Over the past few months many publications have chosen to “nofollow” links in author biographies, so I decided to reach out to a selection of my media and PR contacts to discuss the best ways to obtain links in stories and guest posts.
Go for a Google Plus link
Many of the publishers I spoke with said that they would be happy to place a link to a Google Plus profile instead or as well as a “nofollow” link to the website of the author. I have heard of several journalists using the strength of their Google plus accounts in pay negotiations, so this link to Google Plus is clearly something that publishers value. You could in fact strengthen the relationship with the publications by asking them for a Google Plus profile link as opposed to a link back to the website. That being said if it is really a followed link back to your website you are looking for, then read on for my top tips on doing this.
Getting the right online content to help you build links
Now that biography links have been crossed off that doesn’t mean you can’t get a link in the body of an article, you just need to give editors a legitimate reason to link to a website. Most of the media I spoke with want to link to content that further enhances the value of their story or the guest post they are publishing. For example, linking to a new product, interviews or data sources and methodologies is generally accepted. So with this in mind it is useful to adjust your guest posting strategies to revolve around particular themes. This allows you to build a set of onsite content assets that you can then reference in these posts and so a link back looks more genuine.
If you regularly target business advice websites then you might want to consider building a blog or area on your website where you can host the advice from your in-house experts as well as data. So that when you’re writing posts for external websites you can then link to this section on your site. Those links will help enhance the value of your business guest posts.
In an ideal world you want to be placing guest posts and stories that by virtue of their subject require a link to your website, and this is where online product PR stunts can be invaluable.
Online PR & SEO Product Stunts
We all see interesting consumer observations when working on clients’ websites, these can be like gold dust when it comes to getting press coverage and building links.
For example earlier this year an online greetings card company, thedogsdoodahs.com noticed that there had been a dramatic rise in people searching and ordering cards for their pets and from their pets. Clearly this is never going to become a million pound product line for them, but it was the base of an interesting story. So what they did was build a real section on their website for this, you can see it here.
They then took the initial research together with some example cards and sent this out to the press. For a relatively low-time investment this got them attention in both national press and across niche pet lovers’ websites. Here’s some coverage they received in the Daily Record:
It is important to note that there were four things that made this story work.
1.) It was linked to a seasonal event, Valentine’s day
2.) It had some interesting data about consumer behaviour
3.) The images were fun and interesting and made available in both screen (72 dpi) and print ready (300dpi) formats
4.) They had an event to talk about; the launch of the new section of their website.
Now although that sounds like a lot of work, in reality, it actually wasn’t compared to writing up several unrelated guest posts, as they could approach several publications with the same story and content assets. The journalist could then write up the story or they could offer to write a guest post about it for them, both would allow for a very natural link back to the website.
Now you would be forgiven for thinking that this type of tactic is all well and good if you are working in a fun industry, but not as easy to execute if you are working on a debt project or even somewhere like the travel industry. I assure you there is always something interesting to be found.
The key things to look for are:
[list_item]Unusual keywords that have driven traffic to your site in the past: (of course not all are available now).[/list_item]
[list_item]Peak traffic times: Are people visiting your site most often in the middle of the night or being naughty during work hours and doing some online shopping?[/list_item]
[list_item]Topical events like the Royal Wedding, World Cup or Olympics. Although there tends to be quite a few people leveraging these events if you make sure you have good data and strong images you will cut through a lot of that.[/list_item]
[list_item]Trending topics: keep an eye on Google Trends to see what topics are most popular that you can hook an idea onto and be sure to drill down into the regional data they provide as well.[/list_item]
Travel industry tip
Specifically with travel clients I have often found that many travel/hotel sites have problems with many people not actually knowing where certain countries or cities are. This type of data will make a great story if you work out which areas of geography people are most weak in.
Where to go for inspiration
For some inspiration about different products and PR stunts you can do I would highly recommend looking at prexamples.com, which is a blog dedicated to celebrating the best in PR and social media and will certainly give you some good ideas.
Good link building tactics should be structured like ecosystems, everything needs to be in balance, too much of anything will look unnatural and is potentially unhealthy for your website. In keeping with this principal, I would not advise that you plan hundreds of ‘crazy product launches’ or commission a huge amount of surveys but rather take a balanced approach with a mixture of techniques.