For some PR pros, being constantly in a cycle of strategy and outreach can feel like a bit of a hamster wheel. The pressure to be consistently on point with ideas, deliver results and keep your knowledge up to date can lead to a focus on getting links to hit targets but not necessarily have that all-important SEO aspect of delivering links with tangible value. A classic problem of quantity over quality.
A common mistake seen amongst PRs is to box-tick delivery of links at scale and forget about where those links are going to or what impact they can ultimately have.
Here are some common mistakes and how to avoid them:
Only Getting Homepage Links
When turning out press releases or pitches where there is no onsite content to reference, sometimes it might be the only option to include a homepage link. Where possible you should always be looking to link to the most relevant page. Links are primarily used to provide value to readers and acts as sources of information or as a credit to a source, if you have a relevant landing page URL and not linking to it you are doing a disservice to the reader by linking to a less helpful URL such as the homepage.
Sending users to homepages will impact user behaviour, whereas if you send someone to a campaign landing page that may have further information on the story they just read it’s expected they will naturally spend more time onsite and view the source as more trusted in return. How users interact with your site is another important factor to consider when looking at your SEO strategy. Additionally, having more diversity to pages on your website which are getting backlinks will positively impact your rankings and organic traffic as this is more natural and proves the value of your onsite content to search engines.
Ignoring Nofollow Links
There has been a lot of debate about the value of nofollow links over the years I’ve worked in the SEO industry. I can speak from personal experience when I say I have seen on multiple occasions that nofollow links do have positive impact on rankings and traffic. Ever since Google guidelines changed to view nofollow as a hint rather than a directive, this has become all the more evident.
If you only target follow links, you should still track and report nofollow links as standard practice to keep tabs on any factors which could be contributing to page organic performance.
Not Focussing on Internal Linking Structure
If you’ve achieved success and got a load of great, relevant links to a campaign landing page and not included any internal linking on that page then you’ve significantly reduced the SEO impact that campaign could have achieved. It’s important to use internal linking sensibly, link to pages which are relevant and make sense. PR campaign pages should always have a clear tangential link to a product or brand so there should be a natural fit for a page to link to. Internal links should follow best practice SEO for anchor text, placement and how many you use per page.
Linking to URLs which 404
A common issue in ecommerce SEO is having product URLs which could 404 when products go out of stock. For brands which regularly list and remove stock products online this can mean equity being lost from good links which have been gained to specific products. Working with your technical SEO team is important here to set a strategy for how these can be managed. A tech SEO can provide 404 links of high value and you can assess if there is scope to ask the site owners/content editors to update this link to something else that is still relevant. It could be better to ask for category links if it makes sense to when you outreach instead of a product, especially when promoting a range or collection. You can plan for this accordingly by asking the brand/client at the onboarding stage how the site functions for out of stock product.
Additionally, as sites change over time your original campaign page may get removed for whichever reason (although ideally it would be kept as evergreen content). If this happens, keep tabs on past links of high value, similarly to the ecommerce example above, and work with SEOs to see if these can be reclaimed and updated. A good plan would be to audit these regularly (depending on how many links this site receives it can be more or less frequent) and tackle them as needed.
SEO & DIGITAL PR CONSULTANT
Leanne has a decade of experience across SEO strategy, content marketing and digital PR. She has worked for a range of clients from SMEs to global brands.