Reasons Why Your Outreach Efforts May Be Ruining Your Link Building Strategy

Backlinks make the SEO world go round, but link-building can often be frustrating and fruitless for many outreachers. So what’s going wrong with your approach to building those all-important backlinks?

Ahrefs data shows that there’s a positive correlation between the number of websites linking to a page and its search engine ranking position (SERP), and building reputable backlinks can position your website as a strong industry resource for your leads and search engine crawlers alike.

But the internet is a fiercely competitive place, and this can make link-building your way to the front page of Google far more difficult when countless rivals are attempting to do the same.

The Importance of Outreach in Link Building


Outreach plays an essential role in boosting your website’s visibility and authority. Through the accumulation of high-quality backlinks from credible sources, SEOs can not only bolster their SERPs but also significantly increase their referral traffic to specific websites and pages.

In addition to this, effective outreach strategies can help to build your brand online and boost your reputation as a thought leader in your respective field, helping to build more trust among your target audience and leads.

The aim of the game in outreach is to identify the right prospects for link-building opportunities. This can be through the medium of guest posting, link-for-link partnerships, or even influencer campaigns.

Although many link-building practices are mutually beneficial, outreach can be difficult to master. For many reputable websites throughout industries, there can be countless link-building requests received daily, and for smaller quality-focused websites, standing out from the crowd can be difficult.

The typical outreach email open rate stands at around 30%, according to TechWyse data. With this in mind, your outreach efforts are far more likely to fail than succeed. But this figure can be improved by SEOs taking the right measures.

You’re Not Prioritising Quality Over Quantity


The first and one of the most common reasons why your outreach efforts fail is that your content simply isn’t good enough.

Without quality-focused content, it’s virtually impossible to achieve quality backlinks from websites and any outreach strategy that succeeds in increasing your open-rates will spectacularly collapse when an editor or content manager realises your copy simply isn’t good enough to link to.

As a rule of thumb, it’s important to ensure that your content is always:

  • Aligned with your brand identity

  • Relevant to your target audience

  • Engaging and informative for readers

  • Easily sharable

  • Optimised for SEO, social media, and mobile users

Prioritising quality over quantity for your content extends way beyond link-building.

Adopting a philosophy to educate, inform, and entertain your audience can pay dividends for your organic link-building and wider SEO strategy. This is because other websites and bloggers will be naturally drawn to your content and more willing to link to it.

Naturally, this aspect of link-building is time-consuming and can be difficult for startups and SMEs to commit to. However, enlisting the help of a quality-focused link building agency can help to leverage a quality-first guest blogging and content strategy that generates greater volumes of links on an ongoing basis.

Your Outreach Isn’t Personal Enough


Another important area where many SEOs fail is in personalising their outreach efforts. Yes, outreach can be high volume, but you should never fall into the trap of failing to add that all-important personal touch to save time.

Starting an outreach email with ‘hi,’ or ‘hello,’ can be the start of a losing battle, while a subject line like ‘Link building opportunity’ can be way too generic.

Here, it’s important to remember that if you’re outreaching to a reputable website, the inbox is likely to be full of link-building attempts, and this calls for a more bespoke approach to your outreach strategy.

Be sure to follow some key rules when it comes to creating more personalised outreach, such as:

  • The personal touch: Always address your prospect by their name and make a personal reference as to why your content will be relevant to them, such as a similar article that yours can naturally expand on

  • Explain your content: Additionally, explain specific aspects of your content that can be useful for them to publish in line with their own brand. Consider how your copy can help them to achieve their on-site goals

  • Don’t beat around the bush: It can be hard to pitch your content but don’t be overly sales or demanding. Just present the copy and ask for a link in a clear but friendly way

Of course, building personalised outreach strategies only works if you can identify your recipients. With this in mind, tools like can be great in analysing and discovering who you can email with a pitch.

Sometimes it’s impossible to know who you’re emailing due to shared inboxes, which is more common among smaller businesses. In this case, adopt a more generalised approach but always go more personal when you receive follow-ups.

You’re Lacking Relevance


Always make sure that you’re outreaching to websites that are relevant to your industry. Although you may have found a poorly related link that’s willing to offer you a backlink, it won’t be worth much if Google’s crawlers don’t understand the relevance.

It isn’t always easy to identify relevant prospects. Websites can use vague brand names or offer content that skirts briefly into industry relevance but is not sufficient enough to be deemed a valuable link-building opportunity.

This pitfall can be countered by creating more refined outreach prospects that align more closely to your target niche or industry, as well as your business objectives.

By choosing to keep things relevant, you can also put yourself in a position to leverage more personalised outreach messages by sharing common interests and knowledgeable insights–making the prospect of a response more likely.

One excellent resource to help your outreach efforts to become more focused and relevant is by using Ahrefs’ Site Explorer tool, which has an effective Backlinks feature. By picking a leading website in your industry or niche, you can explore its Dofollow backlinks to see which websites are linking to its pages.

By identifying which websites are linking to larger relevant sites in your industry, you can target them for your outreach. It’s even possible to sort results by their domain rating (DR), which means that you can gain a better understanding of the quality of the website that you’re targeting as well as the likelihood of a response.

Your Outreach Template is Too Generic


As we’ve already touched on, your outreach templates need to stand out in a sea of other prospects. If you’re looking to leverage link-building opportunities with highly reputable websites, the chances are that editors and content managers are staring at dozens of outreach emails every day.

Be sure to add unique elements to your email subject lines. While many SEO specialists love to add a sense of urgency to their emails, this impact can be mitigated when inboxes are bombarded with the same sentiment.

Amid a sea of urgency, be sure to reaffirm your commitment to keeping things personal. Address the recipient by name so that it’s visible in the message preview, and try to avoid such vague and salesy talk.

Highlight why your email offers value, and try to avoid concealing your intentions for too long, or else it risks your efforts being written off as spam.

You’re Unwilling to Accept Edit Suggestions


Always, tell your prospect that you’re willing to take on any advice or suggested edits that they may have.

Yes, you may believe that your guest post is perfect as it is. And yes, edits can be a time-consuming nuisance. But you should always add a paragraph in your outreach along the lines of: “Thank you for taking the time to consider my pitch. I would be happy to work on any suggested edits or recommendations that you may have.”

The beauty of this approach is that this paragraph largely makes no difference in technical terms. Editors will almost always make the changes themselves or suggest improvements regardless of whether you say so or not.

The reason this little addition is great is that it demonstrates that you’re willing to work on the content and are committed to offering your prospect value.

Your Prospects Are All Wrong


Identifying the right prospects to outreach can be extremely difficult and frustrating. You’ve gone to the effort of identifying the perfect host website for your content but can’t get a reply from the recipient you’ve targeted. What’s going wrong?

Choosing the right prospect to outreach to is a key part of link-building. Sometimes it can be neglected because SEO specialists assume that an email can reach a key decision-maker by proxy, but this is rarely the case.

Be sure to take the time to outreach the right prospect in the company you’re looking to link-build with. Cutting corners or getting lazy in this process can risk undermining your entire strategy.

Fortunately, many reputable websites that publish news, opinion, or industry-specific content feature a masthead that serves as a directory for editors. Many other sites add email addresses for staff on-site which can help with outreach prospects.

If you find an excellent host website that doesn’t list email addresses online, is a good resource for identifying relevant emails for specific recipients.

Taking that extra time to identify the ideal prospects and outreach to them can help to prevent much of your strategy from getting lost in the ether, so it’s worth prioritising.

Your Follow-Up Strategy is a Mess


Editors at reputable publications have a lot on their plate. If they don’t get back to you straight away it doesn’t necessarily mean they hate your pitch or content. It could simply mean that they’ve had a busy day and didn’t get a chance to look over your email.

It’s for this reason that a follow-up can be an extremely effective way of leveraging more replies from your prospects.

However, it’s worth changing your approach a little in comparison to your outreach efforts. Keep things a little more succinct and use your follow-up as a reply to your initial pitch.

This means that your email can gently push them in the direction of your initial email without you looking like a spammer.

Follow-ups can increase your reply rate significantly. Try not to send more than three follow-up emails at most to avoid being blacklisted and remember to keep things personal and polite at all times.

Give Outreach the Time and Care it Deserves


One of the biggest pitfalls of outreach strategies is that SEOs simply fail to give the approach the time and attention it needs to be successful.

It can be hard if you feel that you’re preaching to an empty room, and continually struggling to earn backlinks as a result of your toil can be demoralising, but the links you build can rapidly accelerate your online growth and SERPs.

Outreach is a valuable tool and a core component in any link-building strategy. By committing to your strategy it’s possible to overcome the pitfalls of the process and become a backing building behemoth.