Sep 30

Our Exact Digital PR & Link Building Process

By Tom Buckland | Guide

Ghost Marketing

The higher you rank in Google, the more money your business will generate.

Powerful Links rank websites.

We generate these links for clients worldwide.

Below outlines exactly how we do this.

Stage 1 – Content Curation, Strategy & Campaign Building

It all starts with something of value.

We call this content, but realistically it can be anything from your brand itself, a founder, a tragic event or a funny video. For the purposes of this process we’ll refer to any of these as “content”.

Content is something that’s hosted on a client’s website that we work with your initial content team or directors to build that adds value to a visitor. When a visitor feels as though they’ve received value, two things happen.

  1. They are more likely to buy.
  2. They are more likely to link and/or share.

Both are incredibly important KPI’s.

Working closely with a brand-new client we decide a piece of content to achieve both. Content remember isn’t some 500-word thrown together blog post; content is something that is interesting, noteworthy, linkable and shareable, that if seen in a printed magazine or newspaper, would force-the-read, not because it’s so controversial but because it’s simply too interesting, useful or targeted to you as an individual for you to just scroll or flick on from.

This is obviously essential as the more interesting, unique and link-bait worthy this piece of content is, the more press media placements it will generate, as well as the easier it will be to generate links from other strategies.

Your content should force-the-read. – Tom Buckland.

Part 1.1: Content Audit, Topic Creation & Leveraging Data

Part 1.1 of the content curation technique involves building the overarching strategy for the campaign.

What single piece of content will we be using to leverage our outreach and force-the-read, ensuring potential link prospects and customers take note.

This is one of the most important stages in the entire campaign. Getting this part correct results in potentially dozens more links and mentions later down the line, which can result in tens, if not hundreds of thousands in additional revenue.

Part 1.1 of our process involves analysing the current content on a client’s site.

When we do this, we’re looking for one of three things;

  1. Link worthy content that already exists.
  2. Content or pages that are generating links naturally already.
  3. Interesting/close enough data/content that can be tweaked instead of entirely rebuilt from scratch.

During the content audit & on-boarding process, we work very closely with the client’s internal content or marketing team to determine the perfect content piece.

Audit

Taking a piece of content from “good” to “incredible and link worthy” is a lot quicker and easier than building a new campaign from scratch. As a result during the content audit we always look for pieces that are already good that can be built into authority pieces that are link and news worthy.

Two elements that work incredibly well are:

  1. Leveraging data driven content pieces (interesting infographics, educational videos etc)
  2. Reverse engineering a technique or piece of content that worked well in a different vertical/niche and replicating the campaign.

All these elements from; competition analysis, reverse engineering what already works in an industry, cross-vertical aligning (taking something that works in one industry and moving it into another), content exploring and more allow us to build a content topic that we know before even starting will result in links from press, authority media and multiple dozens of site owners worldwide.

Once this is selected, we move onto part 1.2.

Don’t reinvent the wheel just realign it – Anthony D’Angelo.

Part 1.2: Content Selection & Design Plan

Selecting the specific content medium to be used and integrating this into a design & development plan. Part 1.2 runs alongside stage 2 entirely as content development can take between 14-30 days depending on the size and scope of the project, although in many cases the content development phase does take less than 10 days.

Once the content is being produced we move onto stage 2 & the prospecting, initial outreach & rapport building strategies.

Stage 2 – Influencer, Journalist & Link Opportunity Scouting

Stage 2 involves finding the specific people & sites that would be the perfect fit for our piece of content. This may be the site itself but what generally works better is finding specific writers, influencers, journalists and bloggers who are respected in an industry.

These influencers tend to have a larger, more dedicated following and will result in a higher amount of referral traffic in the long run too, and of course a high proportion of great links.

For example, if you were in the soccer industry, you may want to get in touch with a sports writer/journalist that has developed a following for a specific team:

Website for content

Here is his Twitter profile:

Journalist

As you can see, he has gathered quite the following, who will get all the latest news about this particular club. If we were looking for high quality links in this niche, he would be great to contact.

These principles are applied to all business sectors and niches.

During stage 2 we also build out paid advertising campaigns as part of the link building strategy itself. Without getting into too much depth as the full blog post is linked above, this simply involves getting the initial word out on Facebook, Instagram & other paid advertising channels for three core reasons.

  1. It naturally gets picked up and linked to.
  2. Gains social traction; shares, likes, comments etc.
  3. Click through traffic from social is an up and coming ranking factor and hence will help long term rankings.
  4. Brand awareness & sales through from those click-throughs.
  5. Social proof we can use in our pitches to both media and non-media lists to increase conversions (below).

Stage 2.1 – Developing The Non-Media List

Stage 2.1 involves prospecting the non-media list. What this means is the potential sources, influencers and bloggers that are not on larger news-based sites, but instead own their own web properties. This may be specific bloggers in an industry, specific articles that are highly aligned to our content piece or even just websites that are smaller in size and authority but are extremely relevant to what we are building.

Stage 2.2 – Developing the Media List

A very resource intensive part to the campaign, the media list development stage involves determining the best journalists and mainstream influencers to reach out to and more importantly why and how to do so.

Our outreach works because we spend an incredible amount of time personalising our outreach strategies to each individual journalist and not simply sending generic emails to thousands of unrefined prospects. We want to build relationships and rapport with these contacts, building longer term relationships which we can leverage into the future for existing and new clients. This adds value to both the journalist and to the client.

The best way to establish rapport with people and to win them over to your side is to be truly interested in them, to listen with the intention of really learning about them. When the person feels that you are really interested in getting to know them and their feelings, they will open up to you and share their true feelings with you much more quickly – Jack Canfield.

During stage 2.1 and 2.2, in a lot of cases we’ll have an initial outreach to the journalist simply adding value and not requesting anything. This might be sending a sincere email or tweet about their specific content and how we found it valuable/linked to it (this is actually a very specific sub strategy we use).

Tweet link

It may also simply be sending another post online we think they might find useful based on their previous posts.

The entire goal of stage 2 is to prospect and build rapport with relevant contacts which we can get in touch with at a later date, once our specific content has been completed from stage 1.

This is a very different way of working than more time-sensitive link building campaigns, which is why we run other link building strategies alongside our core digital PR campaign (stage 3.1).

Stage 3: Link Outreach & Press Placements

Part 3.1: Outreach & Link acquisition of non-media based backlinks

Part 3.1 involves leveraging our content piece and previous relationships with non-media-based contacts to generate powerful, relevant links outside of press.

These links are incredibly powerful and move the organic rankings needle very quickly when implemented correctly. We have outlined these strategies in multiple posts on our blog. If you’re looking for any more information about those specifically, feel free to get in touch.

Link building techniquesThese strategies are the following:

  1. Resource link building,
  2. Round-ups
  3. Guest posts
  4. Content acquisition techniques
  5. Local link building
  6. Unlinked mentions
  7. Competition analysis.

Part 3.2: Outreach to Media based contact lists

The most important part of the entire process.

Reaching out in the correct way to your media list contacts. Something that businesses, link builders and even PR professionals across the world get wrong all the time.

The key here is to simply add value.

Journalists, editors and site owners care about one thing above all else, and that’s pageviews & CPM. The more views and money you can drive to these sites, the more responsive they’ll be to your pitches now and especially in the future (making the process replicable).

Leveraging this, we can reach out to journalists in such a personalised, value-added way that we chat to multiple on the phone, meet in person (always buying the lunch it seems) and just building these relationships to the point where our team are now friends with these influencers, this of course allows us to utilise the age old adage, creating a win-win-win relationship for agency-client-journalist relationship.

People do business with those they know, like & trust – Bob Burg

Part 3.3: Ongoing outreach, rapport building & Campaign Tweaking

During the outreach stages themselves, specific issues or element can change and vary. Occasionally campaigns are tweaked mid-outreach to change the overall pitch dynamic. This is done to improve conversions of email pitches when something seems off during the process or conversions are lower than expected.

These are continually tweaked during the entire campaign to deliver the best ROI for the campaign’s investment.

Part 3.4: Virality Attempts

In select cases we’ll run a 3.4 stage to the campaign.

This occurs when content is gaining specific traction and attention in specific mediums that virality is very close. If this is the case, you’ll see referral traffic and link figures start to increase exponentially from a couple of dozen links for the average campaign, all the way up to hundreds in some cases as content becomes viral.

Virality

This is always the overarching goal of a campaign but given the nature content needs to be in very select circumstance, many businesses do not want to add a controversial or potentially brand damaging element to result in an exponential increase in links. This is something that will be covered in the onboarding process.

Stage 4: Campaign Review, Analysis & Re-Sign Up

Stage 4 involves analysing the entire campaign. What major links were achieved, what went well, what went not so well and analysing the overall success of the campaign. We’re 100% transparent with how we work and do not defend poor performance. In some cases, campaigns flop but in 92% of cases since the start of 2018 we’ve helped our clients generate at least 30 links within a three-month campaign period, 20% of which have come directly from editorial media.

Investment & Contracts

One full campaign structure from stage 1 to 4 takes 12 weeks. As a result, all campaigns are built on a 3-month contract with investments starting at £3,000/month. All content, design, development, outreach, project management & link acquiring costs are included in this fee.

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We’ve helped brands worldwide rank for some of the most competitive niches and would love to help you 10X your business through smart digital PR and link building. Click the button below to start the process. We look forward to working with you.

If you want to contact me directly, please email [email protected]

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Sep 26

What Is Link Bait? – How To Build A Link Baiting Piece Of Content

By Tom Buckland | Backlink Generation Tips

As much as you may hate the click bait strategy, there’s no denying that it works.

When reads increase based on the number of clicks generated, earnings increase… So clickbait is here to stay!

But what about link bait? What is it? And should we be using it?

What Is Link BaitingWhat Is Link Bait?

Link bait or link baiting itself isn’t overly negative, although it has negative associations. Link baiting simply involves creating a piece of content with a highly clickable or “linkable” element. This usually contains a controversial comment, piece of data, conclusion or any other curated content piece that if mentioned on another site, would need to link back for reference. Image source.

Link Bait Examples

A Quick Case Study

An example of a link bait piece (despite probably not meaning to be) was Ahref’s million site analysis. As Ahrefs has this big data already it was relatively easy for them to build this data out into a content piece that can generate links and mentions for the business.

In essence the article talks about how on-page is over valued by the SEO community and there’s a lower correlation to on-page and keywords on a page by page basis and the rankings of those pages. You can read the full study here.

Although creating data pieces does attract links very well, link-baiting is taking this a step further. Ahref’s example is a very tame version of this and it’s something everyone should be implementing into their marketing strategy. As we all know, good PR generates great links, so if you can build something that is link worthy and add a click-bait element, you have… link bait.

Referring Domains

As you can see this one post by Ahrefs generated 700+ links and almost 350 links from unique referring domains. That’s a pretty successful link building campaign. And although there were a lot of SEO’s who didn’t like the study, they would still link to the piece as reference. Hence why link-baiting pieces don’t always have to be positive.

Link Bait Case Study 2

The water use it wisely piece of content was an awesome content piece implemented into a link building campaign.

One of the reasons it worked so well was unlike an infographic or a content piece, this was actually interactive. Meaning users had to come to the site to use it. This meant all sources that referenced this had to link otherwise it sounds very bizarre, mentioning something but just saying it’s here (which a lot of editors and journalists do). This led to a lower number of unlinked mentions and some awesome links as well.

Link Bait Example Referring Backlinks Screenshot

30,000 backlinks and over 1,600 referring domains later, this was a link bait and content marketing piece of epic proportion. Getting links from multiple news sites, charities and ironically SEO and link building blogs that would mention the post as a how-to-do-it-right type reference…. Which is of course what we did here.

Link Bait Case Study 3 – Controversial Pieces

Building a controversial angle in your link building (especially in some niches *politics*) can result in an insane number of powerful links. This is due to 2 obvious psychological factors when someone is considered an “underdog”.

The first is they want to be seen as being everywhere, so they’ll syndicate your content and opinions usually regardless of their validity. Secondly, because the controversial piece is usually focusing on a positive of the underdog or a negative of the favourite, the piece has the potential to go viral being supported by the (more active) fans or supporters of the other side.

And if you can add some kind of data into this, then the story has the potential to go viral and generate hundreds of links very quickly. The example that springs to mind for this type was the US presidential race & Donald Trump.

Without getting into details as I’m sure the importance of content in political races is pretty clear nowadays, this quote below by scripted shows how valuable this free press was for him.

2 billion dollars in free coverage

Regardless what you think about the individual candidates and companies involved in these strategies, it’s clear they work incredibly well for generating links, mentions and exposure for their brand.

How We Can Leverage Link Bait For Powerful Backlinks & Digital PR Placements

At Ghost Marketing we use a simple three stage process to implement these campaigns.

  1. Content Campaign Creation – Decisions on how & what content to use in the campaign.
  2. Rapport Building & Prospecting – Who, once the content is complete, would be most relevant to distribute and link it.
  3. Outreach & Connection – Simply taking stage 1 and handing it to the people we’ve spoken to in stage 2… Simple… In theory.

We’re going to break down each point below.

Stage 1 – Content Campaign Creation & Development

Everything starts with having something of value.

95% of the time this is going to be a content piece designed by either our agency or the client we’re working with. But in other cases we may be able to leverage an influencer inside the company to use as the value element. For example a company founder that can leverage their knowledge and authority to implement a podcast or expert round-up style strategy. But for 95% of companies this is not the case, so we have to stick with content curation.

There are multiple types of content that work incredibly well for this process, but some work better than others. Below is a small list of types of content that tend to work best for link baiting campaigns.

  • Infographics
  • Videos
  • Data & graphics
  • Controversial posts
  • Articles
  • Interviews
  • Podcasts
  • Quizzes
  • Polls (Which then become graphics)
  • Interactive content (maps, graphs etc)
  • Software

There are dozens of types of content that work for this method but the ones that aren’t extremely resource heavy to build are: articles, data, infographics and polls/quizzes.

As we’re targeting very large broad link prospects here (high authority sites) we’ll have to keep the content relatively concise and easy for the semi-educated user to understand. The reason why Ahrefs case study mentioned above didn’t generate more links from press is simply because it’s not something that the average non-SEO person would find interesting, although us link building nerds loved it.

Stage 2 – Rapport Building & Prospecting Journalists

This stage isn’t actually necessary if the content is good enough to go straight to stage 3, but in most cases we’ll want to build a relationship with influencers in their market before saying “can you link to our stuff.” To increase conversions.

We also want to add as much value as possible upfront. If we can help journalists and busy editors upfront stating errors or helping them in some way. When we come with an offer that actually helps them sell more AND allows us to leverage the reciprocation rule, it’s a win-win, and we get those sweet links too.

This involves leveraging multiple PR based tools but instead of using them as journalists or business owners do, we simply want to build the relationship upfront. It’s as easy as that.

In terms of who to prospect for your specific piece of content, you can again find different softwares that can help but honestly there’s 3 techniques that will give you more than enough high level prospects.

  1. Reverse engineer your competition.
  2. Use Google & Twitter with search operators to find important journalists in your niche/area.
  3. Ask your network

Stage 3 – Outreach & Link Acquisition

Stage 3 involves the promotion of the piece of link bait content.

This (if you’ve done stage 2 well) should be relatively straight forward. You simply approach influencers and journalists in your niche that would find your content interesting and act if they’d like to mention it or write about it.

Alongside this I’d also recommend writing multiple guest posts manually to improve your chances of the content naturally getting picked up by press and journalists. But of course the best content ever made has no chance without manual promotion.

There’s a number of other techniques you can leverage if you have a budget. One would be a press release for the piece of content, others include leverage twitter and other social networks and contacted the most relevant potential influencers for your content.

There are also multiple more important elements to ensuring the campaign is successful, one of these is timing and news-worthiness. Timing isn’t essential for all industries, but if you are looking to generate links around a specific event or some type of time focused occurrence then this must be made extremely newsworthy and specific to that one event.

How To Determine Campaign Success

The obvious metric to look at initially once a content marketing or digital PR campaigns is complete is to look at the number of live links created and the quality of those links. The more high quality links, the better. But there’s also a number of other extremely important KPI’s to measure.

Referral Traffic – Are these links driving actual clicks (and potentially sign-ups if this is in the correct vertical for your business’s offering).

Social Proof Elements – Once you generated links from extremely high powered authority sources, you can leverage the “as seen in” feature that many new start-ups and softwares utilise to increase credibility of the business and also increase trust of the overall user.

As Seen In Example

Journalist & Influencer Connections – The number of new journalist and influencer connections that were developed. This is advantageous to both our agency and the client. These can be called on again in the future if a new content promotion campaign is developed and can also can leverage for other clients in other niches too.

Conclusion

Link baiting is an incredibly effective way to increase the number of links you’ll generate on both your normal outreach and digital PR marketing campaigns. Remember the keys mentioned above and think long term with these strategies. Just because campaign 1 may have only generated 1 or 2 links, that doesn’t mean the next one won’t generate dozens if not hundreds and double your organic traffic overnight.

If you have any questions about link bait or would like to get in touch about running a digital PR campaign, feel free to get in touch.

Cheers,

Tom.

Sep 13

How To Calculate ROI for Link Building

By Tom Buckland | Case Study

Why Building Links Is Incredibly Important In 2018

Calculating the value of a link is something I’ve talked about a lot on my personal seo blog. Aside from the fact that metrics nowadays aren’t all that good and calculating the value of the traffic through a link is almost impossible (at the scale we build links at) the greatest way to calculate a link building campaign’s return on investment, in my opinion is to use the increase in top-line revenue based on the increase in organic traffic.

I wanted to start by showing some stats of a start-up we are working with. They came up when they first launched a month back and we’re getting some nice results already for 1 key reason: It’s super-easy to track.

Continue reading

Sep 10

Internal Linking Guide – Anchor Text Ratios, Strategies & Why Internal Links Rock

By Tom Buckland | Guide

Internal linking is one of the single most under utilised link building strategies. Although strictly speaking not an inbound link generation strategy, internal linking can be incredible effective and profitable for your website.

Implementing a few dozen internal links can help direct link juice to the correct places, as well as helping Google to categorise your site in terms of posts you want to rank, importance of post or content type and what that piece of content is about.

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Aug 02

How To Gain An Edge in Rankings Using Smart Competitor Link Analysis

By Tom Buckland | Backlink Generation Tips

Competition analysis is one of the most effective ways of acquiring high quality links for your website. Over time, websites naturally pick up high quality backlinks even without any active backlink management. This is mainly due to PR, age of the business, steady growth and a number of other reasons. But even the average competitor in your industry who potentially has never heard of “Link building” – Could actually have hundreds of great links. This link prospects could/should also be linking to your site.

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Jul 19

How To Build Cheaper Backlinks | Affordable Link Building Case Study

By Tom Buckland | Backlink Generation Tips

Building links is expensive. There’s no two ways about that. Outreach is becoming saturated, editorial costs are going through the roof, bloggers know they have assets so are now looking for money in return for links and it’s all getting tough. In this post I’m going to outline some affordable link building techniques that still work incredibly well and won’t break the bank or be too time intensive either.

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