Why getting links in articles still matters

Coverage in a print publication used to be the ultimate in PR placements.

Despite the ego-boost it provided the interviewed executive and the PR
team, it often didn’t
drive business results. It’s not surprising given how unlikely it is that a reader of any given
print publication might be in the market for your organization’s products
and services at that exact moment.

Now, the most sought-after placements are those that can directly drive
qualified visitors back to your site. Unlike vanity coverage that can be
dismissed as “nice-to-have” PR fluff, a link to your website can be tracked
and quantified. This is why you must endeavor to place links in published

However, you can’t haphazardly pitch website backlinks to your media
contacts list. To make this happen, you need to shift your perspective on
how you pitch to the media.

Identify relevant outlets

If your goal is to get The New York Times to link back to your
website, you’re probably out of luck unless you have ground-breaking
proprietary research to share. So, how do you find sites that are a good
target for getting your link accepted?

Consider these guidelines:

1. Do they usually link?
Does their coverage of your industry or topic typically include links to
third-party sites? If so, to what kind of sites? You won’t get a link to
your site from a publication that never links to third-party content.

[RELATED: Pitch—and receive instant feedback from—reporters at major news outlets.]

Is their site’s content indexed on Google?
If a publication’s website is mostly behind
a paywall, unless it’s the Wall Street Journal, it’s less likely to give
you the reach you’re looking for because Google won’t have enough data to
use to evaluate
the value of a link
from their site.

Is the site a respected authority on my topic? For a link to help you increase your
domain authority—and increase your ranking in search—you need to obtain
links from sites with a higher domain authority (or rank on Google) for
your topic area. First, search on Google for your target keyword and see
what publications are on the first page of results. Next, use the Moz
toolbar to document the domain authority for your site and those of the
target publications from your search.

If a site meets all of the above criteria, you’re ready to move on to your

Embed links in your pitches

media pitches
have included a bio of the executive that aims to show why they are a
subject matter expert worthy of being considered for coverage. While a
solid bio
is still necessary, there’s more you can do in your pitches to garner
coverage that ultimately links back to your site.

Expert round-up responses

Expert round-ups are typically conducted over email, making them an ideal
vehicle for requesting a link back to your website. The key is to use one
of your target keywords in your response and link it to an authoritative
piece of ungated content on your website. This Forbes
round-up with real estate experts, which links to a post on Trulia’s website, is a good example of this. If
it’s a useful piece of content, most editors will leave in the link. Just
make sure including the keyword in your answer doesn’t make it seem stilted
or awkward. After all, you want to be included in the round-up whether or
not your link makes it in.

Emailed pitches

When you are pitching a journalist who isn’t familiar with your expert,
embedded links in your pitch can both provide an illustration of their
expertise and give the journalist context that may also be included in
their resulting coverage.

For instance, you can link back to a piece of related writing on your
company blog, or a podcast or webinar they hosted on the topic. If the
journalist found it helpful in providing deeper context for the story,
there’s a good chance it can make it in on its own. If you have a good
relationship with the reporter, you can always ask if it can be included
once your pitch gets accepted.

If the link doesn’t make it into the final piece, you can always include it
in a comment on the piece, or email the website editor and ask if it can be

Contributed content

When you
write contributed content
for a site, you typically get a link to your bio or back to your site.
Rather than linking that to your homepage, consider linking it to a landing
page that is more likely to resonate with the publication’s core audience.

Don’t forget to include a link to an ungated piece of content in the body
of your article as well. Typically, editors will allow you to include one
relevant link in the body of your article, as long as it’s not to overly
promotional content.

Whenever you place a link in media coverage or contributed content, you’ll
want to track it both the measure your results and to ensure it remains an
active link. Too frequently, a website redesign can result in all-new page
URLs. After all the work you went through to garner those links, you won’t
want to lose them. Make sure your web team is aware of these high-value
links and uses redirects as necessary to keep them live.

When an editor trusts you enough to link to your site, you don’t want to
repay them by giving their readers a bad experience.

Erika Heald is a freelance content marketer and the host of
#contentchat. Follow her on Twitter @SFerika. A version of this
article originally ran on
the Meltwater blog.

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