The Pareto Outreach Philosophy & How It Can Help You Build 1000% More White Hat Links

Gael’s Notes: Hey guys, I just finished editing Perrin’s post and while it is on par with what him and I talk about pretty much daily, this very much is an advanced post for those of you ALREADY doing outreach link building for your sites.

If you are not doing it yet, check this post out (yes, it’s a review but I give away a ton of outreach basics in there). Then run a campaign or two THEN come back to this post.

For the others looking to optimise your link building systems, you’re in for a treat.

Today we are not just unveiling a series of “tricks” to you. We are unveiling a new way of looking at outreach link building that is:

  • More efficient
  • More fun
  • More profitable
  • And this by a HUGE margin.

In our case, we went from being able to build maybe a dozen links a month to up to a dozen links a day with the same allocated time and budget using the paradigm shifts we will be sharing in this post.


Over the past couple of months, the team at Authority Hacker has been putting a lot of energy into optimizing our outreach systems. We’ve known for a while now that white hat outreach is, on the whole, much more efficient than the grey hat tactics people seem to love these days.

But as we really started to tweak our systems, we began to see just how powerful outreach-driven link building can be. Honestly, we’ve all been doing SEO for years, and in the past couple of months, we’ve been blowing our own minds!

I know, I know… that sounds hokey. But just look at the results. This is the link profile for Health Ambition:

Health Ambition Referring Domains Overview

Gael added over 280 linking root domains since January (it’s actually probably a little bit more than that now…). Guys, that is nuts!


Gael’s Note

I know this graph looks almost grey hat but trust me it’s all 100% white hat and that only requires 2hish per day.

And here’s a glimpse of the progress I’ve been making with my own site:

Ah Referring Domains Overview

We have a whole outreach blueprint in the Authority Hacker members’ area, so I’m not going to go through our entire process here, but I do want to share some of the most important tweaks we’ve made – tweaks that have nearly tripled our outreach success rate.

As you read these, I’d like you to keep one thing in mind–the overarching principle that has driven our entire outreach optimization process: efficiency.

A lot of what we’re doing here flies in the face of conventional wisdom. We’re not searching for the perfect prospects unlike most people will teach you to do.

We’re not writing the perfect emails either, actually our emails are rather generic due to the sheer amount of people we have to outreach to to get those results.

Instead, we are trying to 80-20 our whole link building system.

If you’re not familiar with the 80-20 principle (also called the Pareto Principle), it’s the idea that 80% of the results come from 20% of the effort.

Something Tim Ferriss also refers to as the minimum effective dose.

So, in other words, we’ve tried to focus only on the actions that produce the biggest impact.

The result?

Highly imperfect link building campaigns—but campaigns that produce massive results.

So just keep that in mind as you read through these tips.

Everything here is 100% about efficiency, not about sending the perfect email to the perfect prospect (that takes ages).

Let’s dive in.

1. Set the right benchmarks

IN A NUTSHELL: Setting the right benchmarks not only gives you a real measure of your progress, but it helps you optimize your process.

This tip is going to be a little bit longer because I think it may be the most important.

One of the first steps in trying to 80-20 outreach campaigns is setting the right benchmarks for yourself.

Too often I see people concentrating on entirely the wrong things, and he usually makes the process either fall flat or spiral completely out of control.

Sometimes the focus is too narrow (trying to get links only to one specific piece of content).

Sometimes the focus is irrelevant (obsessively tracking keyword rankings which we don’t do anymore). And sometimes the focus is entirely too subjective (trying to find the perfect email script).

These are bad benchmarks.

They don’t help you build links, and they certainly don’t help you build links at scale.

Here are the benchmarks we focus on at Authority Hacker.

This is probably the most important overall metric.

If you really want to optimize your link building campaigns, you have to know how many links you can generate per hour of your time (or a VA’s time).

It’s pretty easy to figure out: simply track the time you put into link building for a week, and then track how many links you get from that campaign.

What should I shoot for?

Personally, I’ve found that with my current systems, my max efficiency is right around 1-3 links per hour.

Gael tends to be quite a bit more efficient than I am, so he usually has no trouble generating up to 4-5 links per hour.

Of course, the cost per link is very important, especially if you’re building links at scale.

So, instead of tracking how much you’re paying for specific things inside a link building campaign, it’s much better to instead track how many links you’re getting per dollar you spend.

Again, this is very easy to figure out: simply divide your total expenses for a given link building campaign by the number of links you secure.

What should you shoot for?

For my link building campaigns, I’m very happy if I’m spending $30 per link.

As I get better, I can usually get my cost per link down to around $20.

In my best campaigns have secured links for as little as $12.

Gael, of course, is a link building monster, and he’s been getting links for even around the same too.

C. Emails Sent.

This metric is a bit different.

It is not a good metric to track the success of your campaigns.

However, it is the best and simplest metric you can use to track your own productivity.

This metric is even more important if you’re new to link building.

Your campaigns may not be hyper-successful, so the better benchmark is raw productivity, and the way track that is email volume.

What should you shoot for? Typically, it’s good to send out at least a couple hundred emails per week.

As you start to develop systems, you can push that number up.

Currently, I try to send 200-300 emails per week, and I’ve sent as many as 1,000 (with the help of some VAs and some good software).

To start, though, even sending 100 emails a week should only take a few hours, and it’ll give you a benchmark shoot for.

And 100 emails per week converting at 2% should yield about 100 linking root domains at the end of a year, which is very strong.

2. Scrap personalization

IN A NUTSHELL: Personalization gets too much credit. Toning it down can make your outreach many times more efficient..

What’s an Authority hacker blog post without a bit of controversy, eh?

Listen, I’m a white hat SEO. I love being white hat; it’s both more fun and more profitable, and one of the best parts about is building friendships.

However, I think a lot of the conventional wisdom in the white hat SEO world could use an overhaul.

And perhaps the idea that could use it most is the notion that you have to send highly personalized emails if you want to have successful outreach campaigns (or, even stranger, that if you’re not sending highly personalized emails, you’re entering some weird ethical grey area).

Here’s an example from Tom Ewer’s blog, Leaving Work Behind (a really great blog, by the way).

Tom takes a good, solid whack at what he calls “pseudo outreach,” which is essentially the type of outreach most of us are familiar with: using a script with a handful of personalized elements to contact a bunch of people in a short time.

This, Tom contends, is both disingenuous and ineffective.

I humbly submit to you that idea is just bogus (again, Tom, I love you buddy—not trying to pick on you here, and I’d love to see you in the comments!).

Let me be clear: we do not advocate mass, blind email blasts to irrelevant targets.

But I do think it’s important to be realistic, and I do think you need to be sending lots of emails to good prospects to generate high levels of authority.

To build the kind of authority we’re trying to build with our sites, it takes a lot more than a couple dozen emails.

Hell, it takes a lot more than a couple hundred emails.

No… to build Health Ambition-level authority, it takes many thousands of emails.

To illustrate, here’s the sent folder of the account I use for outreach for my personal site (last 60 days or so).

Blogger outreach optimization

That’s not even that crazy compared to Gael & the Health Ambition team; they’ve sent a whopping 1,820 emails in the last 2-3 weeks! Or roughly 100 emails per day.

It’s simply not feasible to do that if you’re truly personalizing every email you send.

And I’m not alone here. Perhaps the best link builder in our space—the indomitable Chris Lee—a guy who took a site from 0 to close to 1,000,000 organic visitors in under a year—revealed the template he uses to run broken link building campaigns in this post:

Broken Link Building Blogger outreach scripts

This is exactly that kind of pseudo-outreach email Tom was referring to.

Is it bad? Is it unethical? I really don’t think so.

In my view, it’s simply an easy, efficient way to get conversations started. Then you can work on the friendships.

For example, in my campaigns, everybody gets more or less the same first email: a script that contains a few personalized elements.

Something that makes it easy to contact lots of people who may like my stuff.

Maybe I send 300 emails and get seven responses.

It’s those seven people who I then work on building a friendship with.

Those people become part of my network.

They become my friends, and I go out of my way to do them favors if they ask.

I try to make it as win-win as possible.


Gael’s Note

It basically works the same way advertising works. You don’t try to be friends with those people who don’t click on your ads. However, when someone clicks and qualifies, you don’t hesitate to email them personally or pick up the phone.

This is the same reasoning.​

As for those who might call this SPAM, well, all these emails are sent to people putting their email on their web pages, so obviously, they expect to be emailed.

We don’t email people who don’t put their contacts publicly online.​

To me, this is how you merge ethicality with efficiency.

So, if you’ve been slaving away trying to form deep emotional connections with every contact on your prospecting list, give yourself a break and only worry about cultivating friendships with the people who actually want to talk to you.

3. Build a strong persona

IN A NUTSHELL: Creating a persona allows you to both optimize conversions and organize employees under one email account.

We go over this quite a bit of detail in our guest posting blueprint in the Authority Hacker members area, so I won’t cover it and very much depth here. Still, creating a strong persona — a strong, cohesive identity under which all of your outreach takes place — has definitely had a positive impact on our campaigns.

First things first…

If it’s important to you to build personal friendships with your contacts, note that your “persona” can be you.

This is what I do, actually.

I send all outreach emails under my own name because when I start conversations, I want people to get to know me, and I want to become a real player in my niche.

Still, I treat myself like a persona, and I use that email account in the same way.

Using yourself as your site’s persona is also a really good solution for those of you who think using a persona is unethical (personally, I think it’s fine, but if it makes you squeamish, just to use you as a persona).

Why use a persona?

First, using a persona allows you to consolidate all of your outreach under a single email account — even if you have multiple employees working on it.

That makes things considerably easier to manage, and it makes things a lot easier to organize as people come and go.

Secondly, though, we found that a certain type of outreach persona tends to be a little bit more successful than others.

Namely, we found people responded better to women than they did to men.

I have no idea why this is the case. It just is.

So, if you’re a dude, you might get slightly better results if you create a lady persona.

And that’s it, really. It just makes things easier to manage and helps boost conversions a little.

Health Ambition, for example, outreaches under a person which we made up and is closer to the target demographic of our audience.

Here’s what it looks like on the site.

There’s a little blurb about how one on the front page.

Outreach Persona Page Example

And she also has a short biography.

It’s not complicated, and it certainly not something you need to overthink.

If you want to create a persona for your own outreach, here’s a quick to-do list.

  1. Create the broad personality. The persona for your site should, above all, make sense for your niche. If your site is all about the outdoors, your outreach persona should be a fit, outdoorsy person. If you’ve got a parenting blog, your persona should probably be a middle-aged mom. You get the idea.
  2. Write a short biography. Give your persona a bit of a background. It should be crazy. It should make sense. All you really want to do is demonstrate that the person running your site is passionate about the niche and has some sort of expertise. After you’ve written it, published the biography page on your site.
  3. Create a user for your persona in the backend of WordPress and have her author some articles. This is mostly just common sense. If this persona is supposed to be the editor of the site, it only makes sense that she’ll have written a few articles.
  4. Create an email account for your persona. Finally, give your persona an email account that includes her name and your domain. Then, use this account for all of your outreach.

4. Create content you can brag about

IN A NUTSHELL: Content does have to be good, but it doesn’t have to be “epic.” Most of the time, it can simply be different and above average.

Don’t get me wrong here. I’m not going to tell you to make the most epic possible content — at least not for every keyword.

That is absolutely unsustainable and generally dumb advice.


Gael’s Note

Thanks Dude, that’s what we’re trying to do on Authority Hacker :D.

Instead, shoot for just a couple pieces of truly epic content, and then make sure a good chunk of your blog posts are simply way above average.

Almost all the time, you can do that by writing blog posts around 1,500-2,000 words long, adding a few good images or videos, and citing a whole bunch of great resources.

If you find this hard to believe, it might surprise you to learn that virtually all of the links Gael has been building to Health Ambition have been built using “normal” blog posts around 2,000 words long. Just look at the inbox:

Again, contrary to the advice you hear on most other blogs, the assets you use for outreach really do not need to blow people’s minds.

It simply has to be really good and just a teensy bit different.

In other words, when you send those outreach emails, you simply need to be able to say something like, “I think this article would be a really great addition to your page!” And if that’s true — if your article really would make a great addition to their page — it doesn’t need to be any more epic than that.

5. If you can’t find the email in 60 seconds or less, move on

IN A NUTSHELL: Relentlessly hunting for every single email wastes incredible amounts of time. It’s better not to bother with the hard ones..

The part of the outreach process that eats the most time — by far — is finding contact information.

If you’re not doing that efficiently, you’ll find yourself plastering dozens of extra hours onto your campaigns. This is why so many people think link building is so soul-crushing.

I see this mistake all the time, especially with newer link builders. They find a halfway decent prospect, but the email seems to be hidden. Then… they’re overcome with this crazy, zealous ambition — a tiny fire ignites in their eye.

And then they make a decision… they will find that email.

It doesn’t matter how long it takes. Doesn’t matter what which swamps they have to belly crawl through. They’re going to find the email or die trying.

Don’t waste your time. Not every prospect is worth it. You can always find more.

Here’s a bit of math. If you have 500 prospects, and you spend just three extra minutes per prospect trying to find their email, you’ll spend an astonishing 25 extra hours prospecting.

If our guideline for outreach is to 80-20 everything, at this point, you’d be bowling in the other lane, my friends.

So here’s our rule: we spend no more than one minute looking for a given email. If we can find the email in under a minute, we simply move on, and you should, too (…we have a few tips on finding emails efficiently below).


First, you want to be as efficient as possible, and collecting a handful of hard-to-find emails isn’t going to make a huge difference in your campaign.

More importantly, though, editors who go through that much trouble to hide their email probably do not want to be contacted.

Those emails won’t yield great results anyway, so your time is almost certainly better spent moving on to the next prospect.

6. Pick the right linkable assets

IN A NUTSHELL: You can build links to just about any piece of content, but some content works best with certain link building tactics (below).

Even if your content is good, you do still need to choose the right assets for your link building campaigns.

So what’s the right kind of asset? I hope you’re not surprised: anything other than affiliate content.

You can honestly build links to most types of content.

Obviously, it’s very easy to build links to, say, massive how-to guides, like the now-infamous The Advanced Guide to Link Building on Quicksprout.

But check out the SERPs for the keyword “benefits of jogging”:

These are not long blog posts. Most of them are, in fact, pretty average. And they would certainly be relatively easy to “beat” purely from a content perspective.

The point is just that if it’s not affiliate content, you can probably build links to it somehow.

Of course, it’s possible to optimize even further than simply “not affiliate content.” So here’s a quick and dirty cheat sheet for the types of blog posts that are best for various types of link building tactics:

  • Broken link building. Best for dead webpages you re-create on your own site.
  • Skyscraper. Best for truly epic pieces of content.
  • Shotgun skyscraper. We’ll be talking about this soon after we gather some data.
  • Guestographics. Best for pages that have awesome infographics.
  • Guest posting. Best for those hard-to-reach places. Use guest posting to strategically link to key content that doesn’t quite fit well with any other tactic.

Really, though, you can build links to anything but affiliate content. You may just have to execute a few campaigns to figure out what works in your market.

7. Hack your own credentials

IN A NUTSHELL: You can create your own credentials and build credibility by posting on big, popular sites that are easy to get onto.

If you’re going to be reach out to people, it helps to be able to show that you have some expertise.

Of course, if you’re creating a brand-new persona to do your outreach, that person won’t have any expertise, and it’s not very ethical to lie about it.

So what do you do? Create your own credentials.

I actually use this hack way back in the day when I was looking for writing jobs.

I was fresh out of school and had virtually no experience.

So I created some out of thin air.


I wrote a few really amazing articles and published them to very popular but easy-to-get-onto sites.

I’ll give you a quick list of these below, but the best example is probably

Medium is an absolutely massive publication with widespread popularity.

What people don’t know, though, is that anybody can publish whatever they want on Medium.

Including you.

And including your persona.

By writing and publishing a few really awesome blog posts on some bigger platforms, it’s very easy to create some real expertise in a given subject area.

With any luck, the pieces you create on those platforms will even get some links and shares.

Is a quick list of sites you (or your persona) can write for today.

8. Determine the right type of outreach for your niche

IN A NUTSHELL: Each niche tends to have a couple outreach tactics that work best. Find yours by running micro-outreach campaigns for each tactic.

Not all types of outreach are good for every niche.

And really, this is part of the danger of treating outreach as if it were paint-by-number.

Outreach is almost never a step-by-step process; instead, it’s a set of general tactics you have to tailor to your market.

In some niches, skyscraper might be downright impossible, but guest posting me convert at 30%. In others, guest posting won’t work at all, while broken link building racks up the referring domains.

If you think I’m about to tell you which type of outreach is best for your type of site, I’ve got some bad news for you, amigo. I can’t tell you because I don’t know.

Here’s what I can tell you: to determine the best type of outreach for your market, run a small campaign for each tactic.

Send 50 emails to skyscraper targets. Pitch 50 guest posts. Resurrect and easy broken webpage, and email 50 people who were linking to the old one.

Test them all and note what works. Typically, for most sites, you’ll find one or two tactics that work really well. When you do, scale them.

Personally, I’ve found that for my niche, guest posting and guestographics work really well. Skyscraper works pretty well, too, but because guest posting and guestographics tend to work best, those are the things I scaled first.

For Health Ambition on the other hand, skyscraper blows everything else completely out of the water, so that’s nearly 100% of the focus.

So test, test, and test again. Figure out which types of outreach convert the best for your market, and focus your energy there.

Note: If you don’t know about all these tactics, check the bottom of this post.

9. 80-20 your prospecting queries

IN A NUTSHELL: Lots of prospecting queries yield crap results, which take loads of time to sift through. Find the queries that yield the best results. Use only those and don’t worry about missing prospects.

One of the things that sucks most about outreach is prospecting.

And here’s what sucks about prospecting: you end up sifting through mountains of crap to find the targets actually worth emailing.

If you haven’t done a lot of link prospecting using advanced Google queries, just Google it real quick, and look at the insane number of queries you can use.

For example, here’s a list of 1000 freaking queries.

When I first started, my instinct — and I think this is the instinct for a lot of people — was to use every possible query to find every possible prospect.

The problem, however, is that some queries yield much crappier results than others.

It didn’t take me very long to decide that squeezing every last prospect out of my prospecting queries was not worth the time it cost me to do it.

So, I applied the 80-20 principle.

Here’s what that means in the context of link prospecting: figure out which queries yield the highest quality results and only use those. Scrap everything else.

I’ll show you an example.

One type of link building that requires heavy use of advanced Google queries is resources-pages link building (i.e. finding pages on relevant sites that simply list good resources—like this—and asking to be included).

Here’s the problem: lots of the most common queries — like the queries you defined in the list above —will yield results that are not resources pages.

Take a look at these queries from BuzzStream’s blog post on resources-page link building:

Outreach Prospect Finding Queries

While those queries can certainly yield some good prospects, they’re so general that they often produce irrelevant results — namely, pages that are not resources pages but do have the word “links” in the URL. Like this:

These are the results for the search query “obesity inurl:links.” We get a few of the types of pages we’re looking for, but we also get a bunch of stuff that’s really not useful for this sort of campaign.

Let’s change the query to “obesity inurl:links.html” and see what happens…

Resource Page Advanced Search For Link Building

See how much better the results are?

By simply adding the “.html” at the end, we’re asking Google to return results with the word “links” at the end of the URL, and those URLs are much more likely to be true resources pages. Now, when I execute resources-pages campaigns, these are the only four queries I use:

  • [keyword] inurl:links.html
  • [keyword] inurl:links.htm
  • [keyword] inurl:resources.html
  • [keyword] inurl:resources.htm

Am I missing potential prospects? Yes!

But… I’m saving many, many hours of research time because I don’t have to filter out all the irrelevant results, which gets me a much better links/hr metric. It’s all about that 80-20, friends.

10. Gather prospects in bulk (sometimes…)

IN A NUTSHELL: For certain tactics, it’s best to prospect in bulk. To do this, use advanced Google queries + LinkClump (video below).

One of the biggest mistakes I see with link building — by far — is that people spend entirely too much time trying to find the perfect prospects.

I’m going to let you in on a little secret: your prospects don’t need to be perfect. Sometimes, you just need to find a bunch of targets and send some emails.

Because what’s the worst that could happen? Somebody says no? Somebody asks you not to email them again? Who cares! If you’ve just sent out 300 emails, you probably get some links, too; in fact, you’ll almost certainly get more links than “bad” responses (really, “bad” responses are relatively rare).

So don’t sacrifice productivity for perfection.

At least not always. Of course, you do need to be pickier with some types of outreach, but for the following types of outreach, you’re usually better off prospecting in bulk:

  • Links and resources pages
  • Broken link building
  • Skyscraper & shotgun skyscraper
  • Guestographics

I made a quick video to show you what I mean and to show you how to easily find prospects in bulk with one very simple (and free) Chrome extension. Check it out.

11. Handpick your prospects (…the rest of the time)

IN A NUTSHELL: For guest posts tackle prospecting with more care, focusing on extremely high-reward targets. Then, outreach with persistence & tenacity.

Even though gathering link prospects and bulk can be a really awesome way to drastically speed up your link building campaigns, for some types of link building, it’s a better idea to prospect with a little more care.

In particular, you can get a lot more mileage out of your guest posting campaigns if you’re just a teensy bit pickier and just a little more tenacious.

This isn’t a very complicated strategy, either…

Really just comes down to three things:

  • Concentrating on high-DA sites
  • Following up more aggressively
  • Finding multiple people to contact

In other words, because guest posts require more effort and result in more meaningful relationships, you want to focus on better sites, and you want to put more effort into making those relationships happen.

That means focusing the bulk of your attention on highly authoritative, highly relevant sites.

It also means finding multiple people to contact in case your first contact doesn’t respond to you, and, of course, it means following up more aggressively.

What does this look like in practice?

For my guest posting campaigns, I might find 30 really incredible sites that I want to guest post on.

Then, I’ll find two or three people who I think would be good contacts, and I’ll reach out to them one by one, following up with each handful of times until I get a response.

This is exactly how I secured a link on arguably the most important blog in my niche.

That might seem like a lot of effort, but it’s more than worth it for a link on highly relevant, highly authoritative site.

Plus, guest posting campaigns tend to convert at a much higher rate than the types of campaigns you would use if you were bulk prospecting.

12. Use the right tools

IN A NUTSHELL: The two tools that will make the biggest impact are EmailHunter & GMass (links & tutorials below).

I’m not going to go into too much detail here because I covered outreach tools pretty extensively in our recent guest posting article and in our article on the best chrome extensions for marketers.

Today, I’m just going to give you what I think are the two most impactful outreach tools I’ve come across.

A few months ago, when we were really trying to figure out how to drastically streamline our outreach campaigns, we realized the bulk of the time was spent in two areas: (1) finding contact information and (2) actually sending the emails.

We knew if we could optimize those specific processes, we could boost our links/hr in a big way. Like with most stuff in SEO, it came down to simply finding the right tools.

To find emails, we use Email Hunter. This is a free chrome extension that simply looks for every email address for a site and lets you view the page on which it was found. Here’s a quick video overview.

To send emails, we use GMass. As I’ve said before, Gmass is probably the most impactful tool I’ve come across in the last several years. Read the Gmass review.

Currently, it’s 100% free, but I know from chatting with the development team over there that they will eventually start charging for the service (although I think it will only be a few bucks).

This is a good, good tool, and I’m using it to do 100% of outreach right now. Here’s a quick video.

Click here to check out the top 33 Chrome Extensions we recommend to marketers.

13. Send emails at the right time

IN A NUTSHELL: Waiting to send emails at the perfect time is pointless and won’t help enough to make up for slowing down your campaigns.


I hate that advice.

And it seems to pop up everywhere. Search Laboratory, for example, contends that Monday and Tuesday are the best days to send emails because you get the highest response rate. They also found that email sent in the afternoon were more likely to be opened an email sent in the morning. And maybe it’s true, but…

Who. Cares.

Here’s the deal: while the data certainly suggests some send-times get slightly better response rates than others, the difference is not nearly big enough to warrant waiting to send your emails.

Which do you think will get you more links in the long run: the marginal conversion increase you might get from sending your email at just the right time, or executing a campaign quickly so you can move on to the next one? I hope I don’t have to tell you the answer…

You are much, much better off — as Chris Lee puts it — just sending the damn emails. You can always follow up at “better” times, anyway.


Gael’s Note

I am going to temper this one a bit. Yes, send time may influence you response rate.

But really, at best, it will improve your results marginally (maybe 5-7%?).

If you are the kind of person that only sends 20 outreach emails per month, it will literally have no impact on the amount of links you will acquire in the end.

So when you reach high volumes of sends like we do (thousands monthly) then yes, time of send probably is worth looking at. But that’s most likely 1% of the people reading this post.

So if you are not in this bracket, simply send the email and don’t worry about perfect optimisation. Remember, 80/20.​

14. For truly big campaigns, use canned responses to stay on top of replies

IN A NUTSHELL: You won’t need them all the time, but Gmail’s canned responses can help you stay on top of really big campaigns.

Occasionally, I find a really juicy link building target that yields thousands of prospects.

At that scale — sending that many emails — it can be really tough to stay on top of all the replies that will come flooding in.

While I generally like to build relationships with the people who reply to my prospecting emails, it’s also important to stay engaged and let them know there is actually a person on the other end.

To do that, I usually use canned responses, which is a lab that comes standard inside of Gmail. All you have to do is activate it.

Inside of Gmail, go to Settings > Labs and search for “Canned Responses.” Then, click “Enable.”

Canned Responses For Outreach Replies

After you’ve done that, when you compose an email, you can create, save, insert, and delete email scripts.

Then, you can simply load them up as replies, making it much easier to stay on top of big campaigns.

This is especially useful for stuff like guestographics link building, which requires you to insert an image or a link into your replies (which is a pain in the butt to do dozens of times in a row).

You probably won’t need to do this for smaller campaigns, but it’s super handy if you’re doing outreach at scale.


Gael’s Note

This one can be a life saviour if you are really scaling outreach up.

In our case, we prepare templates for the following situations:

  1. ​The person emails us back saying they added a link to our site on their page.
  2. The person wants more information about the perks we are offering (usually social shares for links)
  3. The person did not understand our request (we reformulate the offer)

This saves us sooo much time and allows us to stay on top of the (many) emails we receive daily.

15. Use iWriter to source content needed for outreach campaigns

IN A NUTSHELL: Guest posting works best if you deliver content quickly. iWriter tends to be the best blend of speed and quality.

Some outreach campaigns — namely, guest posts and guestographics — require you to create content in order to secure a link.

And obviously, it sucks to write all the content yourself.

More importantly, though, if you don’t send that content to your prospect quickly, you might reduce the odds that it gets accepted.

So, with these types of outreach campaigns, I like to get content to my prospects as soon as I possibly can.

The best way I’ve found to do that is to source the content through iWriter.

Is iWriter the best content marketplace?

No. But… It is probably the fastest. And in these specific situations, we’re looking for speed.

The idea here is to simply submit instructions for an easy 700-word article (using the second-highest quality level), get it back quickly, and then edit it until it’s good enough to send.

For me, this knocks the time is spent per guest post down to about 10 minutes — which is much more manageable than writing everything myself.

Of course, you can write everything yourself if you like, or you can use the service of your choice.

I’ve just found that iWriter is — by far — the best blend of speed and quality, it helps me achieve both good $/link and a good link/hr.

More on iWriter next week.

16. Follow up. Follow up. Follow up. And do it efficiently…

IN A NUTSHELL: Follow-up is the single most important thing you can do to increase the success of your blogger outreach. And it takes 15 seconds.

I really can’t say this enough.

Follow-up has a potential to double the success of your outreach campaigns on its own. On some campaigns of mine, it’s been more than double. It’s that powerful.


Gael’s Note

It increased our reply rate by about 40%.

And if you’re using the GMass, it literally takes like 15 seconds. All you have to do is click the follow-up button, select a recent campaign, and send a short follow up email as a reply. 15 seconds. Not even joking.

Just click this button.

Gmass For Blogger Outreach

Then, choose a campaign and write a quick email.

Honestly, this is something you really have to make a habit of doing; and there’s no excuse not to do it really. Fifteen freaking seconds could get you two or three more links. If that’s not worth it, I don’t know what is!


Gael’s Note

Additionally when you setup your campaign now, you can setup auto follow ups if you get no reply.

Those stop right away as the person replies which is perfect.

Auto Followups Setup

17. Recruit highly responsive contacts into an army of sharers

IN A NUTSHELL: Ask people who like your content if they’ll share in the future. These will become your sharer army!

This is something Gael came up with a while back that really kind of blew people’s minds.

For most people — and I’m ashamed to say, sometimes even me — outreach often ends when you get a link. Of course, I shouldn’t have to tell you that forming real relationships with people in your market can have a lot of other benefits outside of just link building.

Gael’s tactic was to build relationships with highly responsive contacts — people who really and truly liked your content — and ask them if they would be okay if he sent them content in the future for them to share.

Because they already said that they really like the content, they were usually pretty enthusiastic about the idea.

As time goes on then, and as you make more of these special types of friends, you can build a veritable army of sharers. So, every time you release a new piece of content, you’ve got an ever-growing list of people you can send it to who will then push it out to their social networks.

The benefit of this tactic is obvious: massive, instant exposure for new blog posts. And, hopefully, this even generates a few “natural” links. Here’s a more detailed explanation from the man himself.

(beware it’s long as it’s a full webinar)​

Over to you…

You guys can’t fool me…

I know I’m not the only outreach nerd here!

And I’m on a mission, dudes. I’ve got some pretty good outreach systems at this point (not to toot my own horn), but we’re all team here.

I’ve given you my tricks. Now it’s your turn! What do you do boost the efficacy of your outreach?

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  1. Thanks so much for this article. I really needed it to get a fresh perspective and reboot my link building campaign. I’m in the Investing and Stock Trading niche.

  2. Best outreach guide I have ever seen Perrin, Thank you so much for this believe me it changed my complete plan of the complex outreach where I am also not able to map what’s working and what’s not (results though).

    It’s my first comment here at Authority Hacker, A fan of you keep you the good work sir !!

  3. Love, love, love this topic. Anything that helps you maximise efficiency and value of your time is a topic worth discussing. And the combination of Blogger Outreach & The Pareto Principle is a top notch way of going about it.

    Added GMass already, this is the kind of tool I have been looking for. Thanks for the write up!


  4. Hey Gael & Perrin,

    Definitely one of the best posts ever on AH!

    Do you guys use any bulk email verification service to filter out bad emails that are likely to bounce and affect your sender reputation? When I tried collecting emails using hunter + manual search on the website, around 5% of my emails started bouncing when I was sending around 100-150 emails a day through GMass.

    Also, since it’s been over a year since this post got published, may I know how many emails per day are you sending now on an average for HealthAmbition? The link growth of HA on Ahrefs is mind boggling to be honest!

    Thanks in advance,

    1. Thanks for the kind words :)

      “Do you guys use any bulk email verification service to filter out bad emails that are likely to bounce and affect your sender reputation?” We’re finding email verification is absolutely necessary these days.

  5. Hi Gael,

    Do you guys follow up for free outreach links (not for guest post)? If Yes, usually how many follow up you guys do and what kind of message you guys send?

    I did similar kind of stuff recently, but it’s not free link building. It’s paid Link building.. so I was doing 4 follow-ups for each user and responses were great. I haven’t tried to follow up for free link building yet.

    Let me know your thoughts.


  6. I think the “best time to send” tip to be BS for the most part even at scale. You’re assuming all your recipients are in the same time zone, which in practice is rarely the case.

  7. Hi Gael,

    Great post. These were the 4 queries Perrin was mentioning in the LinkClump video?

    [keyword] inurl:links.html
    [keyword] inurl:links.htm
    [keyword] inurl:resources.html
    [keyword] inurl:resources.htm

  8. How do you guys filter out the lower outreach targets (for example, some may have spammy backlinks etc) once you’ve used Link Clump in order to extract the links and pasted them into a spreadsheet? if a site looks questionable do you check their backlinks in ahrefs etc? Do you vet or check each target after they accept your request?

  9. Alright… you guys have gone and done it now!!!

    LOL… I’m a student of Chris, RankXL, and he’s the one that sent out an email “warning” us about you guys.

    Now, I’m as addicted to your blog as I am his, and I’m his student (he does have an awesome course, but you guys have helped clarify so many untouched points).

    Love the guestographics idea, and I’m gonna have to talk to Perrin and see if he’ll let me use or link to his about 22 Ways Dogs Make Humans Healthier, will fit in perfect with my site.

    Love what you guys are doing, and thanks for all the help!
    PS – Enjoy your videos also Perrin

  10. This is such a monster post. So much information here! It should be an ebook. Like literally, I need to stop in the middle just to digest the information and put it into practice before moving on to the second half. Good job guys.

  11. This is a gem of a resource!
    Found myself coming back to it several times already.

    Thought I will add something in line with 80/20 as well.
    I also get our VA to list down the DA (and sometimes traffic) of the prospects and we filter away any sites under DA20, ensuring we only reach out to quality sites.
    This is of course applicable to tactics like guestographic or guestpost which requires content creation.


  12. Perrin, Gael – thanks for this. Nice set of variations on the personalized/buzzstream process to experiment with. In your buzzstream review, you mention yesware as an alternative for handling emails, and it seems a close competitor to gmass. Other than price (as gmass’s seems to be in flux), are there any specific features that draw you to one vs. the other?

    1. Hey Winston,

      I’d say Gmass is a shotgun and Buzzstream is a sniper rifle, it depends on what you need for what situation.

  13. Lots of actionable material here! I loved it. I do want to point out this little mistake though.

    “but I do want to share some of the most importance tweaks we’ve made”

    I believe you meant most important.

    Regardless, awesome stuff! Thanks for sharing.

  14. Great point. Basically 80/20 all the way through. Obviously, that doesn’t mean that influencer marketing is dead, just that the effort has to be spent proportionally. I was a bit surprised to not see Buzzstream in the post though.

  15. Man, this took me 2 days to get through. Kept stopping and implementing haha. Thanks so much.

    Right now I’m going through the process of finding the best methods for my niche. Lets’ see how it goes.

  16. Hey Guys,

    Another great post as always!

    I agree that many times we get bogged down with minute details, instead of really focusing on the most important tasks that will lead us to our goals. I’m curious to know if you struggle with getting lost in the details as well. There are just so many shiny things to look at.

    Anyway, thanks again!

    1. We used to be that way but to be honest seeing your business grow is more satisfying than getting everything perfect so that’s what we focus on now :).

  17. Great read, it really hit me hard in the face. I am one of those who are trying my best to find that elusive email or trying to sort out which one of their email is the best way to send the email to. Not only with this aspect I should really of my (FAMO) fear of missing out syndrome. Thanks for this great tips

  18. Great post.

    I’d be curious to hear from Gael on what kind of “proposal” he is offering to all his link prospects for Health Ambition. From the screenshot it looks like it is a link exchange.

    Would also love to see the exact email script since it appears to be working so well.

    1. Hey Mike, we usually offer social shares for links, not links. As for the script, I save it for AH Pro members :).

  19. Hey guys!

    Sick post with a lot of insights on outreach. I’d say two of the most important things for me out of this list are:
    1) If you can’t find an email in less than 60 seconds, move on
    2) Stop with the personalization crap – it’s ingenuine (and the results don’t change much)

    Have you looked into I found it from Kaloyan Yankulov’s book called “Champions guide to outreach” and have been using it ever since. The tracking, campaign setup, reporting and all of that is mindblowingly good.

    Also makes follow-ups much more efficient and so on. Have a look at it!

    1. Hey Karl,

      I would agree on the main takeaways. As for I will check it out. So far Gmass has been quite good though.


  20. What a great post !

    Thanks for sharing this, it’s just an awesome way of thinking.

    I tested this technique and i can say : it works !!!

    Just wondering, when people ask to link back to their site, what’s your answer ? I don’t know how to respond when i got this.

    Thank you !


    1. Hey Julia,

      Glad to see it’s working for you! When people ask for link we usually counter offer with social shares or other promos :)

  21. I have a question to either Gael or Perrin.

    When doing these mass outreach emails, do you send the email using a gmail email or a [email protected] email (don’t know if GMASS allows this).

    Have you tried both and is there any difference in response/conversions?

    My intuition would be that using [email protected] will provide better responses/conversions but I don’t have the data.

    1. We currently use a Health Ambition email and we haven’t tested the difference yet. TBH I guess the difference is minimal anyway. Remember, it’s all about 80/20 ;).

  22. Hi Gael,

    Great as always! Thanks

    A quick question about your posts. Do you create these posts in the Thrive Content Builder or just in the normal WordPress post environment but with Thrive short codes?

  23. Nice post Perrin. How do you deal with sites that just have a contact form and email hunter can’t find an email address?
    Just skip them or use the form in case it’s a good target?

    1. I’ll reply here, we either use text expander to shoot a quick form or we just skip it if it’s too annoying.

  24. Excellent post Perrin.

    When I looked at the original skyscraper email template, I noticed it requires sharing their articles too. My thoughts were that it would really cause more work and also excessively promoting posts on our social media accounts. It makes sense it has been taken out in return for productivity.

    Is there a good way (or software) to find broken links? Or do we go to each (resource) webpage and look for it manually. That for me is a bottleneck. I have tried it before, and it took way too much time.

  25. Great post guys. A few questions.

    1) Once people start replying sometimes they change the email subject, reply with a different email than the one you used to contact them, have other people in the staff contact you etc. So how do you organize your replies to make sure you are replying to the last message in the conversation? How do you organize emails overall to know who replied, who needs follow up, who you gave up on following up etc.

    2) What if they ask to talk on the phone or do video calls and you are outreaching under a persona?

    3) How do you organize to contact same websites for different campaigns (broken link building and then a guestographic for instance)?

    1. Hey Olavor,

      Here’s the replies

      1 – It can get messy but at the current scale we still manage to remember most messages and it’s not a huge issue. Plus if we’re not sure we just do a search for the domain in gmail and it pops the other convos.

      2 – We just decline

      3 – Once again, not a massive issue now as most of our sites scale on a single tactic for as long as we have targets. But we do have a black list system to avoid emailing the same people over and over.

  26. Hey Perrin/Gael,

    I’ll just go and stand in the line where they give thanks for this post, amazing stuff as always.

    One question I have though with regards to prospecting. You mentioned that Gael sent 1,820 emails in the last 2-3 weeks for Health Ambition, and I guess you send something in that general scale as well. How do you make sure that none of those thousands of sites that end up on your prospecting list are legit, have no spammy links, aren’t link farms? You mention DA as a metric to decide whether it makes it on the list or not, but as you may well be aware there are tons of high DA sites that are spammy and risky.

    Do you basically take that one minute to decide on all of these things when reviewing the site, and get their contact info at the same time within that 1 minute window?

    The second part of the question, what are your thoughts on the notion that you may eventually run out of potential sites to outreach, given that you can churn through a thousand site within a matter of weeks.

    1. Hey Endre,

      To be honest, link sellers don’t give links for free, they try to make us pay and we just ignore them. Most of the people that link to us are passionate site owners or big magazine sites. But we use domain rating from ahrefs to filter the list out. Overall we haven’t had any problem so far.

      As for running out of sites, to be honest we run it with skyscraper and all we need to do is create more content to get more opportunities. I can see us reach DA 65-70 before this even becomes a problem we face.

  27. Toki Castro-Tover

    Hey, Perrin

    So, after compiling that list, am I then to go through each one using email hunter to get the names/emails? Then add those names/emails to the gmass template with a personal note for each one?



    Tokionekanobi :)

    1. Gael and I are working on our own systems for finding contact info, but Email Hunter is a good way to do it, yes.

      And yep–we use Gmass to send the emails.

      I wouldn’t worry about the exact script, since it doesn’t seem to matter a great deal. In that video, I literally just made it up on the spot, and that script hasn’t been through any testing at all.

  28. I tried to sign up for the Authority Hacker Pro waiting list but it doesn’t seem to work. It looks like it just refreshes the page when you click “Join the waiting list”. I also didn’t get a confirmation email

  29. Great read so far and I’ve not reached the end yet. I’m actually creating some personas at the moment and whilst they are powerful if used correctly they can also be risky if the image used for your persona can be easily tracked. The Tineye website allows people to track image use across the web and running the URL for any image gives you all the times it’s been used and on what website. It’s very good and works extremely well. However it is not perfect and I can usually avoid detection of duplicate images by doing a mixture of the following in Photoshop:

    1. Flip image on horizontal
    2. Save as png
    3. Use sharpen image filter

    It is a bit of extra work but anything that helps to keep a persona more authentic and watertight is very worthwhile.

  30. Hi Gael and perrin,
    Another question, sorry for annoying you.

    Why don’t you do some kind of sharing campaign at first? Brian Dean uses evangilist and content roadshow first.

    After he get some shares, he then build links. What is your take on this?

    Another question, sorry for that again,
    Why don’t you use sites like toofr to mass get emails and how do you make sure you don’t reach to a multiple site more than a time using gmass.

    Thanks in advance. Would be happy to see how you monetize health ambition and share your pareto to monetization guide

    1. Thanks for the comment :)

      First, there are lots of ways to do anything, so take this with a grain of salt.

      1. We don’t ask for shares because we’re trying to build links, not shares.

      2. The above aren’t link building tactics; they’re system optimizers for the outreach campaigns you’re already running. So they’re not mutually exclusive to Brain Dean’s “content roadshow” (although that’s just a fancy name for links/resources pages and content round-ups). You can apply them to virtually any link-building tactic.

      3. Toofr is just a paid version of Email Hunter, which is a free tool that does exactly the same thing. Because Email Hunter has identical functionality and is free, we use that one.

      1. Thanks Perrin for your answer.

        Don’t you contact the same site owner more than a time in the same campaign. How do you try to avoid it specially that you don’t use buzzsumo now.

        1. Great question. Since, at this point, I’m working with thousands of sites, I just keep a master spreadsheet of everyone I’ve emailed.

          When I start a new campaign, I’ll paste those domains in and remove duplicates.:)

  31. Awesome post! I have a question about the resource page approach. What do you do if the person whats you to post exchange links? Can that help SEO or hurt SEO?

  32. Hi,

    a fantastic post, but I have one concern. I quickly checked Health Ambition with tools such as SearchMetrics or Similarweb, and they are showing a very moderate growth in organic visibility at best, or even a flat trend. I would expect that with so many new links, your organic visibility would greatly accelerate. I would appreciate your comments on that.

    Did you find the efforts worth it in terms of actual increase in organic traffic?

    1. Good question, so here is the deal. Last year we mostly focused on figuring funnels and branding out. Because of that, we basically posted only a dozen posts during the whole year on the site and did not build a single link (as you can see if you check the link graph prior to January).

      We find that new content takes 9-12 months to really kick in in terms of organic traffic in this niche. That means that right now, the flat growth is attributed to the fact we did not post much last year and we expect the current efforts to kick in early 2017.

      If you look at the growth on HA you will also notice that pretty much all of it happens early January, every single year. This year we got a +50% traffic increase then and it didn’t go down. If you check the Analytics year on year we are actually 45% up.

      Hope that answers the question

  33. Thanks so much for this article.. I really needed it to get a fresh perspective and reboot my linkbuilding campaign after getting maybe 3 links emailing nearly 300+ people. I’m in the Investing and Stock Trading niche, btw.

    1. That is a hard niche to work in, you should consider targeting tangent niches to make things easier on yourself. Anyway good luck with your link building!

  34. Hi Gael and Perrin,
    As usual only great content is published here.

    I would be happy to know if you, Gael, still use the reason for outreach thing in your template. You say you don’t use buzzstream anymore, so I’m wondering.

    Thanks in advance and keep posting great content. I’d like you to publish more and more about your outreach process.

    I’m sure everyone here is also interested :)

    1. It depends on the tactic but we actually found that stripping personalisation did not negatively impact replies so we tend to simplify those templates more and more to favor speed of execution.

  35. These are all great tips!

    I have just one question.

    How do you find so many prospect that can link to your site? Sooner or later you will be out of prospect. Do you email the same person twice? (If they didn’t response to your first outreach campaign?).

    Thanks for everything :D

    1. Simple : We create new content. New content then reverse engineer the top results, they always have new link sources.

    2. To add onto Gael, different link-building tactics require different kinds of prospecting. There’s a video above that shows how you can find hundreds of links/resources pages in a few minutes. You could do that for a dozen sub-niches in your market & have many thousands of prospects.

      Or, you could pull a Chris Lee and just run broken link-building campaigns every week. Not only are there TONS of broken pages out there (for almost every market), but new pages are breaking or going offline all the time.

      It’s similar for guest posting and skyscraper.

      When you combine them all, most sites in most markets can find several thousands of prospects pretty easily. At that point, it becomes much more about your resources than anything.

  36. Hi Gael,

    For your persona where do you get the images? Its looks authenticated. Dont you think original person who have been objected. Can you share a bit details.

      1. Any type of license that you purchase or are you just purchasing the standard stock photo license where you get commercial rights? ? I thought there was typically a restriction on using it to represent that you are the person in the photo? Or can I just buy a stock photo and use it as the “persona” for a site?

  37. Awesome post. I’m just getting into link acquisition, and will be leveraging these tips to help elevate our brand and following. Thanks again for the help!

  38. Great article guys – quick question though – the focus here seems to be achieving a high number of links. What kind of analysis have you done/would you recommend doing to determine if you’re better going after a handful of high DA links as opposed to hundreds of lower DA links?

    1. Actually, low personalisation does not mean low DA links. We often get DA 60+ links using these tactics and I’d say the average DA is above 35. So nope, we get a lot of links and they also are on pretty high authority sites.

    2. I think this is a BIG misconception.

      We’re getting very strong links this way. None of this would be worth it if you were only getting low-DA links.

      In my last campaign, I got a DA 45, 35, and 31 mixed in with a few DAs in the 20s. I’d say the average DA for me is around 30.

      Also, the stuff above are tweaks you can make to all the standard link-building tactics: broken link building, skyscraper, guest posting, etc.–all tactics that have been used to get great links for a long time.

      Here’s another way to think about it: if you sampled 1,000 sites in your market, would they all be low-authority sites? Of course not. There would be a mix. And that’s what we see at the end of our campaigns most of the time: a nice mix of links, mostly in the DA 25-50 range but with a few outliers on either end.

      Great question :)

      1. Thanks for the responses Gael and Perrin – interesting stuff!

        Given the strength of links for health ambition, when you post new content is the site’s DA good enough for that content to rank at or close to no 1 in Google for the intended keyword(s) pretty quickly? Or do you still have to put in work getting new links for that page first?


        1. It takes a LOT of authority to get those kinds of instantaneous rankings usually.

          For our sites, we’ve been noticing a longer and longer lag time between new content and traffic. Used to be 1-3 months before articles started bringing in traffic; now, I’d guess more like 6.

  39. Perrin, it looks like you missed a zero in your link to those “freaking queries”. They don’t just claim to have 1000, but 10,000 of them!

    Awesome timing on this post, by the way. This is just what I’ve been concentrating on for the past several days. Thanks!

  40. Awesome post. Lots of cool ideas.

    To clarify – are you guys no longer using buzzstream? Do you just use gmass and the email hunting tool?

    1. Right now yep, we’re using Gmass a lot for those large scale campaigns but we don’t exclude re using Buzzstream for more personal campaigns if we get back to that.

  41. Paretos principle works amazing for every aspect of our lives.

    Well, since you got to increase your backlink growth by 1000% thanks to Pareto… You may now start sending 20% of your profits to Pareto’s decendants. lol

    Cheers for the great article :)

  42. Whew, what a monster of a post Perrin. #18 is a great point – I’ve been asking for shares a lot more frequently than links. And I haven’t even really been keeping a good record of who actually shared my content. I’ll have to add that to my spreadsheet. Solid tip.

    If I could add a point to this post


    Not only should not get bogged down in finding the perfect prospect you shouldn’t even pretend to know what your perfect prospect looks like. Okay they’re in your niche and they have a strong website two checkmarks. Beyond that you have NO idea who lives behind that website. We all perceive value differently depending on what we’re trying to accomplish and our backgrounds.

    Once I stopped assuming to know, results followed.

    1. Hey Dan,

      Glad you liked the sharer army concept. This is one of those things that transform linear growth into exponential growth as it grows and you add people to it.

      Anyway, I agree on the perfect prospect. I think too many SEO’s talk about these in theoretical manners and that frustrates the people that actually do it in real life.

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