The digital PR game is hot and fast right now, with brands chasing press coverage and valuable follow links to help boost their SEO and brand awareness. As PRs, it’s our job to find our clients the best possible sites to link their brand to with relevant campaigns and exciting stories.
However, it’s not a simple battle to gain the most links possible – imagine the carnage if it was a link free for all! No, we’ve got to find relevant, authoritative link placements for our clients for our link building efforts to pay off. So, how do you determine the relevancy of a link and how should we be assessing the quality vs quantity of PR links?
Digital PRs are often tasked with gaining coverage on top-tier publications within the sector – truly going for gold in terms of link building. The definition of a top-tier publication is variable, and can be related to general news or an industry specific niche; however, a top-tier link always comes from a site with a high domain authority and strong public influence, so you know you’ll be getting a large readership traffic from a top-tier placement.
Examples of News and Lifestyle top-tier publications include:
As a digital PR, you should define what a top-tier publication looks like for each of your clients, taking into consideration their industry and audience to find the most relevant media sites and publications to target.
Obtaining coverage and a link in the top tier publications is highly competitive in the world of digital PR. From connecting with the right journalist to ensuring your campaign is of the right level of quality to be granted space on their site, there are a lot of hurdles to overcome. So, when you’ve landed coverage in a top-tier publication and they don’t provide a follow link, it can be very disheartening – and sometimes, all the follow up emails in the world won’t turn that mention into a link. So, how do we keep hustling?
Firstly, a mention in a premium media site isn’t a loss – yes, a link would be more ideal, but the brand exposure and awareness building from a mention is still pretty high. Plus, in some instances, you can still measure an increase in new user traffic to your website off the back of your coverage placements, albeit, without a link it’s much harder to correlate this success to your campaign.
However, the main benefit of top-tier coverage is that it can spur further media coverage on relevant sites that are interested in your story so run it for their readers and provide you with a lot more follow links.
For example, take a story we recently ran for our client Vera Clinic looking at the correlation between different music genres and stress which revealed that 80s pop songs are the best for beating stress. This story landed a piece of coverage on the New York Post (big win!) and started life as a mention piece, before our PR team managed to turn that into a fantastic follow link.
However, from the get go – even when the piece was just a mention – the story began to get a huge pick up from other news sites including The Daily Mail and Grazia, as well as highly-relevant music sites such as guitar.com and guitarworld.com. The story went worldwide and gained 80+ links and coverage for the client, and a lot of this was influenced by the global reach of the New York Post.
Gaining a high-quality reference, be this a link or a mention, in a top-tier publication will directly influence the future success of the story and bring you a high quantity of links to relevant sites that are inspired by the original story placement. Therefore, the quality and relevance of the sites you outreach to is just the start of a good campaigns journey; if you get it spot on, your media coverage could do a lot of the outreach leg work for you and organically bring your client further relevant media placements. Moral of the story? Don’t knock your top-tier publication mention achievements, they could bring you a lot more joy.
Google’s John Mueller recently told the SEO and digital PR community that “I would tend not to focus on the total number of links to your site” – this got outreach link builders a bit hot under the collar, but he went on to say, “we try to understand what is relevant for a website, how much should we weigh these individual links, and the total number of links doesn’t matter at all.”
Link relevancy has become increasingly significant for Google as it’s relevancy tracking becomes more sophisticated. When it comes to crawling and assessing your site for SEO rankings, Google focuses on the relevancy and quality of backlinks, not the quantity. Google want to see that the content, topics, website partnerships match up to what your site shows and who your target audience are. Therefore, the quality of a link will hold a lot more emphasis than having a flurry of irrelevant, low quality links.
Understanding how to land a relevant and useful link is where your digital PR creation comes in. This is where developing creative, unique and pertinent stories for the sites you’ve identified as relevant link landings really comes into play.
Obtaining a quality backlink ultimately boils down to the quality of your press release; that’s right, all good things point back to content!
You need to develop an eye-catching, well rounded juicy campaign if you want your research to be turned into a hit article with that all important link in – ultimately, if your release isn’t ticking the boxes you’ll never see those back links rolling in.
But creating exciting content can be a challenge sometimes, right? Especially when you’re approaching this challenge from the perspective of a niche client offering, and this is where our creativity must step up.
Our digital PR team are constantly thinking of creative and informative ways of bringing our clients and their stories in line with public conversation, be this through trend focused stories or by shinning a light on an interesting data finding.
A great example of this is a recent campaign we ran for our radiator manufacturing client Stelrad. Now, I can image that reading about radiators isn’t on the top of everyone’s list when it comes to interesting articles, so our digital PR team have to get a bit creative when crafting stories which are relevant to the client’s industry and site, and exciting enough to pique our interest.
So, embrace the challenge! When it comes to temperature and heating focused pieces we found a whole host of fascinating and unique story angles we could pursue, an example of this is a campaign looking at the temperatures of most popular engagement locations across the world compared to divorce rates from coupes who said ‘yes’ in these locations. Finding out which location temperature was more likely to result in a marriage that turned cold landed our client some premium press coverage and links, including a spot in Forbes.
Developing unique and thought provoking stories is your very own ticket to landing premium links for your clients, and knowing what makes a strong press release is half that battle. Remember, when you’re writing your press releases you should be thinking about the key aspects which will make a journalist want to run your story. Some core aspects which will support your story are:
By providing an expert quote, delivering some unique data (or a fresh angle to data findings) and providing a case study to support why your story is important you’re giving your story a three point focus for why your story is credible, relevant and worthy of publishing.
The juries in, the quality and relevance of your links should be at the forefront of your Digital PR mind, be this aiming for top-tier placements or targeting niche publications related to your client, either way keeping the relevancy and quality at the lead is key.
So, it’s time for some quick-fire, actionable tips for how we can ensure this is achieved:
Establish a list of authoritative websites that relate to your client by assessing the trust flow of relevant media sites and publications using Majestic. This will allow you to have a clear view into which sites are worth pursuing and will provide a high-quality link to your site – which Google will love!
Keeping up with trends and news within your client’s niche can be incredibly time consuming, so ease your work load with some automated topic tracking. Pop your keywords into Google News, Google Trends and social media to gain a varied and detailed view into what’s happening within your business’ niche and what stories you can jump on.
Events, news drops, awards, new TV shows – any relevant pre-scheduled releases or events are a PR dream, but timing is key for these time focused pieces. Get ahead of the game by creating a calendar of relevant dates for your client’s industry and topic areas and schedule the research and writing of these ahead of the event if possible. This way, you can get your story into journalists’ inboxes before rivals have even registered that there’s an event happening.
Tracking SEO metrics such as domain ratings are great for determining the quality of the link itself, but it won’t help you in assessing the relevancy of this publication position. Remember, as well as building SEO rankings, digital PRs need to improve brand exposure and audience connectivity, so take some time to think about where the client’s ideal audience is – this might be incredibly niche, but that’s okay! After all, these are the people most likely to click through on that valuable link and turn interest into a potential sale.
Once you’ve found a publication which speaks to your client’s niche, don’t neglect them. If you can build a strong working relationship with a journalist at this publication, you’ll be much more likely to secure regular links and coverage with this outlet.