A search engine optimization campaign is like a battle campaign: a lot more time goes into strategies, planning, rallying the ‘troops’ (your employees, your partners, etc) and asking for backup than actually goes into the site you’re trying to push! One of the most tried and true, but also most difficult, methods of building up your campaign is through link building. It’s hard, it’s boring and it takes ages, but it works which is why people still roll up their sleeves and do it.
There are plenty of ways to do link building, but the best way (at least insofar as Google is concerned) is to reach out to other web owners and ask them for a favour-ie, a link! However, this can be a very stressful and even degrading practice; the response rate is low and it can feel like you’re spending hours to get maybe, maybe one link.
There must be a better way!
Well, have you taken a look at your email?
Does This Look Familiar?
Chances are that if you’re having trouble getting a response, it’s because your email doesn’t exactly inspire a response. Many emails have a range of problems that include:
- Bad spelling and grammar
- Poor sentence structure and style that makes you look like a bad writer
- Absolutely no personalization
- It’s far too short or far too long
- The email address you are sending from looks unprofessional or ‘spammy’
- The wrong person has been contacted!
- The subject line is spammy or boring
- The signature is spammy or unrelated to your target
Oh dear! Many people who are new to the idea of link building tend to fall prey to a combination of these problems; usually the lack of personalization combined with the message being too long and as a result, no one answers. But even the professionals can make mistakes; for example, some professionals may be too long winded or forget to put the name of the website in the email! So, whether you’re a newbie or an old hat, how can you write great emails to improve your response rate?
Writing Great Emails
There is a plethora of information out there on how to write fantastic outreach emails and every expert has a slightly differing view and things to add to the conversation. There is heaps of information out there about writing great emails and how to do it, but some common factors include:
Personalize it! How many emails do you get that start with things like ‘Dear Webmaster’ or ‘Dear Sir/Madam’? How many of them do you actually read? Odds are: none. There are a couple of reasons for this. First of all, the lack of personalization shows that the one writing the email didn’t put as much care into the message as he or she could have and thus doesn’t really want your business. Second, the message is a probably a copy/paste deal and you have no idea why that person wants you to work with them, what the person’s site is about or if there even is a person on the other end!
Knowing that, it should be pretty obvious that you have to do a bit of legwork into getting to know the person behind the link. Check out their blog, read some posts, visit their social media and get to know them a little bit! In the information age where you can find out a lot about people with a few clicks and fifteen minutes of reading, you really have no excuse.
Once you’ve done some digging, craft your email around the person you’re writing to! Make sure you mention their name, make sure you mention a work that impressed you and make sure to be conversational, not distant. A little extra work here will greatly help to improve your overall campaign.
One of the problems with many written emails is that they are either too long or they are too short. The emails which are too short are a line or two that basically comes off as a demand and the ones that are too long become boring and hard to read.
A good email size is two paragraphs long. The first paragraph should flatter (but not suck-up) to the webmaster. Mention something about a work you enjoyed that they did or mention the fact that they are considered an expert in a given field. The second paragraph should get right to your point: asking for their help. Explain what it is you’re doing in a sentence or two.
Then wrap the whole thing up by asking for their help, either by letting you write a guest post or for feedback o something else. End it on a friendly, personal note and make sure you have a clean signature for your name-something which says who you are without clogging everything up with websites.
A few other tricks include having a branded email (your name@your company name), make sure you contact the right person for your needs, particularly if you’re sending your query to a large business or site, and make sure to properly use the subject line to be professional while still being enticing. And finally, don’t mention ‘links’; instead, ask for feedback, to be included in a reference list, to be cited in a future work or to just exchange information. At this point, just getting a response is more important than getting the link since you’re also trying to build up a relationship between yourself and other webmasters.
Here’s an example of a basic email to ask for some sort of help from a webmaster:
I really enjoyed your post on How to Utilize Social Media to Increase Traffic on your blog and the tips really helped me to succeed in my own business! With that in mind, I just knew you were the perfect person to ask for advice.
I want to start breaking out of my usual social media rings and into other groups, but I’m struggling to get a foothold. I want to better use sites such as LinkedIn and Google+, but I’m having a hard time and I could use some feedback! Would you be willing to take a look at my site and my social media and give me a bit of advice?
Thank you very much for your time,
[Your Name Here]
Now, different experts have weighed in their own ideas, from the conservative to the edgy, so weigh your options and your writing abilities and find your own style. The above is just intended to be a guideline after all.
Keep in mind that even with the best advice, most people say that a 5-7% response rate is about expected, even from the very best. But compared to the 0 or 1% rate you may be enjoying now, that’s pretty good! So the next time you start your link building campaign, take a closer look at your email and see how these tips could help you improve your lot. Good luck!