We all know that building great quality links with a high domain authority should be part of any effective long-term SEO strategy. However, achieving good quality links is rarely an easy job, especially with many journalists now raising the bar in terms of what deserves a link and what doesn’t. So how can you use your content to leverage links? There are a plethora of options and strategies to choose from, and ultimately the best digital PR activities for you will depend on your brand, your website, your industry and the media you are targeting.
However, there are some great tactics that are almost always worth exploring, and here I have put together 7 top strategies that you can use to leverage your content marketing to drive links in 2020.
One great way to utilise your existing content or blog to build links is through creating content that will allow you to effectively claim ‘broken’ links. What do I mean by this? Well there is a plethora of third-party content out there that gets deleted every day, some of which is well-linked to by other authors and journalists in their articles. When this content gets deleted, it can leave behind a plethora of juicy links in third party articles, which if clicked on, would take you to a 404 page.
Exploiting this situation by pitching to those authors to let them know that a link in their article is broken can be a great ‘in’ to get links. Tools such as Ahref’s content explorer is a brilliant application for discovering broken links like these in publications that are relevant to your industry. However, you’ll need to leverage your content to do this effectively as you will want to provide them with a blog post on your site that is worth them linking to instead. Figure out what it was those journalists were originally linking to, and if appropriate consider creating a new post or amending an existing one to do this.
Another way to get links is to look at your competitors’ content to see what they are doing right. Remember to look at your search competitors, not just your business competitors. Things like reports, guides and how tos are often well linked to over time, however the sort of content that is going to get you links will be highly dependent on your audience. Tools such as Ahrefs, Moz or SEMrush can help you analyse the backlink profile of key URLs in competitors’ sites, and will give you a good idea of the sort of content in your industry that naturally gets linked to.
A word of warning however, you will need to apply common sense and PR-know-how when doing this. Oftentimes, content that is well linked to on a competitor site may be for a highly specific reason. For example, they may be a much larger player than you or have a different demographic and reach. Alternatively, there may have been a big PR push behind a bunch of links pointing to one page, which means you may also need to factor in the time and resource to do this (rather than just copying them).
When reaching out to bloggers for links, many companies still make the mistake of either blanket emailing them or treating them like journalists. Unless the blog you’re targeting runs guest submissions from companies and you’re prepared to create something highly unique, insightful and tailored for their audience and site, then you’re unlikely to get a look in when pitching a story idea. Instead, think about your current content campaigns that you have coming up and how you could work with bloggers collaboratively. If you want them to link to you, then it is vital that you also consider what is in it for them.
One great way to do this is via what some call ‘ego baiting’. So, for example, if you are planning on new blog content or a hero content campaign, consider how you could get bloggers involved in the project. Would it be beneficial to get them to contribute to your post, or could you run a competition, giveaway or review with them? There are endless ways to be creative here.
While we are on collaboration, another brilliant method for achieving well-linked to content is to work with third party experts and industry players. Oftentimes, if you are running a content campaign with a PR push, you’ll be able to persuade these players to get involved in the project if you are realistic about who you target and can showcase how it would help further build their profile. Who this could be highly depends on the context of your organisation, the industry you’re working in and the content campaign at hand, however they’ll often be industry experts, doctors, lawyers, CEOs, Directors or thought leaders. Once you’ve got them involved in the campaign, they’ll not only be useful to you from a PR point of view, but they’ll also be much more likely to support the campaign by linking to it and promoting it on their social channels.
The term ‘newsjumping’ is often overused, however this method can be really useful for building links if you act fast in response to breaking news and you have access to a bank of genuinely valuable industry spokespeople. For example, if a big story is breaking in your industry, you may want to get the take of your CEO or tech specialists and then pitch this to relevant media. When you do this, it is often worth creating an insightful blog post as a home for these comments and a method of getting media to link to your domain.
However, when doing this it is important to you ask yourself objectively whether the journalists you are pitching to would be interested in both the substance of the comment and the person delivering it. Is their take genuinely interesting, different or perhaps even slightly controversial… or is it likely to be quite an obvious statement? To what extent would the media likely care about a statement from your spokesperson and do they have the authority in the industry to gain coverage?
It is also important here to identify what is and is not a newsjumping opportunity. For example, a big news story may by its nature be quite short lived rather than something that is likely to roll on for days – especially if the story is relatively self-contained and the news agenda is moving quickly. If so, you may find there are limited opportunities to contribute – particularly if you don’t act fast.
It may sound obvious, but content that is designed around PR campaigns is also much more likely to get links than content that is really designed to rank for long tail keywords or which simply copies competitors. Like you would any PR campaign, when creating your PR story you need to figure out what your target media are interested, whether you have a pool of people who are likely to publish your story and whether your story is actually a story. Aka is it genuinely, objectively newsworthy?
Once you’ve figured that out, think about how and why journalists would bother linking to it. It can sometimes be useful here to do some research, both on Google but also using tools such as Ahref’s content explorer which can help indicate the sort of content that gets linked to in your niche. Exactly what this is will depend on the context of your business and industry, however content formats such as reports, survey/research-led articles, guides and content that adds something to their story is much more likely to get linked to.
Most often, it is fine to drive links to the homepage to help strengthen your domain authority over time. However, there may be times that you want to build up the authority of an individual page. This is measured by Moz via Page Authority. There are several reasons you might want to drive links to a specific page, however the most common one is that you need that page to rank higher for a competitive keyword. For example, if you have a particular product or service page that is well written and optimized for keywords, but is ranking lower than competitors for those keywords, it may be that their pages have more or better links.
The rub here is that many journalists will not readily or easily link to service pages. Links are not easy to achieve – and you are often lucky to get a link at all, let alone to a specific product page. However, there are some strategies that you can deploy here if you put your PR hat on and think and who could be persuaded to link and in which contexts it is may be appropriate for them to link to specific pages.
For example, if relevant bloggers or your target media run reviews, then try offering them that product in exchange for an objective review. They’re much more likely to link in this context. Equally, if you are promoting regional/location services pages, you may want to think about PR stories and offers that appeal to regional media and bloggers. Lastly, you could also think about a PR story around your product. However, avoid being overly commercial when pushing stories or surveys, as many journalists will see right through it and therefore question how reliable or true it is. Not many enjoy being used as a marketing tool – especially when what you are doing is blatant. Instead be creative – often things like fun April Fools PR stunts or survey led PR stories around products can get better traction.
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