Backlinks have been a fundamental part of search engine optimisation for over a decade and it can prove difficult to gain stable rankings without them. But whilst the principles of link building have remained largely the same, the techniques used by in-house teams and SEO agencies continue to change.
In recent years one of the most hyped about techniques has been digital PR. After all, it is a proven way to build reasonably contextual backlinks from highly authoritative domains. It also offers the added benefit of being a scalable way to build backlinks, something that other techniques lack in most cases.
Unfortunately, a strategic and creative digital PR campaign can require a hefty investment that is out of reach for many small brands. This often results in their backlink portfolio becoming neglected and their search marketing being hindered as a result.
In this article, we will be sharing a few of our favourite techniques for building backlinks without relying on digital PR. When choosing these methods, we have been careful to only include those that can be performed by an in-house team with minimal investment being necessary.
Whether you’re a flourishing start-up or widely recognised brand, you have news to share. This could relate to a new product launch, team member, or company milestone. Each of which are great opportunities to earn backlinks from highly relevant and authoritative media outlets within your industry.
How to Write Press Releases
Writing and distributing a press release is not as daunting as you may think. This is as they typically share a similar template and do not require an extensive amount of copy in most circumstances. Therefore, allowing you to quickly write an engaging press release for the media.
As you would imagine, the headline of your press release is key to its success. It should contain enough depth for the journalist to grasp the topic whilst also leaving them wanting more. If your headline is too fluffy, it is likely to remain unopened in the journalist’s inbox.
Once you have written a great headline, you can focus on the content at the heart of your press release. Lorraine Forrest-Turner has broken down her press releases into the five core paragraphs, which we’ve outlined briefly below. Each covers a different aspect of the story in a natural and engrossing flow.
- Paragraph 1: Provide a summary of your brand in a few sentences.
- Paragraph 2: Offer context on the story and highlight why it is newsworthy.
- Paragraph 3: Include details on the story, such as who is involved, how it developed etc.
- Paragraph 4: Give relevant quotes to add information and credibility to the story.
- Paragraph 5: Provide links to information about the story as well as accompanying assets.
Although it can be tempting to touch upon several topics in a single press release, this should be avoided at all costs. Otherwise it demands far too much dissection by the journalist, further reducing the likelihood of it receiving coverage.
How to Distribute Press Releases
If you are on a limited budget, you can store the details of each media outlet in a spreadsheet and distribute your press release individually by email. Alternatively, use a tool such as BuzzStream to speed up the process by sending several emails at a click of a button.
Tools such as BuzzStream also allow you to create sequences, therefore automating the follow-up process in the days following a press release. After all, journalist often overlook an email and benefit from a gentle reminder on occasion.
It is, however, important that you do not hassle the journalist too much. Do not see their failure to share your news as an attack on your brand, as they may be dealing with a tight deadline on another editorial or your press release may not suit their publication.
From weekly news summaries to annual industry predictions, there are plenty of opportunities to have your content featured in so-called ‘round-up’ articles. You have just got to know how to foresee their publication, what type of content to write, and how to pitch to the writer.
How to Find Round-up Articles
You need not pay for a costly tool when in search of round-up articles. Simply use your preferred search engine, whether that be Google or Bing. If you are using Google, begin by using their “intitle:” function to discover articles with particular words or phrases in their title.
For example, if you are a financial advisor search for articles featuring the term “roundup” and the phrase “personal finance” in their title. You will then discover dozens of round-up articles to target moving forward, but ensure you consider the authority and quality of the website.
How to Get Featured in Round-up Articles
Now that you have got a list of relevant round-up articles, you can begin the outreach process. Thankfully, these articles will usually be published weekly or monthly and they are typically written by the same writer each time.
If their contact details are not available on the website, turn to Twitter or LinkedIn. Tools such as ResponseSource are great for brand’s who have a higher budget, although it must be said that ResponseSource can be used for far more than just finding contact information.
If you have got your content ready to pitch, then you are ready to send your email. But ensure that any content you produce is suitable for a variety of round-up articles, as this will allow you to scale your link building efforts more effectively.
Content is at the heart of many link building techniques, including the more involved digital PR. But whilst digital PR usually relies on a highly planned and creative piece of content, you will often have a catalogue of insightful content that you’re already publishing on your blog.
How to Create Linkable Content
Do not confuse creating linkable content with creating sharable content. Whilst both require the content to be of high quality, content that is shared a lot of social media is not necessarily going to gain the most backlinks.
The most common way for content to receive backlinks is via a citation. Another writer may have found an insightful statistic or compelling opinion in your own content, for example. So, they will deem it necessary to link to the original source for that stat or opinion.
For you to gain citations, your content must be sought-after, original, timely, consumable, and trustworthy. Originality is particularly crucial, as you are unlikely to receive credit if similar content can be found elsewhere online.
When creating content, you must also consider its style. Whilst short and snappy articles are great for social media, in-depth analysis and insightful infographics are great for getting backlinks. Although, it must be said that the exact style is dependent upon the media outlets you are targeting.
How to Build Links to Your Content
Whilst quality content from authoritative writers will naturally gain backlinks, you must also have an outreach strategy in place. Otherwise, you will miss out on valuable backlinks and soon find that the time spent creating content fails to garner a return on investment for your brand.
Maintain an up-to-date spreadsheet of trusted media outlets within your sector and their writers. Then announce any new content with an email that highlights the relevance of the subject and the benefit it could provide to their readers.
Once you have established a relationship with the media outlets and their writers, they may keep an eye on any future content you publish. Therefore, allowing you to get links far into the future and strengthen your authority with minimal fuss.
If you are a widely recognized brand in your sector, you may be mentioned in news coverage and blogs regularly. Frequently, the writers of those posts forget to link to your website. These pose great opportunities to gain a backlink, especially if they have used your content in their article.
How to Find Brand Mentions
Google Alerts are a free way to discover mentions of your brand. You simply set-up an alert for your brand name and abbreviations of it, which will see you receiving an email whenever these terms or phrases are mentioned online.
Mention is a premium tool that does a similar job. However, it compiles all these brand mentions into a single location with key metrics about the source. You can, therefore, filter and prioritise any mentions based upon the potential value of the backlink.
How to Secure Unlinked Mentions
Now that you have found news coverage and blog posts that mention your brand without linking to your website, you are able to begin the outreach process. It is typically easy to find an email address, but you can use both Twitter and LinkedIn if necessary.
The approach you take in your email can vary, dependent on whether the writer has used your content or simply referenced your brand. Joshua Hardwick has provided a brilliant guide to writing a simple outreach email that gets read.
As you build backlinks to your website, you can expect to lose some too. This may be because the writer revises an old post, the site migrates to a new platform, or perhaps because they have simply chosen to remove the link. But by monitoring your backlinks, you can quickly identify lost links and reach out to the website owners to reclaim them.
How to Identify Lost Backlinks
Whilst Google Search Console reveals who is linking to your website, tracking which of these backlinks have been lost can be a tiresome task. However, tools such as Ahrefs allow you to monitor incoming backlinks and identify those that may have been lost from one week to the next.
Another great feature of Ahrefs and other similar tools is that they reveal the quality of any lost backlinks. You can therefore easily filter them and focus your efforts on reclaiming the backlinks from trustworthy and authoritative websites.
How to Reclaim Lost Backlinks
Once you have identified lost backlinks, you must reach out to the writer or website owner. If you are struggling to find their contact details, try Twitter or LinkedIn. Alternatively, use a tool such as Hunter if you have got the budget.
When reclaiming backlinks, the outreach email is very important. Remember to be chivalrous and highlight the benefit it offers to their users. But it is important that you do not come across overbearing, as this will often lose you the backlink.
- Every brand has a story to share, whether it’s related to a new product launch, new team member, or company milestone. Maintain a list of industry-specific media contacts and regularly share press releases to gain backlinks and strengthen brand authority.
- Use Google’s handy “intitle:” function to discover weekly, monthly and yearly round-up articles you could be featured in. Depending upon the subject, offer your comment on a hot topic or suggest a insightful piece of content you’ve created to be featured.
- Take advantage of your existing catalogue of insightful content by making media outlets aware of your latest pieces. But remember that they must sought-after, original, timely, consumable and trustworthy to grab the attention of writers.
- Use Google Alerts and other tools to listen for mentions of your brand online and reach out to writers who failed to link to your website. This is particularly necessary if other sites are regularly referencing or repurposing your original content.
- Utilise Ahrefs and other tools to identify lost backlinks before reaching out to the writer to reclaim them. But remember to be friendly and justify the value it offers to their users.
For more insights on link building and Search Engine Optimisation, view our collection of SEO tips. Alternatively, get in touch with our Digital Strategists if your brand needs one-to-one support today.