I often write – and talk! – about the tremendous visibility and credibility that comes with exposure in the print media. That has increased exponentially in the past 15 to 20 years as just about every publication now publishes online as well. Exposure in your hometown paper automatically becomes exposure online in most cases.
There can be an additional benefit to this that you may not be aware of: If your website is mentioned in the articles by or about you, it can boost your site’s ranking when people are searching for a topic relevant to you.
So, say you’re a financial adviser specializing in retirement planning for Generation Xers. You’ve been quoted in a number of publications offering helpful tips for people in their 30s and 40s. Most of those publications also published the articles on their websites, and some included your website address, creating what’s called a backlink to your site.
If the online publication is what Google considers an “authority” site – a website it trusts, with lots of traffic and reputable links – that backlink will make Google respect your site a little more. That can boost how high you show up in the search results when someone Googles a term associated with you or your business. For our financial adviser example, that might be “tips for Generation X retirement planning.”
The more backlinks to your site from respected publications, the better your chances of improving your standing in Google searches.
What can you do to get authority site backlinks, and how can you best take advantage of them? Here are four tips:
- Get exposure in respected news publications. Professional publications with lots of online traffic get high scores in Google’s rankings, so be sure to include them in your outreach to the media. That’s not to say that being published by smaller news organizations is a bad thing – all good exposure will boost your credibility and visibility! However, for backlink purposes, be sure to also target the national publications, even if your customer base is not a national one.
- Include your website in materials you send to the media. If you’re interviewed, ask the journalist if he or she will include your site’s URL or a hyperlink to it in the online version of the article. Without that, there is no backlink. However, not all publications or journalists are willing to include URLs in all situations, and it’s not worth burning what could be a valuable media contact by getting in a snit about it. In that case, just be happy with the exposure!
- Have the search terms people might use in looking for you on your website. This is also important! If the phrases people are searching for are nowhere to be found on your website, the backlink won’t help you much. The Gen X financial adviser in our example, for instance, should have “tips for Generation X retirement planning” in the text on his site. He might also have phrases like “retirement planning in your 30s and 40s.”
- Post the publication’s article on your website with a backlink to the publication. This makes the backlink even stronger and more valuable, because it creates a direct, two-way connection between your site and the publication’s site. (Reputation by association!)
I want to caution you not to get hyperfocused on backlinks; it’s just one tool. Marketing is about using all the tools you have to create maximum impact.
And if you do get some great backlinks, be prepared to make the most of them!