6 Reasons Your Business Is Struggling with Backlinks & Exposure

What’s up SEOs? Harry here with SEO Builder – the SEO Company powered by Data and Technology that helps you grow your search traffic, research your competitors and dominate your niche. If you’re struggling to get backlinks, I’m going to show you why people won’t link to you and how to fix that.

Today’s article is all about increasing your link conversion rates by avoiding the things that prevent people from linking to you and a lot of this boils down to human psychology. For example, if you were to walk into Starbucks, make your way to the front counter and ask for a free coffee. What do you think they’d say? They’d probably be confused or speechless but if you gave them a good reason like the fact that they’re dumping gallons of coffee every day or you worked at the restaurant across the street and you’d give them free lunch, I’m pretty sure you’d have a better chance of sipping on some free coffee. Now link building through outreach is very much the same. If you’re contacting people and asking for links without a good reason then you will be and should be ignored. Now, let’s get into some of the biggest mistakes I see SEOs making time and time again.

You don’t do email outreach

The first mistake is that you’re not doing email outreach. I completely understand that you might feel nervous or feel like you’re bothering people by sending cold e-mails. But let me ask you this – If you’re not actively promoting your content, how do you expect people to find it or link to it? Email outreach is an effective and affordable way to connect with people who can give you backlinks and exposure. And it doesn’t have to be disruptive in the same way it would be impossible to get a free coffee from Starbucks, if you don’t go or ask for one.

You don’t do email outreach

You don’t sound human

The second reason why you’re not getting links is that you’re robotically copying and pasting people’s templates. You can Google something like ‘link building templates’ and I’m sure you’ll find a ton of real examples. But wait a second… If these templates are working so well and consistently, why aren’t they working for you? No, I’m not questioning anyone’s moral ethics but one of two things likely happen.

You don’t sound human

  • They used to work super well but they’ve lost its effectiveness, so you’re late to the party.
  • And number two what works for one person or in one industry, might not work in another. I’m sure you’ve received template emails that are saying ‘Hey, I found your site. You linked to my competitor and I published the same article but it’s going to take you longer to read but believe me it’s worth it.’

They shouldn’t sound needy or like you’re asking a friend for favour. So instead of that, adopt your mentality to starting a relationship.

Missing a good reason

The third thing preventing you from getting links is that you’re sending an email without a good reason. In my opinion, stumbling across someone’s article isn’t a good enough excuse to contact them. Here are a few reasonable excuses you can use to contact someone when it comes to link building.

  • They mentioned you but didn’t link to you. So you’re contacting them to say thanks. At this point, they know you and probably like you.
  • Published or linked to inaccurate or outdated information, so you want to bring new research to light.
  • They’re passionate about a topic and you have something unique to share with them that they’ll love.
  • They have an issue with their page or website like a broken link that you want to bring to their attention.

This list is by no means exhaustive as outreach is situational but there are a few reasons that I can think of. A guest blogging campaign I ran a little while back yielded a 42% reply rate over the sequence from 350 delivered emails. Overall, I was able to get 30 backlinks in 10 days which is around 9% conversion rate.

Also at a trip, we ran an unlinked mentions campaign a few months ago. Now if you’re unfamiliar with this link building strategy, it’s when you contact people who have mentioned you but didn’t link to you. So you send an email and ask them to link to you throughout this campaign. We send 406 emails and got 51 known backlinks as a result which is a 12.6% conversion rate.

Offering value in return

Now a good reason for contact isn’t going to be enough to earn you a link. Other parts of your email will impact your conversion rate as well. Most of the ones I receive in my inbox get ignored because of the next mistake and that’s your email gives no benefit to the prospect. Now, I’m not saying you have to offer an incentive like money because buying backlinks is against Google’s Terms of Service. Or if you end your e-mail off with something like – So can you link to me? This can be a factor that makes your otherwise great e-mail not so great. Instead, I found offering something without the expectation of getting a link to work best. And this is because of a social psychology principle called the Rule of Reciprocity suggests that people want to respond to a positive action with another positive action. You might offer to share their content on social, provide custom images to go with their image list, post or use your talents to get their attention. For example, I recently received an email from a cartoon artist named Gabe. She wasn’t asking for a link but simply wanted to connect and show appreciation for my work. Since he’s a super talented artist he sent me a link to a custom cartoon drawing.

Another example was an experiment I ran trying to convert links on the second contact rather than first. I sent 30 people an email with a subject line – ‘Is this a good article to share’. 27 people opened the email and 9 responded. The three that didn’t open the email is because it never reached their inbox. The email was simple. It said I’m filling up my Twitter queue on Buffer. I read post X and liked Y. Why is this one good to share or do you have a better one on the topic? Although the sample was small of just 30 people, 3 people linked to me in the experimental campaign at a 10% conversion rate.

Quitting on the first ‘No’

You quit when they won’t link to you right away. In many cases, people aren’t going to respond emphatically and say here’s the link to your website. Other times, they’ll say they don’t update old posts. So what do you do? You negotiate. Negotiation is a critical skill when it comes to link building in the best place to start is to try and understand what they want. For example, are you connected with a person that they’ve written about or follow on Twitter? Do you think they would be a good match for an intro? Now if they don’t go back and edit old posts will they accept new content such as a guest post? If you don’t offer anything else that could be mutually beneficial. Then you might kill some perfectly good link opportunities.

Reaching out to the wrong people

The next reason why you’re not getting links is that you’re sending your pitches to the wrong people to get link placements. You need to find people that can make changes or decisions for their site. Generally speaking, you’ll want to look for the most appropriate contacts – editors, authors who work for the company, content marketing managers, webmasters and then generic emails as the last resort. If the person can’t make changes to the site then they’re probably not the best person to contact but this often comes down to the size of the company. For example, if you contact the CEO of a company asking for a link I don’t think they’d respond with an emphatic Yes because they’re busy running a successful business. Now if you contact the support email, your message will be sent to a live chat system which will probably get archived. So to find the best person to contact look through the About and Team pages, and look for editors or people with the word content in their name. If you can’t find anyone appropriates then look for the company LinkedIn page and search through the company directory. Whereas if you’re contacting a single author’s site owner, contacting the owner would probably be your best bet. Use your best judgment rather than taking the first email you find.

Reaching out to the wrong people

Final thoughts

When sending outreach emails for backlinks take these tips and I highly recommend digging through our link building and SEO tips. We will keep adding additional tips to help you get more balance.

If you found this article helpful then make sure to like, share and subscribe for more actionable business and SEO tutorials. And hey, I’m sure you’ve gotten a whole bunch of head outreach e-mails so I’d love for you to share your tips in the comments on what to do or what not to do. Good luck in converting more links and exposure!