7 Smart Ways to Get Quality SEO Backlinks from PR

Quick Summary: PR is one of the best ways to generate backlinks and can significantly move the needle for search rank optimization and increase the volume of traffic coming from search.

Public relations (PR) plays an increasingly critical role in influencing SEO and demonstrating value with metrics to drive a company’s communications strategy. That’s largely due to its unique ability to generate high-quality, earned content and obtain valuable backlinks from authoritative outlets. 

In today’s socially connected world, brand awareness driven by public relations, content marketing, and social media is more important to businesses than ever before. In fact, according to Hubspot, Improving SEO/organic presence is a priority, with 66% of marketers noting SEO growth as their top goal for 2017. 

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What is a Backlink?

A backlink is when a third party shares a link to your website, social sites, content, or your brand. How good or great these links depend on how they have been structured and the domain authority of the referring site.

Generating traffic to your beautifully crafted website is the most important hurdle to overcome. This is where backlinks come into play. Simply put, backlinks are inbound hyperlinks from one website to another website.

You may be thinking, “How is this relevant to my business?” Well, every backlink to your website increases your site’s popularity and pushes it higher in SEO rankings for your industry or niche; they improve your credibility and authority within the marketplace.”

Stanford University

See the link to the Stanford University site in the quote box just above? That is a backlink for the Stanford website. When the digital marketing team looks through their analytics, they will recognize that link from this 3 Media Web page to their page as a backlink.

FURTHER READING: Can Social Media Really Help With My Company Website’s SEO Rankings?


Quality Backlinks Are The #1 Factor in SEO

Google views backlinks as a measure for votes and popularity. As such, they give priority in search results to companies with the greatest number of backlinks.

But, there’s a catch…

Not just any backlink will get Google’s attention. They have to be high-quality, relevant backlinks. Let me explain…

Not All Backlinks Are Good Backlinks

Backlinks must be from reputable, credible media sources that rank high in Google’s algorithm. While that sounds like an easy obstacle to clear, don’t think you can buy up many backlinks from any old website. Thankfully, updates to Google’s search engine algorithm in recent years sought an end to black-hat SEO techniques and placed a premium on legitimate backlinks from authoritative sources. 

Yes, that makes it more difficult to become an authoritative site, but it makes the internet a better place for everyone with higher quality content.

What is black-hat SEO? Black hat SEO is a practice against search engine guidelines, used to get a site ranking higher in search results. These unethical tactics don’t solve for the searcher and often end in a penalty from search engines. Black hat techniques include keyword stuffing, cloaking, and using private link networks.


Not sure where to get started with your own SEO? We can grow your business website online. Reach out today to start working with our team of expert search engine optimization experts. 

Nofollow vs. Dofollow Backlinks

Now, there’s something else you should know about backlinks. There are two major backlink types that you can acquire:

Dofollow Backlinks

Dofollow links are the ones you want. A dofollow backlink is an inbound link that passes authority from one page to another and builds its rankings in search engine results pages (SERP). 

When a site gives a Dofollow link, it is essentially them saying, “I endorse this website.” 

When using Dofollow links on your website, you want to make sure they are going to credible, high-authority sites. This helps the Google search algorithm see your site as credible as well.

Nofollow Backlinks

A nofollow link doesn’t have much influence on building a page’s authority in search.

Essentially, a Nofollow link tells a search engine to ignore the link. Nofollow links are typically used when referencing a problematic website or in the comments section of a blog where users are allowed to post their own links. 

For example, WordPress automatically marks backlinks left in the comments section as “Nofollow” to restrict businesses from spamming the comments with links to build their own domain authority.


computer screen with backlink metrics on it
Getting high-quality backlinks to your site takes some elbow grease, but it pays off with a successful campaign.

How Link Building Improves Ranking Factors

Google looks at your backlink structure to determine what ranking factors your site is an authority on and how trusted your site is across the web. For instance, a supplement shop will see a ranking boost from getting featured regularly in bodybuilding.com articles. The main way to figure out a website’s link value is by looking at the following statistics: domain authoritypage authoritycitation flow and trust flow.

You will also want to consider whether the links are do-follow or no-follow and how frequently the website links to others. For example, websites like HuffingtonPost.com (with many outgoing backlinks) hold less ranking value than sites of a similar site with more posting exclusivity.

For optimal ranking performance, you need to be strategic with your link building methods — one way is by getting industry influencers to guest post on prominent sites like CNN, Forbes, New York Times and TechRadar.

Your website also needs some healthy backlinks from .edu and .gov domains. The key here is to avoid any directory-style link opportunities. You want to offer something unique and receive a citation link from the school, police department, etc. There are two methods that work regularly: offering scholarships and providing proper solutions for dead links, a.k.a. building broken backlinks.

Note: Your anchor text matters just as much as the link itself. You should switch up your keyword usage to avoid getting a spam penalty. But don’t go too general or avoid hitting heavy keywords. Read Gotch SEO’s Anchor Text Guide for 2017 to learn more.

7 Smart Strategies to Get SEO Backlinks from PR:

Now, as we’ve established, a Dofollow backlink from a highly-trafficked and respected website can move the needle when it comes to search. 

But how do you go about earning quality backlinks from authoritative sites?

In my work as a PR specialist at Red Javelin, I’ve picked up quite a few skills when it comes to earning good backlinks. With that in mind, here are seven tactics PR professionals use to get backlinks:

1. First And Foremost: Create Relevant Quality Content.

SEO in today’s digital world is about earning links naturally. This is done by creating quality content that target audiences will find useful using targeted keywords. 

Use keyword research as a guide for coming up with new topics to write about and creating content. Would you please educate yourself on the hottest issues facing your industry and write about them? Produce helpful, newsworthy, and relevant content that touches on your target market’s pain points and solves real problems for them. 

A smart digital marketer will know to repurpose content to fit different audiences using blog posts, infographics, SlideShare, videos, and other engaging formats. Longer content (at least 1,500 words or more) is better than a short article for creating backlinks, including eBooks which are very shareable and linkable.

2. Outreach To Secure Earned Media Coverage And Ask For A Backlink

PR is about pitching to the people who can help you get media placements and backlinks. That’s especially helpful in boosting search results in addition to increasing referral traffic. 

businessman with contact us icons overlayed on top
You never get what you don’t ask for! Be sure to contact other marketers to ask for backlinks.

Being first to the market garners a lot of backlinks. Coverage may include links to your site via mentions of your company or an opportunity to guest post on another site. 

Without outreach, you’re just pushing out content and hoping someone will bite. And we all know that doesn’t work. Always ask for a backlink.  

When your content reach is validated with backlinks from authoritative websites and influencers in your space, you are proving your thought leadership campaigns are working. After that happens, website traffic will likely increase, boosting your PR campaign’s effectiveness.

3. Secure Product Reviews

At this point, you might be noticing a theme, but the adage, you never get what you don’t ask for, is ringing loudly and as true as ever. 

Don’t just wait for a publication to notice your product and review it. Seek them out. Just make sure you’re reaching out to the right people. Research the publication and make sure their audience is a good fit for your product. 

Find out whether or not the publication even prints reviews–if they don’t, move on to one that does. Secondly, is their website in the same niche as your product? It should be if you want your product review to be well received and drive traffic to your product page.

After reviewing a product, rarely, a publication will not include a link to the product. However, it’s always smart to reach out to the publication to ensure they will include a backlink to your site or the product page.

4. Guest Posting

Guest posting remains one of the best ways to earn valuable links. The key is to contribute to high-ranking sites or lesser-known blogs that still have a significant targeted audience. 

Focus on the credibility and relevance of the site you are pursuing, as it will always win tenfold. 

Don’t use the same content and push to multiple sites as this is seen as spam, and you could incur a Google penalty. Remember: get the host to agree on including a dofollow backlink ahead of time. 

5. Increase Social Shares With Visual Content

Smartphone display with various social media icons
Getting more social shares can help you rank higher in Google search results.

Most SEO experts agree that pages with the highest total backlinks tended to rank best in Google. More social shares can lead to more incoming links and raise domain authority and page authority. 

Create viral, visually appealing content and interesting stories to drive interest and engagement. Infographics receive 3x as many likes and shares on social media as any other type of content. With that in mind, it’s clear that creating assets such as infographics is an excellent way to earn backlinks from other reputable sites on the web.

6. Q&A Interviews

Securing interviews is an excellent way to accumulate backlinks to your site. If you have a good rapport with any bloggers or writers, pitch an idea to interview you on their website, podcast, or a social media stream.

Additionally, you can interview other industry thought leaders on your site as a method to gain high-quality backlinks. Create round-up interview posts on hot industry topics. Once the interview is posted on your blog, you can then ask your interview subjects to provide a link back to your post on their website.

Oftentimes, they will send out a social media post letting their audience know they’ve been interviewed as well. 

7. Speak at Events

Participating in events is a great way to build your reputation as an authority. When you are scheduled to talk, make sure you are listed on the event’s website and a link to your site. 

Voila, an easy backlink!

Track Your Results!

At Red Javelin, we provide metrics to our clients, so they have a complete picture of the digital impact their PR campaign is resulting in. These metrics include sites that are driving web traffic to theirs and how it is influencing search engine rankings.

Although it’s no easy task, we recommend you do the same for each of your campaigns. That way, you can monitor which types of content are performing best for your website and adjust your content calendar, so you’re creating more of the content that drives the most traffic to your website and earns you the most backlinks. 

How To Track ROI On PR Campaigns

screen showing google analytics with pr professional studying backlinks
Use tools such as Google Analytics to keep tabs on who is giving you referral traffic via backlinks to your site.

As PRDaily suggests, there are four big things you can do to track how well your campaigns are going. Although it is a complex art to master, I wanted to give you at least a baseline approach to tracking your results, so let’s go over those briefly now.

How do people interact with your pitch email? Use tools and analytics inside Mailchimp or your email server to track the open rate, response rate, link click-through, and how many forwarded the email to others. 

Keep these metrics in a spreadsheet and do periodic analysis to determine what’s working and what’s not.

What was the social media, web, and print outreach of your campaign? PRDaily recommends asking the following questions about how much coverage your

  • What is the total amount of people that are talking about your news and giving you a backlink? 
  • Who are these people, and how much influence and social clout do they have?
  • Where is your news performing best? On social media? Web? Or elsewhere?

Determine ROI. Once you’ve established your KPI’s (like how many backlinks and social mentions your campaign acquired), you can use the metrics from above to establish the value of your campaign. Then you can readjust and optimize your strategy based on those findings. 

What was long-term coverage like? And, last but not least, don’t stop tracking your results once the initial buzz has faded. Continue to track which backlinks are performing best for your site, then reach out to that site manager to explore others ways you can collaborate and get more backlinks from them. 

The Cost Of DIY Digital Marketing & PR

Expert PR professionals are adept at networking, strategizing, and monitoring all aspects of a PR push.

As web design and development, many companies are under the assumption they can do PR themselves. However, without a talented in-house PR division, those companies often encounter less than desirable results from their DIY efforts.

And, in many cases, they end up spending more money trying to fix their errors than it would have cost them to work with a professional in the first place.

Earned media, or media coverage that we as PR professionals secure every day, continues to be the most powerful element of today’s data-driven SEO marketing strategies.

PR is one of the best ways to generate backlinks and can significantly move the needle for search rank optimization and increase the volume of traffic coming from search.

Forward-looking marketing professionals are optimizing their PR strategy to accomplish SEO goals. By aligning with SEO on keywords and content, shaping a pitch list around SEO impact, and hustling for valuable backlinks, they’re able to demonstrate tremendous business impact and bring smart and valuable tactics into play for a competitive advantage.

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