Building real links that make sense requires human interaction.
I am a firm believer that websites don’t link to other websites, rather people link to other people. Worthwhile links are those placed as an editorial vote by a human being, not automatically generated by a robot.
You need to engage with other people to build these links, which makes effective outreach imperative.
Outreach is typically done via email. The most important portion in outreach link building is what I call the “link pitch” – the message you craft to convince another person to link to you; the build up to where you mention the link.
An effective link pitch is critical to link building success, so I want to cover what goes into a successful link pitch. Here are five key elements of an effective link pitch:
- Clear subject line
- Immediate demonstration of value
- Call to action (CTA)
- Secondary CTA
- Follow up
Let’s take a look at each of these aspects individually.
1. Clear Subject Line
The first element you need to consider in a link pitch email is the subject line.
A clear subject line is imperative since it is the first thing the person you are pitching to will see. It will determine whether or not your email is even opened. Your subject line should be direct and focused, making it easy to quickly understand what your email is about.
Make your subject line as specific as possible and ensure it is appropriate for the site you are reaching out to. In fact, sites will often list exactly what type of subject line you should use for a given inquiry. It is always a good idea to look for specific instructions because using an incorrect subject line could doom your link pitch from the start.
After all, why would someone feel inclined to read your email if you can’t even take the time to follow directions?
An effective subject is:
2. Immediate Demonstration of Value
While a clear subject line is important to have your emails opened, the ability to quickly establish the value of your outreach is what will get them to actually read your message.
Effectively communicating the benefit of the link is key to any link pitch. You must clearly demonstrate why your link would add value to the site in a way that is easy to understand.
In order to do this you must:
- Be concise: Nobody wants to read a long-winded message, keep everything succinct and to the point
- Understand the website: Be aware of what is important to the webmaster and their audience so you can explain why your link would be valuable
- Be persuasive: You don’t have to be a salesperson, but understanding the psychology behind persuasion is helpful
- Be personable: To find a way to stand out from other emails, you need a hook that will keep the person reading
An effective link pitch focuses on the person you are contacting and their site, rather than yourself or your company. You must consider how a link to your site would benefit your contact and then be able to clearly, and quickly, demonstrate that value to them.
3. Call to Action (CTA)
Once you have established why it’s worth their while to link to you, you’ll need to include a call to action (CTA).
Your primary CTA in a link pitch should absolutely be where you request the actual link. You have already explained why your link is valuable, and now you need to motivate the person you are contacting to take action.
One way to craft your CTA is to make it easy and straightforward for the person to add the link. Explicitly state where on their site a link to your site would fit best or provide the most value to their audience.
Also, you should include a link to the page you want them to link to so they can look at it themselves to further understand why it would be a good addition to their site.
The whole goal of your link pitch is to foster a relationship that can lead to a link. Make sure you include a direct and straightforward CTA that (politely) instructs the person you are contacting to perform a specific action.
4. Secondary CTA
Along with the initial CTA involving your link, you should also provide a secondary CTA within your link pitch.
The secondary CTA should involve some sort of supportive action that is not directly tied to linking to your site. For example, you can tell the person to email you back for more information or invite them to check out your site to get a better idea of the type of content you provide.
Even a simple “Look forward to hearing from you.” suggests you are expecting a response and prompts the person to take action.
Remember, you are dealing with another human being and who is likely very busy, sometimes they need a little nudge to get the ball rolling.
A secondary CTA is necessary because sometimes the first CTA alone won’t be successful. Also, by giving the person a second option they don’t have to choose between simply linking or not linking.
Even a “no” is better than nothing, because now you’ve established communication and can inquiry why the person is unwilling. Once you understand their objections you will be more effective in the future (or even the next time you pitch them).
Lastly, you should always follow-up.
While the previous sections deal with the initial link pitch, which is hugely important, the ability to follow-up is equally important. You’re simply not doing your job as a link builder if you don’t follow up after an initial email.
Again, you’re reaching out to real people with real and busy lives. Often you won’t get a response on your first link pitch and you must be persistent in order to be successful.
There are a number of reasons why a person might not respond to your initial link pitch and you need to understand how to follow-up with them appropriately.
Some best practices for follow-up link pitches include:
- Allow for three to four days before sending another pitch
- Move on to another contact after three or four attempts to contact without a response
- Change and tweak your message to create a unique pitch for each follow-up
- Always point back to original link pitch to avoid confusion
- Consider a different channel of communication (i.e. social media vs. email)
Response rates with link pitches can be frustrating sometimes, but always remember that you are representing a brand/business/website and to keep your messages polite and professional, even on your fourth follow-up with no response.
And always remember to emphasize the value you can offer. Even though you’d really like the link, it should be in their interest to link as well.
Human interaction is integral to building real links.
In order to build worthwhile links you must reach out to other people with worthwhile sites and convince them to link to you. The most common form this outreach takes is a link pitch via email.
An effective link pitch is crucial to the success of your link building efforts, because real links require human engagement. Every situation and every link pitch is going to be different and requires a custom approach. However, by keeping these five classic elements in mind, you can put yourself in a position to be more successful and effective with your link pitches.
Featured Image: Created by author for SEJ
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