In this blog post, Jon Brown, Senior Account Manager at Huble Digital, explains how a PR backlinking strategy can get you targeted media placements to boost your brand awareness while providing strong SEO advantages.
The question we’re often asked is: “How do you measure PR?”
It's an important one to ask, as many agencies and clients will have their own way of measuring PR and defining the “success” of a campaign.
For example, some look at a publication’s unique visitors per month (UVPM) or its circulation, audience or readership. Others use the much-outdated advertising value equivalency (AVE) metric – physically measuring the size of the coverage and seeing how much it would have cost if they had paid to advertise it.
There are several other methods to measure the results of your PR efforts, but there are issues with each – the main one being that they’re not always accurate and there’s little way of knowing what effect (if any) they directly have on your business.
It’s an issue that has troubled PR programmes for decades, but it may finally be at an end.
Measuring PR – the confusion
Measurement is often retroactively gathered when pulling together campaign reports. It may be that one metric did much better than others, so that’s placed front and centre, while others are brushed under the carpet to show it was all a success.
To clear up any confusion from the outset, it’s worth asking yourself: "What is the most important metric to measure for my needs?" – in other words, “What does success look like to me?”
For example, if you’re a start-up business, you may simply want to increase your brand awareness by gaining as much media coverage in target publications as possible, in which case your key metric will be the number of placements and the size of the potential audience reading your news stories.
If you’re a scale-up or large enterprise, you’ll be more digitally mature and may place more emphasis on lead generation and inbound traffic to your website as a result of media placements.
This is where backlinks come in.
Measuring PR with backlinks
Backlinking strategies have gained prominence over the years, becoming one of the best ways to accurately measure the success of a PR campaign – all without confusing vanity metrics.
Backlinks are essentially “digital bridges” that go from an external URL to your website – and search engines like Google and Bing love them. The simplest and one of the strongest examples of this is including a link back to your website in a piece of content that is later published in one of your target publications.
This is perfect for measuring PR, as gaining backlinks from high-ranking media publications will tell search engines that your website is a trusted, authoritative source on a specific topic – deeming it more valuable than other sites and placing it higher up in search results.
A study by Moz found that 99% of the top 50 websites on search engines results pages have at least one backlink to their page.
Be careful, however, as there are good and bad backlinks. A backlinking strategy that targets spam websites, low domain authority websites or sites that have little to no relation to your own, can adversely affect your website – potentially decreasing your rankings on search engine results pages and lowering your domain authority.
Also, bear in mind that when link building, it can take an average of 10 weeks per link for your website to go up one position.
Think of link building like working out at the gym. When you first start, you’ll build muscle quickly because you didn’t have as much to begin with, but as time goes on you have to lift more and more to keep that growth up.
PR backlinking strategies
Measuring PR programmes comes down to what you want to achieve, as every single strategy is tailored towards your specific needs and business goals.
What’s crucial is that they all drive you towards the goals that you and your key stakeholders are actively looking to measure against the business goals and objectives – rather than the vanity metrics which, while they may look good in a PowerPoint presentation, can mean almost nothing in the grand scheme of things.
Backlinks are, of course, just one part of this puzzle but, when done right, a PR backlinking strategy can get you targeted media placements to boost your brand awareness while providing strong SEO advantages as well.