Let me guess… you’re here because you’ve spend a lot of money over the past year creating really cool campaigns to generate high quality and quantity backlinks to your site, but found that it has generated a lot of coverage (without a link)? Or maybe you’re just interested in how we do it and after some tips?
Well, it’s simple! If a journalist can cover the story without linking to the asset – start again!
Ok, I admit, it’s not that simple. But I’m here to give you some tips on best practice.
Stephen Kenwright, The Director of Search here at Branded3, says in a previous post that “Link earning is the process of adding so much value to a story that journalists and bloggers cannot fail to link to your website when covering it.”
He states “think about link building as a two-step process:
- What can we do to earn coverage?
- What can we do to turn that coverage into links?”
When it comes to link building through digital PR, we can no longer ask for a homepage link, a link to a product page, or a link to a simple blog post. It’s unnatural and, quite simply, Google doesn’t like it.
What’s more, directing users to a simple write up of your research findings, is that really going to keep them on the site, exploring or even converting? No!
So, where should you build links to?
An asset! An asset that adds value, and asset which is engaging and an asset which acts as a resource.
//giphy.com/embed/10FHM48UZuBTNKStephen shares “Think about it this way: earning coverage is adding value to a journalist. Giving them something they know their audience will like. Earning links is adding value to the audience. A journalist will link if you’re helping them add value to their audience.”
An asset doesn’t always have to be big, bold, and expensive. Downloadable recipe books, research led whitepapers or reports and static visuals have worked well for us in the past, while interactive assets, such as quizzes, tools and maps are, great for generating traffic, increasing time on site, social shares and, most importantly, links.
Here’s an example: – you’ve came up with an idea for a travel client on the most “let down landmarks around the world” (there you go Expedia, there’s an idea from me) but how do you create an asset which adds value, is engaging and acts as a resource all at the same time?
A survey and a blog post isn’t going to cut it – after all, a journalist can take that information and cover the story on its own so why do they need to add the link? They don’t! So what is a valuable, engaging, and resourceful asset, and how do I make one?
- Create a campaign page with a unique and interesting URL, so when users see it they already want to click and find out what it’s all about
- Design something unique which cannot be copy and pasted but can only be explained by linking to it! Make sure it’s not too branded because then it becomes advertorial and you may be asked to pay!
- Make it interactive. Allow the users to click and explore various elements of the asset. Keep in mind that the more opportunities there are for exploration, the longer the user will spend on the site. Just don’t make it difficult/messy and think about usability.
- Turn it into a resource for journalists, and ensure that the asset includes extra information that you haven’t shared in the press release. For instance, if a journalist wants to explore a country’s stats more closely, they would have to click on the asset to get the facts they need. This makes it a resource!
- Add extra features for the user. This not only encourages the user to share or interact further, but could even help to convert. For example, our hypothetical interactive tool of landmarks could include ratings, blogger reviews, social comments and maybe even a discount code for tickets to landmarks that are highly recommended.
Asking for that link?
If you’ve found you are still struggling for journalists link to your asset don’t be afraid to ask for it. There are of course things you should and shouldn’t do when it comes to getting that link.
- Do: Ask them to “credit link the campaign page, so that users can explore the research more thoroughly”. Here’s an example…
Never demand a link or aggressively ask where it is. Unfortunately, some sites have strict policies regarding adding links e.g. MSN just don’t do it!
- Don’t: pay for it! Never pay for it! If they ask for payment, it’s a spammy site, your asset is too branded, or they don’t find it interesting enough to cover it for free. Our CEO, Tim Grice, shares his thoughts on paying for links here but the simple fact is Penguin will look for you! He will find you! And he will hit you!
- Do: Personalise your email – look at what the journalist has previously covered and mention it in your outreach email! Have a casual but professional conversation with them, as this is what most journalists prefer and they appreciate PR’s sending them stories related to their previous work.
- Don’t: Ask them to include a keyword anchor text. You know Google doesn’t like it – or should know if you work in SEO. If you don’t, read up on why here.
- Do: Give them something in return, such as offering to share their article on social via your clients’ accounts, or pay to promote their article on Facebook. Many journalists are measured on traffic and shares, so this could incentivise them.
- Don’t: never make it obvious that a link is all you’re after. I know it is your main KPI, but don’t let the journalist know that.
- Don’t: chase up if they’ve already said no – this will annoy them and can ruin the relationship for future opportunities
If you are at all stuck for campaign ideas, you can find a full years’ worth of inspiration on our blog here. Each Friday the PR team share their top 5 campaigns of the week covering travel, lifestyle, finance, business, food, fashion and retail! If you are a client and stuck on a link building strategy all together, feel free to drop us an email!