If you’re doing search engine optimization (SEO) properly today, then a significant portion of your effort will overlap with traditionalpublic relations (PR).This is because over the last few years, Google has minimized the effects of easily gameable ranking signals and refined their algorithm to better represent user experience.In other words, websites that satisfy their users tend to rank better than those that do not. Inbound links are still a critical component of any SEO campaign, but the easy link-building tactics of the past have been wiped off the board,largely thanks to Google’s Penguin update(s).This includes buying links, guest blogging at scale, embedding links in plugins or themes and more.The only type remaining as valuable and effective over the long term are the proverbial Holy Grail of link building: natural editorial links from high-traffic, authoritative websites.

Effective link building requires outreach, and that requires you to truly understand what motivates people — contributors and/or editors in this case.You have to introduce yourself, frame your pitch and demonstrate how you’ll make their job easier all in a couple of hundred words. That’s no easy task, which is why most people do it so poorly.But once you master that skill, it produces tremendous leverage for your link-building efforts.When you’re featured in a major publication like Forbes, Entrepreneur or Fast Company, you tend to get noticed bycontributors at other major publications, which makes it a lot easier to pitch them to be featured in the publications they work for as well.Increased exposure typically equals other publications wanting to cover you, too, resulting in even more exposure and links. It’s a powerful cycle.This works on the concept of social proof, which basically means that people see you as trustworthy and authoritative because they perceive others they already trust as seeing you that way.The evolution of search algorithms has resulted in link building and public relations becoming incredibly similar today.In the past, link building was simply about building links.It didn’t matter if they came from obscure little blogs with zero traffic or from media powerhouses with millions of visitors.Obviously, links from authoritative websites have always been preferred, but the goal for most link builders has always been to simply acquire more links to move the needle in terms of organic ranking.Google’s algorithm updates over the last few years — especially in regard to Penguin,RankBrain and their growing use of artificial intelligence — have helped them move away from ranking websites based primarily on the volume of links, and instead base rankings on quality, user intent and user experience

Making PR work for you
So now the million-dollar question: How do we get people talking about us?The first thing you need to do is find a newsworthy angle to your story.In order to do this, you’ll need to look at it from an outsider’s perspective, because frankly, no one cares about you yet.Contributors are typically juggling dozens of deadlines while engaging with their audience on social media and keeping up with the content in their industry — so your self-serving pitch will get moved to the trash folder with the dozens of others they receive every day.

A few examples that might be newsworthy for a real estate agent could include:

*If a contributor recently wrote a story about falling home prices in the area, you could pitch them on interviewing you about inexpensivehome improvement projects that have the biggest impact on how much a home sells for.

*If you’re a veteran of the US military and a real estate agent who specializes in working with fellow veterans (riches are in the niches, right?), then you could pitch a story about what veterans should expect when purchasing their first home as a civilian.(This transition is something that only a veteran can truly understand.)

Depending on the circumstances of your story, you may need to pitch a contributor cold.This will usually be the most difficult and leastlikely way to get you the coverage you’re looking for compared to the results you’ll achieve after you have an established relationship.That’s why I recommend being proactive and engaging with them long before you need anything.You do that by first compiling a list of contributors in your niche who produce content that is valuable to your target market.Next, follow their work.When they share something that you find particularly valuable or useful, share it with your audience; when possible, link to their work from your own articles.Over time, you’ll get to a point where they will welcome your pitches — so long as they provide value to their audience.It’s important to remember to treat them like humans, not objectives, because they will see right through that, and it will hurt both your personal and company brand.If you can’t do that, be a decent person and don’t waste their time.You should also include your phone number because they might prefer to simply call you rather than go back and forth over email.But it’s not over once they publish your story, because you’re not like all the other self-absorbed marketers out there, right? So your next step is to share it on social media, link to it from relevant websites that you manage, include it in your social media share rotation going forward, and then continue engaging with that contributor and sharing their other content whenever it seems useful for your audience.Link building today is a lot more like traditional public relations in that it is all about quality — in terms of publications, people and exposure, rather than just the volume of links.Approach it with that mindset, put in the necessary work that most others won’t, and you’ll enjoy the results that they can only dream about.


Peter Zmijewski is the founder and CEO at KeywordSpy.His expert knowledge on Internet Marketing practices and techniques has earned him the title “Internet Marketing Guru“ He is also an innovator, investor and entrepreneur widely recognized by the top players in the industry.