Link Earning: The Combination of SEO & PR (A MozCon Takeaway)

Rand Fishkin of Moz said it best, “Link earning is going to replace link building.” In our interview with Rand late last year, he explained:

“…Social and branding and press and PR and things like content marketing will all replace a lot of the purely link-fueled and link-focused outreach and link acquisition, like link building stuff. I see the world of SEO continuing to be focused and even reliant on links in a lot of ways, but not reliant on the tactics we’ve used to acquire them in the past.”

We’ve all heard it: Create great content, and an audience (and sales) will come. Hm, sounds simple enough, right?

In the book Brandscaping, Andrew M. Davis shows this image:

information overload

Just because information has been growing exponentially since 1990, doesn’t mean people have the ability to consume that much more. Talk about irony: when searching for this information overload chart, Google yielded over 1.2 million results.

Unless all of your customers or potential customers are brand loyalists, there is a chance they might not see your content. It’s important for you to get in front of your audience wherever they may be (and that’s not always on your own site).

Content doesn’t stop at creation.

Hey, you’ve already invested time, money, and brain power to create this awesome piece of content; don’t stop investing until the right people start seeing it. You can amplify your content through a variety of ways, including paid promotion, social media, email, link earning, etc.

The relationship between content marketing and SEO needs to be reinforced. One cannot survive without the other. As Rand also explained in his Why Content Marketing Fails presentation:

“Without content marketing, it’s incredibly hard to earn the types of links that will confer domain authority & rankings in search engines. But as content on a site earns links, it helps every other page on that domain rank better in the search engines.”

My question to you is –are you putting investment into amplifying content? Are you following through after creation? Are you making the effort to earn links (and an audience)?

Let’s Get Down to the Tactics:

This isn’t an article on how to create awesome content. You can find plenty of helpful information by checking out Content Marketing Institute or MarketingProfs. I’d like to highlight tactics behind link building/earning to get your already wonderful content picked up and seen by the right audience. So here it is, my favorite tips on getting your content featured (many thanks to MozCon speaker Lexi Mills):

1. Build your list of targeted sites.

Start with some competitor backlink research. If you haven’t already, look at your top 3 competitors in Open Site Explorer, and export a list of the top 50 for each. Find the ones that overlap – if you haven’t been picked up at these places, you probably aren’t being seen by the right audience. Also, talk to your customers! What sites or publications do they frequent in the industry?

2. Find your company’s “expert(s).”

Get to know people in your company with industry authority (particularly in executive management) and assist to help them grow their audiences. Optimize their social media profiles and or help them write content for your company’ site.

3. The most important step: Make the media’s job easier.

  • Use Open Site Explorer’s Top Pages report to look at the publication’s most popular pages. These articles performed well for them in the past – they’ll be sure to want to do something similar.
  • These days, online publications care about visits. Visits = readers and readers = advertisers. Show editors how they can drive visits by showing search volume around the topics you are writing about.
  • Work on getting quotes from experts not in your company. Use existing relationships (online and offline) to feature quotes or interviews from thought leaders in the industry. Having that variety of sources will help your credibility.
  • Be straightforward – ask them what they want. What are your readers looking for? What have been your favorite articles on your site?

Think about it this way: SEOs say the number one ‘link-building’ tactic in 2014 involves creating content & outreach (Moz 2014 Link Building Survey). It’s not all about links – it’s also about building your brand. We already know traditional advertisers pay big bucks to get in front of new eyeballs, while a skilled SEO or PR professional knows how to get that exposure at only the cost of time & strategy.

Don’t let your content get lost in information overload; reach them where they are already at with earned links.

How are you earning links? Share your tips & tricks in the comments!

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