The internet is vast. And so too is the data it contains. There is a lot of data readily available (often by third parties) that we can use to make sound judgements on a variety of dimensions and questions.

I don’t have a natural affinity for numbers or raw data, but I do understand the importance of being able to look at the bigger picture.

It is important to not fall back onto one metric as a measure of quality, especially when embarking on a link acquisition programme, after all no single metric can accurately reflect the true value of a link or citation, or its impact on your business.

newspapers in a stack

Links and mentions from major publications are becoming a more prominent part of link building, and for this reason, I wanted to investigate exactly which online newspaper I should target for my link acquisition campaigns.

I enjoy problem solving and working out how we can reach an answer, which I think has formed the bulk of this exercise, which aims to examine the quality of each paper from a sample, using a variety of metrics derived from data gathered online.

At the end of this study, I’ll be pleased to reveal which newspaper we consider to be the best to utilise in your link building efforts.

I’ve taken a sample of 19 UK newspapers. For each of these online news sources, I will ask the following questions:

Which is the most trusted newspaper online?

  • Which newspaper prints the most interesting and most popular stories?
  • Which newspaper have the most well known brand name as a newsource?
  • Which newspaper is read the most?

After finding answers to the above questions, I believe that it will make answering the following bonus questions, much easier:

  • Which newspaper is the best to get a link from for page rank?
  • Which newspaper is the best to get a link from for brand exposure?

Using data that anyone can access using Majestic SEO, Alexa and Google, I will now begin my investigation.

 

NB: GOOGLE IS THE ONLY SEARCH ENGINE USED IN THIS STUDY

Which is the most trusted newspaper online?

To answer this question, I will simply look at which website has the most trustworthy links using Majestic SEO Trust Flow data. The higher the Trust Flow, the more trust worthy the inbound links are, according to Majestic data.

Below is our sample group sorted by Majestic Trust Flow (TF) metrics, at Domain level. 

 

most trust worthy newspapers

 

The clear winner is The Guardian, with a TF of 90, indicating that the domain is linked to by a higher number of trustworthy websites than any other newspaper in our sample.

Which newspaper prints the most interesting stories?

For this, I will again be using Majestic SEO data. Starting with the total number of links to the domain, I will then take away the link count from the home page at URL level and calculate the number of links that point to other pages. This should give us an impression of how well linked each of their stories are. I can then calculate the average number of links per story by dividing the link count by the total number of indexed pages -1 (for the homepage).

The table below shows the number of links per indexed page for each of these publications:

 

number of links per indexed page, or the most popular newspaper articles

 

Sorting the data by the greatest number of links per indexed page, The Financial Times tops this table, suggesting that they maintain a high quality of news content, which people naturally want to link to or reference.

However, The Scotsman, Daily Mail and Guardian all have a higher number of links to internal pages; these are just spread out over a higher number of pages, which could indicate that the quality of content is thinner and less “linkable” (see table below)

 

backlinks to newspaper articles

Which newspaper has the most well known brand name as a newsource?

By this, I mean which news source do people go to, in order to find out the news, rather than which newspaper articles do they discover via search engines or other referers. In other words: which newspapers consistently have better home (or front) pages?

In order to gauge this, I will look at the total number of links to the homepage URL, to give an indication of how many people cite the resource as a whole, rather than individual articles. See the table below:

 

total backlinks to home page

 

Another clear winner – The Guardian comes out on top with 5,470,393 links to their home page, 84% more than the next best, The Telegraph.

Which newspapers are the most read?

By this, I mean which newspapers receive the most traffic. The easiest way to measure this is by using Alexa data to compare each site to the others in the sample.

Alexa ranks are rated from small – large, so a score of 10 is better than a score of 100.

 

most popular newspapers by traffic

 

According to Alexa, the highest traffic site is the Daily Mail, which also has the highest number of indexed pages in Google, with some 58,600,000 pages appearing in Google’s index. See the table below:


indexed pages for newspapers

Which newspaper is the best to get a link from for PageRank?

PageRank isn’t everything, but if you were going to be linked to from any paper, it would be The Guardian in terms of the raw power of the domain (CF) and the “link juice” it passes through outbound links. The domain is also extremely trustworthy, and would be a very high quality domain link, that would be of benefit to you or your client, especially if you could get a good, brand name link.

However, if you dig little deeper, and want your link juice to be more “potent” for SEO benefit, then you need to look at how that link juice is distributed throughout the site.

In terms of how concentrated link power is, then the best newspaper to get a link from is the The Financial Times, because there is a much higher average number of links per article, that would pass link benefit through your link, and to your site. Of course, the Financial Times aren’t going to link out to just anybody, so you better have a good story for them!

Which newspaper is the best to get a link from for brand exposure?

The most well-read paper is the The Daily Mail according to Alexa data, with a rank of 140, closely followed by The Guardian with 210, and the Telegraph with 375.

The Irish News comes out on bottom, but is that surprising since other major publications cover England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland, and so will attract a wider audience.

This means that if you were looking to generate PR buzz or brand exposure, these sites on the whole will gain greater exposure for your story.

The winner

If we assign each of these sites a Score (descending 19 – 1) based on their ranking for each of these tests, then we have a comparative metric to use to compare overall quality of each paper. The league table looks like this, and the clear winner is…

 

– The Guardian –


See the final results table below:

 

the best newspaper for brand exposure, seo and link building

Conclusions

Before you all go running off to the The Guardian website to collect a list of journalist names, it is fair to say that no single metric can ever truly give you an indication of the quality of an online publication for your online marketing efforts, or for any website that you might want to broker a link from. However, we can compare across a variety of metrics, to get a “big picture” view.

The importance of gaining citations and links from major, trustworthy and popular publications is not going to disappear as a valid link building tactic any time soon, and analysing data like this is going to help you make informed decisions about which publications (and any other websites, in fact) are the best to form relationships with for each of your different link building activities – and more general marketing goals.

Final words and Next steps

Using Social Data might give us an even greater sense of which online newspaper performs the best in each area. Refining the approach further, we could compare this data to our link based data we used to judge which newspaper had the most interesting articles.

It would also be useful to look at interactions per article, for example, the number of comments and see how these correlate with links / article.

I have included all the data used in the analysis you can download the document here.

I’d love to hear your opinions on link building with online newspapers – is it a strategy that has worked well for you? Which newspapers have you found to have the greatest impact? Do you think there is any way this study could be refined? Please leave a comment below.