You can get links by producing great content which people social bookmark or mention on their sites. But you only get those links from your followers and a few others that happen to stumble upon your content. Sometimes you need to push with Public Relations outreaches to get links because sitting around with only a pull strategy for link building is silly.
Links from large media outlets, big online publications, and influential bloggers can really give your search ranking a power boost. In addition to the fact that the links you receive from big media come from a high pagerank domain, they also cause a big snowball effect with linking.
Let’s say you get mentioned or featured in the New York Times. Since they are such a big media outlet with high readership, the article itself will probably receive a ton of external links, which gives you more SEO juice since you are linked to within the article. If you are lucky, you might even get direct links from other websites since they’ll have found you on the New York Times and will consider you a credible source for the thing you were mentioned about.
Also, since you are linked to by the New York Times, you will receive a TON of referral traffic from the mention and lots of direct traffic if the article goes out in print too. Traffic is an important factor is SEO too because your higher visibility tells search engines that you are a ‘more relevant search result’ for the time being because more people are hearing, reading or searching for you.
More thoughts on how the link snowball effect and aggregate traffic benefit you are in my last post, Factoring Time into SEO.
Traditional PR increases your external link portfolio because you can get a ton of links from domains that may have never found your content. How likely is it that a Forbes editor will find your website or blog and want to link to you without you reaching out to them first? But if you can get linked to, you must be a pretty reliable source since such a big publication is mentioning you, and that will be picked up by the search engines.
Run a PR campaign and see how those power links can help you!
If you are looking for advice on PR, here are some Media Relations tips in a post I wrote for ReadWriteWeb.