Backlinks are a valuable component of any marketing program because they accomplish two goals: you get in front of a new audience, and you earn SEO love. Invest a bit of time to find those opportunities and you can build a full schedule of outreach to boost your awareness.
While any website that links back to yours is a “backlink”, this post focuses on the opportunities available in traditional trade press and media. These are the publications and online sites that your customers and prospects follow and read. While they generally employ a staff of editors and reporters, they often have multiple ways that others can contribute. They invest in building their circulation and followers, and they focus specifically on your market. That’s one of the reasons why getting published in (and backlinks from) these publications is so valuable – they tend to reach people who are pre-qualified to have an interest in your products or services.
Here’s a step-by-step on where to look, how to keep track of the deadlines, and how to follow up on backlinks.
Finding Opportunities for Backlinks
What publications do you consider to be the leaders in your field? If you’re in IT you probably think of ComputerWorld or InformationWeek. If you’re in alternative energy, you think of Solar Power World or Renewable Energy Magazine. If you run a restaurant, then you think of Nation’s Restaurant News or Restaurant Business. Although the advent of the Internet took its toll on the trade magazine industry, there are still plenty of publications covering just about every industry. The trick is to find the ones that are a fit for you.
Start with the ones you know – simply make a list in any text document or spreadsheet to capture ideas.
Do some legwork on your own by using any of these methods:
- Check news wire distribution lists, including WebWire, for the publications in your industry. Add the relevant ones to your list, including URL.
- Do a Google search for “’my industry key word” AND “publications” and add the relevant publication names and links to your list. Play around with your search terms until you find ones that work for you.
- Look up a publication that is a fit on Twitter, and follow it. Twitter will recommend other similar accounts for you to follow – check them out and if relevant, add to your list.
- Search for an industry key word on Google, then hit the News tab – the publications that are covering this topic are good fits for you.
- Set up a Google search for news of your key word; you’ll be able to discover publications in your field on an ongoing basis.
- Check out your competitors – what publications do they list on their website’s news page? Those are all candidates for you, too.
Ok, you have your list of publications in your field – now you need to mine it for backlinks. Here’s a step-by-step on how to navigate a publication’s website for opportunities. We’ll use a real publication called Facility Executive Magazine for our example.
- Navigate to the home page and check out the Topics tag. If you see something that is a fit for your company, then keep exploring.
- Check out any of the stories – does it look like the publication accepts contributed editorial? Yup, here’s a screenshot of the headline and bio for this piece. If they accept it from one company, why not yours?
- Navigate to the footer to see if there are instructions on where to get more info. Bingo! Two links are helpful: Submit a Press Release and Media Calendar. The first is how you share news with the team; if they are interested, they will cover it. Reporters are always looking for news – take advantage of this.
- The Media Calendar is the publication’s list of topics it plans to cover for the year. Go ahead and fill out the info to download the calendar.
Scan the calendar and find what stories they plan to cover and when. Note that this calendar helpfully includes the editor’s name and contact info.
- While you’re on the site, check out to see if the publication sponsors any events you can speak at. Here’s the page – while this event is fully scheduled, make a note to reach out in the fall after the event to find out when they will program the next one.
Here’s a goldmine of opportunities, just on one publication’s website. How do you make sure you stay on top of them all?
Planning and Tracking Backlink Outreach
Now that you’ve found all of these great opportunities, you need to keep track of them somehow. Many people use text documents or spreadsheets to track earned media and backlink opportunities. There also are a slew of free content calendar templates. For this story, and because it’s our blog, we’re going to show you how to track using PlanitPDQ 😉
- For each opportunity you’d like to pursue, create a Project in your Planit. Include the link to the contact info of the page, and the editor’s name and email into the project description. Pin it to the date that the issue is scheduled to come out, and if you’d like to assign the story to a member of your team, add them as a Collaborator.
- Create as many Categories as you’d like to organize the Projects on your Planit. One idea is to create a Category for all opportunities, and another for opportunities you plan to pursue. Simply drag the Project from one Category to the other as needed.
- Repeat for the other publications on your list, and you have a full timeline of opportunities for backlink outreach. You can view them as they stack up – literally – to see which ones overlap. Take the next step, and create Categories for your other marketing and content calendar ideas – events, email newsletters, videos, and more.
The best opportunities for backlinks are meaningless unless you act on them. With a little effort, you can create a full year of opportunities to pursue. Before you know it, you’ll have plenty of backlinks driving traffic to your site. Good luck, and as always, if you have questions, just reach out. I’m always happy to help!
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