For many marketers, link building is a necessary evil that increases organic visibility. Link building, whether you like it or not, is around to stay for the foreseeable future.
Here at connective3, some of our digital PR team have been in the digital media industry for nearly ten years. And in that time, they’ve worked with hundreds of clients. When it comes to how to earn backlinks, there are several key challenges we hear all too often from clients before launching campaigns.
Typically, these often revolved around time constraints, the budget, or they think that their brand is not newsworthy enough to generate links.
To address the last point on how ‘newsworthy’ a campaign is, we’d like to say on record that any brand, working in any industry, can build links. Just check out our team interview on building links in hard to market industries.
But when addressing the first two challenges of time and money, it’s worth noting that not every digital PR campaign needs to cost the world. In fact, there are even things you can do without any budget to deliver high authority links.
Here are five of our top tactics for how to generate backlinks without the need for a PR campaign.
1. Start newsjacking
“Newsjacking is the process by which you inject your ideas or angles into breaking news, in real-time, in order to generate media coverage for yourself or your business.”
– David Meerman Scott
Now, let’s be clear, not every brand can newsjack, and it takes time and effort to pull it off effectively. However, for the majority of brands, this is a legitimate tactic that should be used to gain high-tier, relevant links that generate links to your website.
Put simply, if you have an opinion on a planned topic or a breaking news story, you could send it to journalists covering that topic. If they like what they hear, chances are they’ll mention you in their piece, which creates backlinks for you with minimal effort.
For newsjacking to be effective, you’ll need a spokesperson and to dedicate some time to reading the daily news, but that’s it! That’s literally all the resources you’ll need to use newsjacking to generate links to your website.
A great example of how a brand adopted this tactic and picked up some seriously good links and visibility was money.co.uk.
Using their spokesperson, they worked with the media on relevant topics such as house prices, Brexit, and company updates to give the media and their customers insight into how these updates could impact consumer finances.
Some examples of these links can be seen below:
2. Gathering unlinked mentions
While actual links are nice, unlinked mentions are just as good. Unlinked mentions tend to happen naturally, as a journalist will often mention your brand without even considering adding a link.
As an agency that works in SEO, we would love every mention we get to be linked, but we are aware that this won’t always be the case. That’s why unliked mentions can still be considered valuable when gaining backlinks.
If you do see an unlinked mention about your brand, it may be worth asking the journalists to link to a relevant resource on your site. You never know, that unlink could easily be made into a real link.
It is important to note though that you should never demand a link, ask for a link from a negative article, or ask when the link wouldn’t add any value for you. All in all, it just takes common sense to work out which unlinked mentions could actually be turned into links.
There are two easy ways to find unlinked mentions:
- Set up alerts via Google, Buzzsumo, etc…, to notify you of mentions of your brand.
- Physically search Google for mentions of your brand. The best way to do this is to use search operators. For example, if we were looking for mentions of connective3, we’d ask Google to show us who, other than us, has talked about the site in question. You can do this by running a search query, e.g., “connective3” -site:connective3.com. This will show mentions of your brand but exclude your brand URL from the SERPs. Always make sure the mentions you are chasing are recent. You can do this by changing the date range within Google Search
3. Make use of charity work and partnerships
Even the humblest of brands will have newsworthy content that they may not be aware of.
For example, do you have a chosen charity you support? If so, have you considered sending your charity news updates to sites such as fundraising.co.uk? Or how about working with the charity itself on projects? When working out how to generate backlinks, this is a sure-fire way to get yourself at least a few.
Alternatively, if you have a partnership or sponsorships, you should definitely be negotiating links on their sites as part of any contractual agreement.
This obviously isn’t possible for all brands, but, for many, it’s a quick win.
4. Get in touch with local stores
As a caveat, this point only applies to those brands with a physical store presence, but it’s a tactic worth using if you do.
Imagine you own a shop in a shopping centre. If that’s the case, all you have to do is contact the shopping centre website and ask for a link to the relevant store page.
Or imagine you own multiple entertainment outlets, such as bingo halls. You should certainly be working with local visitor sites to build links with them as well.
These sites will deliver high quality, relevant links, and support your local strategy. In fact, we previously did this for a client and gained 60 links with no campaign.
5. Conduct interviews and gain comments from thought leaders
Everyone loves the limelight, right? Well maybe not, but many people do, so why not give it to them?
Your business is most likely filled with experts working in different fields, such as HR, marketing, finance, etc. Well, there’s a wealth of really good sites that accept interviews and thought leadership articles with these experts of yours.
Sites such as Real Business and Entrepreneur often accept interviews or opinion features, so make your colleagues famous and gain links at the same time.
Like we’ve said, learning how to earn backlinks is hard, and it’s only getting harder. This being said, it’s our job to ensure we make our businesses as ‘digital as possible’, making every web mention work harder and delivering more than just coverage.
Hopefully, you found this article useful. For even more pieces like it, you can head over to the c3 blog.
We also do far more than digital PR at connective3. Offering SEO, organic content, paid social, and more, we’ve many ways we can take your business up a level. Contact us today to see how we can help.