What is Link Outreach?

Link outreach is a process that involves one website contacting another in an attempt to get the second site to include a link back to the first website. This exchange typically focuses on an exchange of value, where the brand doing the outreach provides a compelling, value-based reason for the second party to include the link in their content.

Since search engine crawlers use links to help discover new web pages and determine how pages should be ranked, website owners can gain a distinct advantage if a high number of quality sites contain links that point back to their website.

It is incredibly rare to earn rinks by creating content and sharing via social. Thus, websites must communicate their value to each other and find a way to provide mutual value without the exchange of money (also known as link buying).

When viewed as a function of website code, the link provided acts as the link referral. The anchor link of the text is also typically requested by the outreach party or agreed upon by both parties.

referral link website code

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Link Outreach History

Link outreach has always been important to SEO but websites haven’t always achieved it with the most ethical methods in Google’s view. Many websites initially bought links to their site for SEO in the early days of the Internet, and this was considered link outreach in a loose sense.

In 2005, Google created the Jagger update, which resulted in some severe punishments for these link-buying methods.

It also brought some tangential quality-of-life changes, such as a refreshed view on the anchor text of inbound links, a deeper analysis of the quality of content, and an assessment that improved Google’s defense against keyword stuffing.

Google fine-tuned this process in the later Penguin updates, which sought to eliminate many of the remaining black hat SEO practices including a better assessment of link buying and keyword density best practices. Websites were once again forced to revert to link outreach via normal means.

As of now, some experts speculate that link building is beginning to lose validity, but these fears are largely unfounded.

Link Outreach Uses

Link outreach is primarily a tactic used to improve domain authority and build the SEO of individual pages on a website. It can also be used to help increase brand awareness or provide more traffic to a website.

It also allows brands to exercise a degree of quality control over the websites that link to their website, as you have direct input in who is referencing your content.

A business can conduct their outreach in a number of ways:

  • Email/PR outreach – Sending a direct email asking for links from known contacts.
  • Influencer outreach – Reaching out to popular sites and people to get a link, with the possibility of building more links through added exposure.
  • Social media outreach – Building relationships via social media, then asking for links based on quality and familiarity.

Link outreach also helps you keep your link signals fresh, as they can degrade over time if more websites don’t link to your site over time.

Link Outreach Misunderstandings

A few common misunderstandings of link outreach may cause confusion if you are unaware of them:

  • Link outreach is not all-inclusive of Link Building. Outreach is a tactical process that aids link building, but not the practice itself.
  • Despite the intertwined history, link outreach is not link buying. Link Buying is considered manipulative by Google, and when found out is penalized accordingly.
  • There is a difference between buying links and spending money to get links, which can be considered link outreach.