Link building is a core part of any SEO strategy, but so often it can be either an afterthought or a huge expense with confusing results.
Link building usually falls into two categories:
Old fashioned, high volume link building that gets a high quantity of links but doesn’t tend to get the quality links you need to show search engines you’re a trusted site. This is easy to do because it values scale over trust, so it might be faster but has a higher algorithmic risk.
Or digital PR that creates linkable assets, giving high quality publications a reason to link back to your site and does this at scale. Given the high-end targets of this outreach it is much more effective for building authority and trust in your site, but it takes longer and has a higher flop risk.
The latter is what Type A does. But we’ve reduced the flop risk through our robust framework that means we know how to build interesting, useful and, most importantly, linkable assets.
Unlike a lot of agencies, we hate using jargon where we can help it, but we do love a good acronym. So we’ve named our Digital PR process DISCO, which stands for:
discovery and planning,
We know, you love the name. We do too but mostly because we know it works.
The first phase is when we do our research: who is your target audience, how do they identify themselves, what are they interested in both in line with your product or service and outside in the rest of their lives?
This is a crucial stage and one that’s often overlooked, because you might know your clients and their interests in relation to your offering, but that might not be one of their main identifying factors.
We also work closely with your in-house teams to understand your marketing and PR calendars to make sure we’re helping your wider business growth strategy. Sometimes this is as simple as letting the teams know what we’re planning and when we’re planning it, other times it might mean building business cases to present to other teams or stakeholders.
Again, we are an agency so we do need at least one cringe-inducing term in our process and that’s ‘Ideation’.
This phase is where we come up with the pieces that work for your target audience. There are no bad ideas in this session - we want them all because one person’s bad idea could be the one that gets tweaked in the room to become the final piece.
At Type A we’ve got a tried and tested framework to make sure these ideations are useful. That we can come out of them with not just ideas for lovely looking assets but that are linkable too.
To do that we make sure all our ideas meet at least one three criteria:
Does it either confirm or counter a commonly-held belief. This is probably the hardest to do well so you'll see fewer of this style of piece published.
Often if you confirm a commonly-held belief even if you've used interesting data and an engaging piece, users think 'yeah, so what'. Which is why this style of piece is most effective if you can counter a commonly-held belief or even stereotype.
Does it resonate with a specific group of people based on their identity, which could be name, age, gender, politics, where you live etc. You'll see a lot of articles like this in the news, it gets a lot of user engagement on site and social shares offsite so journalists are often excited by this style of piece.
At Type A we have seen this work well for our Digital PR clients across all sectors because identities are felt so strongly.
Have a look at the Funky Pigeon case study to see how one of our most effective campaigns used the identity factor simply and effectively.
Is the tool ultimately useful to users, which is often seen in the form of calculators or widgets that perform an action. We see lots of these types of pieces get really effective coverage because they are useful, for example a 'How many calories in a traditional Christmas dinner?' calculator would be interesting and evergreen, albeit a little depressing.
Layering the criteria
Where Type A excels is through layering these criteria to make sure our pieces are meeting more than one. What we never want to do is spend a lot of time building something complicated that looks beautiful and functions smoothly on your site but no one cares.
Have a look at our Just Eat Takeaway case study to see how we did this with outstanding results by targeting multiple identity points (location, favourite food) as well as social information (is it true that pizzas are the most popular order for the last ten years?)
Being the Type As we are, we’re not just satisfied thinking our ideas might work, we need data to prove it, which is why we validate each idea for both data availability and PR viability. It helps us decide what’s going to work best and helps us show you why we show you the final ideas we choose.
The first step of the validation process is to find out if the data we want to use exists. So our data analysts review all the ideas we come up with and start to piece together what data we can use from public databases, your first party data, and anything we can scrape using our proprietary scripts.
After the ideas are validated with possible data sources they go back to the PR team to validate them with trusted journalists at relevant publications. This is all anonymised so they never know which brand is linked to the ideas, but it gets an idea of whether they would be interested in some of the potential headlines we could use if we went ahead with each idea.
We do this highly targeted for each idea, using trusted journalists at target publications, making sure to get a clear verdict from the journalists we survey.
It’s at this stage we look for sign-off from you. We’ll be confident in the ideas we show you because we can grade them based on data availability and PR validity, so you will be confident in the final asset we choose together.
Creating the asset the final stage before we can begin outreach, and the most important. The piece has to be executed in line with your brand guidelines, designing an engaging asset that tells data’s story in the best way possible.
Deploying the asset is what we at Type A have worked hard to make fast and efficient. We understand the complexity of deploying outside code onto all website CMS’ and with varying levels of sign off. Our developers and technical leads can work closely with your development team or external developers from the start to make sure we build the tool in the right way to get it live on the site quickly so we can begin outreach as soon as possible.
For some this is making the asset available on your company GitHub or GitLab profiles, and for others it’s simple iframes - we work with you to make the process as easy as we can.
The outreach process is the culmination of our expertise. Our data driven approach supports the execution until the end, because our identity factors from the discovery phase should have defined the outreach opportunities we are able to quickly compile highly targeted lists of publications and journalists.
In this way we can be programmatic in our method of data-first outreach. By building lists tied to identity factors, we're able to provide accurate data to each journalist that's relevant to them in every communication at scale.
This is how Type A is able to reach quantity and quality in our outreach.
We’re all about the data at Type A. Everything we do has to be data-driven, which means we justify all our decisions in data throughout our Digital PR process. That’s why we’ve built a comprehensive reporting structure that provides you with the confidence you need to understand the value of the work we’re doing, but also the confidence to report about it internally to your stakeholders.
Each campaign has a link target, but where we do things differently is that target isn’t about the number of links, it’s a value target based on a range of different metrics. Not all links are valued equally, and we know that often ten bad links don’t add up to even one average link.
We’ve created a link value formula that weighs the following metrics for the sites we’re winning links from:
Anchor text type - brand, generic or keyword.
Type of distribution - syndicated or not.
Type of link - follow or nofollow.
Canonical - does it self refer or does it refer to another page
Target page type - campaign, home or product.
New domain or old and established.
Weekly status updates
As part of our measurement process, we’re transparent about the work we’re doing and why we’re doing it. Some weeks we might not have anything to send you for sign off, but we will always be clear about the work that’s been done and why. At Type A, there is a dedicated team of project managers that are responsible for delivering work on time and to spec.
We pride ourselves on being a headache free agency that helps educate you and your team on what we are doing and why we are doing it.
During your onboarding we put together a comprehensive report and will be populated as we win links. It’s created with you to make sure we are reporting on the most important metrics inside your business.
This campaign report will be sent out each month with a summary of the latest live links, their value and other metrics like the overall follow rate and the campaign-to-date value. This report is also available to view at any time during the campaign, which you can refer to.
Quarterly business reviews
The SEO results from link building using Digital PR are slow compounded gains over time. Therefore, measuring things after a week doesn’t always make sense.
Our QBRs seek to look at the investment you have made in Digital PR vs the return on investment. We highlight at a top level where we have seen the most significant gains, the opportunities we see to keep growing and the next steps for the coming campaign.