Link building has been a common strategy for digital marketers for years. The practice, which involves generating links to your site to increase your site's authority, can significantly improve your Google search rankings.
However, a digital PR strategy manages to build strong links while also building brand awareness — or getting your company or organization's name out there and increasing recognition. And no, we're not talking about traditional pr or press releases.
Digital PR involves creating original, quality content and pitching it to online publishers, with your brand being cited as the source of information. There is a focus on high-caliber content but also on building authentic relationships with writers and editors.
What results can digital PR get you that benefit search engine optimization (SEO), and why should you care?
Let's explore further.
Digital PR Earns Better Links
This is one of the most exciting benefits of digital public relations. When you invest in creating newsworthy content, many more writers will be interested in what you've produced if it's new information and would provide value to their audiences.
The following tenets of digital PR have to be present to accomplish this:
- Emotional content that is directly related to the writer's audience
- Personalized pitch emails that show you've done your research on what the writer likes to cover and what their readers would appreciate
- A pitch email that succinctly sums up the key takeaways from the high-quality content that are of interest to them
- Relevant and well-designed graphic assets, data visualizations, or infographics that show what the campaign is all about
- The offer of exclusivity to the first people you pitch to add the extra perk of being the ones to "break" the story
When you have a digital PR strategy that encompasses these elements, your content campaign can get traction unlike any you've received before. If you're able to secure coverage on a top-tier site, it can even spread naturally across a series of other sites, making your job exponentially easier.
An example is the Sex Fears campaign we created for our client Superdrug Online Doctor. We surveyed 2,000 people to determine their biggest fears related to sex and reported on the results.
This content marketing campaign was featured on a variety of sites, including Yahoo!, Maxim, Bustle, Good Housekeeping, Health, Esquire, Elite Daily, and more — a challenging feat when you don't have great content to pitch and digital PR specialists who know how to build connections with writers.
Digital PR Earns More Diverse Links
Sure, link building gets you different kinds of links, often from the low- to mid-level domain authority. But as mentioned in the previous section, digital PR outreach has the bonus of acquiring the hard-to-reach top-tier links.
Once you've secured those, a process called natural syndication occurs. Many of these sites have syndication networks that pick up stories authoritative publishers post. That means that getting a few of those impressive media placements can bring you many more links you didn't have to work for. Dofollow links are the most sought-after, as they have a high impact on your authority, but remember that all link types carry some value.
And, because you're earning media coverage this way and adding to your backlink portfolio organically, you end up with a much healthier mix of links. Google considers a diverse backlink portfolio a reflection of natural conversations happening about your brand and your brand's content, further strengthening the validity of your marketing efforts.
Digital PR Generates More Brand Mentions
It's always a little disappointing when people talk about your brand and don't link, but it's not a total waste. Conversations around your brand, even ones that don't involve links, can provide value in a couple of ways.
Firstly, it's still a brand mention, meaning people reading the piece will see the name of your company or organization. While sometimes that might not seem as exciting as building links, it still means there's increased awareness around who you are. Depending on the context of how you're mentioned, you can be slowly building authority by being mentioned regarding topics you specialize in.
Perhaps most importantly, especially for those focused on SEO, some believe brand mentions are a signal in Google's algorithm. According to Search Engine Land:
The nature of link building means you don't get any of these bonus brand mentions, which is why a more holistic approach to SEO can be more valuable for you.
Perhaps most importantly, especially for those of you focused on SEO, some believe brand mentions are a signal in Google’s algorithm. According to Search Engine Land:
Digital PR Attracts Attention on Social Media
Not only are journalists talking about your brand in their news coverage, but the story will often be shared on social media. Editors, especially on more casual news sites like BuzzFeed or Cosmopolitan, often encourage their bloggers and writers to craft headlines that earn more engagement. The more views a story gets, the more ad revenue the publisher can earn. Even some publishers like the Daily Telegraph have controversially begun to pay reporters based on the popularity of their articles.
We came out with a digital pr campaign for our client Porch.com that created a few click-worthy headlines. In the study, we asked respondents to identify a butter knife, and surprisingly, a large chunk of millennials got it wrong. For a full year, that story earned attention on social media and got people talking.
These headlines were so good, they got people talking on social media even after a year after the original stories were published.
Digital PR Builds More Long-Term Authority
Even little benefits over time start to compound into something that makes all the effort worth it — ongoing authority. Pitching great content — instead of just pitching a blog post or your site's homepage — allows you to better position yourself as experts who create engaging, data-driven content and are worth hearing from.
Even those unlinked mentions are micro-reminders that remind the readers of your brand and that you're a continued part of the conversations they're reading. It's difficult to track this, and as frustrating as that is for results-driven marketers (understandably), that doesn't mean that the impact and the benefit aren't there in the long-run.
Let's Review: Why Digital PR and SEO Go Hand-in-Hand
All-in-all, digital PR not only achieves top-tier coverage, hundreds of quality backlinks, and thousands of social shares for your content. It also improves your ranking in the SERPs by accumulating press mentions and backlinks on high-authority websites while simultaneously making you a more significant part of relevant conversations. Instead of having a marketing strategy or SEO strategy focused solely on one-off spammy link building, consider a plan that gets you multiple benefits for your team's effort and time into digital marketing.