April 19, 2024


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When others link to your website, Google wants to learn what value you can provide to users — the very reason someone gave you a backlink. That’s where digital public relations (digital PR) comes in.

Compared to manual link building, digital PR focuses on teaching a search engine about your expertise, which is reaffirmed by other publications linking to your content.

Let’s take a deeper look at how search engines like Google have evolved, how digital PR works and why using it together with manual link-building efforts is considered best to keep your website relevant.

Google has grown smart

Google is traditionally all about links — the more links inserted, the better. However, it has grown into a smart semantic search engine. Instead of simply looking at the links, it tries to understand the context, including the site’s information, what it offers and similar details.

Google’s focus is shifting to value sites that provide helpful content and strong Experience, Expertise, Authoritativeness and Trustworthiness (E-E-A-T) signals. In other words, link quality will matter more than quantity.

For example, websites with limited authority, despite their high traffic, are focusing on establishing topical relevance. They’re basically convincing Google that they are experts in a particular topic or niche. And this is one of the defining factors between digital PR and manual link building.

Related: Enhance Your Website’s Visibility and Dominate Your Competition With These Powerful Techniques

Understanding digital PR

Digital PR is very much like traditional public relations, except that it’s focused on the digital space. It’s the use of online channels to manage your brand’s reputation and build positive relationships with your target audience.

When it comes to search engine optimization (SEO), digital PR helps in:

  • Attracting visitors to your website.
  • Getting other websites to link back to yours, which improves your website’s authority and ranking in search engine results pages (SERPs).

There’s no single way to perform digital PR outreach. However, a common but effective strategy involves content creation efforts. In other words, you need to create valuable assets, including reports, infographics, white papers, statistics, and other content that is good enough for other publications to link to your work organically.

Digital PR makes for quality backlinks but takes time

Organic backlinks — voluntary links to your content — are considered higher-quality links than those you manually build (either by guest posting or affiliate linking). Digital PR is a powerful tool for acquiring such high-quality backlinks. However, it’s a long shot that requires effort and patience to yield good results. Here’s why.

Building relationships

You must demonstrate your brand’s value and expertise consistently before your target audience members become willing to recommend or link to your content.

Creating valuable content

Researching topics, providing commentary or launching campaigns are not done in one sitting. You need to invest a significant amount of time and resources.

Earning organic coverage

Journalists get pitched constantly, so your content needs to be truly newsworthy and relevant to their audience to stand out and secure coverage. Sometimes, you must also have a strategic outreach plan to pitch your content to the right journalists and publications.

Related: Why a Good Digital PR Strategy Is So Important

Manual link-building remains an effective SEO strategy

While digital PR is a great way to boost authority, manual link-building remains effective in maintaining your website’s visibility and relevance. The only difference is that you’re proactively getting the backlinks to your website rather than letting journalists voluntarily do the linking.

Still, given the change in the current landscape, you should focus your link-building efforts on earning juicy links rather than spamming them. Here are a few manual link-building strategies that might still provide good results:

Guest posting

Write high-quality articles for other relevant websites in your niche. Then, make sure that you include a link back to your own website within the content.

Broken link building

Find broken links on relevant websites and reach out to the website owners, suggesting your content as a replacement.

Help a Reporter Out (HARO) pitching

There are certain platforms where journalists post their queries on topics that might be too niche. Respond to their questions with great answers, you might potentially earn a backlink in the published article.

Networking and relationship-building

Connecting with influences and leaders in your niche always remains a good tactic. As you build relationships for your business, you may also find natural link opportunities.

Related: 5 Guest-Posting Tips to Help You Rank Higher on Search Engines

Manual link-building risks penalties

Manual link building is seen as a method to replicate digital PR link earning (which can take a long time). While it can be faster, it also carries the risk of getting your website penalized when done incorrectly. Here are some cases where this might happen:

Unnatural link profile

Search engines like Google analyze link patterns to identify websites engaging in manipulative link building. An example of this is when your website has a sudden surge of links that seem unnatural, including those from low-quality websites, identical anchor texts, or links to private blog networks.

Manipulative link-building techniques

Engaging in specific practices can be directly flagged as manipulative and lead to penalties. Examples include link buying, excessive link exchanges and comment spam.

A two-pronged approach to link building is the best

Truthfully speaking, search engines tend to rely more on topic relevance than human-driven linking efforts today. In other words, digital PR is becoming the trend — and you should hop on to it, too.

However, combining both approaches can help your business build a more effective strategy for building high-quality links. In particular, digital PR will help you get natural and authoritative links from reputable sources. Meanwhile, manual link building allows you to target and control link quality.

Digital PR can be resource-intensive, as compared with manual link building. If your team is not yet ready to focus on high-quality content creation, manual link building remains a great avenue to take.



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