Tag Archives: Content Outreach

PR by the Seat of Your Pants – How to Get the Links & Mentions Your Content Deserves

Wild West Cowgirl

Image by J.C. Leacock Photography

The content marketing Wild West

Since Matt Cutts called the decay and fall of guest blogging, the new scalable “link building” tactic for many SEOs is content marketing, meaning investing in quality content assets such as tools, videos, PDF guides and games that engage audiences across the web.

The benefits are more social shares, more followers and more people aware of your brand – as well as links and mentions that may move the needle in terms of your SEO.

As Rand Fishkin points out, we’re still in the Wild West phase of content marketing, meaning there’s still a good chance of getting your content noticed in most niches. And you will also spend far less money than you would for the same exposure via paid channels. (See Rand’s post for why this may not always be the case, though.)

What can SEOs bring to the table?

What we can bring to the party is our particular ability to reach out to bloggers and arrange collaborations to get content featured around the web.

In this article, I share some of my favourite tips for optimising the content outreach process. I’ve called it “PR by the Seat of Your Pants” because most of these tips come from trial and error and experimentation, rather than from any background in the PR industry, so please don’t shoot me down, PR folks.

Outreach Spreadsheet

It’s a good idea to begin by creating an outreach spreadsheet where you can keep track of all your placement opportunities. This will help you to prioritise the easy wins, remember how far you’ve got and outsource any work to a colleague if necessary.

Here’s an example:

Outreach Spreadsheet

Domain: The site you’re planning to reach out to

Opportunity: The type of placement you think you’ll be able to get (news item, competition, guest post – more on this in the next section)

Approach: How you’re going to get the coverage (e.g. pitch them a story idea, follow them on Twitter, offer them coverage in return)

Difficulty: How easy will it be to get this placement? This is where you should use your Jedi powers SEO intuition to decide if it’s an easy win or not.

Progress: Keep track of how far you’ve got with the outreach process (e.g. “email sent, waiting to hear back”)

With this tool at your disposal, you should never miss a trick.

Identifying Opportunity Types

Think about all the possible ways that you could get your content featured on sites around the web. And remember, your content needs to be:

  • newsworthy – to get press coverage
  • cool, useful and authentic – to get featured on blogs
  • “on brand” and aimed at your potential customers

For example, here are some opportunities we identified for a travel video about East London. Yours will vary, depending on your niche and the type of content you’re making.

Press Coverage:

Press Coverage Example

Type of site: local newspapers / travel industry websites

How: Pitch your story to a newspaper’s news desk or to a specific journalist. If they like what they read, they’ll write a story about you (more on this in the next section). Simples.


Type of site: London blogs

How: Donate a prize for a site to giveaway in conjunction with running a news item about your content. This way, they get the extra traffic and shares from running a competition and you get additional exposure for your content. Everyone’s a winner.

Guest Posts:

Guest Post Example

Type of site: London blogs / urban travel blogs / creativity blogs

How: Think up some article ideas that would enable you to embed your content in the post. You can then write these articles and get them published around the web, thereby getting your content seen by more people.

This may sound a bit old-school, but what you’re doing is slightly different to traditional guest blogging; you’re asking sites to link to content they should be happy to feature, rather than to a commercial page which might compromise their integrity.

Here are some angles that might work for the East London video:

  • 24 Hours in East London
  • London’s Best East End Markets
  • Top 5 Places to Skate in East London
  • An Interview with the Filmmaker* 

*We found that many London sites were far happier to publicise the work of an up and coming local filmmaker than a travel company…

Press Outreach Tips

Once you’ve tracked down the opportunities, you’re biggest win (and most time-sensitive task) is to outreach to the press. Here’s what you should consider in your pitch:

  • Are you going to email the news desk or a particular journalist?
  • Are you pitching to the right journalist? (i.e. someone who covers similar stories)
  • Are you representing the company and using a work email address? Or are you contacting as an individual involved in the creative process using your personal address?
  • Can you contact the journalist beforehand, giving them an advanced preview or letting them be the first to cover it?
  • Can you also publish a press release on your website or via a newswire service such as PR Newswire or PRWeb? (No, not for the links but to refer the journalist to for additional information – it might also make your campaign seem more authoritative.)
  • Are you available by phone or in person for an interview? (This will inspire trust in you and enable the journalist to verify the story.)

Give them what they want

Just remember that the type of story you pitch will be very different depending on the type of publication you’re contacting. Consider these two possible headlines for the East London video:



The first could be from a local newspaper, while the second could be from a travel industry website. Two very different stories about the same piece of content.

The newspaper wants to know why you chose to highlight their local area, while the travel industry site cares more about what makes this video unique and how successful it has been so far.

Pitch to journalists the story their readers want to read, and don’t get bogged down in irrelevant details.

Bonus: Press Outreach Template

If you’re looking for more info on what to include in your pitch, check out this template (we advise sending an email, not a coffee-stained letter):

Press Outreach Template

Made using Writing Fonts

Targeting the Underserved Query

One last thing to consider: does your content target an underserved search query? This was brought to my attention by James Agate in his recent Moz post, who suggests that SEOs should target high volume queries in their content marketing, queries that are inadequately served by current search results.

This way, your content will hopefully rank for these popular phrases, which will generate a constant stream of organic search traffic, some of which may link and mention you. This means you can spend less time on the active outreach process outlined above.

In the travel sector, an example might be the phrase “best travel apps”, which gets loads of monthly searches and is only served by “top 10″ blog posts. You might be able to create an interesting piece of content in an alternative format (video or graphic) that serves this query more effectively and stands out by being different.

I think this combination of savvy keyword targeting and a winning idea is the Holy Grail of SEO-age content marketing.

# # #

So there you have it, I hope this post has given you some new ideas on how to outreach your content. 

People have been talking about making great content for years, but it’s only now that they’re starting to actually do it. Now’s your chance to be a pioneer in this underdeveloped landscape and to reap the rewards – while the West is still Wild.

If you have anything to add, let me know in the comments.

Follow me on Twitter: @MattELindley


#BrightonSEO 2013: 6 Tips for Successful Outreach by Danny Ashton

Danny Ashton’s look at the best ways to successfully outreach your content

To connect with a wide audience and ensure that his talk really hit home with everyone here, he used the analogy of outreaching content as similar to outreach in terms of a romantic relationships – genius and easy to follow!

Here are his 6 top tips….

1. Vulnerability

- Making yourself vulnerable by thinking outside of the box and reaching outside of your comfort zone will increase the possibility of success.

- You should also be prepared to accept that this will also increase your possibility of failure- but by not putting yourself out there, you are limiting your results.

- In terms of content, this means being open to the vulnerable nature that is an unavoidable part of building relationship with bloggers or possible websites. The good news is that a blogger that you’ve reached out to and built a relationship with will be far more likely to want your content in the future.

2. Honest Communication

- The easiest and most effective way to build and ensure your relationship is by being honest about your intentions. Just like real life, lying about common ground may work initially, but will not build a sustainable relationship.

- With regards to content, this means being honest about what you hope to gain from placing your content, as well as how you can benefit each other. This will eventually lead to a successful partnership that you can rely on for your content. Honest communication leads to honest content outreach.

3. Affinity

- Affinity is about looking in the right places for people with similar interests to yourself, in order to benefit each other. For example, if you enjoy wine, a wine tasting evening will theoretically be filled with like-minded people with a lot of common ground with one another (you all like wine, of course).

- With content, this means targeting appropriate sites where you will gain the most benefit – for example, targeting an eco site with a travel related angle, such as green-friendly hotels or wellbeing holidays. This is something of a specialty at Verve Search, where we love a fresh and creative take on an old or overused angle.

4. Overcoming Fear

- Your internal dialogue runs through your head 24/7 and will always be doing its utmost to keep you safe. This means however, that it will also limit opportunities that may be a bit more daring – it will tell you not to do things that might seem a bit stupid.

- In terms of content, ignore that small voice and push yourself further! This means pushing aside the thought ‘The Guardian will never use my infographic’ or ‘BBC News wouldn’t ever print my article’ – you don’t know until you try!

5. Rejection

- A rejection isn’t always a straightforward no. There could be a number of reasons that are nothing to even do with your content, such as bad timing, the relevant person being out of office or a too similar piece of content having recently been published on your target website.

- Basically, this means don’t give up! Don’t get disheartened by your failed efforts – try again somewhere else. You’re looking for the right fit for your content, the right relationship takes time to build.

6. Confidence

- This is about having the confidence to put all of the previous steps together and go forward with your outreach. Accept rejection as part of the process and use it to fuel your next steps.

The main points to remember are that to ensure successful outreach, you must build real and honest relationships with those that you are contacting – don’t place your content with a blogger that you’ll never speak to again. Building a long term relationship is mutually beneficial, helping each other with worthy and relevant content that is valuable to both of you. Don’t be afraid to make yourself vulnerable or contact “big” publications. Don’t be afraid of rejection.

How to Increase the PageRank of Your Google+ Profile

 We all know that we should be building our Google+ network but, like a trip to the dentist, most of us just haven’t got around to doing it yet. Increasing our author rank by implementing the rel=author tag is simple enough – but have you ever thought about your PageRank? That’s right; every Google+ profile – including yours – has its own PageRank, indexed separately as if it was a website.


Here is your opportunity to directly influence the search results of every person across your extended network and – more importantly – your chance to influence those that aren’t even on Google+.


Why is that so important?

This means that content, shares and links across a person’s Google+ profile that they’ve worked hard to be ranked as, say, a PR5 will have search authority over content on a profile that is ranked lower. It’s essentially another way for Google to rank your content, based on your authority as an author and based on the authority of those sharing your content, in one big, happy, authority-building circle. And it’s not just Google+ profiles; it also encompasses Google+ pages and yep, Google+ communities, all individually ranked.

So, as you build the authority of your profile and therefore your ranking position, your content can potentially be seen by anyone, even if they aren’t in your network or even on Google+ at all.


Where can we see it?

PageRank – the score by which Google ranks the authority of pages in the SERPS from 1 to 10 (I’m sure you knew that, but still…) has been rumoured to be in use on Google+ profiles for a while. However, it’s only just beginning to come to light – mainly thanks to the slow-to-be-updated nature of PageRanking. Just like a regular website, most new or sporadically used Google+ profiles will probably have a rank of 0 or even N/A, but now, using a website such as prchecker.net, you’d be able to discover profiles out there with much higher rankings. If you need to see it to believe it, Mark Traphagen – the inspiration behind this article – is ranked as a PR5, with his own examples of Justin Cutroni and Brian Gardner both ranking at an inspiring PR6.

To check yours out, simply remove the ‘/posts’ at the end of your URL, as well as the ‘/u/0/’ from the middle. For example, mine is https://plus.google.com/116924445784293921784/ and currently ranks at an impressive N/A (perhaps I should start to follow my own advice).

But how do you go about building the ranking of your Google+ profile?’ you may be wondering. Well, as did I, and so – with a little research and a lot of coffee – here’s what I found out…


1.       It’s not a numbers game

You might think that the first place to begin is to start maniacally adding other users to your profile circles. If only it was this easy! Alas, just like other social platforms and, well, the rest of the internet, it’s all about the social interaction. Sharing and commenting on other people’s content is a great way to begin to make a name for yourself and build your own hype, going way beyond half-heartedly adding them as a friend. Of course, on a very simple level, it’s still true to say that the more followers you have; the more likely it is that one of them will interact with your posts. It just might take longer.


2.       It’s not enough to follow the cool kids

It’s a similar story here, folks. Adding the highest ranked and most powerful Google+ers to your circles won’t do much for your own authority; you need to talk to them too. Again, by interacting and building relationships with the biggest players, you should be sharing others content, commenting on or +1ing their content and generally being as natural and genuine as possible – just as you would in real-life networking. And hey, do it well and they might even start to share your content without you bribing them (we don’t condone bribing).


3.       Content is still king!

You probably know this part by heart, but it’s always worth reiterating: good quality content is where it all begins! In the eyes of both search engines and other users, creating appealing, shareable content is crucial for all aspects of SEO. With regards to Google+, regularly updating your profile with interesting posts, images and videos are vital to building your authority and interacting with your target audience. It’s pretty straightforward: your content has to be good enough for others to want to share it.


So there you have it: make some great friends and create some great content and soon your PageRank will be flying up the charts.

Be careful when linking on Google+ because some links will be nofollow. To make sure that they’re dofollow, they need to be part of a rich text snippet. Instead of copying and pasting the URL, you need to click on the ‘add link’ icon and actually paste the URL into the field provided.

5 Easy Ways to Improve Your Content

You’ve spent hours slaving away to create your content: redrafting paragraphs, rephrasing sentences and, if you’re anything like me, hesitating over the placement of a comma. So why is nobody reading your article? Or worse still, why is no-one commenting on it, Tweeting it or Facebook sharing it?

Whether you’ve experience this dilemma first-hand or the mere thought of it is enough to send a shiver down your spine, there are actually a few things you can do to prevent your content from being forever condemned to cyber space anonymity. It can take minutes to turn your beautifully written copy into a highly readable, shareable article. Here are five ways!


1.      Consider Your Layout

The first thing to remember when writing your content is that when it comes to the internet, people will often scan pages rather than read them. This is an unavoidable fact and sadly, must influence the way you write – you’ve got to keep things snappy! Think about your layout and break your writing up into short, manageable paragraphs – big chunks of text can be intimidating. Make line breaks your friend and your nicely-spaced article will be pleasing on the eye, enticing readers to continue.

Think about sentence length, trying to keep them short and to the point. Cut out pointless filler words that drag away from your point – is something that’s ‘very unique’ any more so than something that’s already ‘unique’?


2.       Make Use of Formatting

Be strategic with your formatting, for example by bolding important concepts to add emphasis to them. This means that at a glance, the reader is drawn straight to the most important things that you have to say. However, don’t fall into the trap of thinking everything you have to say is important (difficult, I know) and over-highlighting everything, drawing attention to nothing.

Bullet points are easy to scan and provide a visual break from large chunks of text or a lengthy paragraph, presenting ideas in an easily digestible way. It’s even better if you can keep your bullet points symmetrical with similar line lengths and the same grammatical form. It’s easier on the eye which means, of course, it’s easier on the reader.


3.      Plan Your Subtitles

Everyone loves a subtitle! A great technique to help you plan out your article is to write all your subtitles first, filling in the content later. Well-written subtitles make your ideas concise, easy to understand and highly impacting on the reader. It also means you can review your content from a distance – can you make sense of your article just from reading the subtitles? That’s the aim of the game here.


4.      Use Numbers

Much like subtitles, numbered lists ensure that the points that you’re making are crystal clear. Using a numbered list also gives an idea of how long your article is (and how far from the end you are!) which is great for hitting points home and making them memorable. It will also give the impression that you know what you’re talking about and that you can articulate it accurately. Try numbering your main points and see if it makes your article more compelling and powerful, just like this one.


5.      ‘Write drunk; edit sober’ – Ernest Hemingway

Take this one as literally as you like! What our friend Hemingway was trying to say here is that your personality needs to shine through in your writing – it’s always better to edit it out later than to not have any to begin with. By writing in a way that is real and genuine as opposed to a faceless, anonymous drone, readers will naturally listen to what you have to say and what’s more, they’ll trust whatever it is that you’re saying. And trust breeds authority. How many times has someone’s enthusiasm rubbed off on you without even trying? Enthusiasm is infectious, so let yours shine through in your writing and your involvement and connection with your reader will be sky high.


So next time you’ve got a great article that just doesn’t seem to be hitting the spot, give these tips a try and watch your popularity soar.


Content Outreach – It’s All In The Angle.

Content Outreach has always come across as one of the parts of SEO that is very formulaic, writing articles and getting them posted. Is it that simple?  You may find you get more success by using your content wisely and taking on a more intelligent approach to link development. It is one thing to write really good quality content but if you aren’t pitching it to the right people then your efforts and good intentions will be wasted.

The more authoritative sites want good content, they want fresh content, to achieve this take a look at who your article is aimed at. Is it compelling? Does the title make the reader want to carry on? If the Blog Editor wants to read your article then so will the audience and then the links will follow.

When writing fashion based content for example, there is a rise in the fashion blogger whose site mainly consists of photos of the outfits they are wearing and products that they love. That doesn’t mean that you have to go for the lower ranking sites. Changing the angle of your article is the best way to get around this issue.

As a content writer, I found success with sites that have a good authority, by simply focusing on how my content can be used with a novel approach. Sites with fashion bloggers who blog just about the things they like won’t be interested in your articles, but the list is endless as to who you can approach instead. For example a link about fashion doesn’t just have to go on clothing sites. Taking a wider approach and looking at situations where clothing is one of the key components in situations the site deals with is an effective method. Some sites that have proved useful are Relationship sites, Teen Magazines and sites aimed at the more mature reader, all are very differing and not an obvious place to put an article based around fashion, but if you are clever with your creative content then you can make it fit in with their genre.

Another example is taking a niche subject and writing an intelligent article about it. You can place an article about dresses from the 1920’s complete with links onto a museums blog or a special interest site. If the audience want to read your article then the links will follow.

Don’t just include links to your clients’ site but also to other authoritative sites (not competitors of course), for example:

If you write about “top tips for a vintage style wedding”, one link might go to a TV show like Downton Abbey and then the next might go to your clients’ site, like this:

“The recent series of Downton Abbey is a great source for vintage dress inspiration”.

This creative use of SEO is far more appealing to web editors and a lot more palatable for the reader, with content outreach it is all too easy to forget that we have the world, quite literally, at the end of our fingertips. If your content is interesting, your audience will want to read on. Intelligent content outreach right there. Simple really.