By Gus Pelogia on 21 Jun 2019
Conducting successful outreach as part of a balanced, white-hat link building approach in a post-penguin world is (arguably) the toughest area to fully master in SEO. The frequent rejection from publishers, high costs into brainstorming, developing an asset with other teams and long time invested in contacting journalists can all go down the drain if the efforts are not done right.
Giving you a shortcut from those who are succeeding in this world, the outREACH conference returned for its 3rd year to inspire SEOs and Digital PR specialists with a selected group of speakers, both from the outreach and the publisher world to support those seeking for coverage and links.
Below are some of the most important things we heard at this full-day conference in London.
Different markets, different link needs
If you work in the USA or UK markets, the high number of links are always part of the conversation. While it’s true that we usually compare ourselves to competitors to measure how many more links one or the other has, we shouldn’t forget that different markets have different needs.
A study presented by James Finlayson (Head of Innovation at Verve Search) showed that some markets require way fewer links than others. Looking the median linking root domains for websites on the top 20, the study showed that on Google Finland these top performing domains had only 5% of the linking room domains UK websites had - In other words, the link needs can be completely different.
It makes sense, as the number of publications in Finland is also much smaller, so naturally, websites will have fewer links. That is something relevant for Ireland as well, even though we should factor that having English as the main language would bring these numbers up a bit.
Looking for new sources of data
Still on James Finlayson presentation, creativity is also important to find new sources of data. While surveys and government public data can give you angles to present a story, why not looking for new ones?
This campaign went completely out of the box using Twitter data to find out where people are most likely to tweet words relating to stress, frustration and anxiety. Taking data from 5 million Tweets, they used an algorithm created by Mike Thelwall, Professor of Information Science Wolverhampton University. His tool, called TensiStrength, can estimate the stress level of someone who wrote a message.
At first sight, this seems to be an old page, not mobile-friendly and probably a lot of people wouldn’t give a dime to it. But the potential behind the tool allowed a campaign on National Stress on a very pretty website and easy-to-read data.
At Wolfgang, we ran a campaign on the most common items lost at Dublin Airport for Maldron Hotels. Guess what? This information was publicly available, we just turned into a local story.
Have you considered that a lot of public data is available out there just waiting for a story to be built? Instagram, Spotify, IMDB are some places you could start. Definitively also sign up for Content, Curated newsletter which shares a lot of cool content marketing campaigns, many including stories based on data.
Outreaching: gut feeling or scientific approach?
Let’s stay on the data conversation: how do you know the right format and words to use in your outreach? Sure, we certainly know that subjects line are quite important (this has been mentioned both by PRs and journalists throughout the event) and an exciting creative helps a lot to tell a story too.
But what if you could deep dive into which formats and headlines get more links? Shannon McGuirk presented a study and found out some surprising results. She scraped the headlines from 6 national news sites in the UK, on a total of 35.000 articles to reveal the best days to release campaigns in several niches, including travel, tech, science and more niches.
Going further, she mapped out the who are the writers willing to promote her campaigns more often, so you’re targeting not just the publication, but also the right person - a win/win in both ways: she shows content to journalists that are interested in her publications.
A study presented by Paddy Moogan at Learn Inbound in 2018 and revisited by Shannon shows which formats earn more links:
You can check her slides and all the research here, but if you’re looking for a punchy subject line right now, you should consider using the following words on your outreach:
Curiously, at Wolfgang we take a similar approach, looking at publication dates to determine the right time to outreach, as we recently published on BuzzStream.
From the other side: journalists sharing tips
We usually look at things from the point of view of digital PRs, content marketers and SEOs, but how do journalists feel about us? Sian Elvin (social media editor at MyLondon) and Alistair Charlton (freelance journalist) gave us a taste of “the other side”. Some of the tips we heard from her:
- Rule of a thumb: would you enjoy reading what you’re pitching?
- Try securing your pitches in the morning, before the editorial meeting
- Only call if you know the person / rare cases
- Following-up a few days later is absolutely fine
- Include case studies whenever possible
- Only use pleasantries if you actually know the journalist
- Avoid attachments: press release on the email body
- Save everyone’s time: send all images on a Dropbox or Google Drive link
The Wolfgang Takeaway
The third edition of the outREACH conference certainly achieved its goal to help digital PRs, content marketers and SEOs to get better at outreaching and scoring big links, sharing much more than what we covered on this blog post.
The conference will be back next year, but meanwhile, join the outREACH Community on Slack if you want to discuss more link building in a closed community, which includes channels on data, events, just-launched campaigns and more. See you next year!