Link building is dead…. long live link building – taking on the pros


Dave Harrison

Technical SEO

Without wanting to state the obvious, Google’s Panda and Penguin have really changed the art of link building, but I’m sure if you are reading this blog you already knew that. Thankfully, Google seem to be moving towards a model that rewards high quality links from trusted sites. Part of this mix is, of course, the ability to produce high quality, interesting content. However, the question is how do you get this content seen?

One technique, often overlooked by those working in SEO and digital, is public relations. And by that, I mean real public relations, not merely syndicating a poorly written press release over a wire service as an afterthought. That is not to say don’t use wire services but more on that later. I’m talking about making PR an integral part of your link building campaign.

Link building on steroids

Done right, PR is link building on steroids. That’s a bold claim I know, but a well-executed PR campaign can get a brand featured on the BBC, The Telegraph, New York Times plus a wide array of regional and trade publications. Which link builder wouldn’t want on a link on any of these respective websites?

So the million pound question is, how do you do it? The answer, it’s fairly simple, it’s often just a case of optimising your press release and then sending to the right people. That’s right; the first step is to add links to any press releases that your or your clients already sending out. It’s amazing the amount of press releases I see that have no links included either in the body of the release or the notes to editors. If you don’t include your link, why should a website bother?

When sending press releases, there are two golden rules. Firstly, a press release has to be newsworthy. Before hitting the send button, ask yourself “Why would anybody want to read this?”. If the answer is, they wouldn’t, then don’t send. You do not want to find yourself blacklisted by journalists for sending them unrelated, un-newsworthy content because when you get a great story and try and send it out, it won’t even get into journalists in-boxes.

Pitch perfect

Secondly, it’s all about getting your press release seen by the right people. This means, contacting the relevant journalists from the relevant publications. If you have a story that you want featured in, say The Sun, then don’t just email it to the editor of the paper. Just imagine how many emails they receive a day, the chances of them even seeing it are slim, the chances of them acting on that is less than slim. So, you need to find the relevant journalist who specialises in that subject field, be it fashion, gardening, technology or whatever. I know, I know, this sounds like hard work but trust me it’s worth it. There are a number of services you can use such as Gorkana or PR Planner that are great resources. These journalist databases are a must-have link building tool, as they enable you search and filter journalists and publications for the relevant people before contacting them.

If you want to continue going down the newswire route, but are wary following Penguin, then fear not. It’s still safe to use these types of services, but with a few changes to the way that you might have previously operated. If you’re going to use a distribution service, then stick to those that use a true newswire such as Marketwire or BusinessWire. They are more expensive for a reason. Also, mix it up. Each distribution will have their own partners who will publish their releases, so use different services to ensure a more natural link profile. Also, avoid having more than one link to the same URL and don’t use the same anchor text more than once in a release.

Syndication services are a lot easier than contacting journalists directly. However, with most things in life the longer, harder route potentially could yield higher rewards.

If you liked this post you may also like my previous post on PR for Link Building.