Digital PR strategies: The Future of Link Building

It’s no secret that search engines like quality links.

Links are still a top ranking factor. Anyone who says differently does not want to do the hard work required.

SEO and Digital Public Relations are becoming ever more entwined.

Digital Public relations helps to build brand awareness, establish authority with Google, drive traffic to your site, and improve search rankings.

In my opinion, these PR links are the most valuable of any form of link building or backlinks.

People ask me how I ranked #1 for SEO Expert in 9 months with a brand new domain. I established myself as an expert in the medium.

Think about it, USA Today, Fox News, American Express, and more refer to me as an SEO Expert, don’t you think Google will take notice?

example of a link on americanexpress.com

When Amex needs a source on SEO, E-commerce, or social media who does the writer contact? Me.

The industry is scrambling to build links. Most are taking the easy way out and paying for guest posts with little regard to the consequences long term.  Or outsourcing a link building service.

Building links while creating a natural, organic, high-quality backlink profile is not simple. 

Central to all of this is good, old-fashioned public relations. 

Real SEO experts are spending significant time looking to build relationships with writers and journalists. Yes, all 9 of us who are ahead of the curve.

In this guide, I am going to take a look at online PR strategies, explain what they are, and provide you with actionable tips on how to get started.

Let’s get down to business straight away. 

digital pr tactics being planned at a table

What is an Online PR Strategy?

Online PR is a highly cost-effective way of marketing your business on the web.

Just like traditional PR, it’s a way of spreading the word about your brand, only using websites and blogs rather than TV, radio, and newspapers.

A good online PR strategy is essential in this day and age. Not only will it help you start influencing people, but you will also begin to gain trust and authority.

The payoff is with valuable organic backlinks.

However, it’s more about building relationships. The links will come. 

If you can connect with authority figures in your industry, news outlets or high profile media sites, it can do wonders for your SEO.

It’s important to understand there is no one size fits all online PR strategy. Every business and every industry is different. Develop a plan that fits your needs  

Here are some basic principles to follow.

digital public relations cubes on a desk

How to Create Online PR Strategies

Your company or clients PR strategy online will depend on what you do, which industry you serve, and where your customers are located.

It is essential you have a thorough knowledge of the market you are promoting.

It’s also vital to understand what you want from your online PR strategy.

Are you looking to gain more authority in your field? Do you want to spread your market reach? Are you looking to raise awareness of a particular problem or product?

Once you have these critical points noted, it’s time to take a look around.

Who are the influencers in your field? Where do they hang out online? What sort of content do they create and respond to? Are there already contributors on their site (more on this shortly)? The idea here is to build up a picture of who you want to contact – and how you should contact them.

Research, analyze, and spot the opportunities you are missing. There are some excellent pr management software options available.

Also, be aware some links are more powerful than others.

Google awards links from websites with a high “domain authority” more than they do for lower authority domains. You can use services such as Moz to check domain authority – also known as DA. Granted, Domain Authority is a controversial and dying metric. You may also consider using Ahrefs new domain rating formula.

PR Strategy of looking at domain rating when evaluating links

Use a domain rating when evaluating link targets for PR.

Ideally, you need to be targeting websites with trust from Google, and not waste your time on low-end targets.

It might be that you need to cross some prospects off your list.

The best possible links you can get to your site are from organic media and authoritative websites related to your website. For example, a link from a top digital marketing blog to my site would be considered significant.

It’s going to be tough to get these types of links if you are selling, say, rubber ducks. But you might have some success if you have anything of value to add – customer research, a brand new use of technology, etc.

OK, so now you have strategies in place, it’s time to get to work.

Developing Media Relationships

Many people tend to confuse guest blogging with PR.

Guest blogging is merely an attempt to place your articles on blogs often with regard to how authoritative these blogs are. Sure, you fall into the DA55 trap, but does that old blog, really have authority with Google?

Public relations is developing a healthy media relationship that could result in a high-quality content placement and even more opportunities in the future.

Building relationships with bloggers, journalists, publishers, and influencers are imperative for this.

You must focus on quality over quantity, and take the time to build these all-important relationships will help you to do just that.

Think about it: would you rather have one link from an authoritative site Fox Business,  or several from a small blog that nobody cares about? The former is far harder to obtain and therefore more trustworthy.

Start by targeting 10-15 relevant people and cultivate relationships with them.

You will get better results than trying to build relationships with hundreds of people at once. This is not a mass email game plan.

Take time, do your research to find influencers, writers, and journalists in the niche you are working in. Then, it is time to start engaging with them.

Do not spam them and ask for a link. 

Pay attention to what they are saying. Comment on what they are putting out, add value and personalize it.

When the time comes, they will be more likely to work with to you. Yes, I said work. PR is about providing value.

Meeting influencers in person is even more useful. Do not be afraid to buy them a coffee or a beer if you get the opportunity.

public relations strategy

How to leverage PR for Link Building

While PR for link building is cost-effective, it is also time-consuming. You can save time by using one of the many PR software tools on the market.

Just like in real life, relationships take a while to build, so don’t’ expect an easy ride.

The whole process starts with an important part of link building called ‘outreach.’

Outreach, But Not In A Traditional Sense

Outreach is a term that describes the process of contacting bloggers, writers, journalists, and industry authority figures. The aim is to build up a relationship, get your face or name known, and make a genuine and worthwhile connection.

The main point to remember here is to avoid diving straight in at the deep end. 

Put yourself in the other person’s shoes. Would you give someone you don’t know anytime if they straight up asked you to publish one of their posts or be a source in your article? It’s unlikely – just as it will be if you do the same.

So, how can you possibly start developing a relationship with someone you don’t know online?

It’s surprisingly easy when you know how. 

Bloggers, journalists and article writers are just as keen on attention as anyone else. They love flattery, enjoy talking about their work, and will often take notice when someone shows an interest. 

After all, if a writer publishes a piece that does well online, don’t you think their boss takes notice?

So show an interest.

Comment on their blog posts, and follow them on Twitter.

Share their knowledge with others. You can bet your life they will be tracking it. This part of the process is all about engagement, pure and simple.

Connection

Once you have laid the groundwork, the blogger, author or journalist might just take the bait. If so, fantastic, you are on your way already. If they still need some warming up, there is plenty you can do.

Be bold, be brave, and get in touch with the contact directly.

Start by asking them for a quote on a particular subject for one of your blog posts on your website. Flatter them, ask for their professional and valued opinion. Offer to link to their site in return. The chances are they will agree, and also share your post with their followers.

Once you have that relationship cemented, you can be even bolder. Offer to write them an article on a subject they have yet to cover.

Ask them to test or review your product ahead of your launch date.

All this sounds easy, right?

Well, not quite.

Ultimately, your contact will want to connect with you if you have something to offer. You will need to make sure your website is packed full of spectacular content and insight into your industry.

You should offer them exceptional ideas for collaboration, not pointless exercises.

Finally, you must offer them something which makes it worth their while.

No one is going to ruin their reputation by publishing a futile and unoriginal article.

Which brings us to our next section…

HARO, one of the many pr strategies and tactics

Online PR Strategy Tips

There are several ways of attracting the right kind of attention with your online media strategy. Let’s take a look at those right now.

HARO

HARO – an acronym for Help A Reporter Out – is an exceptional service well worth checking out. I did a previous full review of Help A Reporter Out.

Journalists use it for research purposes when they have a piece to write – and it can bring you amazing results for PR and link building.

Here’s how it works.

First of all, you need to sign up for the HARO service. It is free to use, although there are graded subscriptions with extra features. Three emails are issued every day, Monday thru Friday. Each one containing a variety of requests or questions from journalists.

There is usually a broad range of topics available, everything from science to business practices. 

If you have something interesting to say on a particular subject, you reply with the requested information.

With a little luck, the journalist will use your answer and give you a link back to your website. 

It sounds easy, right? Not quite.

HARO journalists tend to get many replies. Unless your industry is particularly niche, it can be tough to stand out from the competition. 

So, what can you do to make sure you are noticed?

Start by writing a few fundamental ‘pitches’ for the subjects you want to talk about. Speed is of the essence.  If you do not get your response in quick, your reply will most likely be ignored as the writer has already found a source.

You will need to get into the swing of creating compelling, eye-catching headlines that stand out from the crowd. You will need to be adept at tailoring your media and PR pitches to the relevant subject matter in a super quick time.

Outline your expertise, your main points of discussion, and a little about why it matters. 

Make sure your reply is free of typos and grammar errors, I always use Grammarly to check my writing.

Finally, you will need to be patient and persistent. Check your email queries when they arrive and be prepared to move fast.

Interviews

The next part of this section is an important one. Some of the most potent links come from journalists. Whether from the national or local press, these links are golden.

If your story is compelling enough, there is a possibility you could earn an interview or feature. That means tremendous link juice.

The big question is how do get featured on one of these top sites?

You have to offer something of value. 

There are a few things you can do to attract the right kind of attention. First of all, do you have anything worthwhile for a journalist looking for a good story?

I touched on this a little earlier, but let’s say you notice a particular trend in your Google Analytics account. 

Perhaps you have commissioned some research into a particular subject, and the responses have revealed some interesting info. 

Your next step would be to find a journalist in your industry that has a direct interest in the detail you uncover.

It could be part of a broader trend or something to legitimize a point the journalist tried to make in the past. The point is, if it is relevant to the journalist’s requirements for a piece, they need all the help they can get.

By supplying them with that relevant info, you could end up with a direct link from a leading publication. Not to mention the impact of the shared links that go along with it – on social media, for example.

Journalists can be valuable tools for getting your message out. 

Build your Influence on Popular Blogs and Websites

This is a vital part of your armory when it comes to your online media relations strategy. A contributor post is when a blogger allows you space and opportunity to write an article and publish it on their platform.

Let’s take a look at the basics – and how to get them right.

Content is (still) king: Your content – blog posts or articles, in this case – has to be excellent. It is that simple, and you will not get away with offering anything less if you want opportunities on highly visible sites. The more incredible your content, the more people will read it and possibly look you up.

The Internet is full of repetition: Don’t be the guy/gal who copies other people’s work, and rehashes the same old points of view. Be original and compelling.

Don’t miss your target: Your audience targeting needs to be razor sharp if you want to get people’s attention. This goes for the audience, as well as the blogger. Give them value, and you will get rewards.

This is a relationship: Finally, don’t forget this is a relationship. Tailor your content to the journalist/blogger’s needs. Be honest and open in your communications and exceed their expectations.

Be friendly, helpful, and polite. Remember you are building relationships here.

The role of the PR department.

The PR department expands a company’s reach, builds up a brand and helps it to gain publicity. They do this by pitching stories to the media with the goal to help raise awareness of a brand, and also earn referral traffic to a site.

How could we put that simply? They are building links! Without even knowing it, too.

This is a super useful link building method. By imitating what PR teams are doing, you can work to produce better content and earn powerful links from high-quality sources, helping your business to get results in the long run.

It is the most natural way to produce links.

A group of people holding a colorful dialog box with different text that relates to Social Media

Utilize Social Media As A Way To Support Your Strategies

Social media is one of the most influential public relations tools

Using social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram allow brands to introduce themselves to influencers in various industries and build professional relationships.

Social media can also be used to help SEO efforts. It can help you to get more people reading your content. Make sure you are being found where you need to be seen, and you are not missing out on anything.

Conduct Competitor Research

You must always know what is going on in your niche, whether it’s something another business is offering or a rumor in the industry.

A marketer will miss out on lots of opportunities when they don’t know what is going on in the industry they are working in.

Establish yourself as an expert in you or your client’s field.

There are a few things you can do to help you with this.

For instance, if you have publicly traded companies in your niche, you can read earnings reports. You can learn a lot from these reports.

Make sure you also keep an eye on what your competitors are doing in search and what seems to be working for them.

Take a look at their backlinks and stay on top of it so you can get even more efficient at optimizing your pages.

Create Your Content Based On Audience Problems And Insights

The goal here isn’t to use PR to build links directly; it is to raise brand awareness and get referral traffic on your site.

Producing content based on specific audience problems can help with this.

Google Alerts can be used to generate keywords, terms, and brands that help you to find trending topics to focus the content on. You can also see the problems your audience is focused on by using tools like Buzzsumo.

Use your keyword research intelligently to gain an insight into your audience’s issues, rather than to use keywords and generate clicks merely.

PR Metrics Outside Of Just Links

When using PR in to build authority, this is what you need to pay attention to:

  • Social Media- Monitor social shares, likes, tweets, and online brand mentions so you know what your audience thinks of your content.
  • Engagement- Make sure you pay attention to comments, even on the content you have posted on other sites.
  • Monitor Links- This will help you to see if your PR techniques result in any additional backlinks to the site.

Conclusion: Strategic PR Media Relations = Link Authority

As you can see, there are enormous benefits of combining a traditional PR strategy with SEO and link building. Links still matter. But it’s where you get them that counts.

Building relationships and making connections in any industry is imperative to success. Make it your business to become more like a PR company.

The bar for link quality is going up constantly. By making sure you begin using the PR strategies laid out here in your campaigns, you will generate organic links from authoritative sites.

People argue that SEO, link building, and similar techniques will eventually die. Whether they will or not is still up for discussion.

Public relations isn’t going anywhere.

Is Google going to ignore a link from USA Today or Fox News?

Click here to fill out my contact form!

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