8 strategic tips for PR pros to avoid link building
Public relations experts understand that brand image can do a lot to drive customer interest and the “feel” towards their respective companies. As their expertise implies, PR experts ensure their target audiences recognize and remember their brands through the help of people like media personnel as well as other content platforms.
Of course, it’s one thing to be extremely creative with marketing gimmicks and create different forms of content, and another to actually deliver results in the form of conversions and sales. As such, this is also why a lot of public relations experts rely on marketing strategies like link building to make sure that their creative vision can be translated into results.
Sadly, PR experts may find themselves in a tight spot as marketing—especially link building—can be very tricky in today’s modern SEO scene. However, might have less to do with link building itself being hard, and may have more to do with our PR experts—and maybe you—doing something wrong with their link building strategies.
Here are some mistakes you should avoid:
You’re building a network with the wrong people
Unlike guest blogging, we at PR have a huge edge in building links because we’re more capable of connecting with our audiences. We can tap into influencers, publishers, bloggers, and even journalists to help share information about our brand. With this in mind, we should theoretically be seeing a rise in our search engine score already, right? Thing is, we should build links by sending our content to people that are actually invested in our particular niche. Don’t haphazardly send out releases and other materials to sites and members of the media that don’t have a stake in our industry, as chances are search engines may just see our content as spammy. When we build a network for link building, we should avoid these bad link building practices.
Back in 2012, Mountain Dew made an online poll that asked its customers to “Dub the Dew.” The brand motivated its followers and customers to make a wacky headline that gets the spirit of the brand. Theoretically, that should be great, right? It really engages with the customers. Unfortunately, when a lot of your customers are both internet-savvy and potentially-jokesters, you’d get “Dub the Dew” suggestions such as “Gushing Granny” and “Diabeetus.” It got them a lot of traction, but not in the positive light that they wanted. If you want to make a PR campaign with a particular result in mind, you should also make sure to target the right audience.
Don’t settle for random sites and media for sharing your content
When we say conduct link building with sites related to your niche, we don’t just mean finding the first person you see and asking them to publish your piece. Rather, you should take time studying the websites and brands you plan on linking with, to be sure the pieces they make and the angles they take actually correspond to what your brand represents. This makes your content seem more natural, and your keywords more organic. Choosing a random media outlet or brand to share your releases might make search engines think you’re spamming.
Don’t pay for your backlinks
It’s one thing to offer product samples for reviews, but it’s another thing to pay for your link to be published entirely. For one, this implies your content is not compelling or strong enough to stand on its own as a guest post. And another, search engines are wary of paid backlinks and this can negatively impact your search engine score. Avoid connecting with websites that ask you to pay for links, even if it means losing an easy way to get your article published.
You’re not giving value with your brand
A fatal link building mistake PR experts make is assuming link building only has to do with securing backlinks. In fact, we often pay to secure backlinks from our contacts in media and the digital scene not because of the link building method we use, but of the content we want to publish. When we want to promote our brand or other offerings to content creators, we need to provide value to their readers and followers. This not only convinces them that our content matters to them, but this is also a way to establish that our brand has something to give to the industry.
Remember #McDStories from 2012? It was McDonald’s approach to motivating fans to tell stories about their interactions with McDonald’s as a brand. It was pretty innocent, and potentially pretty effective. Unfortunately, they didn’t take into account that a lot of people would also share “nightmare” stories and even troll their way into fame with Twitter clout. Sure, it probably got more people to link back to McDonalds, but not in a way that they like. To avoid these kinds of disasters, PR campaigns and content we make should focus on motivating audiences to help build the brand.
Don’t spam your keywords
One easy way to spot content that shouldn’t be published is if your keywords or every other word in a sentence. This is important because no matter how great your link building strategy is, if the content you want to publish isn’t built properly, then your search engine score suffers anyway. Instead of spamming your keywords, pay close attention as to how you can do natural and organic placements of your keywords and other related concepts and topics. Always think of how your peace can help readers answer a particular question, or solve a concern, as these tend to build stronger links.
Don’t forget to follow organic link building methods
Aside from sending content to people in your industry, make sure you do organic link building. This linking method, as used by any reliable link building company, prioritizes making SEO-friendly and relevant content pieces that naturally flow and relate to their client’s niche. This link building technique applies principles such as strategic keyword research, context-driven content, and natural keyword insertion. This helps make link building much more natural and much more organic, as value-driven pieces (aided by not paying for posts and strategic content sharing) can attract great backlinks.
You’re not paying attention to brand development
One of the key advantages of working for public relations is the fact that we are actually doing effective link building, we just don’t know that we’re doing it. A key mistake a lot of marketers make when building links is that they focus less on the brand and more on their search engine score. This is compared to brands and companies that thrive in their industries because they focus on brand recall and recognition, as well as building great relationships with their customers. If you end up thinking more about your search engine score instead of how you’re perceived by your audiences, then you’re likely tackling link building wrong.
Did you know KFC tried to make nail polish? Wait—that’s edible nail polish. Back in 2016, KFC tried to get into the beauty and fashion industry with their limited nail polish line. This turned a lot of heads, and this definitely got a lot of people linking back to KFC. However, this isn’t exactly beneficial for their brand development. KFC is known for their fried chicken—and while the nail polish tries to “stick” to the branding by making the nail polish edible, people who tried the nail polish said it didn’t really taste good. And since it’s edible, the polishes only last for a day. When making a PR campaign that’s hinged on a product or a service, make sure it actually capitalizes on your brand.
Don’t neglect your brand development
One of the key strengths of oblique relations is your knowledge and focus when it comes to growing your brand. You understand that at the end of the day what matters is that people recognize your brand for what you offer and what you contribute to the industry. These include making appealing and attractive social media posts, knowledgeable blogs and thought pieces on industry insights, and even marketing gimmicks that can encourage customers to check out your brand. These are also effective link building strategies – remember that you should also try to integrate relevant links and keywords into other campaigns you have to maximize your exposure to your target audience.
Don’t forget to capitalize on your brand vision to make good link building
Marketers make a huge mistake focusing solely on numbers that they forget to consider that they may be able to improve their campaigns if they use their brand’s innate appeal. This simply means leveraging on why the brand was formed in the first place as a foundation for your link building strategy. Focus on solutions you offer, products and services you have created, and value you can contribute to the industry, and launch your campaigns offerings from there. Go back to your drawing board and remember key terms, concepts, and topics that can lead you to more specific audience members you can target, and more specific but relevant topics to write about.
Great link building for PR—it’s in the brand
With the above tips in mind, a lot of common link building mistakes in public relations actually have to do with forgetting what our core strength is in the first place. Remember that, unlike other marketers, PR relies on establishing a solid foundation for our brand in order to generate appeal to our target audiences. As such, link building for public relations should have more to do with building great relationships, creating meaningful and insightful content, and driving traffic via appealing to our prospective leads and customers.