PR for link building


Dave Harrison

Technical SEO

Spinning Spin

It’s no secret that PR is important to your SEO. However, in this case PR stands for public relations, not page rank. Public relations seems to many like a Dark Art aimed at Spin Doctors. For an industry specialising in reputation management, the public relations industry has got a pretty shoddy reputation. But I can attest from first-hand experience that the reputation for champagne swilling parties, long lunches and creeping along the corridors of power is wide of the mark.

Between me and you, Link Building and PR are not that different. I’m sure the statistic hungry search marketers out there are wondering what they could possibly have in common with the creative, out of the box thinkers of the PR world. But, creating content to secure coverage, be it a link or a news story, is the crux of both professions.

Using PR to generate links to your website

But how can PR help your SEO efforts?

This is a very important question, and the simple answer is that good PR understanding and practices can boost your performance in the SERPs. A well written press release can land you that ‘golden egg’ link that you or your client has always dreamed of.

There are two methods of distributing press releases for SEO purposes, news wires and contacting journalists directly. Both of these methods have their distinct benefits.

News Wires

Of the two methods this is the least time consuming, as once you have uploaded the article you just have to wait a few days to check your reports. There are few different ‘wire services’ to choose from, popular ones include Realwire, 24-7 Press Release and Business Wire. These services will syndicate your press release to a number of sites, some of which will include links and some which won’t. These types of services are often looked down upon by those in the SEO industry, citing the authority of the sites and the little amount of link juice to be gained from this exercise. However, a well written press release sent over the wires can be so much more.

Recently we sent out a press release via the news wires, and syndicated it on a number of sites where it was picked up a journalist. The journalist in this instance, worked for BBC Local Radio, and was interested in the story featuring a business based in their patch. After speaking to them we managed to set up a live interview for the managing director of our client’s business to speak on their local BBC radio show. This is the sort of publicity client’s love, and is certainly something the MD will remember. Having the BBC favouring your business is always a good thing too. Although on this occasion it turned out to be radio coverage, in most instances it is likely to be a written story, and if you get a link from the BBC it is the jackpot of links!

Pitching To Journalists

Pitching to journalists, is often a daunting prospect. But if you want to get a great link from one of the national newspapers, or even the BBC or Sky News you are going to have to speak to journalists. But before doing so there are a few golden rules you should follow:

  • Stories have to be newsworthy. This is all about quality, not quantity.
  • Know your publication, and know your journalist – You wouldn’t pitch a guest post to a blogger without reading their blog first, so why should this be any different?
  • Choose your timing carefully.
  • The subject line is the first line of defence against a journalist’s delete finger. – Journalists can get hundreds of press releases a day. They don’t have time to read them all. Make sure your email subject grabs their attention, otherwise your release will be heading to the recycling bin – unopened.
  • Don’t be afraid to pick up the phoneFor many, the prospect of picking up the phone often fills them with dread, but it has proven to have many benefits.

Using PR to Generate Back Links to Your Website

Writing a Press Release

Writing a press release may not be everybody’s cup of tea, but like anything it gets easier with practice. As well as a snappy headline to catch the reader’s eye, and your target keywords, a press release must explain five W’s:

  • Who?
  • What?
  • Where?
  • When?
  • Why?

Whilst there are no hard and fast rules to how a press release should be set out

  • Headline – Key part of the release, this is your chance to entice readers to read on.
  • Paragraph 1 – Journalists are busy so unless the article interests them early on they are unlikely to read the whole thing – get the key points in here so they are not missed.
  • Paragraph 2 – Use this part of the release to ‘flesh out’ the story. For example adding background behind a new product.
  • Paragraph 3 – Quotes from relevant people. Nearly all stories require a quote and journalists are unlikely to run a story without one. Provide more details about what actually happened and where.
  • Paragraph 4 – Any extra information – the most likely bit to be edited by journalist so don’t include valuable information here. You can explain the background of the company here.
  • Notes to editors – Although not part of the release, include any background information that may help the journalist here.
  • Contact details – make sure whoever is named is contactable. If a journalist tries to contact them and they can’t, your story might be spiked and they will move on to the next story.

One final tip; ‘a picture paints a thousand words’ is more than just a cliché. Think back to the last news source you read. What sticks in your mind most? 9 times out of 10 it is the picture that went with the story. The better the picture, the more likely you have of your story being picked.