Whether newspaper publishers should adopt an online-only strategy or stick to a print-online hybrid is a topic of heated debate. While some leading newspapers, such as The Independent, have embraced an exclusively digital future to ensure on-going sustainability and profitability, not everyone has followed suit.
Regardless of whether news is destined for a digital future, you can’t deny the facts. Last year, 64% of us consumed our news online (Statista). As our behaviour towards news has changed, so too must our PR approach. Now, not only do PR professionals have to consider the intricacies of placing a story, but they must also have an understanding of the power of, and necessity for, link building.
What Is Link Building And Why Bother?
The term ‘link building’ refers to the process of acquiring links from one site to another (usually to your own or a client’s). When one website links to another, it acts as a public vote of confidence.
An intrinsic part of every digital PR strategy, link building accomplishes two key things: it increases website traffic, and improves a site’s PageRank on Google.
Good And Bad Links: How To Tell The Difference
Rewind seven years and any links were good links- people were literally buying them left, right, and centre. Fast-forward to today, and it’s a totally different story. Thanks to algorithm updates such as Penguin, only the right kind of links will boost your ranking on the popular search engine, Google. But, what constitutes a ‘good’ link?
There are over 1.5billion websites out there. Unfortunately, not all containing bona fide info. In order for Google to deem a backlink to your site as ‘good’, it must come from a reputable and reliable source.
3 tell-tale signs that a site is reputable:
Does the website currently link back to well-known, authoritative sites? If so, chances are, it is reputable, too.
Its Track Record
Has the site been around for a while? Is it known for being reliable?
Is it amateur hour? Does the site look like it was made in a flash? Is the content littered with spelling and grammatical errors? If the website doesn’t look professional and well looked after, it may be wise to steer clear. However, don’t be fooled, a snazzy design and fancy words doesn’t always a reputable website make.
Gaining a link from a relevant site is equally important when it comes to Google ranking. Although it may be tempting to only target high-ranking, high-traffic sites, don’t be blindsided into believing that that’s the best way forward. Google rewards relevancy, so, wherever possible, stick to gaining backlinks from sites within your niche.
If you are marketing a brand of trainers, you might reach out to these kinds of sites for backlinks:
weight loss advice
sports and fitness
health and wellbeing
How To Generate Links Through PR
Every day, digital editors are inundated with content of all kinds: advertorial pieces, press releases and product reviews to name but a few. With such a surplus of content to choose from, it’s no surprise that editors are becoming increasingly particular about what they publish. To avoid getting lost in the sea of content, you’ve got to have something special to offer.
“It all depends on the day of the week, what deadlines a writer faces and what holes they need to fill. Copy should be interesting and ideally original – a new spin on an old story is also fine, especially if there is some kind of newshook (why now?) to it. Journalists are always looking for something quirky with colourful characters – or big industry/celebrity names. Exclusive angles or exclusive access to protagonists is helpful – especially if a writer has to ‘sell’ the idea in to a section editor. Stories underpinned by data – particularly exclusive data – are also attractive. One – or ideally more – of these elements will guarantee that you grab a journalist’s attention.”
When sending a story to a particular publication, it’s important to target your content accordingly. The less generic and irrelevant the content, the more likely it is to feature. Think topical opinion pieces, think thought-leadership, think niche.
Always Do Your Research
While compiling a digital PR strategy does take time, it reaps dividends when it comes to achieving backlinks. Research can help inform a strategy in two principal ways:
Determine which sites will provide backlinks.
Back linking isn’t a given. Just because you send an editor the link you’d like them to include, doesn’t mean that they will or that they have to if they want to publish your content. As a general rule of thumb, if a site has back linked in previous articles, it will be open to back linking in the future.
Discover how to maximise your chances.
Using media databases such as Roxhill can help you to craft your copy/cover email to meet the editor’s preferences. Taking the time to personalise your copy could mean the difference between linking success and failure.
Since the introduction of GDPR, media databases are a must-have tool for PR professionals. Today, in order for PRs to contact specific journalists without infringing GDPR regulations, that journalist must volunteer his/her information to a relevant database.
“The key to interpreting the law is being confident that what you are sending the journalist is relevant and is based on a ‘legitimate relationship’ between the journalists and PRs. If PRs spam journalists with irrelevant communications then this is when trouble can kick off. So having a database informing you what the journalists have written about can save you time and legal fees.”
Reveal which sites have the greatest domain authority.
A site’s domain authority (DA) dictates how well it performs on Google. A website’s DA is shown as a number between 1-100, with the higher numbers being indicative of a better ranking. It is good to gauge a website’s DA before asking for a backlink as a site with a higher DA can, in turn, boost your website’s DA.
While a site’s DA is a good starter for ten when it comes to choosing whether you should ask for a backlink, it shouldn’t be the only factor you consider. Coupling a website’s DA with its relevancy to your business is the best way to bolster your brand on Google.
It’s part of human nature to want something that no one else has- or at least be the first to have it. This behaviour manifests in the PR world as an exclusive story. Offer a journalist an exclusive opportunity to feature your breaking news story and they’re likely to be more accommodating. Offer the same piece to a list of contacts and it becomes less enticing.
Sometimes a traditional press release isn’t enough to encourage editors to link back to your site. Instead, consider condensing the information into an infographic, convert it into a video, or create a fun interactive quiz to accompany the text. Not only are these multimedia examples easier to digest and visually appealing, but they’re also super shareable!
Whether you’re an advocate for digital or prefer print, Progeny can achieve the publicity you’re searching for. To discuss your on and/or offline communications with our team, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call us on 0333 444 1163.