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Guest Post Outreach Failing? Here’s 4 Reasons Why.


28 Jan 2019


Guest posts are the easiest “White Hat” links one can acquire.

There are two ways to get them.

One is by doing the outreach yourself. You go out and pitch site owners for guest posts.

A second way is to order through a vendor, like guest posts on SEOButler. They’ve done the hard work already in establishing relationships with site owners.

The first method: Custom guest post outreach campaigns are not for everyone. This post will explain common traps people fall into when creating their own campaigns.

If you decide to take on the task yourself, there are a few big mistakes you should know about. These no-nos render your pitches totally void and the receivers will send your email to the trash before they’ve got to the main point (I should know – I see these kinds of pitches all the time for my own sites).

One is better off buying guest posts from SEOButler if they don’t have the manpower to carry out a custom campaign. Usually, it is easier for big brands to carry out such campaigns as the ROI is greater for them as opposed to a niche site owner or an SEO agency.

With that, let’s see the 4 Most Common Reasons Guest Post Outreach Campaigns Fail:Fishing for guest posts in the same places as everyone else.

All guest posting guides on the internet pretty much say the same thing:

Search for “write for us” (or a variant) + your niche (fitness, yoga, productivity) and then reach out to the resultant sites.

The problem with this is EVERYONE IS DOING THE SAME THING.

To make matters worse, marketers are deliberately trying to rank for such terms so that when you reach out to them, they can ask you to pay a fee to post on their shitty site.

I am not saying reaching out to “write for us” sites does not work; just that it’s not as effective as it used to be.

This is because legitimate sites with “write for us” pages receive dozens of guest post pitches a day. You will need to do something really special to stand out from other pitches.

But why play the hard game when you can fish for guest posts much more easily?

Enter the ‘Guest post on Business Websites tactic’ (not the sexiest name I know)…

Let me give you an example of how it works:

Suppose you have a website about hiking gear. I don’t care if you sell hiking gear or promote it via affiliate marketing, this tactic gonna work for you.

What you need to do is brainstorm what businesses are related to what you do in your target area. And businesses here mean offline businesses.

I have done the work for you, and here are some businesses related to hiking gear:

  • Hiking tour companies
  • Sport equipment shops
  • Hiking gear manufacturers

These are only a few examples, I agree; but you don’t need a lot of businesses for this tactic to work.

Stick with me to see what I mean.

Let’s continue with the example. The next step is to find all the hiking tour companies in all the cities you’re targeting. Expect to get 70-80 businesses per city. Multiply it by the number of major cities in the US.

70*85 = 5950. Even if we are no so optimistic, you can safely say you will have hundreds of prospects to get guest posts at.

The following search query will help us do that.

Allintitle: Business type + City

In action:

Allintitle: Hiking tour company + Houston (or any city for that matter)

Increase the search results from 10 to 100.Load all the results on a single page with the ginfinity Chrome plugin. Keep scrolling down and it will load all the results on the same page. This will make it easier for us to extract the results in the next step.

Extract the results with SERP extractor bookmarklet.

Now use an email finding tool like Voila Norbert to find the contact details of people behind the websites.

You can now reach out to these businesses with the following email template after customizing it for your needs:

Hey {First Name}

My name is {Your Name) and I am the founder of {Your Company}, a {Your Business} based in {Your City}.

One of my friends, {any made up name} who lives in {their city}, was raving about you so I thought I should reach out and ask you about the collaboration idea I had in mind!

Would you be interested in having me contribute an amazing, free guest article to your site, geared towards {their target customers}? ({Show yourself as an authority figure by mentioning one your big achievements here}).

Btw, here is a guest article I wrote for {Site where you had previously contributed a post, the more well known the site, the better}

I have some good topic ideas for your site.  

Would you like to hear them?

Thank you,

{Your Name}

{Your Signature}

Here are some things to keep in mind while reaching out

  • Make sure to mention that the article will be free. If you don’t, businesses may think you are pitching them about your article writing service so they don’t even reply. Be certain you highlight that fact it’s for free.
  • Don’t pitch ideas in the first email. Just ask if they would be interested in listening some ideas so that you don’t waste your time coming up with ideas for sites that don’t even respond to your email.
    Once they reply with a yes, check if they even have a blog or not. If they do, send them 3 ideas to choose from. Make sure to suggest topics that touch upon their business too.
  • Don’t confuse them with SEO and marketing jargon. Some businesses don’t understand the concept of guest posting, so use the word collaboration in the subject line to pique their interest.
  • Reach out as a senior executive of an establishment firm. People give more attention to emails from important people.

2. Emails that Look Spammy

I receive a lot of guest post pitch emails on one of my websites in the travel niche.

Most of them make me puke.

And if a marketer like me thinks so about them, you can imagine what real webmasters who receive way more emails than me must think about them.

I will show 5 common qualities (or lack of them) most guest post emails have that make them look scammy. You don’t want to be making any of these:

  1. No avatar – This one is simple guys. Don’t make this silly mistake. Attach a picture to your email address so that you come across as more legitimate.

    People like to see the faces of people they are interacting with online. It is one of the very few things one can use to make sure the other guy is a real person.

    You can use the picture in signature or uploading it to the email client.

    Here is me uploading a picture in Gsuite.

  2. Using a website’s URL instead of its name – There are a lot of such little mistakes people make but this is the most common one.

    Most outreach platforms provide the ability to insert website URL but not website name, and marketers are lazy so they end up using the URL.

    If you are talking to a person in real life, how would you refer to their business? By their business’ name, of course, not by their website URL.

    So why would you want to make this mistake while writing an email? Don’t be lazy.

    Make a new column in your spreadsheet for website names and write down the names of the websites/businesses to later use as a merge tag.

    This not only makes you look less scammy and automated but also improves your deliverability rate which I will explain later.


  1. No signature – Ever seen an email from a professional? Notice how they tons of information in their signature – their picture, phone number, position, company name, company URL, links to social media profiles, etc.

    All of this conveys to the receiver that you are a real person and not some scam artist. But most guest posts emails don’t have this.

    You can use a free email signature generator to make yourself an attractive signature and increase your trustworthiness.
  2. Giant list of general topic ideas – Another common feature among scammy looking guest post pitches is a giant list of general topic ideas that are related to the niche in the broad sense but have very little to with the site being pitched.

    My travel site that I referred to earlier is focused on a particular state in India called Kerala but look at the topics being pitched.

    This approach really turns off the site owner. Either don’t send topic ideas in the first email or tailor the topic ideas to each site being pitched.

  3. Reaching out with a free email – Another thing that reduces your trustworthiness is reaching out with a free email account: Gmail, Outlook, etc.

    If you want to come across as legitimate, you must act like a legitimate business. And legitimate businesses reach out under their own domain instead of a free emails (which are mostly used by spammers).

    If you don’t follow this advice, prepare to get replies like this.

Bonus: Talking about links – A bonus tip for you guys. Don’t talk about links in the email. It is a clear giveaway to the webmasters that you are some SEO who just wants a link and not looking to make a real connection.


3. Not Following Email Deliverability Rules

Another big mistake that people make is not setting up their domain properly for cold emailing.

As I told you before, reaching out under your own domain is necessary to look legit but you can’t start reaching out right after making an email address under your domain.

If you do so, most of your emails won’t reach the inbox which is worse than using a free email address and ending up looking scammy.

Here is what you need to setup to make sure your emails reach the inbox:

  1. Use Gsuite to send emails

    Just like the search space, Google is the leader in the email space too.
    Most webmasters either use a Gmail or Gsuite account to get emails, so it makes sense for us to use Gsuite as Google prefers its own products whether it comes to ranking sites (cough YouTube cough) or delivering the emails to the inbox.

  2. Setup SPF and DKIM for your domain

    You don’t need to know what they stand for or what they exactly do. Just make sure you get them setup either yourself or with the help of your hosting provider. Without these your emails are gonna go to spam.

    If there is just one thing that you gonna apply to improve your deliverability, it should be this.

    If I were Tim Ferris, I would say this is the 20% that gets you 80% of the results.

    Here are two guides to help you setup SPF and DKIM with Gsuite.

  3. Validate your email list

    Your VA has returned with a list of emails for all the websites you want to reach out to.

    The next step is loading them up in an Outreach tool right?


    You need to verify the emails using a tool like to check which emails exist and which do not.

    If more than 4% of your emails are to email addresses that don’t exist, 40% of emails will go to spam as it is a clear indication for email services that you are bulk emailing.

    Although after validating your list, you will be left with a smaller list but at least all your emails will reach the inbox as opposed to getting your account banned after sending emails to a dirty list.

  4. Use merge tags

    Similar content gets flagged as spam fast by email services. To avoid this, use merge tags like name, website name, custom topic ideas, etc, to make each of your emails unique.

    Not only will this help with improving your deliverability but also helps you personalize your emails which has a huge impact on reply rates.

  5. Don’t add images to the first email

    Using an image in the first email screws the text to image ratio and you will get marked as spam by many email services.
    Feel free to use images in the follow up emails as by then the amount of text is enough to maintain the text to image ratio.

  6. Don’t send emails erratically

    Instead of sending 150 emails in a day, aim for 75 over two days or 50 over three days.

    Spam filters pay attention to such erratic behaviour so to keep your account safe, have a regular outflow of email instead of a big burst.

4. Failing to personalize your emails properly

As SEO is getting more data driven, similarly cold emailing is getting more personalization driven.

The more personalized your emails are, the better is your success with guest posting. However, email personalization is hard work. It requires a fair amount of research.

But as an SEO you are all about scaling right? And personalization does not really seem scalable!

Well it is your lucky day because over the years I have found some nifty ways to personalize emails in a scalable way. A VA could easily collect the information for the merge tags making it very scalable!

Here are some merge tags to use in your next campaign for a 14% increase in response rate (from my split tests):

  • Blogger/business owner’s first name – Blogger/Business owner name is simple and you are probably already using it. The first paragraph in the about me/about us section reveals this information.
  • Website name – If it is a blog then the VA needs to note down the website’s name and if it is a business then the business name is needed. The logo on the homepage has the name of the website/business 99.9% of the times.
  • Website short form – Once the VA has gone through the entire list and has the names for all the websites, they can use this special Google sheet made to convert website/business names into acronyms (Just make a copy of it and you are good to go)         

  • Number of years they have been blogging – This one can done be found easily too and when used, it conveys to the blogger that you have done your research. Use this bulk domain age checker to find how many years have they been online = How many years they have been blogging.
  • One of their recent guest posts or podcast interviews – This is one of my favorites. Mentioning one of recent podcast interview or guest post on another site shows that you really follow them and their work.

    Your VA can use the following search query to find this information:

    Guest post OR Podcast by “Blog owner’s Full Name” + Name of the website
  • Their target audience – This one when used correctly in a sentence conveys to the site owner that you care about their site and audience. Every time your VA visits a website, he should ask himself this question – “Who is the target audience of this website” and then try to answer this question.

    The About Us/ About Me/ About the Site Page can be quite helpful in answering this question as they often write who their site is for.
  • Gender – This one is to be used subtly. You will see how I use in the email below. Let me show how you to get it first.

    Install the wolfram alpha Google doc add-on.

    Now add “Gender of“ next to every first name in your prospects list (can be easily done with “&” Google function)

Next select these cells and compute with wolfram.

This system is designed in a way such that your VA who might not be familiar with other countries’ names can get the gender even then.

The last step is to replace all “male” with “guy” and “female” with “woman” so that this information can be used in an email.


  • Something common among all the sites in the niche – Well this is a bit tricky, but won’t take more than 5 minutes of your time to figure out which then can be delegated to a VA.

    You have to find something that is mentioned on most if not all the sites of your niche.

    For example:

Travel Niche – Most travel bloggers mention where are they from or where are they travelling right now, so either of these can be made into a merge tag.

Parenting Niche – On a parenting blog, you will find people mentioning the names of the kids or how many kids they have. Either of these can be made into a merge tag.

Food Niche – On most cooking blogs, you will that the blogger focuses on one type of food – gluten free, low carb, Indian, Mexican etc. So the type of food can be made into a merge tag.

Now let’s see how one can use all these advanced personalization tags in an email:

Hi [First Name]

Nice to (e)meet you! I know you are a busy [Gender] so I’ll keep this short.

My name is Sarah Gordon and I work for Giving Assistant (a cashback & coupons site)

I have seen you talking about ways to save money in the past so I thought I should reach out and ask if you would like me to contribute an article to [Site short name] which will (hopefully) bring more [audience] to [Site Name]?  

Our 78,500 followers across social media will probably flock to your site too!  

Since there is some overlap in our audiences, this would a great collaboration.   

I have some great topic ideas for the article that I want to run by you!

Let me know if you are interested!

Thank you,


P.S – Loved your Guest post on [Guest post Site Name]


Shaurya Jain is an organic search engine optimization consultant who specializes in Link Building. He is a digital minimalist and likes reading about bio-hacking.


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