Last week was a perfect example of why our link building services have such high success rates. We pitched for three followed links and we secured three followed links. Each on a well-respected industry site, relevant to the client.

How did we do that?

I’ll take you through the process for one of them.

Research

The client recently signed a deal with a large UK gambling operator. They can talk about certain issues the gambling industry struggles with. In this instance they’re pretty well qualified to discuss cost per acquisition and how much the gambling industry is spending on advertising and how it can fine tune its marketing return on investment.

Great – it’s an impressive deal so we know the client knows what they’re talking about, and because they’ve just signed them, they’re in a good knowledgeable place with the pitch still fresh in their minds.

Our confidence in their industry expertise (and the fact our B2B SEO agency link building services are based on extensive PR experience!) means we know we can pitch and write about related topics for the gambling industry press, as long as we have a decent hook (more on that later).

Next step, find some online industry mags that offer links in return for content and understand how the link is generated (e.g. is it in an author profile associated with an op-ed, or is it in the body of the op-ed referring to external research). Check out the type of content usually used in the section you’ve identified. Visually heavy? You’ll need to pitch something visual then. Full of interesting opinion? Great. You better have something interesting to say. Capiche?

Then check if the link is followed (use the MozBar). No point putting all the effort into a pitch and subsequent draft only to find out it doesn’t count towards your ranking and lead gen efforts. (Yes, we like to have a decent proportion of nofollow links in the mix but tend to find clients organically accrue them and don’t require our link building services for this.)

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The pitch

Don’t send pitch emails en masse. They’re rubbish (I’ve read a few SEO blogs discussing the best mass email send tools for ‘outreach’. These blogs go on to describe what decent open rates and response rates look like and how you can move these numbers a few percentage points higher by tweaking subject lines and content. In a way I applaud and am bolstered by these ‘how to’ blogs.
The PR industry has been plagued by self-involved individuals who like to suggest their pitching ability is down to the size and quality of their ‘little black book’ of contacts. Don’t get me wrong, if the people you’re approaching know and respect you then there’s a much greater chance they’ll open your email (it’s why our link building services are based on more than just good pitching – we also host media only events throughout the year to develop those relationships). But don’t labour under the illusion that it’s your contacts making the difference – it’s 100% of the time the quality of the story you’re pitching and its relevance to the person you’re pitching it to.

In that way, no amount of subject line tweaking or links to previous articles you or your client has written is going to make a difference, and this is what separates traditional SEO agency outreach from PR led SEO pitching).

​Don’t send emails asking if you can pitch something without specifying what it is.

Don’t pitch on email or phone unless:

  • You address the pitch to the right journo
  • You name the section you’re interested in
  • You explain why the idea is specifically relevant to that mag
  • You explain what the hook is (a hook could be a significant date or piece of legislation for example)
  • You name the author
    You explain why they’re an authority
  • You’re prepared to offer the editorial as an exclusive
  • If you need to prequalify that’s fine. Pick up the phone and call the journo responsible for the section you’re interested in.

The hook is so important. It’s what differentiates your pitch and makes it interesting for the mag’s readership. It also gets people onside. Let me clarify that last point. We called the only person listed at a target publication to discuss an idea for an op-ed. She was naturally hostile. She probably gets loads of chancers trying their luck every day and wasting the little time she has. She mellowed within ten seconds as we opened with a reference to a piece of imminent government legislation pertinent to the gambling sector. Within 30 seconds she’d told us the idea was interesting and passed us an email for a commissioning editor. We then followed up with a tailor-made email for that publication outlining the idea in more detail.

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Oh, and this goes without saying, but reassure whoever you’re pitching that the piece will be exclusive to them and not in any way a sales pitch for your client or client’s product/service.

Finally, establish a deadline. In this instance we found if we were able to meet quite a tight one then not only would we get the followed link but there was a chance it would also be published in the print edition (yeah I know, print hey, who’d a thunk it!).

In conclusion

There you have it. Last week this approach to link building, employed by three different colleagues at TopLine, led to three secured ops. The pitch to acceptance success ratio was 33% (three pitches, one accepted), 50% (two pitches, one accepted) and 100% (one pitch, one accepted). As far as link building services go, I’d much rather be working with those odds than trying to increase my email open rates from two to three percent.

NB

We’re an agency that would rather build a lower number of highly targeted, semantically relevant, high domain authority links on sites our clients’ competitors will struggle to get near, than 100 links on low quality sites. We’ve seen the effects of this approach and they are GOOD (think resellers outranking vendors for the vendors’ products; all time high organic traffic levels; all time low cost per qualified lead from organic). We can’t really comment on the other approach because it’s not something we believe in or do.

If you like the sounds of a link building service designed to secure followed links your competitors will struggle to replicate then drop us a line.

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