Brand value or equity is not built on backlinks. It is created by communicating a clear understanding of what a company stands for, its core offering and how it is differentiated. Public relations (PR) supports this effort.

why your pr strategy should not be measured by backlinks

A PR professional’s job is to pitch in different hooks and angles that will appeal to the journalists’ publications and their readership. The press may be happy to run with a set angle or be interested in exploring a similar hook. It is the PR’s job to get the questions, secure the interview, prepare the client, then be available for fact-checking afterwards and make sure the writer has all the information to write the piece.

A quality press release or thought leadership piece has to have beneficial information, that is interesting to a publication readership. This content has to be summarised when pitching the story to the journalist or editor. If it is timely and relevant the media outlet might pick it up generating internet marketing gold in its indirect value.

The power of a press release, according to Google’s latest algorithm, lies in its organic, natural and intuitive content approach. This will drive traffic to your website, through mentions and earned media. High-quality content still remains king when trying to land brand coverage in target publications. It is beneficial for SEO if these publications have a high domain authority score (DA). However, it is useful to land articles in more niche platforms with a lower DA score as long as they are relevant to promote your services. Remember, big publications also follow the smaller ones for ideas.

To establish and re-enforce a brand’s presence in a market and build a digital profile online, patience needs to be applied as credibility is built with the freelance or staff writers as well as editors. You want reputable journalists, news organizations, media publications or blogs to read your press release, consider your organisation as a source and talk about the information shared. Over time the journalist will see you or your client as the go-to expert on a particular topic.

Once an article is published it is up to the digital editor of the website to add the backlink, or not. One can ask for a backlink however many publications’ editorial guidelines forbid them from adding such links, deeming them a form of promotion that conflicts with objective journalism.

If a backlink is demanded on an article it could send the wrong message to the writer or editor, suggesting that your company is just interested in the link and not the journalistic coverage itself. It is similar to asking a journalist to change a direct quote. This would threaten the potential for a beneficial media relationship down the line by alienating the writer or the editor.

Without a doubt, backlinks are a measurable element of the digital marketing mix. They provide third-party validation that helps search engines verify that a particular website is credible, possibly boosting its SEO. However, if a backlink is not included the content can be used to re-enforce credibility and benefit SEO in a different way.

The broader SEO picture

Some digital marketers simply write their content for machines, algorithms or search engines. They may want to prioritise backlinks or create content that just sits on platforms to get as many backlinks as possible. The content created by the PR can be distributed via digital marketing partners and this is often paid. The PR can negotiate sponsored pieces with pay-to-play platforms and also include backlinks which could also support this digital marketing strategy. Those sponsored articles are called ‘advertorials’ and the reach advertorials generate is always lower than the reach of editorials, but backlinks are ensured to be included. The backlinks are important but as part of the wider integrated marketing mix strategy.

In our current digital marketing landscape, SEO goes much further than content filled with specific keywords and backlinks. It also included on-page optimisation, the use of citations, image descriptions, alt tags and organic content.

There is an immense feeling of satisfaction and a big win when a press release angle and story gets picked up by a target publication and it is even better when a backlink gets added. However, all is not lost as the article can still create a pull to your brand via social media and gain a little SEO juice by creating an ‘in the press’ section on your website. This can include a small excerpt of the article and backlinks to the publication. This is good for on-page optimisation of your own content, highlighting to your target audience that well-known publications in your markets are writing about your company and its offering. This reinforces and validates your corporate authority and helps you build trust with your target audiences. Most importantly building authentic brand equity and brand awareness.

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