Coverage in a print publication used to be the ultimate in PR placements.
Despite the ego-boost it provided the interviewed executive and the PR team, it often didn’t drive business results. It’s not surprising given how unlikely it is that a reader of any given print publication might be in the market for your organization’s products and services at that exact moment.
Now, the most sought-after placements are those that can directly drive qualified visitors back to your site. Unlike vanity coverage that can be dismissed as “nice-to-have” PR fluff, a link to your website can be tracked and quantified. This is why you must endeavor to place links in published articles.
However, you can’t haphazardly pitch website backlinks to your media contacts list. To make this happen, you need to shift your perspective on how you pitch to the media.
Identify relevant outlets
If your goal is to get The New York Times to link back to your website, you’re probably out of luck unless you have ground-breaking proprietary research to share. So, how do you find sites that are a good target for getting your link accepted?
Consider these guidelines:
1. Do they usually link? Does their coverage of your industry or topic typically include links to third-party sites? If so, to what kind of sites? You won’t get a link to your site from a publication that never links to third-party content.
2. Is their site’s content indexed on Google? If a publication’s website is mostly behind a paywall, unless it’s the Wall Street Journal, it’s less likely to give you the reach you’re looking for because Google won’t have enough data to use to evaluate the value of a link from their site.
3. Is the site a respected authority on my topic? For a link to help you increase your domain authority—and increase your ranking in search—you need to obtain links from sites with a higher domain authority (or rank on Google) for your topic area. First, search on Google for your target keyword and see what publications are on the first page of results. Next, use the Moz toolbar to document the domain authority for your site and those of the target publications from your search.
If a site meets all of the above criteria, you’re ready to move on to your pitch.
Embed links in your pitches
Traditionally, media pitches have included a bio of the executive that aims to show why they are a subject matter expert worthy of being considered for coverage. While a solid bio is still necessary, there’s more you can do in your pitches to garner coverage that ultimately links back to your site.
Expert round-up responses
Expert round-ups are typically conducted over email, making them an ideal vehicle for requesting a link back to your website. The key is to use one of your target keywords in your response and link it to an authoritative piece of ungated content on your website. This Forbes round-up with real estate experts, which links to a post on Trulia’s website, is a good example of this. If it’s a useful piece of content, most editors will leave in the link. Just make sure including the keyword in your answer doesn’t make it seem stilted or awkward. After all, you want to be included in the round-up whether or not your link makes it in.
When you are pitching a journalist who isn’t familiar with your expert, embedded links in your pitch can both provide an illustration of their expertise and give the journalist context that may also be included in their resulting coverage.
For instance, you can link back to a piece of related writing on your company blog, or a podcast or webinar they hosted on the topic. If the journalist found it helpful in providing deeper context for the story, there’s a good chance it can make it in on its own. If you have a good relationship with the reporter, you can always ask if it can be included once your pitch gets accepted.
When you write contributed content for a site, you typically get a link to your bio or back to your site. Rather than linking that to your homepage, consider linking it to a landing page that is more likely to resonate with the publication’s core audience.
Don’t forget to include a link to an ungated piece of content in the body of your article as well. Typically, editors will allow you to include one relevant link in the body of your article, as long as it’s not to overly promotional content.
Whenever you place a link in media coverage or contributed content, you’ll want to track it both the measure your results and to ensure it remains an active link. Too frequently, a website redesign can result in all-new page URLs. After all the work you went through to garner those links, you won’t want to lose them. Make sure your web team is aware of these high-value links and uses redirects as necessary to keep them live.
When an editor trusts you enough to link to your site, you don’t want to repay them by giving their readers a bad experience.