Shotgun or Sniper? Select Your search engine marketing Outreach Tactic

search engine marketing outreach is the observe of contacting web site homeowners and asking them for hyperlinks again to your web site. However what’s the most effective method to take?

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

However high-quality backlinks don’t construct themselves—it’s essential to be proactive to get them. That’s the place search engine marketing outreach comes in. 

How one can get high-quality hyperlinks utilizing search engine marketing outreach

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

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

Create one thing precious 

For those who supply one thing of worth to the prospect while you’re pitching to them, you could 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 very best likelihood of being credited with a backlink to your website.

Listed below are 9 concepts for creating one thing publishers need 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 might be related to your business that prospects could be curious about
New survey outcomes Present the outcomes of a survey you may have created on a subject they’re curious about 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 might be curious about
New course Share your course with a prospect whose viewers would discover it fascinating
New guides or studying assets Share your studying assets with a prospect whose viewers would discover it helpful
New movies Share a video that your prospect’s viewers would discover fascinating
One thing that’s entertaining Share one thing entertaining that your prospect’s viewers would discover entertaining

This isn’t a whole record, however with a little bit of creativity, you could possibly 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 acceptable viewers to your subject is straightforward with the assistance of a device like Ahrefs’ Content material Explorer. Let’s say I needed to pitch a brand new collection of search engine marketing statistics to somebody who has written in regards to the subject already.

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

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

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


You too can use Ahrefs Alerts to watch your subject, 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 acceptable viewers, it’s essential to present a compelling pitch to publishers—with the top results of you getting a hyperlink on their website. 

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.okay.a. the “spray and pray” outreach technique)

Because the identify suggests, the shotgun method isn’t essentially the most delicate of methods. 

The concept of the shotgun method 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 begin with.

For instance, with shotgun, even the identify of the particular person you might be emailing received’t be talked about.

How one can pitch (and instance template)

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

Shotgun outreach approach illustration

Let’s face it: it’s not essentially the most participating outreach template.

However for what it lacks in personalization, it makes up for in velocity of creation. Such a template is beneficial for learners to search engine marketing outreach or if you wish to get the message out shortly.


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


It could actually seem spammy and could possibly be ignored by recipients. For that cause, it may affect your model’s popularity if you happen to use this technique repeatedly with poor viewers concentrating on.

2. Sniper (a extra customized outreach technique)

The sniper method takes the other method to shotgun. Somewhat than spraying the web with a whole lot of emails with minimal personalization, the sniper method is 100% handbook and extremely focused.

How one can pitch (and instance template)

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

Sniper outreach approach illustration

As you possibly can see, every electronic mail is 100% custom-made to the particular person you might be concentrating on. 

So, with this method, you’ll must have an excellent understanding of your hyperlink prospects earlier than you electronic mail them. I discover one of the simplest ways 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 lined the fundamentals, use the guidelines beneath to verify your outreach emails tick all of the containers.

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

2. Use an interesting 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 might be emailing.

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

5. Use an expert 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 – Categorical appreciation for his or her time and consideration.

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

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

For those who take this method together with your search engine marketing outreach, then you definitely’ll have the most effective likelihood of getting hyperlinks out of your prospects utilizing this method.


In a direct comparability, the sniper method normally has the next success price than the shotgun method because of its customized method. 

In my view, the sniper method is the most effective technique for firms with a robust hyperlink profile and who desire a regular trickle of high-quality hyperlinks from high-quality publishers.


The sniper technique is nearly unimaginable to scale as a result of nature of the personalization and analysis concerned. It additionally requires skilled negotiation expertise to safe a hyperlink from a prospect and normally requires follow-up emails to make sure you get the hyperlink. For that reason, it may be extremely time-consuming.

3. Scoped shotgun (a hybrid method)

The scoped shotgun method combines the most effective bits of the shotgun and the sniper into one single technique—it’s a hybrid method—primarily utilizing automated personalization by means of dynamic variables.


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

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

How one can pitch (and instance template)

The hybrid method makes far more use of dynamic variables to realize a good degree of personalization. The goal is to not make the e-mail really feel spammy.

Right here’s an instance of how you could possibly incorporate dynamic variables into an electronic mail that was pitching one thing of worth you had labored on and had 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 totally different objects of worth that we mentioned earlier. 

Listed below are a number of examples you could possibly 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 website velocity”
  • New statistics: “[We’ve just] curated 79 search engine marketing statistics that sum up the present state of search engine marketing”
  • New survey outcomes: “[We’ve just] accomplished our annual wage survey for the search engine marketing business within the U.S.” 
  • Skilled quotations: [We’ve just] compiled among the most controversial skilled opinions on the way forward for search engine marketing”

…you get the concept.

There are lots of extra dynamic variables which you can embrace in your outreach pitch. However I’d suggest beginning easy and increase.


Extra variables in your pitch doesn’t essentially make it extra customized—you is perhaps overcomplicating your pitch if you happen to add greater than is strictly crucial. Once you begin out with the hybrid method, it’s normally greatest to begin easy and refine your template as you go.


The hybrid method is extra scalable than the sniper method however has the same degree of personalization by means of 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 method as it’s essential to personalize your template to a specific viewers section—however when it’s up and operating, it’ could be’s extraordinarily environment friendly.

Be taught extra

Remaining ideas

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

However to get hyperlinks, it’s essential to supply 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 stunned if you happen to get radio silence in return.

For that reason, the most effective method for search engine marketing outreach is the “scoped shotgun” hybrid method. In a world of continuous emails, slightly personalization could make the distinction between somebody responding to your electronic mail slightly than dragging it straight to the trash can.

What’s your expertise of search engine marketing outreach? Bought extra questions? Ping me on X (formerly Twitter.) 🙂