“Digital PR is just as critical as tech SEO, probably more so in many cases.” This was a recent tweet from John Mueller, Search Advocate at Google.
Given this recent endorsement of the importance of digital PR, how can you incorporate it into your SEO strategy to boost your search engine rankings and drive traffic to your website?
In this blog, the V Formation PR experts give a practical insight into digital PR and SEO and share our top tips for securing quality backlinks.
What is digital PR?
A great tool for driving unpaid traffic towards your website, digital PR is an online strategy used to increase business product and service awareness through quality links and brand mentions on digital platforms.
By targeting media outlets with a high website domain authority (DA) – used to determine the rank value of a website – and securing a backlink to related material on your website, you can increase the visibility of your content in search engine page results.
What is a backlink?
A backlink is an incoming hyperlink from one website to another. Backlinks are seen as a ‘vote of confidence’, signifying a website as a valuable source, which in turn can increase its domain authority, ranking position and search visibility.
However, backlinks are not all equal in terms of their value. For example, a backlink from a website with a high domain authority – such as an international newspaper or university – is more valuable than a backlink from a website with a low domain authority.
Whether a link is ‘followed’ is an important metric to consider. A follow link allows search engines to point back to your website, and contributes to your search engine rankings. A no-follow link will include a no-follow tag and tells search engines to ignore it. This was introduced by Google to stop link spam in website comment sections and on irrelevant sites.
Essentially, the no-follow attribute says that the website does not endorse the site. No-follow links do, however, act as a hint for ranking purposes, thanks to a Google update in March 2020.
Whilst follow links imply more endorsement and credit, unlinked mentions (or ‘inferred’ links) can act as a trust signal, which can potentially lead to syndicated pick-up from other sites that might then link back to you. Links and mentions on social media do not directly contribute to search engine rankings, but the traffic it drives can build authority and allow content to be indexed more quickly.
A handy tool for identifying whether backlinks are follow or no-follow is the MozBar, which provides you with instant metrics when viewing a page.
Relevant, quality content
Before considering how to secure backlinks through your digital PR outreach or campaign, you must first ensure you are providing journalists with everything they need. Namely, a powerful story with a strong and relevant news hook that will interest their readership, high quality imagery or video content, and all the information and sources the journalist requires to run the story. For further advice on this, read about how to write an effective press release, and ways to develop strong media relationships.
Trending vs evergreen topics
The key with digital PR is to align your content either with trending or evergreen topics. One tool for checking if a topic is currently topical is through Google Trends, which analyses the popularity of search queries in Google Search.
Here, you can see the sharp increase in the volume of search queries for popular Netflix series, Squid Game, which was released in September 2021 and very quickly saw a sudden influx in searches:
Travel, pensions and personal finances are just some examples of evergreen subjects that receive consistent interest and search volume over time. For instance, in comparison to Squid Game, the topic of pensions has seen a fairly consistent level of interest for a prolonged period:
How to secure backlinks through digital PR
Here are some tips we’ve picked up through our digital PR outreach on how to secure quality backlinks on high domain authority websites:
- Embedding hyperlinks in the body of your story is one option, if the links direct readers to relevant and useful information that supports and adds value to the story. For example, some market research you have conducted or a free eBook that can be downloaded. Links can be beneficial for publishers and add credibility and context by providing the original source for statistics or research findings. Keep in mind though, that journalists can remove or edit backlinks from content you submit. Some publications, such as specialist HR media, have editorial policies which prohibit the inclusion of links.
- Creating a hub page to host supporting content such as a video, a visual infographic or an interactive widget or tool, will also provide the media with a reason to link back; readers must visit the page to view or utilise what is being described. An example of this could be an online calculator or a short quiz.
- Using social media to share your media coverage is important. It shows support for the journalist and their media platform by driving traffic to their article. If you’re pitching content to journalists that includes or necessitates a backlink, make sure to offer social shares of their story, or consider offering future stories to them as exclusives.
Speak to our digital PR experts
The V Formation PR team has a strong track record of pitching to online media and understands what time-stretched journalists want and need from businesses.
Acting as your dedicated newsroom, we take an ‘always on’, proactive approach by constantly keeping an eye out for new opportunities for you and your business to get involved in and closely monitoring trending conversations to get involved in. By adopting this approach, we can best position you as a thought leader and expert in your field.