Links remain one of the strongest currencies in SEO, despite many years of people claiming otherwise.
But getting ones that carry value is becoming increasingly difficult as Google continues to get better at understanding which links are manipulated purely for SEO.
So it’s becoming more important to get good links that will move the needle on your performance.
How do you do that?
By not thinking about links at all.
If you take a step back and approach your link building activity with a more general marketing hat on, then you start to look at ways that naturally drive links along with it.
We use traditional PR approaches to gain coverage for clients on top publications, which then drag links along with them even without it being the first thought.
And we’ve come up with approaches that work time after time to build strong, sustainable link profiles for clients that drive SEO performance over the long term.
Want to know how?
What Is a PR Campaign?
We carry out a variety of PR approaches for clients, from press releases to reacting to journalist requests that land in our inbox.
But the thing that allows us to gain hundreds of links in one fell swoop is our creative PR campaigns.
These involve coming up with creative ideas that make our clients stand out, pitching them to relevant journalists, and watching the coverage roll in.
One of the key difficulties many people have with their PR is that they just pitch the regular qualities of their client which don’t make them stand out from all their competitors who do exactly the same thing.
To get coverage, you need to offer something unique or new that warrants being written about.
What if your client doesn’t have anything new or unique to write about? That’s where we come in.
So how do you come up with ideas that journalists are going to love and write about?
Well, you look at what they’re already writing about!
It’s as simple as that. Identify the publications that you want to be featured on and then scour them to get familiar with the kinds of stories they cover.
It might be:
- New product launches.
- Money-back guarantees.
- Free trips for students.
- Competitions to go on free trips.
- Anything else that offers a slight break from the norm.
The main thing is that it sets you apart from what others are doing, while still following the pattern of stories that the publications like covering.
Once you’ve come up with your idea you need to implement it so you have something to show when you reach out to a journalist.
They can smell a PR stunt a mile off, so this needs to feel genuine, even if it is created with PR in mind (and if your stunt is good enough then they’ll cover it anyway).
For us, this might mean adding a new quirky tour to a client’s website, publishing a blog post with details of a competition and how to enter, or creating a page on our website with the results of a study we’ve done.
This is important for two reasons:
- You can direct journalists to a page on your website with all the information, without having to jam it all into a press release.
- The journalist has somewhere to link to as the source of the story.
You didn’t really think we weren’t considering links at all, did you?
Step 2 here is the crucial part in increasing your chances of getting links from your campaign.
If you give them a URL which readers have to visit to enter, has T&Cs or includes key information that needs to be read then they are far more likely to link to it.
Otherwise, you’re just hoping they link to your homepage as the source.
And I hate hoping.
Once you have your content in place it’s time to put it in the right hands.
Outreach is where SEO professionals become better at PR than PR people.
Many people believe PR is all about your little black book of contacts.
PR is about giving the right journalists the right story at the right time.
It doesn’t matter if they’ve never heard from you and don’t know you from Adam.
If you give them a great story, they will cover it.
So how do you find those people if they’re not in your little black book?
You use link tools of course!
Remember when you were scouring your target publications for story ideas?
Well if you take those story examples and put the source into your favorite link tool then it will tell you exactly where the story was covered (and who covered it).
Do this for a variety of different stories with the same theme and you’ll end up with a long list of extremely targeted writers who have written about something similar so are highly likely to write about you.
Once you’ve been through and sent your story to journalists, it’s time to sit back and watch the coverage roll in.
But be realistic. Each one won’t hit the mark.
You might only get a few bits of coverage, or even none at all.
You can’t control the news cycle and even the best researched and planned out pieces don’t land.
However, if you stick with it and carry out this process multiple times I would bet my house on it bringing in great results for you.
Some examples to give you an idea of what you can achieve:
- This Game of Thrones-inspired competition drove more than 300 pieces of coverage and more than 100 with a Domain Rating 50+ (not to mention actual bookings).
- This Instagram Boyfriend tour drove 265 pieces of coverage and more than 8,000 referral visits.
- This Global Wildlife Travel Index drove 57 pieces of coverage including Lonely Planet, Travel + Leisure and MSN.
This shows you the process works.
There are many more like this. All you have to do is follow it.
- Scour your target publications and identify what works.
- Come up with an innovative take on the themes you see getting coverage.
- Create a page on your site that houses key information.
- Run the successful examples you found through a link tool and make a list of outreach targets where they got coverage.
- Contact those journalists and tell them about your story.
It really is as simple as that.
Timeframe: We carry these processes out over a quarterly period for clients which is a reasonable timeframe to have in place, though it could be done more quickly if it was in-house for example.
Results detected: Links acquired immediately, ranking impact seen around 1-2 months after coverage started to come in.
Average links sent per month: In this example, we gained around 150 links but this can vary from project to project. Some do fantastically well, others bring in 10-20 links, and sometimes they don’t take off at all.
Tool needed: Ahrefs
Benefits of using this link building tactic:
- It allows you to get a large amount of links in a short period of time, as well as being able to get links on top-tier sites that wouldn’t otherwise be achievable through more traditional SEO approaches.
- Links on top-tier publications are extremely powerful and can have a significant impact on ranking performance over the long term. If you carry out projects like this regularly you will develop an extremely powerful link profile which allows you to rank for competitive phrases.
Featured Image: Paulo Bobita