January 23, 2024

Backlink Outreach Strategy: Leverage AI While Staying Authentic

Well-placed backlinks are powerful endorsements for your website's credibility and relevance. But how do you get your link on pages and domains that matter?

Waves of AI content have flooded search and SEO marketers and if your content is not visible anywhere it'll be hard to keep high rankings on SERPs. Effective backlink-building becomes a must if you want to maintain and increase organic search traffic. 

Well-placed backlinks are powerful endorsements for your website's credibility and relevance. They signal to Google that you have something unique and valuable to say.

But how do you get your link on pages and domains that matter?

Outreach is hard: Why most marketers fail at securing great backlinks

You’re not the only one trying to get links placed on third-party websites. Outreach challenges are one of the main hurdles in the backlink acquisition process.

Here's why getting your link live on third-party sites is often a tough nut to crack:

  1. Low response rates: Cold emailing for backlinks has notoriously low response rates. Recipients are inundated with requests, which can easily be perceived as spam.
  2. Personalization: Generic outreach emails are the norm, but they don't perform well. Personalizing emails for each recipient is time-consuming but necessary to stand out.
  3. Relevance: Finding and targeting the right prospects whose content aligns with yours is critical. Irrelevant outreach is not only ineffective but can also damage your reputation.

But how do you keep the funnel filled with relevant domains AND improve your outreach messages? We’ll cover both in the workflow. 

Step-by-step workflow: Finding domains and relevant pages & speeding up outreach

A great backlink strategy needs two things: relevant domains/articles within your niche and a well-crafted message with a sensible value-proposition. 

Here’s how you can tackle both in one workflow:

Step 1: Set up Google alerts for cornerstone keywords

You want to be notified of new blogs and pages within your niche the moment they are crawled. Being among the first few to reach out and provide value increases your chances of success.

Google alerts are a perfect way to do so. First up, you’ll have to go to the Google Alerts site.

Input one of your cornerstone keywords. It’s advisable to pick keywords that have higher search traffic/are more often discussed. If not you’ll end up with very few notifications and an empty funnel.

Here’s an example of an alert. Let’s say you’re working on a project management tool and ranking for “task management”. 

  • Sources: Select blog, web & discussions. I suggest you don’t add news as outreach to news sites is almost guaranteed to fall on deaf ears. 
  • How many: toggle to  “all results” to increase the number of domains appearing. Lower DA/popularity sites are also more likely to collaborate with you.
  • Deliver: Pick RSS feed and not email. Sending these to your inbox will flood it and make it hard to work with the notifications.

Once created, click on the RSS feed and copy the URL from the page. 

Preview of the Google alerts configuration panel: Task Management keyword example

Step 2: Add the RSS feeds to Bash

The RSS work feed in Bash directly visualizes every Google alert as it’s released. Adding the alerts here instead of your inbox allows you to keep things tidy, find relevant information faster, and reduce distractions. 

To add your Google Alert, select “add new”, then pick “Google Alerts” from the available options and paste the link to the RSS feed in. 

Once saved, a new tab appears with Google alerts. New data is automatically funneled into that view allowing you to start the outreach process faster. 

Repeat the process if you’re working with multiple keywords and you’ll get a dedicated view for each one. 

Preview of the Google alerts for the task management keyword

Step 3: Select relevant articles and work faster with AI

Does something pique your interest? Summarize and save the article. First, turn it into a topic to get a better grasp of what was discussed in the article. This enables you to understand the content faster and determine if your content or brand can be a good fit for the article. 

You can even ask questions to help you strategize your outreach. For example, in this example, I ask the AI to “Tell me what content could potentially be added to the article to make it more useful to readers”. 

Pick the suggestions you think are relevant and paste them into the topic. 

Preview of the Q&A panel in Bash

Once you have all the information on the topic, select “write draft” and pick the email template. Prompt configurations:

  • Tone: Conversational
  • Audience: Marketing Audience
  • Persona: Journalist
  • Language: English (toggle languages if you’re doing outreach in a different language)
  • Additional information: Write a backlink outreach message, requesting for a resource to be added to the source document. 
Customize every draft by tone, audience, persona and language

Step 4: Fine-tune the copy

I like to say that AI typically gets you 80% of the way, but without your own 20% you won't be successful in your outreach. 

Below you can see a message generated with the prompt configuration and source article. Take it as a draft and fine-tune it. DON’T just copy-paste and send, you'll come over as a spammer and your outreach message will lead to very few, if any responses.  

Don’t spam, add value. Best practices to get your links placed

Writing “Hey I loved your article, I think [resource] would fit it well” won’t be effective. You need to personalize your offering and show why collaborating with your site adds value to their marketing and growth. 

Keep the following things in mind when fine-tuning your copy:

  • Contribute to the article or blog: Add value to the story in the article with a new subsection you feel is still missing. Make sure to add additional value and try to fill the gaps. If you’re doing a guest post, explain concepts you think are missing and why they’d be valuable to the audience.
  • Offer something: Make sure that the partnership feels mutually beneficial. Offer the team access to your service, offer value to their audience in the form of discounts or do a special giveaway with the third-party site to increase your value offering.
  • Show you write (good) guest posts: Nobody wants a fully AI-generated, low-value article on their site. Share case studies of guest posts you’ve authored on other websites. Highlight that your content isn’t too promotional, low-quality or stuffed with backlinks. 
  • Don’t go overboard: Don’t stuff your guest post with 20 links or request multiple link placements on their website all at once. 
  • Give them an action plan: The more concise you can be about what you want the less the third party has to think about it. 1. Explain exactly where you would place the link and why. 2. Give a tentative timeline guest post and when it could be live. 3. Share clear next steps if you’re proceeding with the partnership.
Fine-tuned link outreach message

Step 5: Reach out to the correct person

Articles are typically authored. If you want to stand out, try connecting with the author on LinkedIn and build a genuine connection.

Once you’ve set up the connection, you can share your copy suggestion with the backlink, recommend a guest post or discuss other content partnerships. 

If the company has a generic author i.e. “company name team” - just check the company on LinkedIn and look for any employees with relevant roles.

Build genuine connections and watch your backlinks go up

The correct workflow enables you to speed up sourcing and content writing without being spammy. 

Make sure your outreach adds value and is relevant to the domain. At the end of the day you want your site to be visible on pages that are relevant to your product and build upon your brand.