Gone are the days when PR meant sending out press releases via *gasp* the post, and print coverage was the holy grail. Welcome to 2020. Online coverage is the new front page spread, and generating follow links to a website has become the bread and butter of PR agencies around the world.
It’s rare in this day and age that a business doesn’t have a website, and if you’re selling products, it’s a given that you want to drive traffic to your site. But how do you do it effectively? You’ve got the website set up, the products are there waiting to be bought, and you’ve told your social media followers about it. What’s next?
Well, using a combination of traditional PR know-how and combining it with current SEO practices, you can create a formidable link-building force.
1. Links in press releases
An easy one to start with, if you’re not already including links in your press releases you definitely should be. Where you include them is up to you, but linking to the business name in the first two paragraphs, and then including a link in the Editor’s Notes gives a double whammy. You don’t need to include it in every line, but adding it into the content early on means it’s easy to find and should catch the eye of whoever’s reading it. Whether they actually use the link if they cover the story is another matter…
It can be easy to get so excited about the prospect of links that you’re targeting every journalist, blogger and local news site, but it’s worth taking a moment to work out where you want your business to appear. Sites with lots of visitors are the best place to start, news sites are always quality sources, so it’s worth targeting your local news outlets, particularly the local arms of bigger news outlets, such as ITV or the BBC. A number of smaller papers are owned by large news companies affiliated with bigger titles, so it can be worth researching. Getting a link on a blog that has 14 visitors a month probably isn’t worth as much effort trying to secure, but bigger bloggers will have brand packs with information including their monthly traffic.
3. Offer features or exclusives
If you don’t have any recent news to get you on people’s radars, have a think about other ways that you could generate business coverage. What makes you stand out? If you’re a local food producer, coming up with some exclusive recipes for a feature in your local glossy monthly magazine could generate you some online coverage, or maybe you could offer a one-off interview for a business profile talking about the ideas and inspiration from behind the brand. Think outside the box about how you can get the business in front of your audience.
4. Use existing press contacts
Don’t underestimate the importance of existing press contacts. It’s not about what you know in the media industry, it’s very much who you know. The local journo who covered your business when it first opened could easily move on to a national title at any time, or a magazine that wrote a feature on your brand might have other relevant features in the future too, so make sure you’re keeping in touch with contacts and keeping them updated with any news from your business. Don’t be afraid to ask for a link either, sometimes it might be easier than you think.
5. Creative collaboration
Although PR and SEO teams crossover, they don’t always have the same list of priorities. It’s important to find a balance between the creativity of the PR side and the knowledge of the SEO team, generating ideas that will catch people’s attention, but will also, ultimately, translate into traffic and sales too.
6. New audiences
PR and SEO will both help you to determine the audience your brand and business are looking to target. Using analytics, you can look at the people visiting your website and where they’re coming from, putting that information to use targeting relevant media outlets. If your business is aimed at a certain demographic, then you can use this information to pitch stories to relevant press. From mountain bikes to days out with children, there’s usually a magazine or blog writing about it.
Backlinks to your site from other websites can really help build your credibility online, especially if they’re well-established websites with a high domain authority. Popular blogs, news outlets, and local press can help build your online reputation if they are linking to your site.
8. Brand awareness
At the end of the day, PR and SEO have the same aim, which is to drive people to your website and to make sure your business is at the forefront of everyone’s minds. Creating brand awareness within relevant media gets your name out there, and good SEO practices mean that you should be ranking in search engines for relevant terms. Consistency is key.
This is by no means an exhaustive list of things you can do, nor do you have to have them all nailed down to be “successful”, they’re just some handy tips that we’ve learnt along the way!