The Power of Digital PR Strategy to Improve Online Presence

Posted in: Content | Digital PR

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The term Digital PR refers to a set of public relations and SEO strategies used to improve a client’s digital presence online. A robust strategy will increase the overall authority of your site and build brand visibility on the web. Read on to gain an understanding of what digital PR can do for your brand and how to implement it successfully.

Understanding Digital PR

The primary purpose of digital PR is to operate as a supplemental SEO strategy — to increase the authority of your site when crawled by search engines like Google. The way that Go Fish Digital accomplishes this ultimate goal is by building backlinks from media outlets. A backlink is a hyperlink from one website to another, such as your homepage, a blog, a landing page, or a product page, from another site. This builds link equity— a transference of authority and value to your site. Backlinks from authoritative sites are one metric that search engines use to tell how credible your own site is, sometimes called a vote of confidence. Think of it like a strong referral from your manager telling your company you’re fit for a promotion, or a high credit score telling your bank you’re worthy of a bigger loan.

Unlike a traditional PR strategy, which directly promotes the brand by emphasizing elements like expert industry knowledge, high-quality products, or a unique value proposition, digital PR uses tangential content pieces. These are interesting articles, data reports, or studies designed to produce newsworthy insights, that are then actively pitched to journalists and linked across high authority outlets to make your website more credible in the eyes of Google. The goal, again, is to ultimately aid overall SEO efforts by strengthening your backlink profile, not directly positioning your brand or product in the media, but rather, positioning your website on authoritative media websites.

Practical Digital PR Strategies and Solutions

Tangential content is an essential digital PR strategy. These creative campaigns, while tangential, are completely customized for the client throughout the process, who can opt to avoid certain topics (ex. religious or political content) and/or target certain topics (ex. insurance or dating). This must be balanced with the fact that the more newsworthy, relevant, and clickable the content, the more journalists will be interested in covering, and the more links will be secured. 

For example, while posting a controversial piece (ex. mask use during the pandemic) could conflict with your brand values, it would likely generate a lot of coverage. However, so would a lighthearted, yet polarizing piece on each state’s favorite Girl Scout cookies. Finding a middle ground that works for the client but is attractive to the media is key, and the options are infinite — from heavy data studies to illustrative AI campaigns. They can be posted on the client’s blog directly, or, on occasion, an orphaned page used for pitching wherein journalists are asked to link back to your homepage if the content doesn’t naturally fit an already designated spot on your site, such as a ‘news’ section or a ‘press room’.

Overall, at Go Fish Digital, our data across countless digital PR campaigns conclusively shows that the more tangential the content is — not about your brand but with a relatable tie-in to the brand — the more likely you are to secure a diverse (high-quantity and high quality, canonical and syndicated) backlink profile.

Journalists are completely accustomed to receiving tangential pitches. We’ve sourced feedback from reporters, who’ve confirmed they prioritize interesting and informational content that is relevant to their audience. A loose tie-in to the brand also means reporters can write up the content without worrying whether they are promoting a service, unlike traditional PR, where brands will pay top dollar for placements on media sites. These same sites understandably aren’t willing to highlight overtly branded content for free. Conversely, by creating content that naturally fits into the news cycle, and has a tie-in to your brand, yet doesn’t feel overly self-promotional, you can organically earn the interest of journalists writing for top news sites.

Other successful strategies include identifying competitors in your industry who are in the linkbuilding space by tracing the coverage that their campaigns secure in the media, and then pitching those journalists with your content. By securing a link on the same domain as your competitor, you not only have brand visibility where they do, but you are now in effect negating the power their link has over your own backlink profile. Imagine it as a game of darts, where earned points cancel out points earned by the opposing team.

Networking with journalists is equally important in digital PR as it is in traditional PR. At Go Fish Digital, we primarily communicate with journalists via email pitches, press releases, and interviews on behalf of our clients to answer campaign data requests or give a quote. Having your brand name become synonymous in a journalist’s inbox as a true resource, not an ad or guest post request, is priceless. If you treat gaining coverage as a result of establishing these relationships, you’ll find instead of one backlink to your site, you’ll build a relationship with no ceiling on the number of backlinks. Keep networking and soon they’ll recognize your name as a credible source.

Tackling Common Digital PR Problems and Implementing Solutions

As the news cycle is running in a realtime, and linkbuilding is all about attracting journalists, a common problem we see in digital PR is competition with other content campaigns, who are often trying to capitalize on the same topic and frequently pitching the same outlets.

We combat this at several stages during our creative process. We meticulously vet our brainstormed ideas for newsworthiness, relatability, uniqueness, size of the pitching pool, and more before presenting a pitch deck to a client. We remain nimble and reactive during production so we can implement creative pivots should a competitor drop a related campaign.

Next, clients with a large scope need to avoid cannibalizing their own campaigns, which means launching similar campaigns with the same pitching period that target the same beat and then have to compete against each other. Client communication (if you work in an agency) or communication with management (if you work in-house) is an easy fix here. Organize your timelines with journalists’ content calendars and keep the newscycle top of mind to create proper spacing. You can then walk the client through your strategy during the process.

One other common problem in digital PR is when a client wants to stick very closely to the brand rather than opting for a tangential campaign. Branded campaigns can be successful, but it’s far more likely with clients whose websites are highly authoritative or whose brand name is recognizable. Also, certain industries see more success with branded campaigns because of the amount of journalists and types of outlets — for example, real estate, travel, and finance — while others have proven particularly difficult — for example, relationship and dating, where journalists are more likely to write opinion pieces. That’s not to say it’s impossible in these spaces, it simply requires extra creativity! Our data recommends tangential campaigns for such brands, while an authoritative travel brand, for example, would likely still see success with a branded campaign.

Tools and Metrics in Digital PR

Digital PR and traditional PR share some similar tactics — building mutually beneficial relationships where media outlets can benefit from (sometimes exclusive) information while the brand benefits from exposure — but they differ in key performance indicators (KPIs).

Instead of goals like high event attendance and product sales, digital PR aims to improve the health of your website in order to improve your online presence and increase search engine visibility. An added benefit is driving new users to your site, which both increases brand visibility and can lead to conversions depending on your industry. From a sales perspective, digital PR is a top-of-the-funnel initiative: It can gain the attention of potential customers (who see the content campaign in the media and follow the link) and bring them into the company’s sales funnel.

It may be a long-term SEO strategy but there are certainly metrics that are used to measure the impact of digital PR in the short term. The most relevant when securing links is domain authority (developed by Moz) or domain ranking (developed by Ahrefs). Both measure the strength of a website’s backlink profile on a scale of 1 to 100. Theoretically, the higher the number the better the website will rank on search engines. When pitching, we target high DA/DR outlets, which will pass on more link equity to your site than low DA/DR outlets. Generally, a DA over 70 is considered an excellent link for your backlink profile, but a range of links of different DAs and from different industries also comes across as a natural pattern to search engines, potentially boosting your online presence as well.

Link quantity refers to the number of links earned: We call 8-10 links per campaign a standard performance.

Link relevance and link prominence are also important metrics alongside with link quality (measured by DA). Link relevance is how relevant the media outlet is to the client’s industry while link prominence is how significant the campaign is in the story (for example, the article revolving around the campaign vs being an additional source).

Anchor text is the text that is hyperlinked and it can help indicate if the link is canonical (the original media piece) or syndicated (iterations of the original piece on other news sites that often use the same images and text) and if the latter, where from. Some experts say that a varied anchor text in a link profile is preferred by search engines. The META SEO inspector is one extension that can identify the canonical tag of the article, which indicates whether the piece is syndicated or not. 

Links can also be categorized as a follow or nofollow link, which can each affect the value of the link differently. A follow link transfers that vote of confidence to your site, strengthening the health of the overall website. A nofollow link refers to a tag within the hyperlink that media outlets add to their so as not to transfer link equity. This practice was established to prevent link manipulation during the early days of digital PR. When a search engine reads the nofollow tag, it turns a blind eye to the link for search ranking purposes. While the primary goal of digital PR is achieved by securing follow links, nofollow links are still beneficial:

Google Analytics can be used to track impressions in the form of sessions, page views, page views per session, and much more. The tool can also be used to see where exactly the traffic to the campaign landing page is coming from. For example, if you secure a Forbes link, which is always nofollow, the benefit is made obvious by tracing the origin of the sessions. If a high number of sessions is coming directly from the Forbes piece, your site is not receiving link equity, but the piece is driving landing page sessions which can increase brand awareness, drive conversions, and increase sales.

To name just a few of our other favorite tools: Cision for building outreach lists, Buzzstream for pitching and email tracking, and Coverage Book for assembling performance reports. Tools like Ahrefs and Buzzsumo can be used to monitor backlinks, along with manually monitoring coverage via social media and search engines.

Additional Benefits of Digital PR

By incorporating digital PR into your SEO strategy, you’re not only taking the proper steps to increase your visibility online. The earned backlinks will increase your authority in the eyes of search engines, and the content that lives on your site can also rank for keywords and become a valuable resource to journalists and your audience.

If you’re looking to convince your client or boss of the ROI of digital PR, try starting with these two measurable outcomes: brand visibility and top-of-the-funnel sales strategy. Next, emphasize the difference between traditional PR and digital PR: A digital PR strategy will work hand in hand with your SEO goals to increase the authority of your site and rank for keywords. Content campaigns can also generate passive coverage over time when journalists cite the piece as a source down the road (we see this often with career and business campaigns). 

With no effort on your end, aside from maybe an updated publish date, the content lives on, securing links and driving traffic to your site far outside the pitching period.


If your company is genuinely committed to building backlinks, a tangential digital PR strategy needs to be your bread and butter. We’ve done the tests for you.

If your team can understand the significance of digital PR strategies for your business, you’re one step closer to bridging the gap between your competitors and strengthening your online presence, among other benefits.

We’re constantly evaluating what’s working at the moment, and how to best learn from and measure both our setbacks and successes, so stay tuned. We look forward to sharing new insights with you in the near future.

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