Shotgun or Sniper? Select Your search engine optimization Outreach Tactic


search engine optimization outreach is the apply of contacting web site house owners and asking them for hyperlinks again to your web site. However what’s one of the best strategy to take?

Hyperlinks are a main Google rating issue. Even when they weren’t, a hyperlink from a preferred web site again to yours would ship guests to your web site—and make your organization and model look good.

However high-quality backlinks don’t construct themselves—that you must be proactive to get them. That’s the place search engine optimization outreach comes in. 

Methods to get high-quality hyperlinks utilizing search engine optimization outreach

Waking up and discovering you’ve landed a hyperlink from the New York Occasions or different excessive authority websites simply isn’t going to occur except you:

  • Create one thing helpful
  • Discover a appropriate viewers to succeed in out to
  • Inform publishers about it (utilizing a compelling pitch)

Create one thing helpful 

In the event you provide one thing of worth to the prospect whenever you’re pitching to them, it’s possible you’ll save your electronic mail from being immediately slam-dunked into the trash can. 

It must be one thing their viewers will love—you’ll then stand the best probability of being credited with a backlink to your web site.

Listed below are 9 concepts for creating one thing publishers wish to publish on their web site.

What it is  Pitch
New business analysis Present your prospect with up to date analysis round a subject they’ve already written about already
New statistics Present new statistics which can be related to your business that prospects can be involved in
New survey outcomes Present the outcomes of a survey you could have created on a subject they’re involved in or have written about already
Skilled quotations Be the supply of experience for a subject by offering quotes on a subject your prospect’s written about
Up to date content material  Present your prospect with some up to date content material on a subject they could be involved in
New course Share your course with a prospect whose viewers would discover it attention-grabbing
New guides or studying sources Share your studying sources with a prospect whose viewers would discover it helpful
New movies Share a video that your prospect’s viewers would discover attention-grabbing
One thing that’s entertaining Share one thing entertaining that your prospect’s viewers would discover entertaining

This isn’t an entire checklist, however with a little bit of creativity, you would use this as a foundation to establish one thing of worth inside your business that you should utilize to pitch to publishers.

Discover a appropriate viewers

Figuring out an appropriate viewers to your matter is straightforward with the assistance of a instrument like Ahrefs’ Content material Explorer. Let’s say I wished to pitch a brand new sequence of search engine optimization statistics to somebody who has written concerning the matter already.

To do that, begin by coming into the broad matter—I’ve entered “search engine optimization statistics.”

Using Content Explorer to find link prospects, via Ahrefs' Content Explorer

When you’ve discovered an appropriate weblog, add it to your spreadsheet. Right here’s an instance of a hyperlink prospect template I made that you should utilize to trace your search engine optimization outreach efforts.


You may also use Ahrefs Alerts to observe your matter, so if somebody mentions it, you get a notification.

"SEO statistics" alert screenshot, via Ahrefs' alerts

Inform publishers about it (utilizing a compelling pitch)

When you’ve recognized one thing of worth and located an appropriate viewers, that you must present a compelling pitch to publishers—with the top results of you getting a hyperlink on their web site. 

Firing off emails into the ether and praying {that a} hyperlink prospect reads them is nobody’s concept of enjoyable. 

Listed below are three approaches you should utilize to your outreach efforts:

1. Shotgun (a.ok.a. the “spray and pray” outreach technique)

Because the title suggests, the shotgun strategy isn’t probably the most refined of methods. 

The concept of the shotgun strategy is to ship an outreach electronic mail with zero personalization to many hyperlink prospects. It additionally doesn’t require additional instruments—simply an electronic mail account is sweet sufficient to start out with.

For instance, with shotgun, even the title of the individual you’re emailing received’t be talked about.

Methods to pitch (and instance template)

The outreach electronic mail utilizing the shotgun strategy will look one thing like this:

Shotgun outreach approach illustration

Let’s face it: it’s not probably the most partaking outreach template.

However for what it lacks in personalization, it makes up for in velocity of creation. The sort of template is beneficial for novices to search engine optimization outreach or if you wish to get the message out rapidly.


It’s quick to ship the emails. And it doesn’t require a lot experience to get began.


It could actually seem spammy and may very well be ignored by recipients. For that cause, it might affect your model’s fame should you use this technique repeatedly with poor viewers concentrating on.

2. Sniper (a extra personalised outreach technique)

The sniper strategy takes the alternative strategy to shotgun. Fairly than spraying the web with tons of of emails with minimal personalization, the sniper strategy is 100% guide and extremely focused.

Methods to pitch (and instance template)

With the sniper strategy, your outreach electronic mail may appear like this.

Sniper outreach approach illustration

As you possibly can see, every electronic mail is 100% personalized to the individual you’re concentrating on. 

So, with this strategy, you’ll have to have a very good understanding of your hyperlink prospects earlier than you electronic mail them. I discover the easiest way to do that is to place your self in their sneakers.

To do that, ask your self these three questions:

  • Why ought to they open your electronic mail? How are you going to seize their curiosity from the topic line?
  • Why ought to they have an interest within the content material of your electronic mail? What’s the hook?
  • Why ought to they hyperlink to your web site? Make your pitch compelling sufficient for them to be prepared to share the content material and reference it with a hyperlink.

When you’ve coated the fundamentals, use the guidelines beneath to verify your outreach emails tick all of the containers.

1. Personalize it – Handle the recipient by their title and point out one thing particular about them or their web site in your electronic mail.

2. Use an enticing topic line – Create a topic line that grabs consideration and pertains to your electronic mail’s content material.

3. Be human– Write for different individuals, and be trustworthy about what you need and why you’re emailing.

4. Clearly state the aim of the e-mail – Clarify why you’re reaching out and the advantages for the recipient.

5. Use knowledgeable tone – Keep professionalism and respect all through.

6. Add a transparent name to motion (CTA) – State what you need the recipient to do subsequent.

7. Present gratitude – Specific appreciation for his or her time and consideration.

8. Proofread it – Verify for grammar and spelling errors (earlier than you ship it!).

9. Make sure that it’s compliant – Guarantee your electronic mail complies with privateness and electronic mail advertising and marketing rules within the nation.

In the event you take this strategy together with your search engine optimization outreach, then you definitely’ll have one of the best probability of getting hyperlinks out of your prospects utilizing this strategy.


In a direct comparability, the sniper strategy often has a better success price than the shotgun strategy resulting from its personalised strategy. 

For my part, the sniper strategy is one of the best technique for corporations with a robust hyperlink profile and who desire a regular trickle of high-quality hyperlinks from high-quality publishers.


The sniper technique is sort of unattainable to scale because of the nature of the personalization and analysis concerned. It additionally requires professional negotiation expertise to safe a hyperlink from a prospect and often requires follow-up emails to make sure you get the hyperlink. Because of this, it may be extremely time-consuming.

3. Scoped shotgun (a hybrid strategy)

The scoped shotgun strategy combines one of the best bits of the shotgun and the sniper into one single technique—it’s a hybrid strategy—primarily utilizing automated personalization via dynamic variables.


Dynamic variables for the aim of outreach are phrases the place the worth is set when the e-mail is shipped. Dynamic variables are often indicated with braces or brackets earlier than and after the phrase. To ship emails with dynamic variables at scale, you’ll want an outreach instrument like Buzzstream.

It’s my most popular technique for outreach because it’s a lot simpler to scale than the sniper strategy. It additionally sometimes has a better success price than the shotgun strategy, as you possibly can sometimes ship extremely personalised emails.

Methods to pitch (and instance template)

The hybrid strategy makes way more use of dynamic variables to attain an honest stage of personalization. The goal is to not make the e-mail really feel spammy.

Right here’s an instance of how you would incorporate dynamic variables into an electronic mail that was pitching one thing of worth you had labored on and have been able to share.

Scoped shotgun outreach approach illustration

When you’ve obtained this fundamental template, you possibly can apply it to any of the completely different objects of worth that we mentioned earlier. 

Listed below are a couple of examples you would use for the {{value_topic}} variable.

  • New business analysis: “[We’ve just] created a model new useful resource of business analysis that benchmarks 1000+ web sites web site velocity”
  • New statistics: “[We’ve just] curated 79 search engine optimization statistics that sum up the present state of search engine optimization”
  • New survey outcomes: “[We’ve just] accomplished our annual wage survey for the search engine optimization business within the U.S.” 
  • Skilled quotations: [We’ve just] compiled among the most controversial professional opinions on the way forward for search engine optimization”

…you get the concept.

There are numerous extra dynamic variables that you would be able to embrace in your outreach pitch. However I’d advocate beginning easy and build up.


Extra variables in your pitch doesn’t essentially make it extra personalised—you is likely to be overcomplicating your pitch should you add greater than is strictly vital. Whenever you begin out with the hybrid strategy, it’s often finest to start out easy and refine your template as you go.


The hybrid strategy is extra scalable than the sniper strategy however has an analogous stage of personalization via dynamic variables. This makes it the most effective outreach strategies for hyperlink acquisition.


It may be time-consuming to arrange a marketing campaign utilizing the scoped shotgun hybrid strategy as that you must personalize your template to a specific viewers phase—however when it’s up and working, it’ will be’s extraordinarily environment friendly.

Study extra

Closing ideas

Let’s not beat across the bush: search engine optimization outreach is about getting hyperlinks. 

However to get hyperlinks, that you must provide one thing of worth in return. In any other case, you’re simply losing your time. Additionally, in case your pitch is simply “hyperlink plz,” don’t be shocked should you get radio silence in return.

Because of this, one of the best strategy for search engine optimization outreach is the “scoped shotgun” hybrid strategy. In a world of continuous emails, a bit personalization could make the distinction between somebody responding to your electronic mail moderately than dragging it straight to the trash can.

What’s your expertise of search engine optimization outreach? Received extra questions? Ping me on X (previously Twitter.) 🙂



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