A problem many clients come to us with is wanting to improve their backlink profile for SEO, but not knowing where to start. The simple answer is that running a digital PR campaign is without doubt the best solution to generate high quality and relevant links.

In this article we break up exactly why that is, and give you a step by step guide to help you start building backlinks before you know it.

Why digital PR?

At a very small scale it is possible to get backlinks without doing too much work. For example, you can easily add links to your website from online directories and social media sites. The caveat is that, while you should absolutely do this where appropriate, be aware that these kinds of links offer very little value in terms of SEO juice.

Another way to get links is to try asking some of your contacts or partners if they could link to your website – as long as the service you provide is relevant to their business too. It could be that you are a specialist Italian tour operator and you offer to write a guest blog for the national tourist board, for example. While this method does offer SEO potential, it is undoubtedly a hard sell and often requires a lot of effort for very little reward. After all, how many times have you ignored an email asking you a similar question?

Having exhausted the above two methods, you’re left with just two options. Buy links, or earn them through a creative and interesting digital PR campaign. Of course the easy option is to buy links, but this is strongly advised against, given Google can heavily penalise your website if it discovers you are buying links to manipulate SEO rankings. In our opinion, it’s not worth the risk. So, digital PR…?

Where to start?

First thing’s first, you’ll need to conduct a thorough backlink audit. This will clearly identify all links you already have, and highlight any which are unfavourable too. With this data you can set about removing or disavowing links where needed, and then identify any gaps in your link profile – which might be a good place to start generating ideas for potential creative digital PR campaigns. 

You should also conduct competitor analysis and audience research, to arm you with the knowledge of ideas and formats that work to use when thinking about campaign ideas.

Campaign creation

Once you’ve got all your backlink data and research, use it to come up with campaign ideas that you think will be both newsworthy and relevant to your brand. Be creative with your ideas, explore what’s topical and being covered in the news for your brand, and ask your team to come up with several options each, as it’s always good to have a bank of ideas. If you’re looking for some inspiration, check out the campaign we thought up for Netflights, which centred on ranking the UK’s 30 busiest airports. 

With your idea cemented, the next step is to start pulling together data, quotes or supporting evidence. Essentially you’ll need to make sure a journalist would be satisfied that your campaign is backed up by genuine research, which makes it credible. You could conduct a survey, gather search data, interview relevant people, or analyse statistics in a new way.

The final step of the campaign creation process is to actually bring it all to life as an interesting and easily digestible piece of digital content. This could be a blog post, interactive guide, series of illustrations, or a video. Ideally, you’ll include a mixture of visual and written content – of course, all hosted on your website.

Netflights screenshot

Outreach

At this point, the hard part is done. Your plan of action from here on and out is simply to get people to link to your campaign content.

If it’s your first digital PR campaign you will need to build a list of potential media contacts. You should aim for a mixture of large and small publications, and also a mixture of specialists and generalists. It might even be beneficial to gather a list of influencers and bloggers who might be interested in promoting your campaign (although you may need to declare a sponsorship relationship here). 

The actual outreach is best done manually, usually via email. Come up with catchy subject lines and make sure your campaign pitch is short and sweet, but with plenty of ways for the reader to find out more. That all important link needs to be front and centre too!

All that’s left to do now is hit send and sit back and wait for the replies – and consequent backlinks – to come in. Provided your idea is solid, you’ve made sure your research is foolproof and you’ve contacted the right people, high quality and relevant links should start to come your way, and consequently boost your SEO performance in the following months.

Repeat

To make sure you’re consistently generating backlinks, we recommend you aim to produce a digital PR campaign around every few months. There are no shortcuts with this kind of work, so the only way to see real success is through sustained long-term activity.

In between this you’ll also want to keep on top of more regular reactive PR – but more on that in another post.

Backlinks and PR with Melt Digital

If you want to improve your backlink profile or focus on your digital PR strategy, let us help. Our expert team are well versed in the ins and outs of producing successful campaigns and can take care of everything for you, from ideation to outreach.

Get in touch to find out more.