Mince pies at the ready! On Wednesday, we were back online for our last RemoteSEOMeetup of 2020, and a very festive one it was too (well, Amie was wearing a Santa hat).
What better way to finish up the year than with a reflection on whether backlinks are still relevant to our SEO efforts. In their presentations, our three expert speakers, Carl Burton, Hana Bednarova and Louise Parker, shared their view on the benefits of link building when looking to increase your visibility in SERPs.
Carl Burton – Blue Array
Carl is a Senior Digital PR Executive at Blue Array, and our all-round Mr Fix It. Armed with a CV packed full of tasty morsels (he literally trained as a chef in a past life) spanning digital marketing and SEO, he took the leap into Digital PR this year and hasn’t looked back.
In his talk, Carl shared his take on the value of links in SEO and how to use them to your advantage.
Key takeaways from Carl’s talk included:
- Not all links are equal – Traditional link building doesn’t bring you results straight away. Instead, focus on a gradual build up of links to see the biggest difference. With that in mind, target links from static, relevant pages across a variety of domains. When completing outreach for Digital PR campaigns, target news outlets to achieve continuous mentions from fresh content.
- Links aren’t just for equity – Linked and unlinked mentions all build brand awareness, so we should understand the benefits of them both. Typically, customers need to see or hear about your business seven times before deciding to buy your product. Plus, even though referrals may not generate huge amounts of traffic, the traffic they refer to you will be much more qualified. Consistently being part of news will help to build your authority, so also consider ego baiting and news-jacking to stay part of the conversation.
- Google still care – Google’s recent introduction of rel=ugc and rel=sponsored tags shows that links are still an important factor in ranking. Plus, Google is constantly refining what it classes as a good link and even created the Penguin algorithm as a result. This shows that Google does still care. Finally, whatever you do, do not buy links. Ever.
Hana Bednarova – Bednar Comms
Hana is the director of Bednar Comms – a boutique Digital PR agency she founded after working across a number of different content and SEO agencies. She is a Digital PR specialist, focused on creating content that gets picked up by the press and, ultimately, generates high quality links for her clients. She’s also pretty partial to a G&T.
In her talk, Hana shared her insights on the best way to build links that will generate the most benefit to your business.
The key takeaways from Hana’s talk included:
- Focus on relevant links – Any campaign or content created as part of a link building strategy needs to be relevant to the brand. If the content has nothing to do with the brand, you will struggle to get results as it will be questioned by journalists and (if it’s published) your potential customers too. Instead, focus on relevant topics, contact relevant journalists and place links in relevant publications. Check out a publication’s media kit to understand whether it is relevant to your business or not.
- Remember your brand’s reputation – You are handling the brand’s reputation when you create content and campaigns. Make sure both you and your client is happy with whatever you are saying on their behalf, whether it’s via reactive PR or as part of a campaign.
- Report on more than just links – Campaigns achieve so much more than links. Whether your campaign is picked up by celebrities, influencers, TV shows or government bodies, celebrate this as a win. They can earn you much more traffic than the link would!
Louise Parker – Propellernet
Our final speaker for 2020 was TikTok sensation and Digital PR Director at Propellernet, Louise Parker. After working across both Digital and PR-related roles, she has found her home in Digital PR and loves generating top quality coverage and links for her clients.
In her talk, Louise focused on some new ways to approach Digital PR and link building you might not have considered before.
The key points of Louise’s talk included:
- Think of your audience too – Just because you can get links for an idea, it doesn’t mean you should. Create a balance of what journalists want to cover, what your client offers and what your client’s audience wants to know. By giving these areas more thought, your stories will be more targeted, you’ll increase your brand awareness with target customers (eventually leading to more sales!) and it’ll be far easier to get your ideas signed off. Win win!
- Don’t just focus on follow links – We all know that follow links pass SEO value, but that doesn’t mean we should ignore nofollow ones. Nofollow links are reflective of the internet and can still generate traffic. Plus, regardless of the tags associated with that link, the coverage is still great PR! Also remember that large news titles with blanket nofollow rules can lead to even greater coverage if the story is then picked up by others.
- Digital PR can get you category links too – For most sites, the holy grail of links is a direct link to the category page. However, there’s a myth that the press won’t link to them. Consider building a campaign idea around a relevant category page and politely ask the journalist to link to it rather than your homepage, or sneak a link to a relevant category page into the press release and see what happens.
That just about sums up our top tip filled December event! A huge thank you to our speakers and special guest host, Amie Sparrow, as well as to everyone who came along and engaged in the chat.
Our first meetup of 2021 is yet to be announced, but make sure you’re following the event on Twitter at https://twitter.com/RemoteSEOMeetup to hear the latest.
For now, we wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!