There’s one solid rule in the modern world of link building; quality matters more than quantity. While in the old days of SEO, building lots of links all over the web was a smart and straightforward strategy to increase your domain authority and build your ranks, today Google takes the quality of your links into more consideration. Quantity still does matter, as building a handful of links can’t sustain you forever, but your first priority needs to be on building high-quality links.
There’s a catch to this, however. As a general rule, the higher the authority of the site you choose to build links on, the harder it will be to build your links. As a perfect example, major news outlets like CNN or MSNBC are seen as highly authoritative sites, but getting a link published on their sites seems nearly impossible to the average user.
Fortunately, getting backlinks from major news sources like these isn’t quite as difficult as many people have made it out to be. It will take a disciplined strategy and a consistent follow-through to be successful, but there are several tactics you can use to get your business featured on these highly authoritative sites.
Use Google News to the Fullest
If you want to get your link featured on a major news site, you first have to get noticed, and getting noticed by these sources isn’t easy. They’ve earned their place as an authority by carefully selecting only the most newsworthy content to publish, and their standards haven’t relaxed over time.
Using Google News is pretty simple, even if you’re new to the medium, and it can help you get noticed by those giant corporations. Google News is a kind of aggregator that pulls in news stories from all over the world and displays the results for relevant queries using its sophisticated algorithm. Best of all, Google News doesn’t make any barriers—while there is a quality checker in place to weed out bad content, you can submit anything you’d like for consideration. Whether they’re short blurbs on your press page or full-blown press releases, there’s a good chance you can be featured in Google News.
If you can get your content featured on Google News, you’ll have a much higher chance of getting your link picked up by a major news outlet. Even if it doesn’t work out, you’ll still have the benefit of getting a feature published in Google News, which can increase your domain authority and send lots of referral traffic to your site.
Distribute Press Releases on a Regular Basis
Press releases should already be a part of your ongoing SEO strategy. They’re great pieces of content that tend to get more attention and more opportunities for links, and like Google News, they’re all about getting more attention from major news sites.
There’s one golden rule for press releases: they need to be newsworthy. You can’t write a blog post and call it a press release, nor can you use the guise of a press release to write a sales pitch about your product. Press releases need to cover real news, and offer substantial content to cover that news. Otherwise, it won’t be picked up and it certainly won’t earn those juicy major news site links.
If you’re not sure how to publish or syndicate a press release yourself, you can use a service such as PRWeb, which is pricey but very effective. Through PRWeb, you’ll be able to select certain publication and distribution channels for your press release, giving you instant visibility from major news outlets. Just remember that submitting a press release is no guarantee that it’s going to be published by your ideal outlets.
Take Advantage of HARO
Help a Reporter Out, known better by the acronym HARO, can give you tons of new opportunities to get your link on major news outlets. Essentially, it’s a service used by news writers and journalists to enlist the help of outside candidates. By signing up, you’ll get free email notifications whenever a news writer is seeking a contribution from an outside party—sometimes it’s a quote or opinion, and sometimes it’s information related to an industry. Whenever you see a request related to you or your business, jump on it. If you provide the type of information the reporter is looking for, you’ll get your name, business, and link featured in a major publication.
Comments have always been a great way to build links, and you can even use them on major news sites. While posting in the comments section of a CNN article isn’t going to build nearly as much authority as being mentioned in the body of a CNN article, it can be beneficial to your strategy. As with any comment-based link building, you’ll need to make sure your link is relevant and valuable; otherwise, you run the risk of being flagged as spam.
Due to the significantly higher effort it takes to earn news-hosted backlinks, it’s not viable to rely on only news sources for your entire link building campaign. In fact, doing so could actually work against you. The best link building strategies do incorporate high-authority sources, but they’re also highly diverse. They use a wide range of different sources and different links, creating a more natural backlink profile. Go after news sites and make those high-authority links a priority, but don’t forget that your link building strategy will require more than just those.
Timothy Carter is the CRO for AudienceBloom. Since 1997 he's been helping businesses maximize their sales revenue from websites via content marketing, SEO and Internet Marketing strategies. Over the years he's written for publications like Marketing Land, Search Engine Journal, MarketingProfs and other highly respected online publications.