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Content Marketing

Published March 30th 2020

Why You Should Use These 2 Advanced Link Building Tactics For Outreach

For a single campaign, your content marketing strategy probably looks a bit like this:

  1. Ideation
  2. Content Creation
  3. List Build for Outreach
  4. Write Pitch Emails
  5. Secure a Placement
  6. Repeat Steps 3-6 (until you’ve earned enough as many links as you can)

But, what if you didn’t have to repeat steps 3 to 6? What if you could build an outreach list so advantageous that you only had to send a few strategic email pitches to meet your backlink goals?

By taking advantage of the natural syndication networks that exist between online publishers, the power of a single email pitch is far-reaching. 

The techniques you are about to learn will provide a competitive advantage over the competition when pitching your target publishers, giving you a unique understanding of how different news publications and writers are associated and connected.

New to pitching? Learn here how to craft an unbeatable media relations pitch.

Step 1: Start with great content

You can send the most well-targeted and well-written email pitch the world has ever seen, but if  your content fails to excite, inform, or surprise the publisher, it will never see the light of day.

It’s important to start with great content—the rest will come easy. If what you’ve created is so intriguing and surprising that online editors want to share the content the moment they see it, you’ve succeeded.

What makes great content? Believe in the power of data. Present strong news hooks with data-driven stories to the publications and writers who are likely to be interested in the story.

Starting with great content allows you to generate the highest return on your investment, benefitting your brand or your clients with dozens to hundreds of links on their content campaigns.

Step 2: Optimize your list build

This does not mean sending a generic email blast to everyone in your network hoping that something will stick. This technique is a highly personalized approach that takes time—but the results are worth it. 

There are two approaches you can take to optimize your list build: Finding influencers in your niche or vertical and understanding natural syndication networks to take your reach that much further.

Tactic #1: Finding media influencers in your niche

Let’s say you have the option of getting your content on one of two online publishers: Buzzfeed and CNN. Both great placements, right? You’re probably thinking that either features would be great press for your brand, and you’d be right.

But now let’s say the journalist who will cover your content at CNN is a recent hire with 256 Twitter followers, and the writer who will cover your content at Buzzfeed is verified on Twitter and has a following of about 30,000 people.

Now who do you choose? The answer becomes a little easier.

I have found that BuzzSumo is the best tool to quickly and efficiently determine the influencers with the most engagement in your niche.

Buzzsumo’s “Influencers” tool helps in the discovery of influencers interested in your topic area. From there, select “Active Influencers only” and “Verified Influencers only” to exclude bloggers and non-verified accounts, focusing your research on major reporters and online writers.

From there, you can search for a keyword that is relevant to the subject. In this example, I’m going to use the keyword “travel” to find travel influencers in the media. You can get as broad or granular with your keywords as you want—there are plenty of media influencers in every niche to go around.

These are the top fifteen results I got from my query. The quality of these contacts is unparalleled for the short amount of time it took me to get them. All fifteen of these contacts have large followings online, some upwards of 40,000. Many of them write for top-tier online publications such as USA Today, The Guardian, The New York Times, The Sun, The LA Times, and more.

  1. Lisa Minot, Travel Editor, The Sun | 18,851 followers
  2. Jill Starley Grainger, Travel Journalist, | 16,763 followers
  3. Jennifer Leo, Travel Writer, LA Times | 38,268 followers
  4. 101 Holidays, Travel Journalist | 17,580 followers
  5. David Whitley, Freelance Travel Writer, | 24,264 followers
  6. Dennis Schaal, Founding Editor, Skift | 15,974 followers
  7. David Farley, Travel Writer, NYT, BBC | 16,576 followers
  8. Barbara Delollis, Travel Writer, USA Today | 25,159 followers
  9. Nigel Thompson, Travel Editor, Express/Mirror/Star | 24,400 followers
  10. Spud Hilton, Travel Editor, SF Chronicle | 57,703 followers
  11. Simon Calder, Travel Writer, The Independent | 49,229 followers
  12. Leif Pettersen, Travel Writer | 11,828 followers
  13. Laura Porter, Travel Writer | 29,049 followers
  14. Mary Novakovich, Travel Writer, The Guardian | 12,545 followers
  15. Paula Froelich, Travel Writer, Newsweek & NYT Bestselling Author | 23,275 followers

The quality of your pitches is important—if just one of these top-tier online writers decided to publish your content, odds are that many other influential travel writers and publishers will also be engaged with your campaign and cover it on their own sites.

Tactic #2: Taking advantage of natural syndication networks

In addition to influential journalists, outreach can be made easier by understanding the linking relationships online publishers have with each other.

What even is natural syndication? Natural syndication occurs with earned media coverage from a publisher who saw your content on another publisher’s site. Their coverage is not a result of you pitching them directly, therefore creating an organic two-for-one mention with no additional work on your part. For example, say you pitched CNN and they covered your content. The next day, you find that the same story has been covered on USA Today and on Condé Nast Traveler as well, likely stemming from that major mention on CNN.

This is the power of a single, highly-targeted email pitch. Understanding natural syndication networks equips you with the knowledge you need to optimize one pitch and earn hundreds of backlinks—no additional effort required.

We used a tool called Gephi to map the top 400 most trafficked American publishers online. You can play with the interactive version here and see for yourself which publishers are closely related, which are covering the same or similar content, and which online publishers have the highest reach.

Some tips to master the interactive visualization:

  1. The colors of the nodes indicate similarity of type of publisher
  2. The bigger the nodes, the more influential the website
  3. The nodes in the center earn links from the highest variety of sites
  4. When nodes are clustered together, this means the websites often link to each other
  5. Websites that cover the same editorial topics are found near each other

Final Takeaways

There are many ways to determine the most influential publications and journalists. These two tactics are relatively low-effort and can help you identify who to pitch in a matter of minutes.

By learning who the top writers, editors, and influencers in your niche and pairing that knowledge with a sense of how online websites link to each other, you are better prepared to optimize your digital PR and content marketing strategy for the highest success.

Keen to get your influencer strategy off the ground? Learn how to leverage influencer marketing with BuzzStream and BuzzSumo.

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