First, The Results…
Before we dive into the details, let’s take a look at the sort of results I achieved with the Outreach301 strategy.
This was a completely brand new site set up in July 2018; fresh domain, 500 words of content on the homepage, a single 750-word article (promoting an affiliate product) that was internally linked on the homepage, and that was it.
No links were built directly to the site in the beginning.
Yet, the organic rankings almost instantly soared within 45 days.
Let’s quickly recap: a fresh domain, a minimal number of words on the site, zero links, and organic traffic that skyrocketed in just over a month.
How exactly does that work?
This is what I like to call the Outreach301 strategy.
I was surprised (and a little impressed 😉) to see Ryan Stewart tweet about this the other day, although my version of the technique is slightly different. There’s more than likely going to be other SEOs upset with me for sharing this strategy. Nevertheless, Rankfluence was created for this very purpose. And it simply won’t stop being practical just because it’s public knowledge.
Because the Outreach301 strategy isn’t for everyone. And you’ll begin to realise why as you get deeper into this post.
But first, a quick disclaimer.
As with all forms of link building, there is always an element of risk attached to it. And that same element of risk applies to this strategy. If it goes wrong, the results can be quite tragic, as seen below on another site this technique was implemented on.
This was a brand new site that was also set up in July 2018; fresh domain, 500 words of content on the homepage, a single 750-word article (promoting an affiliate product), and zero direct links.
Despite the strategy clearly working in the beginning, the organic visibility is now rapidly dropping and I expect the traffic to hit rock-bottom within the next 3 or so months.
Why is the traffic in decline?
And what exactly is the Outreach301 strategy?
I know you’re eager to learn more about the technique, but first, we need to take a step back and break down the definitions for both these key terms.
I’ll be quick.
What Is Outreach In SEO?
With Google’s algorithm continuing to change and mature, it’s important you build links to your site in a natural, and relevant way. One of the most popular methods of acquiring links is via outreach.
You can outreach in a number of ways: through email, via social media, or directly through the press.
In our industry, the classic way to outreach to prospects is via email, by getting in touch with relevant sites in your niche in an attempt to secure a link (either in the form of a guest post or a standard contextual link placement).
The ultimate goal of any outreach campaign is to land relevant and high-quality links that will increase your organic rankings.
Not only this, but an effective outreach campaign should also aid with improving brand awareness.
By writing for an established or a popular website, you can showcase your content to a whole new, targeted audience – which can result in an influx of referral traffic and exposure.
I know not everyone is a fan of carrying out manual outreach themselves, so we do offer this as a service here at Rankfluence. We’ll set up your own bespoke outreach campaign and earn your guest posts and link placements legitimately.
What Is A 301 Redirect?
A 301 redirect is a permanent redirect from one web page to another.
It’s a command used to tell search engine bots that a page has permanently moved and that you want them to index the new page instead.
But most importantly, we need to understand the connection between a 301 redirect and SEO.
If you 301 redirect a page on your site to a similar new page on a different site, that new page should retain the full ranking power of the previous. This has been confirmed by Google on multiple occasions:
30x redirects don't lose PageRank anymore.
— Gary "鯨理" Illyes (@methode) July 26, 2016
In other words, the effective and appropriate use of 301 redirects can be useful for increasing organic traffic.
If you have a high ranking page and you 301 redirect it to a relevant, brand new page, that new page should receive all the ranking signals (both the positive and negative) from the previous page, allowing it to rank (or tank) — fairly quickly with little effort — for the same keywords as the original page.
One thing to note: a 301 redirect from one page to a completely irrelevant different page will result in no PageRank (also referred to as link juice, or link equity) being passed. Instead, Google considers these a soft 404.
This is why it’s not recommended to just redirect random high-metric pages to your site since this is confusing for Google and just looks unnatural.
Still with me? 🤔
The Outreach301 Strategy
Just a few months ago, Glenn Allsopp published a post that discusses the strategy behind redirecting expired domains that already have links.
The idea of implementing 301 redirects on expired domains isn’t new.
In fact, a quick Google search will produce plenty of results.
Despite being an “old-school tactic”, correctly leveraging 301 redirects clearly helps accelerate SERP performance.
But what if we could use this tactic alongside your outreach efforts?
Wave hello to the Outreach301 strategy 👋👋
In a nutshell, the strategy works like this:
- Just like you do in a regular outreach campaign, you identify and reach out to relevant, appropriate prospects in an attempt to get your link(s) placed inside a suitable article.
- However, instead of pursuing the link (or guest post), the objective is to purchase the article itself from the webmaster. I know, strange, but hear me out…
- Not only do you acquire the article, but you also ask for it to be 301 redirected to your own page (this is the vital step).
- The result? Powerful rankings fueled by a natural, hyper-relevant, high-quality article that is 301 redirected to your money page.
This is the exact strategy I’ve used to transform the organic visibility of completely new sites in just over a month – in some aggressive niches.
In fact, I’ve noticed other SEOs also use this blueprint to rank in some very lucrative affiliate niches (if you know, you know).
All without ever building a direct link (links are built at a much later stage, but not in the beginning).
There’s no denying that the value of easily obtainable links is gradually decreasing.
Back in 2010, building mass Web 2.0 blogs using tools like SEnuke was all you’d need in order to rank. It was genuinely that easy.
However, repeating that same procedure in today’s landscape would show completely bland results, since the links are just too easy to acquire.
The key to ranking successfully in 2019 (and beyond) is to focus on a link building game-plan that is dedicated to attaining hard-to-get links. Links that your competitors can’t replicate so easily.
Why Does It Work So Well?
In general, when done correctly, 301 redirects work very well.
There are countless sites in competitive niches that are using 301 redirects in some shape or form.
Another example is Neil Patel (love him or hate him, his redirects are doing the trick).
When leveraged correctly, 301 redirects in SEO work well because they pass over the entire PageRank to the new page. Some would argue otherwise, but my own results and tests have shown them to work convincingly.
Again, it’s important that the old page and new page have a strong and appropriate topical relevance if you’re planning on doing a 301 redirect.
Simply redirecting a bunch of irrelevant pages to your site isn’t going to do you any good, and will most likely cause issues later down the line (Google’s Penguin algorithm runs in real time and can identify sites with irrelevant, spammy link profiles).
The Outreach301 strategy is highly effective when done correctly because of the high relevance between the pages. To Google’s algorithm, the 301 redirect is natural, and so PageRank passes over to the new site, allowing it to rank fairly quickly for the same keywords as the redirected page.
You’re essentially transferring all the positive (and negative) ranking signals from the previous page to the new.
One of my favorite SEO tools is Ahrefs.
It helps me solve a wide variety of SEO problems and requirements, and one of them is finding suitable candidates for the Outreach301 strategy.
Remember, the objective is to find a relevant, high-quality article that already ranks for keywords related to your page.
For example, if you’re trying to rank a page for “dog training”, you want to go out and find an article that already ranks for keywords identical and associated with “dog training”.
1. Search For Suitable Prospects
Ahref’s Content Explorer tool allows you to input a keyword and locate relevant articles across the web.
They also provide the option to filter by publish date, language, referring domains, organic traffic, social media shares, word count, and more.
For this particular example, I want to search for aged articles (at least 1-year-old) in English, between 1000-5000 words, with at least 20 referring domains, and some traffic.
Adjust the filters accordingly based on your niche and competition. If you wanted to get more results, you can consider lowering the minimum # of referring domains or setting the publish date further back.
I’m also going to set a filter for the DR (domain rating – a metric created by Ahrefs). From experience, sites with a significantly higher DR (usually large corporations, media publications, and well-known blogs) are not willing to sell you their content. Instead, your target should be small-medium sized blogs who would be more open and flexible to your offer.
If you don’t have an Ahrefs subscription, you can also use search operators to find suitable prospects and opportunities, but be prepared to manually browse through the pages in the SERPs.
- [your_topic] “write for us”
- [your_topic] “become an author”
- [your_topic] “guest post”
- [your_topic] “guest article”
- [your_topic] inurl:contribute
Tools like Ahrefs take the hassle and stress away from the labor-intensive tasks.
Finding a relevant and suitable article to acquire isn’t easy, but the results will be rewarding if you can pull it off. I recommend spending some time on this step and hunting down as many potential articles as possible. Obviously the more you can find, the better your final success rate is when you reach out to them.
2. Is The Article Appropriate?
Even if you find an article with great metrics, it’s essential that it’s actually related to your page.
You don’t want to redirect an article about “horses” to your page about “dogs” just because the SEO metrics look promising.
Here are a few tips for checking the suitability of an article:
- Does the article rank for keywords you’re targeting? If my page is about “dog training”, then I want to check to see if the article I found is ranking for related keywords. If it is, that’s usually a good sign of an appropriate article to purchase and redirect.
- Does the article receive organic traffic? As long as the article is ranking organically for keywords with enough search volume, it should be receiving traffic. This is another sign that the page is worth redirecting to yours.
- Is the content relevant enough? Since you’re going to be purchasing the rights to the article, you need to ensure it’s actually related to your page. In order for this strategy to work, the 301 redirect must not look suspicious. The new page the user is being redirected to should be just as helpful (or even more helpful) than the original.
- What does the link profile look like? The purpose of the Outreach301 strategy is to “harvest” all the link juice from existing pages and funnel it over to your page. In order for this to work, the link profile of the original page you’ll be redirecting needs to be strong and of value. You’re only going to be wasting your time and money by acquiring low-quality pages that won’t pass any PageRank to your page.
Let’s check the above pointers against an example article. We’ll go with the “dog training” niche again.
Here are the stats of an example article I found related to the dog training niche.
As you can see, the article ranks for 1500+ keywords, and the majority of them are highly related to “dog training”. Additionally, the page receives approx 2500 monthly organic visitors (although the actual traffic numbers are probably 2-3x this since Ahrefs traffic estimations are usually downplayed).
The content is also extremely relevant, and the link profile looks sparkling clean.
All in all, it’s safe to say this article is worthy enough of being redirected to our page, and so we can move onto the next step: sending your offer to the webmaster.
Or in other words, it’s time to move to the trickiest part of the strategy.
3. Send A Friendly Offer
Hopefully, by now you’ve found at least one, or several potential articles you can acquire.
The next step is to send your offer to the webmaster and wait for their response.
If you thought landing links and guest posts via traditional outreach was hard, then this is even harder. As we’re asking webmasters to sell us their article, the success rate will be noticeably lower – but that’s to be expected. Remember, even acquiring a single article is a job well done, and sometimes can be worth as much as 20 or 30 individual links (more on this later).
Hunter.io is a free web-based app you can use to locate email addresses from domains. It works fairly well and allows you to find all available contact details for a given domain.
Alternatively, you can also manually submit your offer message via the contact form on the prospect’s site.
Here’s an example of a pitch I used:
And the response:
Most webmasters will reject your offer, some will ask questions (especially about the 301 redirect) and only a few will accept instantly. Although the idea behind the Outreach301 strategy is easy to grasp, it can be quite difficult trying to convince webmasters to license their content to you. This is where a well-written pitch/offer can make all the difference.
In the above case, the webmaster wanted me to explain how I came up with the appraisal for his article.
It was pretty simple, and you don’t need to use this exact calculation, but this is how I assess the quality and worthiness of a page:
- How valuable is the link profile? Use a backlink checker tool (such as Ahrefs) to audit the link profile of the article you’re interested in. What do the links look like? Are the links of a good enough quality, or is there a high chance they’ll be removed over time (blog comments, Web 2.0 links, etc)? Although I’m not a fan of SEO metrics such as DA and TF, they can sometimes be helpful in giving you a rough insight into how much a link is worth. By fully analysing the link profile of the article, you should be able to make a calculated guess as to how much those links would cost if you were to try and acquire them yourself from scratch.
- Is the content written well? How does the content on the page read? Is it engaging? Or does it look like it was written by a low-cost writer? How much would you personally pay for content of a similar quality level?
- How much age does the article have? Articles that have been around for years are generally worth considerably more than a fresh article that was only published a week ago. Take the age of the article into consideration when coming together with an offer.
I know… paying $775 for an article to be redirected to your page isn’t for everyone.
It can quickly become costly, especially if your game-plan is to acquire multiple pages at once (which is what the big dogs are currently doing in some hyper-competitive niches).
However, remember these are articles that are already written, established, receive organic traffic, and contain existing quality links. If I was to replicate the articles I’ve acquired from scratch, I’d probably have to spend more money (and time). When you’re buying such articles from webmasters, you’re paying in advance for the time you’re about to save.
4. Finalise The 301 Redirect
Once my offer has been accepted by the webmaster, here’s what happens next.
1. I take different parts of content from the recently acquired article and weave it into the existing content on my page. I don’t copy and paste the entire article over because there are usually several identical subjects that I’ve already discussed on my page, so there’s no need for me to inflate my word count with repetitive content. My objective here is to ensure the content on my page is extremely useful to the user, more useful than the redirected page’s content.
The alternative option is to copy and paste the entire article that you’ve just acquired as a fresh post on your site. Ryan Stewart tweeted this approach and has also been successful with it.
I haven’t personally tried this approach, but I don’t see any reason why the results would be different.
He said yes, for those of you following pic.twitter.com/e62uxxmXKF
— Ryan Stewart (@ryanwashere) May 1, 2019
(While I’ve got you here, click here to follow me on Twitter) ❤️
2. Once my page has been updated with fresh content taken from the acquired article, I request the webmaster to initiate the 301 redirect to the page. My success rate has been significantly higher when dealing with webmasters who aren’t too familiar or versed with SEO. If this is the case, you may need to hand-hold the webmaster and provide them with easy to follow instructions for implementing the redirect (over a call is perfect).
3. Depending on the strength of the redirected article, results can take anywhere from 30-60 days to kick in (in my experience), and you’ll notice it when it does because your organic rankings will be on the rise, both for your existing keywords and new.
4. After a few months of the redirect going live, direct link building begins and this is where I start obtaining links directly to the site, usually a mixture of guest posts and link placements (which you can buy from Rankfluence ?)
Outreach301: The Pros
Why should you consider using this method in your link building plan?
- Effective, when done correctly. This is a powerful strategy that can produce some awesome results when executed correctly. SEO is evolving, and so should your link building techniques. Out-of-the-box SEO strategies are key to ranking successfully in 2019 and beyond.
- You save LOTS of time/money. You won’t have to worry about writing content or trying to build links. When you acquire an article, you can leverage the existing PageRank to your advantage. This is probably the most significant benefit of this strategy.
- It’s straight forward. Granted, trying to find webmasters who accept your offer will be a challenge, but the overall methodology behind this strategy is easy to grasp.
- Skip the “sandbox”. The Google sandbox is a so-called filter that prevents new sites from ranking in Google’s top results. It’s almost like a probation period for your site, where Google assesses your SEO activity over the course of 3-6 months before they “set you free”. Although the “sandbox” has never been officially confirmed by Google, many SEOs are confident it exists. Myself included. It’s a spammers deterrent. Google’s algorithm needs to understand how your site fits in with the rest of the sites ranking in the results pages, and an effective way to do this would be to hold you back from ranking for a few months while the algorithm examines your site fully. Despite this, on multiple occasions, I’ve been able to get brand new sites ranking in the Top 3, sometimes even in the #1 position in less than 90 days, when using the Outreach301 strategy. The most likely reason is the influx of PageRank flowing through the 301 redirect, and it makes sense if this is indeed the case.
- Easy to reverse. I hope this doesn’t happen to you, but let’s imagine for whatever reason your site receives a penalty in the future, and in order to diagnose the problem you’re required to make drastic changes to your link profile, such as reversing your link building activities. Fortunately, the 301 redirect in place can easily be removed and that bridge between your site and the webmasters’ is broken. However, this can also work both ways.
Outreach301: The Cons
I’m not going to pretend that the Outreach301 strategy is all sunshine and rainbows. It’s not.
It does come with some negatives, and so it’s up to you to weigh both the pros and cons beforehand.
- The success rate varies. The success rate of the Outreach301 strategy will vary based on your niche and other factors. Webmasters in certain niches don’t want to sell their content, which can make your job harder when it comes to acquiring articles. You’ll get the best success rates with webmasters who have very little knowledge about SEO since they will be more willing to negotiate a price for you to license their content.
- Lack of control. Here’s the biggest issue. Even though you’ve bought the rights to the article, the 301 redirect is managed by a 3rd party, which means they could decide to go rogue at anytime. This can lead to disastrous results on your end, so it’s important you consider this potential risk. Is it worth rolling the dice? Does the webmaster seem genuine? Has their site been around for a while? Look out for these signs before committing to the purchase.
Unfortunately, due to my lack of judgment and due diligence when I first tried this strategy, I ended up losing a pretty strong redirect that was entirely powering one of my pages. Sucks. But it’s the perfect example of what could happen if things go wrong.
Remember when I said the Outreach301 strategy isn’t for everyone?
By now you should hopefully understand why.
The Future Of SEO
The SEO industry is still fully alive and kicking.
Although there are many ranking factors used by Google’s algorithm, links still continue to be the most prominent factor in determining your success in the results pages.
Still, even link building is turning into a challenging obstacle. How exactly do you stand out from your competitors, when you’re all doing the same thing?
This is where it can prove beneficial by experimenting and testing different SEO/link building ideas.
SEO is an ever-changing game, and it always pays to get ahead.
If you’re currently struggling with your SEO efforts, and you’re looking for an agency that can take care of things for you, we suggest taking a quick peek at our services by clicking here. If you have any questions, feel free to send us a message via the Live Chat and we’d be more than happy to assist. Our team is available around the clock, whatever time zone you may be in.
I’d like to finish with this. At Rankfluence, we’re big believers of sharing knowledge to the community (I wouldn’t be in the position I’m in today if it weren’t for the community who helped and supported me over the years).
Make sure to keep your eyes peeled for all our future posts, because we’re only just getting started 😍