Backlink outreach... One of the most frequent outreach campaigns that SEOs have on their to-do lists.

How to get backlinks

Knowing how to get backlinks is crucial if the goal is to improve your rankings and drive more traffic.

In this article, I'll show you specific tactics and email templates that have helped me generate hundreds of backlinks, along with some tricks of the trade you learn by practicing this craft.

Here are our results from Ahrefs, just so you know it's no fluff.

how to get backlinks

For video fans, instead of reading, you can watch the video I've recorded earlier. Keep in mind though, the article has more info about the topic. ;)

A backlink is a link from another website to yours. You might have also heard about a few more variations such as an "inbound link" or "external link". It's all the same.

what is a backlink

Why are backlinks important? Because each backlink you get is a positive signal to Google to consider that piece of content as credible and useful.

Think of it as other people putting in a good word for your name.

Down the road, each backlink you get helps you improve your rankings and drive more traffic to your website.

But to truly understand the dynamics of backlinks, you need to understand what types exist.

Allow me to break it down for you.

The most important distinction to make is between nofollow and dofollow backlinks.

dofollow vs nofollow backlinks

The former will get you zero SEO juice. The latter is the backlink that counts. But, keep in mind the following:

  • To rank, a website needs both types of links
  • Nofollow links are easier to get and they still bring high-quality traffic
  • Dofollow links impact your Google rankings
  • Too many dofollow links from the same source will get you into trouble

First, let's define what are internal backlinks. Simply put, these are links from one page on your website to another.

Do internal backlinks affect ranking? They do and they are quite important as Google discovers new content thanks to their help.

Internal linking also assists in putting a hierarchical structure of a website, thus allowing the spread of link equity around websites.

Ahrefs put together a wonderful piece on the ABCs of internal linking. Just read it.

Not all backlinks are good. The ones coming from untrusted and questionable sources can be classified as bad.

They negatively impact your SEO score. Especially if these sites have been penalized by Google (or other search engines) in the past.

The best way to defend and keep your website healthy is to run a quick backlink audit from time to time, filter new ones and keep an eye who's linking to your real estate.

You can spot a spammy backlink from a mile. Here's how:

  • Low Domain Authority, Trust and Citation Flows
  • High Spam Score
  • 100+ outbound links to one single page
  • Domain isn't indexed by Google

If you identify such, and they will come like winter does, don't sweat about it. Delete them by following Google's Disavow Process.

Finding backlink opportunities is not exactly an exciting task to do. It's always a good idea to outsource it.


But, if you operate in a lean team and you gotta do this yourself, allow me to make it a bit easier for you.

Here are a few ways in which you can approach this tedious task.

  1. Using search engine operators
  2. Sign up to Ahrefs
  3. Leverage Social Media

Using search engine operators

Google is a monster. If you know how to use it, it's insanely beneficial in an infinite number of ways.

When it comes to backlinks, there are specific query types that you can use. For instance, if you type YOUR KEYWORD + "guest posts", Google will give you more accurate results.

how to get backlinks

The good thing to do next is to use filters and list recent ones.

how to get backlinks

You'll get freshly baked stuff. 😎

how to get backlinks

You also want to assess how authoritative and strong a website is.

Domain authority, now that's a good piece of information to have in your spreadsheet. My suggestion would be to use Ahrefs' Chrome extension. Super simple stuff!

how to get backlinks

I took this quick little Google Sheet from Webris, modified it a little bit and I'm now giving it to you to help you with search queries.

It will save you time, plus it's free. TAKE IT! 😉

Link building search operators

Use link building search operators

Using SEO tools to find opportunities

Many SEO tools can help you nail this process. I prefer Ahrefs. After lemlist, it's one of my favorite tools.

Here are the exact ways in which I like to use it to find backlink opportunities.

First, drop the website link you wanna analyze in Ahrefs. Then, in the menu on the left, click on backlinks. Select the following filters:

  • One link per domain
  • Do-follow
  • Recent

You should see something similar to this:

how to get backlinks

Export the list, fill in the contact details and move onto email outreach.

In my experience, the majority of these will have a contact email or form on their website, which you can access by opening the links straight from Ahrefs.

Another interesting use case here, especially if you're investigating backlinks from your competitors.

Go to "Best by links" option under "Pages" in the menu on the left. You'll be provided with a list of best-performing pages and all the backlinks linking to it.

how to get backlinks

Click on dofollow or unfollow numbers and analyze EVERYTHING. Scrape the contact details and you're golden.

Using groups to biz dev

There are hundreds of groups filled with content and SEO people. You just have to find them and start the conversation.

Words of caution though!

Being an admin of two communities allows me to put a few things in perspective. Waltzing into a group and submitting a post to fulfill your needs is selfish.

Once upon a time, this was me too. But, with an admin role I have today, it sucks when you see this. It's not that time-consuming to go through the rules and understand the dynamics of a community.

A decent group for you to pledge to can be found anywhere. I'm talking Facebook, LinkedIn, Slack... endless amount of opportunities. Here are my favorites when it comes to backlink building:

  1. Scale Math SEO Community
  2. Game of Content
  3. B2B Bloggers Boost Group

Rarely do I turn to Twitter, but in some scenarios, it might come handy. The trick here is to type a query in the search bar, like "link roundups". Switch to latest tweets and let Twitter know you wanna see everyone's updates.

twitter link building
twitter link building

High-quality backlinks are the best. I feel pretty good when I get a DR70+ link from a relevant website. That's the ceiling I aim to hit.

Although it sometimes sounds like there's a super slick process to find this kind of link, in reality, there isn't. It's super simple to identify them, but really hard to get them. Especially if you're not as big.

As with everything that's SEO-related, I go to Ahrefs to do the Sherlock Holmes stuff. Their YouTube video thought me everything I ought to know.

Here are the high-quality backlink characteristics you want to pay attention to:

  • Domain authority
  • Website traffic
  • Page traffic you want to get the link from
  • Number of outbound links from that page
  • Type of outbound links from that page

Domain authority is pretty straightforward. As for website traffic, you want to watch out for organic traffic trends. What's their traffic volume and are there any significant drops in traffic?

Besides that, analyze the specific page you want to get a backlink from. How's that page performing on Google and how much traffic is it generating.

high-quality backlinks

Another suggestion is to also assess types of backlinks they're giving and how many outbound links are there on a page. If the target website is giving no-follow backlinks, it would be extremely hard to avoid the same faith.

high-quality backlinks

On top of that, too many outbound links on a page mean less authority is transferred via each external link.

We've finally reached this part of the article. Here we gonna talk about different strategies on how to get backlinks and I'll also share some cold email templates.

Some of the templates I've used in the past, others I've heard in passing while most of them I'm still using. Keep in mind I'm far from an SEO expert.

More like a practitioner on a mission to ramp up SEO results for lemlist.

⚠️ MIND THE RULE: Use these templates as inspiration. Don't just copy/paste. Tweak it a little bit here and there. ;)


Trading favors email template

My game comes down to trading favors. In most cases, I'm emailing generic website emails or forms on contact us pages. For this reason, my template was made to blend into the vibe.

Hey {{companyName}} team,

My name is Vuk, I’m the Head of Growth @lemlist.

I am reaching out because we’re looking to partner up with sites like yours.

We’re totally up for working together however you’re most comfortable, including:

- Do-follow backlink exchange
- Promotional exchanges (we share yours, you share us)
- Expertly written guest posts
- Publish your work on our blog
- Create a content piece together

For more information on us and just so you see we mean business, you can check our blog or join our community on Facebook.

If any of these interest you, please lemme know... we’d love to work together.

Stay golden,
{{signature}}

Sometimes, when you want to do a backlink exchange only, you can eliminate other bullets points from this email and make it exclusively about eye-for-eye approach.

This campaign got me some decent backlinks and I was able to connect with some great folks, like Ryan here...

how to get backlinks

And it gets the attention of our target audience.

how to get backlinks

Unlinked mentions

Depending on how strong your brand is, various people will inevitably mention you or your company from time to time.

The game plan is straightforward. As soon as you receive an update that somebody has mentioned your company, you reach out to them to turn it into a high-quality backlink.

How to know when somebody mentions your name? Check Mention or a similar tool.

Here's the email template I like to use:

Hi {{companyName}} team,

I wanted to reach out and say I'm super grateful about you mentioning lemlist in the {{Article Name}}.

As you know, we're hustling hard to grow our business and it would mean a world to us if you could add a link back to our site.

Thanks again for the shout out and wish you nothing but the best!

See you down the road,
{{signature}}

If you end up knowing the author or you can be referred to them, it's even easier.

And the strategy performs pretty well.

how to get backlinks

"List my tool" strategy

Basically, you segment out all the articles that list specific tools under different categories. You probably know how popular are posts such as "Best X tools for Y" or "Z tools every sales team needs".

Have a spreadsheet with these contacts ready, scrape down their emails and send them your pitch. My advice is to have a blurb and a screenshot ready for them to include it asap, with your backlink and anchor text. This way, there's no heavy push on their end to make it happen.

You've done it for them.

Here's the template...

Hi {{companyName}} team,

I've recently checked out your piece called "{{Topic}}". Just so you know I'm not BS-ing you, here's me checking it out and sending some 🤜🤛 from Station F in Paris.
empty image is their article website screenshot generated dynamically with lemlist
I'd love to connect and biz dev. From one content creator to another, is there something that I can do for you?

As part of the trade, I'm looking for you to consider adding lemlist into the article and linking back to our site.

We’re totally up for working together however you’re most comfortable too, including:

1) Do-follow backlinks
2) Promotional exchanges (we share yours, you share us)
3) Write value-packed guest posts for you
4) Create a piece of content together

Lemme know if we can make something happen,
{{signature}}

Result?

how to get backlinks

Guest post email template

A vastly popular strategy to have and, at the same time, incredibly time-consuming. I generally feel that, for guest posting to work, you need to outsource half of this stuff.


The process consists of five phases, more or less.

1) Finding guest post opportunities (discussed earlier)

2) Set up a .csv file and gather emails/form inquiries

3) Send a pitch

4) Write the article

5) Make sure it gets published

You need help, if you want to be fast that is.

Alternatively, you could put up some shortcuts in place. For example, break down your longer articles into micro ones and push them as guest posts. Or use similar articles from other content creators as inspiration and try to be as quick as you can.

However your process ends up looking, I'll at least help you out with the email template. I've been guest posting last winter, after which I hit the pause button.

Hi {{companyName}} team,

I'm reaching out because I wanted to contribute in creating some 🔥 content for your website.

Already went through your guidelines and feel confident about the following topic.

YOUR PITCH

Let me know if you think there's something I'm missing here.

For credibility purposes, here are a few articles I wrote recently.

{{Article 1}}
{{Article 2}}

Speak soon,
{{signature}}

Generally speaking, not all websites need a pitch like this. Some will just ask you to send a draft when ready... especially the bigger ones. You'll know that by going through their guidelines.

Read them. Don't be lazy. If there's one thing good marketers hate, it's sloppy marketing work.

Due to the fact we're a small and lean crew, my way of hacking is connecting with people who are publishing guest posts regularly and connecting with them. This has resolved in me developing some great quid-pro-quo relationships and in backlinks such as this...

how to get backlinks

This link building approach requires a lighter tempo. The most important task is research.

Try to understand what the roundup and their audience are about. Aim to fit in your link naturally, if possible.

My template is a hybrid from other campaigns I'm sending.

Hello team,

I just stumbled on your {{Name}}. Pretty cool stuff in there!

Here's me checking it out for real and 👋to you from Station F in Paris.
empty pick is their roundup screenshot generated dynamically with lemlist

I wanted to reach out because I recently wrote a few articles that might be a good fit. Sending all 3 for consideration, but you do you of course:

How to get featured on podcasts
Cold email sequence for digital marketing
How to get more people to attend your event

Either way, keep up the awesome work! 🔥

Take care,
{{signature}}
how to get backlinks

For this strategy, I have my doubts. Many SEOs say it works well, but I've always doubted it for some reason.

I don't have any results with this one yet, but will outline the plan.

  • find a certain page and run it through Check My Links to see broken links
  • alternatively, run a backlink report on Ahrefs to locate them
  • track down your piece of content that would fit in there instead
  • pitch

Broken link building strategy relies on you telling a website owner that there's a non-working link on their page. Not only will you make them aware of an SEO issue, but you'd also do the work for them by recommending a link that fits in instead.

It's assumed they'll be grateful for it and replace the broken link with yours. In other words, the difficulty and the prospect's mindset are a bit easier here.

Hi {{firstName}},

I was doing research that led me to your "{{Page}}" page, where I noticed a dead link. Specifically:

URL: {{Page URL}}
Anchor: {{Anchor}}
Dead URL: {{Dead URL}}

Fixing these things is far from an exciting task, but I assume you want this taken care of. If so, may I throw in a solid replacement link for consideration...

URL: {{My URL}}
Title: {{My Title}}
Guilty of this shameless pitch... :D

Wish you the best,
{{signature}}

Although most of these don't bring any SEO value, they are still gold. Remember, it's about generating quality traffic too.

Whatever the word "conversion" means for your business, it's always a good idea to have whatever links in places where your audience spends time.

Here's my pitch...

Hey {{firstName}},

My name is Vuk and I’m the Head of Growth @lemlist.

I am reaching out because we’re looking to collaborate with awesome YouTube channels like yours.
We’d be thrilled to have you review lemlist, a cold emailing tool unique in its ability to automate and personalize emails at scale.

That said, we're also up for working together however you’re most comfortable, including:

- Video interview with our CEO (Guillaume Moubeche) on a specific topic of interest to your audience
- Email outreach campaign designed for a specific purpose/audience you see fit

For more information on lemlist, please visit our blog or check our personalized cold email templates.

If any of these interest you, please lemme know... we’d love to work together.

Stay golden,
{{signature}}

A bunch of videos and interviews were recorded in both English and French.

how to get backlinks

I've already published a case study on how to get featured in podcasts. Just go there and you'll see everything, including my high-performing email template.

how to get backlinks

As the matter of fact, I've even did one episode myself quite spontaneously.

Here's the link if interested.

How to get backlinks

Furthermore, especially if you are a fellow lemlister (if you're not, it's time for you to reconsider it), you might wonder whether or not I'm sending follow-ups.

If that's the case, I've written another article about follow-up emails that will answer this question in a more in-depth fasion.

The main reason why I haven't dipped my toes in guest posting yet is the lack of resources.

A few months back I've sent this 600-word guest post to one website. I wrote it in record time because I was too involved in other projects. The next morning, when I read it, I wanted to throw up.


I mean it wasn't bad, but it wasn't great neither. Luckily, they've declined it. That was the day I made myself a promise that this kind of a trade-off like will never happen again.

It's either unique, value-dripping and actionable or it won't come out of my content garage. Forget it! That's where this obsession with content quality comes into play.

I'm not talking about perfection. It's this relentless need to never jeopardize the quality of your work on any platform out there, as well as to go back from time to time and improve your work.

I look at it as Breaking Bad Content. The ambition is to be Heisenberg of your craft. Here's why it matters in the backlink world.

Quality content drives natural links and shares.

The only way for people to link to you is if you got something worth linking to. The same logic applies if you desire is to go viral. You need to create something really good.

Sometimes it results in collecting natural backlinks, in other situations you generate shares, comments and people tagging colleagues. The word gets spread out.

how to get backlinks

And there's no better recognition than people genuinely enjoying when consuming your content. Plus, you never know, it might be just that one share that takes things to the next level.

Quality content makes other people want to get links from you.

Better content and good distribution equal attention. Eventually, attention transforms into reputation and subscribers.

Not only are you publishing great content and intriguing readers, but you also start receiving backlink and guest post pitches yourself.

For example, that's how I got this link from G2. They've pitched me for a specific backlink to their money page and I've negotiated a backlink myself. And, on top of that, I managed to connect with one of their people.

how to get backlinks

As a summary and a cool way to finish this beast of the article, I'm leaving you with some SEO tips and tricks from other practitioners.

The question was - What's the one SEO advice/experience/mistake you'd like to share?

There's so much that goes into SEO. You have to have a process and a framework... to go about executing high-level SEO campaigns. You also need to know your data as it tells you a story that you need to understand.

Download Ryan Stewart's INSANE SEO report

In 2019, every SEO marketer wants to know how to get backlinks from authoritative websites. However, bloggers are swamped with the number of requests they receive daily, so it's important to put them first and provide value.

For example, you can find broken links on their websites that resonate with your target URL. In most cases, it gives great results as people want to return the favor.

Hugh Beaulac, Content Strategist & Link Builder at MC2 Bid4Papers


One of the things that I've learned the hard way (as I'm sure many others have) is that the amount of time spent prospecting – whether for link building or another type of outreach campaign – almost always (if not always) directly correlates to the success of any outreach campaign.

This often confuses people because link building is a "numbers game", that's something we've all heard.

But people also seem to forget that our time is limited, so it shouldn't be wasted by targeting the wrong people. You should instead focus all of your time on making sure that you're only reaching out to suitable link prospects that have the potential to yield positive results.

Alex Panagis | Founder & CEO at Scale Math


With link building, it truly is about building relationships and being genuine. Automation and using templates here and there is fine. But it will take some care, human input and a bit of sweat to get some amazing links.

One example was a link from a high tier site that gets millions of visits per month. The initial email was just a template, but once we got a foot in the door, we had to build the relationship and show some creativity.

So, between us, we decided to send an employee for a quick interview with the journalist. Once it was published, the article got over 5,000 Facebook shares, and several thousands of visitors in the space of a week. On top of that - the story then got picked up by UK tabloids like the Sun, the Mirror and the DailyStar.

But, the original site didn't link to us and I really wanted to get this link. Unfortunately, the journalist said it was a policy not to, and his editor wouldn't even allow it anyway. After asking around, nobody knew who I should contact and one very experienced agency owner said he only got a link because he knew the owner of the company. Now, most people would have written it off and left it.

I asked around 3 different people from the original publication. And on the third attempt, I got a nice friendly reply and a DOFOLLOW link. Note the polite, friendly and jokey nature of my request.

Amit Raj, The Links Guys at Amit Digital Marketing


The one SEO mistake I would like to share is chasing the next “big thing.” In the beginning when I was just learning about SEO and link building I kept reading every new article in hope that this will be the one thing that SEO is about and will solve all my problems.

What I found is that I needed to stop chasing the next big thing and hone my skills one specific portion of SEO. I joined a Facebook group and honed in a process for link building via manual email Outreach. Over time, I became incredibly good at earning links even scaling my guest posting campaigns to 60+ per month.

David Freudenberg, CEO at SEO with David

Wow, that was one loooooooooong article.

If you reached the end, allow me to express some gratitude. Really appreciate you! ❤️

Let's celebrate together, Djokovic style!!! 🏆


One more thing before you go.

In case you're wondering how did I personalize images in my cold emails?

Got one word for you.

lemlist ❤️

You can play with it for free before you decide to sign up. 🏌️‍♂️

Start your free trial