide a really nice summary/intro for their article
They give a detailed outline of what they’ll cover
They use a business email address
The only problem here is that WooRank doesn’t do video production. Even if this article is super high quality (and it probably would be, to be honest) and manages to bring in a lot of users, those users aren’t likely to engage with WooRank because we aren’t offering the service or product they need.
Offering to Beat a Dead Horse
While receiving pitches for subject matter we’d never publish can be annoying, receiving a pitch for a topic we’ve already covered a half dozen times is just as bad. This is probably the second most common outreach email mistake we see.
Here’s a pitch we received from a blogger after he had originally pitched a topic we were just about to publish:
Now, at first glance, this looks like a great pitch. Website audits, SEO reports and marketing analytics are at the core of WooRank’s product. So you’d think we’d be all over a guest post about "an SEO audit to boost your website rankings."
However, if you take a look at what we’ve published on our blog you’ll see that we’ve covered the topics of SEO audits pretty comprehensively.
In fact, if you search through the blog you’ll see dozens of articles about all the different aspects of SEO audits.
Sending Irrelevant Writing Samples
As you can see in the first email pitch we discussed, establishing your topical credibility in the first email is a good practice to follow. I’m not going to roll the dice and hope you know what you’re talking about while editing your first draft. To that end, sending writing samples in your first outreach email is a great idea.
What’s not a great idea, however, is sending articles that have nothing to do with the target website.
Our blog is about SEO and none of that tells me if the person can write about search marketing. I can gauge their ability as a writer in general, but trying to work with a content creator who doesn’t really know the subject is often not worth it.
Which is extra frustrating because in their opening they say that they’ve got experience in web development as well as writing about technology.
The fact that they didn’t include these topics in their writing samples makes me wonder about their ability to create relevant content for my site. And since accepting a guest post from even a great writer can require several rounds of back and forth edits, business owners and bloggers are much less likely to work with a writer who hasn’t proved their chops.
Using Bad Websites as Proof
Listing the websites who have published your past work is a good idea. It tells the recipient of your outreach email that they can trust you. However, if you don’t provide examples of high-quality websites, this can backfire on you.
Even ignoring the Domain Authority numbers they included with their list, that’s a pretty iffy list of websites. While 5 of the 7 listed examples are legitimate websites, 2 of them are straight up fake news outlets. And one of those fake news sites doesn’t work.
Not that I want my brand associated with Infowars anyways.
And, on another note, it really put me off when this person asked me to refer them if I’m not interested. Always avoid lines that could result in you sounding pushing or spammy.
Being Waaaaay Too Pushy
Speaking of being pushing…
I don’t really know what to say about this other than sending outreach like this will almost certainly get your emails ignored. Probably not even deleted.
Trying to Sell Links
So when sending link building emails, don’t solicit paid links:
We don’t pay for links here at WooRank and you shouldn’t either.
Writing an Incomprehensible Email
One day, I opened up my inbox and found this email:
It’s also worth noting that the subject line for this email was also completely blank.
Now, I opened this email because I’m a filer/deleter and curiosity got the better of me. But you can’t bank on someone compulsively opening your email. And even if you do, you have to write an actual email to build a worthwhile relationship.
As an expat struggling with a second language myself, I don’t begrudge this email the language barrier. But you still have to make an attempt to build a rapport with the other person, establish your credibility and demonstrate the value you can bring.
"I like do Affiliate for WOO Rank" simply doesn’t cut it.
Look to These Examples for Inspiration
Like we said at the top, there are 6 aspects to a good guest blog/link building pitch email:
- Say who you are and what you do
- Include a link (both in the body and in your signature) to your site
- Provide a nice summary/intro of your article
- Give a detailed outline of what you’ll cover, being sure it’s relevant to the blog niche
- Give a brief description of how your experience makes you authoritative on the subject
- Use a legitimate business email address instead of
So our first example is actually a good template to work off of. Just make sure you’ve properly researched the existing articles to make sure it’s something they’d like to publish.
Here’s an example of a good email received just recently:
This email tells us who the person is, where he’s from and his role in the organization, and includes an assurance that the content will be unique, informative and non-promotional. That last part is a great note to add since the majority of publishers aren’t interested in hosting glorified advertisements on their site.
How about you? How guilty are you of these common email outreach mistakes? Have they held back your link building efforts?