Three Steps to Prevent Future Link Building Failures

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As a marketer, you know that building links for your website is a crucial part of increasing your search engine ranking. Since nobody likes failed marketing campaigns, we’ve taken a look at why link building campaigns fall short and what you can do to prevent this less than encouraging circumstance.

Ideally, digital PR content that you created to build high quality backlinks will do just that—Gain a journalist’s attention, inspire them to write an article, and ultimately link back to your site. But why do some campaigns fail to produce those high-quality links, and how can you prevent the same issue from recurring in the future? 

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In this article, our digital PR agency has put together three reasons why a link building campaign fails to secure backlinks from a promotional perspective, and what you can do to prevent future flops! 

#1 Your Insights Aren’t Pitchable

The first glance of an email pitch can either make or break a journalist’s decision to simply open the email in the first place, but how can you captivate their attention using just one sentence? The subject line is our bread winner here. Whether it’s a shocking statistic or an overview of the campaign, we have to find a way to make it enticing enough for a journalist to open the email. But before we can get there, we have to go back to the very first step of our process: brainstorming

When thinking of link-building ideas, it’s easy to ‘green-light’ the ideas that are our favorites or the ones we feel a personal connection to. However, this is where considering the depth of the campaign comes into play. 

Do we think this will be interesting enough to produce quality results?

What are some of the results we want to see from this? 

Will we be able to find insights that will resonate with journalists? 

Before picking your favorite idea to run with, take a step back and think of the campaign’s future. 

One neat thing about digital marketing is that we can tell the story. While we can’t alter survey results, we can frame survey questions in a way that portrays a more interesting narrative and opens up our outreach pool. 

Here’s the difference that could determine coverage or not:

Have you ever stolen money? (yes or no)

Have you ever stolen money to pay off a debt? (yes or no)

Have you ever stolen money from your family? (yes or no)

Have you ever stolen money because you weren’t earning enough in your job to afford your bills? (yes or no)

While all of these questions will garner results, you can see the difference in storytelling within each of them. While they all paint a picture of debt and finances, the last question hones in on something deeper. It allows the opportunity for an insight to be built off of a bigger picture: debt in corporate America. This gives you the opportunity to cast a wider net in your outreach by including writers that touch on topics such as wages and business.

#2 You’ve Missed the News Cycle

The news cycle can be difficult (and sometimes even impossible) to predict. It can also make or break your ability to secure media coverage. 

Let’s back up. The ‘news cycle’ refers to the timeline of any event that gets people talking—from the moment it becomes a topic of interest all the way until people forget about it. It tends to follow a bell-shaped curve, meaning that it will quickly rise and fall in popularity. The bigger, more impactful events typically stay in their ‘peak’ period for longer amounts of time. 

For PR pros, it’s critical that you nail the timing. The ideal story will align with the build of an already trending event. Too early, and people won’t care yet. Too late, and it will be tough to break through the noise. 

Ultimately, a time-sensitive hook makes it much easier to grab a journalist’s attention and gives them the incentive to cover with urgency. Even with evergreen content, if there’s a way to give the content a tie-in to what’s going on in the world today, you’ll see much better results. 

For example, ‘the most popular cocktail in every state’ might be relevant year-round. But when you frame it as ‘the cocktails that got every state through the chaos of 2020’, it became a little more enticing and encouraged reporters to talk about it as soon as it hit their inbox, while the events of 2020 were still relevant. 

It’s important to note that nailing the news cycle requires proactive thinking and quick responses. If you’re brainstorming a campaign idea that has a four-week production period related to something going on in the news today, odds are it won’t be as relevant by the time the campaign actually goes live. 

Time-sensitive campaigns are great, but you have to be particularly careful with launch dates. You should plan to give yourself ample time to promote the content while ensuring that you’re not wasting contacts by pitching too far in advance. A good rule of thumb is to allow for four weeks of promotion in advance of the event. It is worth noting that a larger event, like Christmas, will have people talking earlier than a smaller one, like National S’mores Day. 

#3 Your Content Isn’t Unique

Let’s face it, the internet is a constant stream of new content and it can be challenging to keep up. 

With all that content, you may come to realize that the brilliant link building campaign idea you just had has just been published last month. Then, you find out your next great idea was also done this year. Frustrated, you go back to the drawing board. That’s the life of a link builder. 

It’s highly important to vet any campaign idea you may have thoroughly. If you don’t take this step, you could find that you’re setting yourself up for a failed marketing campaign by creating the same content that many major publications already picked up this year. 

By only producing unique, high-quality content, you’re aligning yourself with the best potential to capture the attention of journalists and ultimately secure backlinks. At Go Fish Digital, we undergo several rounds of idea vetting before we create any campaign. 

However, just because your idea has already been produced in the past doesn’t mean you’re always back to the drawing board—if it’s been done in the last two years, we don’t recommend reproducing it. 

Avoiding those three mistakes will be the difference between a successful campaign and one that fails.

When your content is timely, unique, and interesting, you will find a place in the news cycle and build those high-quality backlinks.


This article was written in collaboration with Go Fish Digital link building team members Kalina MacKay and Bre Lewis.

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