PR News | Backlinks: Digital PR’s best-kept secret weapon

Aoife McIlraith

The focus of PR activities has gone beyond simply securing prominent media coverage to facilitating widespread online reach and visibility, which has a longer lifespan and easier discovery. At the same time, journalists are now working to tighter deadlines across multiple beats with less time to research, meaning they are more dependent on data they can easily find online. As a result, the first page of Google search results has become an important reference point in corporate reputation management, as a high ranking increases the perceived trustworthiness of a given resource.

All in all, this means that an effective public relations strategy must incorporate elements of digital marketing, such as link building, the process of establishing relevant hyperlinks from third-party websites. These links from external websites to your own website are called backlinks. Backlink management is a powerful tool for building and protecting your online reputation. For example, by closely tracking backlinks to your online content, you can quickly detect negative or inaccurate information being shared about your brand and act quickly.

Google is already sophisticated enough to ignore link-laden press releases in its SEO algorithms, so it’s crucial to create a backlink profile that incorporates reputable sites, including earned news media and other third-party sources, as well as owned content.

Here are five helpful tips and tactics to keep in mind as you perfect your link building game to create a strong backlink profile for your brand:

Realize it’s about quality, not quantity. A single link from an authoritative site can be worth hundreds of nameless sites. Also, Google can rank page by page, while high traffic sites like YouTube, Medium or Twitter have strong rankings themselves, content from accounts with more views and more followers will tend to rank the highest.

Look for unrelated brand mentions. Catalog unlinked mentions of your brand on authoritative sites and consider politely asking them to add a link, but be sure to demonstrate how the link will add value to site readers. For example, a product review or recommendation would greatly benefit from an actionable e-commerce link. However, asking journalists for a link is not advisable.

Additionally, the same can be done for visuals using Google reverse image search. Have you created infographics as part of your content strategy? Do you have an expert industry speaker who is often quoted with a standard photo? Drop the image into Google and see where there might be some easy to earn backlink requests.

Leverage the SEO power of your company’s industry memberships. Does your company belong to any industry associations, such as a local chamber of commerce or similar? These organizations often like to showcase their members, so it can’t hurt to contact them and ask to be listed and linked on their site.

Find easy wins. Where do your peers and competitors earn their backlinks? Is there room for you to link on this high authority site? Analyzing your competitors’ backlinks can give you insight into their targeting as well as who is interested in their content. You can also uncover opportunities by taking a link, looking at the date the content was published, and if it’s outdated, providing new, up-to-date content? Have your competitors lost links for which you could easily reach out and recover the lost link?

Monitor and measure. What good is a media cover or an influencer mention if you don’t even know it? There are many backlink checker tools in the market to help you monitor and track backlinks to your website or specific content. When preparing your PR coverage reports, consider tracking not only media mentions, but also inbound links to your content.

Remember that a strong backlink profile can have a real multiplier effect on your online visibility and the ROI of your PR campaign.

Aoife McIlraith is Vice President of Marketing at Semrush.

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