Why BIG Link Building Campaigns Aren’t All That
Content Marketing

Why BIG Link Building Campaigns Aren’t All That

20th October 2020

Since I started my career in digital marketing nearly ten years ago, starting out as intern building links and guest blogging (because that’s what we did back then) In that time, I’ve been fortunate to work at some of the top PR and digital marketing agencies in the UK, as well as a handful of in-house roles.

This combination of jobs and roles has given me a unique perspective on the world of digital PR and SEO, and how they can go hand in hand to truly impact the bottom line of a business, as well as establish and grow brands. These experiences have also given me first-hand knowledge of epic campaign failures, and missed targets, whilst not as glamorous or noteworthy have provided me with the tools to grow.

I’ve summarised my biggest and best learnings from working in digital PR over the years so that you can take these nuggets with you on your PR SEO journey.

Monthly KPIs don’t make sense

It’s really easy to fall into the trap of agreeing to monthly measurement metrics on performance, but this should only be a framework to track progress, not a hard and fast rule.

Like most things in life, success doesn’t come in incremental, and equal monthly deposits, so why should your digital PR work be the same? All manor of external and internal factors are at play, from seasonality, major world events, and project launch delays (out of your control). Which is why it is essential to take a broader view of KPIs across a quarter, also tracking what is coverage and links are likely to come in in the near future, as well as what is already live.

There will be weeks when the coverage rolls in, and others when it’s slow, so make sure the model you choose to report using, reflects and accounts for this—looking to change up your current format? PR Mention has a helpful list of metrics that go further than the number of articles and links.

Trade publications are your best friend

I’ll admit that I spent the first few years of my career chasing the golden ticket coverage that we all dream of. The likes of the Daily Mail, Forbes, MSN, and Business Insider were always present on my outreach lists, but I soon realised that these types of articles and links could only get me so far.

To get the attention of the elite news sites, you need to create compelling and original content which mostly means big budget spends and months of planning and project work.

This is where more traditional PR strategy comes in. Every business, whether it’s as every day as an online bathroom retailer or a global tech brand, has natural news and announcements, that isn’t breaking news, but are always of interest to trade titles. Each industry has trade media titles, so there’s no excuse about working in a niche or boring sector.

SmallBusiness.co.uk hits the nail on the head in this article, if you want to learn more.

In most instances they give links, will welcome your press release announcing a new CEO or product launch and boost the corporate profile of the business which will impact things like brand, share of voice and authority within that industry. This stream of activity should work alongside your large-scale, snazzier campaigns but will tick the box for low bounce rate, quality referral traffic.

This method also looks more natural to Google’s algorithm, so you can rest assured you are creating a squeaky clean, white hat link portfolio.

Variety is the spice of life

Unfortunately, digital PR or PR SEO is a bit like a game of patience. There are no real quick wins or shortcuts to long term success, but by using a combination of tactics and strategy, you’ll save yourself time and energy.

When reading about award-winning campaigns or blog posts about content marketing campaigns that secured 100’s of links, it can be easy to feel that the only way to win at PR SEO is to follow suit. I’m here to tell you that those kinds of campaigns are fantastic, and link reaping, but they are not a consistent nor sustainable approach for most businesses.

As I mentioned above, you need to cover the basics and bread and butter approaches that will deliver regular and reliable coverage, as part of a broader strategy. As you go along, you will learn what is realistic for your business or client in terms of coverage goals, and focus areas, but here is a table of the basics.

Activity Time Budget Frequency Examples Coverage
Natural news and announcements Low Low Monthly
  • New senior level recruitment
  • New product launch
Thought leadership or bylines Medium Low Bi-monthly
  • Business advice article


Creative campaigns High High 1-2 a year Trade


Top Tier/ Nationals

I hope this has given you a balanced view on the merits of smaller, scale but equally valuable digital PR elements that will deliver against your targets. So, whilst there are a place for heavy-hitter link building and content marketing campaigns, you can also now appreciate that they are pros and cons for each.

Good luck implementing these alternative approaches to PR SEO and please comment below to let me know how you go on or if you have any questions.


Written By
Rebecca has over nine years of experience executing successful integrated PR campaigns for clients across travel, entertainment, fashion, tech and e-commerce sectors. Currently PR Manager at Blackhawk Network.
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