In the world of digital marketing and SEO, we often hear that “content is king.” This isn’t necessarily true. It takes more than just a great piece of content to get results. One key component of an effective content marketing plan involves pitching content to get more exposure and building authoritative links from relevant sites. Without a proper plan in place to get your content the right kind of exposure, you risk it being useless.
In a previous article, I’ve written a rudimentary level piece that serves as a tactical guide for B2B companies to getting content picked up by industry journals. Assuming that you have a deeper knowledge of SEO and content marketing, we’ll dive into how to pitch your content for more exposure.
Recommended tools for your link building plan
Whether you’re pitching your piece to one editor or 50, you should have a set of reliable tools to ease your link building process. Here are a few industry favourites.
BuzzStream is a link building and digital PR tool that is great for link management. Using the Chrome Extension BuzzMarker, you can easily add contacts to your lists on BuzzStream directly from the site you’re on. If you’re pitching multiple pieces for several projects, this is a great way to keep track of emails going in and out. You can also track when / if an email is opened and whether a link within an email was clicked on.
HARO provides journalists (and marketers) a database of sources for upcoming stories. Which means ample opportunity for you to pitch your content and get it more exposure. You can subscribe to receive emails 3x a day for topics that you’re interested in such as “Business and finance” and “high tech.” This free tool allows you to pitch your idea to media outlets like the New York Times, Mashable, Bloomberg Business week, TIME and countless others.
As Brian Dean from Backlinko stated, “HARO (short for Help a Reporter Out) is one of best ways to get killer backlinks from authority news sites.”
Majestic is a link intelligence tool for SEO and internet PR and marketing. Their unique URLS crawled is at 237.2 billion – which means more data for you. Use the Majestic Backlink Analyzer when you’re on a site to quickly check the strength of any page. The Backlink History tool is a great way to compare backlinks and learn more.
MozBar is another Chrome extension that lets you analyse link metrics and gives you access to important SEO metrics from a glance as you make your way through SERPs. Use this tool to help you choose which sites you should pitch your content to.
Google Advanced Search Operators
To save time in searching for relevant publications, use Google’s Advanced Search Operators to avoid aimlessly searching through countless Google SERPs. Google’s guide includes a comprehensive list of search operators that will help you narrow down exactly what you’re looking for in your search.
Here are a few helpful search operators for prospecting:
Intitle: The “intitle:” search operator is a title specific search that will only show results that have that exact query in the title.
Inurl: The “inurl:” search operator is a URL specific search that will only show results that have that exact query in the URL.
Site: The “site:” search operator is a site specific search that will show you only pages within a specific site.
Related: The “related:” search operator will show you results related to your query. You can use this search operator to find sites related to great publications you’ve already found. Once you’ve gathered a list of publications, use this search operator on each one you’ve found to make sure you haven’t missed any.
6. Other tools
Let’s say you’ve found a great site to pitch your content to and you want to find similar ones. Here are a few other tools to help:
Download the Similar Sites Add-on from Chrome. When on a site that you’ve found relevant, use this extension to show sites that are similar to the one you’re on. As with any tool, it’s not perfect. You should look into each publication that it recommends before adding to your final list. Be cautious as some of the sites they recommend may not be good choices.
Use Similar Site Search to find other related sites. Again, be cautious as some of their suggestions may be irrelevant. Keep in mind that you’re limited to a certain number of searches per day.
Steps to pitching your content
Do your research
This is one of the most critical stages of getting your content picked up. Take the time to actually research what the publication is about so that:
You get high-quality, industry-relevant publications that you can get authoritative backlinks from.
When pitching to the editor, you’ll be able to customise and make the pitch more personal. As in, your pitch will be authentic
It won’t look like you’re pitching content to a site that covers nothing about that subject matter.
Know the publication’s target audience
The best starting place is usually the “About us” section. You can find a summary of who the publication’s audience is, what type of content they publish, whether or not they will accept content, etc. This section can save you a lot of time, especially if it states right in the summary that they don’t accept guest blogs.
Read previous content on the site
After reading through the “About us” section of the site, you should read through the actual content on their site. This will give you a better idea of the topics they cover and whether or not they will be willing to publish your content. Keep these articles in mind because they make great talking points in the email pitches that you’ll write later on. Once you’ve read enough to get a basic understanding of what they like to publish, decide whether or not your content would make sense on their site.
Pro tip: Use the “site: search operator” to find if the publication has written about your topic in the past.
Find a place for your article to live
When reading through the site, pay attention to the sections that you’re reading. Ask yourself, does it make sense for your content to be published in this section? Once you’ve found a place, make a note to mention where you’d like your piece to live in your email pitch.
Know your point of contact
The best point of contact is the editor/editor-in-chief of the publication. If you can’t find the editor’s contact information, look for a managing editor or whoever would be the person who works most closely with the editor.
Next, find out more about the editor. You want your email to sound as authentic and personable as possible. Research them by doing a quick Google search. Are they on LinkedIn? Twitter? Did they Tweet something that you found interesting and you’d like to mention it in your email?
Keep in mind that editors receive hundreds of emails a week with people pitching their content. You want to do your best to stand out.
Pitching your content
Introduce yourself: The first step to the opening of any email is to introduce yourself. Let the reader know who you are and who you’re working with.
Keep it conversational: Stick with colloquial language and avoid sounding too formal. This may depend on your audience, but in most cases, it’s better to speak less formal.
Provide something of value: Your pitch should explain why your piece of content will provide value to the publication. Answer these questions in your pitch: how will this piece benefit their audience? Why should they pick this piece up? Be authentic in your reasoning of why it’s important and go into detail.
End with a question: Always end with a question. This is your version of a call to action. Make sure to ask a specific question like, “Would you be interested in publishing this article in the industry news section of your site?”
Attention grabbing subject line: Sometimes the most difficult part of a pitch is writing a subject line. It’s definitely one of the most important parts to your email because it’s the first thing your contact will see in their inbox. It’s important to write an attention grabbing subject line that will make the reader want to open your email. You can read this article for some tips to improve your email marketing subject lines.
Keep it brief: If you’re pitching to an editor, they’re probably bombarded with hundreds of emails a week. Keep your email as short as you can and get to your point as quickly as possible. Read on how to email busy people to help get your email opened.
Follow up: If your contact hasn’t responded yet, it may be because they meant to go back to it later or it somehow slipped through the cracks. You should follow up with those who didn’t respond to your email about two days later. Give them a quick refresher of what you’re pitching and the value it will bring to their audience. Keep this follow up even shorter than your original post.
By now, you’ve hopefully understood that pitching your content is a form of art and isn’t a one-size-fits-all method. Pitching content takes a great deal of time and effort. You can no longer expect a great piece of content to do well without a proper strategic plan put into place. With the right link building plan, you can get your content piece the type of exposure you want.