If you’re an SEO, you know that it’s almost impossible to get backlinks on these types of high domain authority websites:
- EDU sites
- Career sites and job boards
- Government sites
- Websites of big companies and corporations
They usually have massive DA and backlink profiles, and getting a single link can really affect your site’s search traffic.
But it’s seemingly impossible to consistently get links from these kinds of sites, especially for free.
They have a lot of gatekeepers, there aren’t many link building opportunities, and they are very careful about who they link out to.
Well recently, I’ve been trying out something new, and it’s been working like gangbusters 🙂
And today, I’m going to do a quick write-up to teach you exactly how you can copy it for your own sites.
Let’s dive in!
Why Backlinks From Edu, Gov, And Corporate Sites Are So Valuable
Links from .edu, .gov, and corporate websites are considered as the holy grail of SEO.
But why? Where does it come from?
If you’ve seen this Q&A session with Matt Cutts (Google’s former Head Of Web Spam team) on YouTube, he clearly says that they treat all the links the same way including GOV and EDU links.
He says they only evaluate links based on the linking site’s profile.
Theoretically, this means all links should be equal and .gov or .edu sites have no advantage. This would also mean that marketers shouldn’t spend so much time trying to get links from GOV sites.
Practically, however, things are different.
Even if Google doesn’t give preference to .edu or .gov links (which is hard to believe), we know that these sites have insanely authoritative link profiles of their own.
They never link out to any cheap content and get tons of links from other high authority sites becuase they’re official sites.
Any link coming from these sites holds immense value becuase it is a huge vote of confidence for the linked site.
When Google evaluates links and it sees links coming from such high authority sites, you’re going to get a hug ranking boost from it.
How To Get Backlinks – The Fundamental Rule
Before I dive into the specifics of this link building strategy, I want you to understand the fundamental reason why some link building strategies work and the others don’t.
Ask yourself, would you link to a website if they asked you to?
It depends, right?
If you’re getting some sort value in return that justifies the link, you’d be happy to link. But if someones asking for a backlink and they’re the only ones benefiting from it, you’ll probably ignore their offer.
And that’s the underlying principle of link building.
You have to show the other party a clear value in linking to you.
According to a study by Dejan Marketing, here are the top reasons why websites link to third party content.
As you can see, all the top reasons for using backlinks are based on value. Webmasters only link to an external resource when they see a clear need.
To build backlinks to your site, you need to offer something that’s really valuable.
And by that, I’m not referring to the copy/paste outreach emails that everyone uses these days. No one has time to check out your “much better” resource.
If you really have something of value in your content, clearly mention it in your email. For example “we interviewed X number of experts and found some amazing details about XX that you can reference” or “we surveyed 1000 people and found XYZ”
The method about to share with you is based completely on giving value to the other party. And this is why it’s so successful so far becuase I’m not asking for anything. Instead, I’m offering them something really valuable for free.
Let me explain the whole thing in more detail.
Building Backlinks With The Spotlight Outreach Angle
The beauty of this method is that the main target prospects are giant authorities with really high domain authorities.
Sites like large organizations, official leagues, career sites, job boards, edu sites, etc.
They usually have huge backlink profiles, and a ton of authority built up on their domains.
But this strategy has been working very, very well.
How The Spotlight Outreach method Works For Link Building
The reason that this strategy works so well is because we’re not asking for anything.
We’re not asking for a link or a share.
Instead, we’re ONLY asking them if we can help them.
By pitching to give them an interview where you can teach their audience about your career field.
Basically, you’re asking if you can do a career spotlight for them.
Now this is the part where it gets a little grey hat and may make some people feel uncomfortable about using this strategy.
Because a lot of the time, we’re not actually going to be working professionals in the field, and just be site owners who are targeting that specific niche.
But that doesn’t mean that we’re going to just give them nonsense answers for the sake of a backlink.
We’ll have to do the necessary research to give them an accurate, high-quality interview.
The Spotlight Outreach Method – Step By Step Guide To Link Building
This is a little tough to explain so I’m going to show you how it works with a real-life example.
Step 1 – Create An Author Persona For Your Site
An author persona is essentially a made up author who you choose to be the face for your website.
Some people feel uncomfortable with using personas. I think it’s completely fine as long as your site isn’t in more serious topics like law or medicine.
Think of a name and a profession (what professionals in your niche are typically called).
For example, fitness trainer for a health and fitness blog.
Or a fisherman for a fishing blog.
Or a stunt driver for a movies/entertainment blog (hint hint… A lot of people email me saying it’s impossible to build links to viral style movie/entertainment sites. Well, here’s a unique strategy you can try out).
The key here is, there are a lot of different angles that will work for most niches out there.
If you’re an actual professional working in the field, then there’s no need to create an author persona and you can represent your blog as yourself.
Step 2 – Create A Dedicated Email Address For Outreach
Create a new email address for your persona using your domain.
If your persona’s name is Joe Smith, just make something like firstname.lastname@example.org.
You can use gmail or other public services, but I like sticking with custom domain emails.
This is the address you will use to do your outreach.
Step 3 – List Your Prospects For Outreach
I’m not going to list any specific sites here since I don’t want thousands of people going after the same prospects.
You can start by doing searches for things like job boards, career websites, career spotlights, careers interviews, career advice, college advice, education careers, etc.
And then go further and do niche specific searches.
For example, if I were in the swimming niche, I would search for swimming blogs, organizations, leagues, associations, clubs, and scholarship and awards websites that I could reach out to.
There are a ton of possibilities.
Step 4 – Trace Contact Information And Reach Out
Here’s the pitch that I’ve been using:
My name is [NAME] and I’m a professional [CAREER POSITION] and also the founder of a [YOUR NICHE] website, [YOUR WEBSITE URL].
I was wondering if you would open to accepting an interview or guest post with me. I would love to share my experiences working as a [CAREER POSITION], and what it takes to make it in this industry.
I don’t see much information about this on the web, and it would be great to share my knowledge with your readers.
Please let me know anytime you are looking for submissions, and what I would need to do to be considered.
Thank you very much.
It’s simple, but it works very well.
I’m not asking for anything. I just want to share my story with them and help the readers on their site!
For me, I was mainly targeting big career and education sites with a lot of employees, so the process took a little longer than other outreach link building campaigns.
Usually going back and forth discussing the new post will take a few weeks, and then another week or two to get it written, edited, and published.
That doesn’t mean more work. It just means longer wait times between emails.
But although it takes a little longer, the link is more than worth it.
Your first response will typically be something like this…
And then gets handed off to a writer/editor.
And a few back and forths later…
I answered a few questions, sent it back, AAAAND…
We got ourselves a link on a giant corporate website!
That was it.
Just a few email exchanges, and answering a couple of questions.
Massive authority. Link built.
How easy was that?
Step 5 – Use Your Link In The Interview
The cool thing about this outreach strategy is that the content you’re submitting to them will mainly be in the first person.
It’s about you. You’re the center focus of the article.
That makes it really easy (and natural) to add in a link to your site.
Usually, I’ll simply just mention that I run a website on the side and input my URL that way.
The Spotlight Outreach Method – Why It Works So Well
With other outreach strategies, like broken link building, you’ll come across a lot of weak prospects.
Links might be easier (and faster) to build, but they won’t always be from powerful sites with a lot of authority.
The great thing about this strategy is that, more often than not, your prospects will have huge backlink profiles.
Because the type of sites we’re going after are organizations, leagues, and career and education sites, they’ll usually have thousands of strong links pointed at them from other high authority sites like government websites, organizations, and other big companies.
= super powerful backlink 🙂
A single link can really impact your site, and noticeably increase your authority and search traffic.
The site in the conversation I showed in this post had a DA over 80!
The link was for one of my older niche sites.
I built just two links to the site using this strategy.
And the following 2 months after it, my search traffic rose 46%!
Just two links! That’s it…
Before that, the site hadn’t been touched in nearly a year.
If there ever was a clear example of quality over quantity when link building, this is it.
The funny thing is that, despite the big spike in search traffic, my rankings for my main keywords didn’t move at all.
It was all long-tail traffic that increased, due to the authority added from the links.
Are You Ready To Build Backlinks From Authority Sites?
Yes, this outreach strategy does take a little longer.
But it’s one of the most successful link building campaigns I’ve ever done. Not in the quantity of links, but in the overall success rate and the sheer power of each link built.
What’s awesome about it is that you’re helping them in the process. You’re giving them high quality content, and sharing great information with their readers.
It’s tough to get responses from the type of prospects we’re targeting when all you’re doing is just asking for links from their site.
They have a lot of gatekeepers, and either ignore or decline most SEO-related inquiries they receive.
If I had done the same thing and asked if they could link to my new guide from one of their older posts, I doubt I would have received many responses.
But by offering to share my own insights and experiences with their readers, it was an offer they could consider and accept.
Of course, the best case scenario is if you actually are an active working professional in the field.
But for most niches out there, using an author persona will work perfectly fine, since most of the interview questions are quite generalized and can be answered with research.
I had 2 goals with this blog post.
1. To share with you a link building strategy that was working well for me recently.
2. To open your eyes to the different possibilities and versatility of outreach link building.
You shouldn’t always feel like you need to copy outreach templates word for word.
A lot of students in my SEO & niche site course email me frustrated that they haven’t been having a lot of success with their outreach link building.
When I ask them to show me the emails they’ve been using, they’re word-for-word the templates and scripts that I provide in the course.
I’m not saying that that’s bad. Scripts are created because they work.
But outreach link building is a lot easier (and you get a lot better at it) once you learn how to be versatile with them.
Think about it. Each niche is different. Each niche presents new opportunities for different angles that you can try out.
Someone who realizes they can use their creativity to come up with more effective variations is going to be much more successful than the person going word-for-word copy and pasting.
And as you get more experienced, you’re going to be able to better determine which strategy, and angle, will work best for your target niche.
Take a commonly known strategy, and see if you can customize it toward specific industries.
With the dozens of popularly used link building strategies out there, combined with the hundreds of different niches you can use them for, there is a lot of opportunity to try new and creative angles.
P.S. What do you think of this strategy?
I spend a lot of time thinking about, and testing out different backlinking strategies, both black and white hat.
Do you want to hear more about them in future blog posts?
Let me know in the comments below 🙂
Thanks for reading.