Thinking like a journalist might seem counterintuitive for an SEO professional. It sounds almost like telling a sumo wrestler to think like a bus driver- the two professions don’t seem to have a lot to do with each other. But in fact, if you don’t open your mind to a new point of view as an SEO professional, you could be missing out on huge opportunities for link building.
A link building strategy is designed to generate backlinks from other sites back to yours which in turn sends signals to Google that your site is reliable and trustworthy. This will eventually contribute to your website being ranked higher on the search engine results page. The entire goal set out for a link building campaign is to get featured on high domain authority websites. And that’s where thinking like a journalist comes in.
When you’re thinking about how to get featured on other websites, your entire mindset has to shift from what works for you to what works for those other sites. The question becomes “What are those sites looking for?” rather than “What makes sense for our business?”. This can be a difficult perspective to adjust to, but if you manage it, you’ll find that your link building efforts will be much more effective in the long run.
(1) Identify and evaluate your target sites.
Take a look at the kind of sites you would love to get coverage from. Look at the types of topics that they are covering and ask yourself what you can offer them in terms of content. Don’t limit yourself to industry sites either! Lifestyle sites and local publications are great resources for link building.
(2) Distinguish between your content strategy and your link building strategy.
This is a trap we see a lot of clients falling into, and it’s completely natural! Clients tend to be passionate about their work and their companies, and in some cases, it can be difficult for them to separate their own interests from the news cycle or audiences outside their industry. Keep in mind that you’re trying to appeal to the publication’s audience, rather than your own.
(3) Look at the news cycle.
What topics is everyone talking about? What seems to be really grabbing people’s attention and how can you create a story around that? You can use industry publications to keep up with your competitors, but it’s also important to keep up with the latest trends. Exploding Topics, The Daily Skimm, and Buzzfeed are good places to keep up with current events and trends, but you can also keep up with social media and other publications that naturally hold your interest!
(4) Look at popular topics.
Beyond what is currently in the news, what types of topics are always popular? People love food, pets, travel, and pop culture. Look for topics that can grab a broad audience’s attention.
(5) Write a story with the data.
Once you’ve found a topic that you want to explore, you will want to think of an ideal headline or story that you will tell about that topic. Think of the type of headline that a journalist would write and that would catch the attention of the publication’s audience and build from there.
(6) Tie those stories back to your business.
Once you’ve identified an interesting topic, you will want to look for a way that makes sense for your company to engage with it. The tie-in can be anything, it doesn’t have to be anything extremely concrete. For instance, this Trader Joe’s campaign was done by a customer relationship management company, and the tie-in was the following:
“With such a dedicated group of fans here in our own company, Trader Joe’s is a great example of a company that takes things further than weekly grocery shopping. Whenever we notice a fan base for a particular company, we take the time to look at why customers are so happy with that business. Our CRM and ERP management software goes beyond the technical side of managing business and customers.”
Approaching link building from an SEO perspective can give you tunnel vision about your options for topics. By taking a step back and looking at your strategy with the lens of a journalist, a person who will actually be publishing the story for you, you’ll be able to create a more well-rounded strategy with a better chance of success.
Devon Cameron is a senior associate on the content team at Go Fish Digital where she specializes in link building campaigns. Though she’s been working in the digital marketing industry for 5 years, Devon has worked a few different roles since her first internship in her junior year of college where she majored in Creative Writing. Devon’s always on the lookout for ways to apply her writing skills in a practical business environment to aid her clients in reaching their SEO and marketing goals.
This blog post was written by a guest contributor. The views within this blog post do not necessarily reflect those of AMA Triangle.