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How to Build Links Using Media Relations

As PR professionals focused on media relations, we often think of brand awareness, positive perception and increased credibility as the main benefits of earned coverage. But what about search engine optimization (SEO)? For a client whose goal is to boost SEO through media relations strategies, building links through earned placements is a great strategy to help your client meet their goal of increased search engine visibility.

When a page on your client’s site gets an inbound link, the page also gets a small SEO boost. The more inbound links a page has, the more “points” Google gives it. The more “points” Google gives it, the higher preference the page is given in search results.

Ensuring the appropriate link is used by journalists can be a bit tricky. Below are four best practices to ensure media relations is supporting SEO efforts.

Communicate the need for a link. Ask and you shall (usually) receive. When sending additional information such as original data to a journalist, include a simple request such as “I just ask that you link back to this page should you decide to use this data in your story” at the end of your email. More often than not, the journalist will oblige in order to effectively credit his or her source.

Provide a relevant link. The link given to journalists should be relevant to the story they’re writing. If you’ve provided them with original data, consider linking back to a report’s download page. If you’re pitching location-specific stories, provide a link to a page that is dedicated to service offerings in a specific city or region. If a relevant page does not exist on the site, either link to the home page or work with your client to create a blog post that relates to the journalist’s article.

Place priority on follow links. Focus outreach on publications that contain follow links rather than no follow links. A follow link is a link that counts as a “point” and boosts the page rank of the linked-to site. A nofollow link contains an HTML tag that essentially tells search engines not to count it in their ranking algorithms. To find out if a link is follow or nofollow, left click on the hyperlink and select “Inspect Element.” If you see an image similar to the one below, you’ll know the link is nofollow. While these links still provide valuable referral traffic, it’s best to focus media relations efforts on sites that contain follow links if your sole purpose is to boost SEO.

Pay attention to domain authority. Domain authority measures the power of a domain name and is a major factor in search engine rankings. A higher domain authority helps new pages of content get indexed more quickly and increases the chance of ranking in search results. For more on domain authority, check out this great explanation from Moz!