The world of SEO is ever-changing, but one thing that remains of utmost importance is backlinks from relevant, high authority websites.
Whilst it might be tempting to think about the number of links, the focus we place at Evolved Search is always on quality over quantity. High-quality backlinks not only help your brand to rank higher in search engines, but if done well, they can also boost your reputation, and help get your name in front of potential customers.
Consistently gaining high-quality backlinks on sites that are relevant and authoritative within our clients’ sectors is an area that the PR and Outreach team at Evolved pride ourselves on. To get these links, it takes so much more than shooting out a generic email to a large number of journalists and hoping for the best (no matter how great the content is you are working with) – instead, you need to be committed to a consistent, targeted outreach approach.
There are several tactics to take within the PR and Outreach process to make sure that you gain that all-important coverage and link:
Know the content and brand inside and out
We focus on producing in-depth, thoroughly-researched content, which has various different angles available for outreach, in order to maximise success.
With content ranging from beautifully designed visual pieces and survey-based campaigns, to deep investigations into a topic, it’s important as part of the outreach team to take the time to know what the strengths of the piece are, which details will be the main focus of the outreach, the different angles you can use for different publications, and finally, why your brand is the best person to talk about this.
The PR and Outreach team at Evolved are involved at every stage of the brainstorming and content creation process, so this happens along the way. This is the first step to ensuring that every piece of content created is targeted towards relevant publications and sectors, and the end result should be mean your outreach process becomes much smoother.
Find where and who to target
Whilst thinking about who to contact in your outreach, it could be tempting to add every publication that you wish you could gain coverage on and create a mass list of every journalist out there.
Surely, the more people contacted, more chance of it being picked up, right?
Unfortunately not, and that’s a very quick route to damaging relationships with journalists and potentially tarnishing your reputation. We call that a spray and pray approach and it’s not something that we advise at Evolved.
Target sites and publications: Ask yourself which publications best fit with your brand and more importantly, share the same audience that you want to target.
With high-quality, targeted outreach, it’s not just about getting a link, it’s also about getting your brand in front of your target audience and showing these potential customers that you are an expert in the field.
Specific Journalists: Once you have the publications down, it’s then onto looking for the right journalist. Take a look at the journalists’ past work and see if their style fits with the piece of content you are working on. This helps to ensure you’re contacting the right person which will save you time in the long run.
Not only is contacting the wrong journalist ineffective, but it can also damage relationships and make you look incompetent. If you want to target someone in the future that you have incorrectly targeted in the past, it’s more than likely that you won’t get a response.
The all-important part: The Email
When you’re promoting a detailed piece of content that has taken weeks to create, it can seem overwhelming to think ‘how do I condense this great piece of work into a concise email which is going to catch an extremely busy journalist’s attention?’
And whilst you’re trying to gain coverage on high authority sites, so are hundreds of others, and journalists can only do so much.
To combat this, your email needs to be clear, concise and compelling.
Start with an intriguing subject line
You need to be able to sum up the piece into a specific, eye-catching subject line.
A journalist’s inbox is full to the brim and they are receiving hundreds of new emails a week, sometimes even a day. To get them to be interested enough to even open your email is a task in itself, and every PR and Outreach pro knows that you need a killer subject line to compel action.
I personally find that asking a question in the subject line works best. This catches attention, as subliminally they may feel that this question is being asked directly to them and potentially wonder if their audience would want the answer.
Some examples include:
“Do you have the UK’s most HATED interior design features in your home?”
Are You Brushing Your Teeth With Faeces? (sounds awful, but it relates to an awesome piece of content we delivered for our client Mattress Online!)
If a question doesn’t work or isn’t appropriate for your piece, showing that your story includes a range of points works just as well, for example:
Organ Shortages, Underage ‘Driving’ and Possible Hostages – 10 Surprising Ways Driverless Cars Will Change The World
Whichever type of subject line you use, just make sure this is eye-catching, otherwise, your email is just going to get lost in the crowd.
Be clear and concise in the body
As mentioned before, journalists are busy people, so get straight to the point.
If you’re working with a statistic or investigative piece – what are your stand-out findings? If you’re outreaching visuals – why should they, and their readers, need to see them? If you have conducted a survey – what have you revealed?
But, just as importantly, why is your brand the best person to be sharing them?
Using the top-level findings will grab the journalist’s attention and get them to delve further into your piece, and anything you can do to show that your brand is an expert on this topic will persuade them that you are the right person to tell the story.
And, most importantly, accuracy!
I am a complete stickler for accuracy and will proofread my outreach materials until I’m satisfied that they’re perfect. Triple-check everything and it will save you any embarrassment later. Get someone else to take a quick look, if needed!
Always include sources of the data and add anything that will make the journalist’s life easier. When you’re aiming for high-quality coverage, journalists don’t have time for any mistakes and they could cost you the coverage.
As you’re targeting journalists who write around these topics daily, they are experts and will be able to question anything you say in your outreach materials, so make sure it’s correct.
If you don’t know what this means (sometimes referred to as news-jacking), it literally means keeping up with the news, and jumping on it!
When you see a story pop up in the news which is relevant or related to your piece of content or brand, get in contact with the author and see if they might be interested in your help or what you have to promote. We managed to achieve some fantastic additional results for our client Money Guru with our dark web content piece by jumping on stories around the recent Facebook hack, even if they just used some of the data.
Keep an eye on #journorequest on Twitter. Journalists use this space to find extra data for their stories, so by keeping up with this feed you might see a request that your brand is perfectly placed to share expertise.
Lastly, as a wise man once said: “Good things take time”
As you’re aiming for quality coverage and targeted, relevant publications, don’t rush into sending out as many emails as you can.
We have found that it’s best to take a staggered approach, contacting small sections of your carefully planned contact list, gradually. This helps you to get a feel for how the piece is being received and also gives you an opportunity to alter your approach for different sectors.
Although you might get the perfect coverage straight away, great content pieces should have an evergreen angle, so you should be able to pick up and continue with promotion at any time. Don’t panic if you don’t receive 10 pieces of coverage the day you send it out – quality PR and Outreach can take time, but it’s worth the wait.
Tailor your approaches as you go on with anything that is relevant in the news or any events that are happening in the world, target the right journalists and publications for the piece and the results will soon come.
Successful outreach should never be measured on a number of links, as you have to discount irrelevant or low-quality sites as Google will. This is about reaching the audience that your brand hopes to engage with, through high-quality publications which share the same interests (whilst also, of course, the benefit of boosting your rankings and visibility).
That, in brief, is how our teams work to consistently generate the great coverage that we have received over the past 12 months, and has led to some brilliant success stories for our clients.
Do you use this same approach – have we missed anything? Do you have any burning questions for our team? We’d love to hear from you!
Head on over to our Twitter profile to join in the discussion – @evolved_search. Or if you’re reading this and are thinking “I very much need an expert’s helping hand”, then we’re your people. Get in touch to find out more about how we can help.