Digital PR is our bread and butter here at Seeker. It’s how we secure potent, high-authority links with the kinds of publications that deliver the best results.
When it comes to measuring the success of our digital PR campaigns, link juice isn’t the only factor we’re interested in. Sure, a campaign that gained a high volume of coverage and a boatload of branded anchors might be a win, but real growth requires another significant ingredient — relevancy.
Relevance is often the first thing we consider when thinking about a successful campaign. The campaigns we create should never sacrifice brand connection for newsworthiness. At its core, digital PR is about hitting that sweet spot between content that’s irresistible to journalists, and deeply resonant with your target market.
Below, Seeker’s PR pros and I will share our thoughts on the role of relevancy in digital PR — what it is, and why it matters.
What is relevancy?
“Digital PR is all about brand building in the digital age. Yes, we’re using digital PR tactics to supercharge our SEO and gain quality backlinks, but as more consumers turn online for information, brand connections and purchases, your digital PR activity is also an advert to your future customers. A brand wouldn’t dream of creating an irrelevant traditional advertising campaign, so the same thought needs to be applied to your digital PR activity as we seek to build strong brand connections with your target audience and across search engines.”
— Laura Mallinson, Digital PR Manager
Way back in the days when Google’s algorithms weren’t nearly as clever as they are now, most businesses subscribed to the view that “a link is a link”. Take it from us — those days are long gone.
Digital PR is all about putting brands in places that:
A) Align with the brand’s identity
B) Are frequented by their target audiences
In other words, a campaign should be relevant to the brand if it’s to succeed.
Relevancy has always been an important SEO factor, but as search engines have evolved this has only become more true. Google is now incredibly astute when it comes to determining the ranking order of its search results, and relevancy is now a crucial consideration in the world of digital marketing.
You might argue that it was the development of digital PR practices that played a key role in ushering in the current era of sophisticated link building, focusing on brand messaging and connecting with an audience. Marketers are now focusing on quality and brand relevancy, avoiding the spammy ‘numbers game’ link building of the internet’s early days.
Relevancy is important for the following reasons:
- Visibility: From an SEO perspective, better relevancy means your links have a greater impact on your organic rankings and overall visibility, but relevance also extends beyond this, directly influencing your brand’s newsworthiness. When campaigns are aligned with current trends, industry news, or cultural events, you increase your chances of being featured in relevant news outlets.
- EEAT: Relevancy is a brilliant way of demonstrating E-E-A-T. Remember, it’s up to you to gain Google’s trust, and relevancy helps to build it up. Relevant campaigns present you as a trusted authority in your sector, semantically linking you to target topics. From a customer’s perspective, they want reassurance that your brand can be trusted too, and by offering expert advice on your target topics for example, this trust can be gained.
- Brand alignment: The more relevant your content, the more closely aligned it is with your brand, building the likelihood of it reaching your target audience. Alignment is also important from a messaging standpoint, too — you don’t want to confuse audiences by having your brand linked to campaigns all saying drastically different things! By keeping things relevant, you’re building up a solid, consistent brand image.
- Driving commercial pages: Relevancy not only boosts your organic rankings but also plays a crucial role in driving traffic to your commercial pages. When your content aligns with what your audience is actively searching for, it becomes a powerful tool for directing potential customers to key pages, resulting in increased conversions and sales.
“Relevancy is the most important factor I consider when thinking about a campaign. Yes, a campaign needs to be interesting to get in the news, but not at the expense of relevance. The measure of a successful campaign is whether it belongs on the sites your audience engages with, and if it can help or intrigue them. If a reader is confused about why your brand is speaking on a given topic, you’ve taken a wrong turn. Relevant expertise is what makes great coverage – a campaign that speaks to its audience with authority in the right places creates clarity, while disconnected messages on a confused or irrelevant subject put the brand and its audience deeper into a maze.”
— Charlie Warner, Digital PR Specialist
Do links have to be relevant to work?
It’s widely believed Google’s algorithms analyse the context of links to determine the relevance of a webpage to a particular topic or keyword. This wasn’t always the case of course. 20 years ago one link was as good as another, but the game has changed significantly since then.
“Your campaign should be story-first — the link is the bonus. Digital PR is, at its core, about strengthening the connection between your brand and your customers; not gaining as many links as possible. Ensure your campaign aligns your brand with a story that’s both relevant and timely, and you can be sure that any links you do pick up will be well worth the extra effort!”
— Laura Mallinson, Digital PR Manager
“One high-quality contextual link can, in theory, be worth more than multiple lower-quality links. That’s why experts advise site owners to gain at least a few contextual links, as that will get them further than building dozens of random links.”
— Matt Southern, Search Engine Journal
We’ll bet you’ve heard the term “content is king” a million times by now, but part of the reason this cliche is still repeated is because of relevancy. Digital PR is more than just winning links — it’s about telling stories. By wrapping your links in stories that are closely connected to your brand’s industry and purpose, you’re appealing to your audience as well as the search engines — it’s a double-whammy.
Broad Relevancy and Hyper Relevancy
Relevancy doesn’t mean you have to pigeonhole your creativity, only ever creating campaigns about what you sell/offer/do. Relevance is about the authority your brand has, and topical connections to your industry.
Of course, it’s completely fine to create hyper-relevant digital PR campaigns, but often you’ll find that the best campaigns are only broadly related to whatever business they’re designed to promote.
Let’s take the health sector as an example. If you were tasked to come up with a winter campaign for an online pharmacy, for example, you may come up with two initial ideas:
A) A write-up on the latest medical regulations on new drugs as we approach the new year
B) An article exploring the best medically-approved ways to beat the January blues
Which one would you rather read?
Of course, this isn’t to say that the first idea is completely rubbish — but it’s undeniable that pitch B hits the sweet spot between newsworthiness and brand relevance.
Whether you focus on broad or hyper-relevant links will be context-dependent. Let’s use two more examples to further illustrate our point:
Brand 1: XYZ Electronics
Focus terms: “Best smartphones 2024”, “Top gadget reviews”
Current ranking: Bottom of page 1 for these terms
Strategy: Focus on hyper-relevant links to reinforce authority in the tech niche and position XYZ Electronics as experts in the field.
Brand 2: Happy Houseplants
Focus terms: “order monstera online”, “best cheap houseplants” “plant shop online”
Current ranking: The site is brand new and doesn’t rank for any of its chosen terms.
Strategy: Adopt a broad approach to cast a wider net. Create beginner’s guides, collaborate with lifestyle bloggers, DIY publications, and local and national media outlets, and create wide-appeal content. Quantity is key — the main goal is to build that backlink profile!
XYZ Electronics has no link gap to close — they’re already well-respected in their sector, and they’re just looking for that nudge up the rankings. We can achieve this by packaging our links within content that positions the company and its spokespeople as tech experts.
On the other hand, Happy Houseplants need to establish their backlink profile by earning relevant coverage at scale. We can do this by creating campaigns around topics in the wider home decor/lifestyle/hobby spaces with a much broader appeal. Once the site has found its footing, we can focus more on building links focusing on individual products, category pages, or offers.
Will links that aren’t relevant harm my site’s rankings?
When your links are contextually related to your brand and the content they are embedded in, it sends a stronger signal to search engines that your website is a valuable resource within its niche.
“Coverage is flattering but its value is misleading if the story doesn’t make sense. Coverage from an irrelevant campaign has next to no real value. In the best case, irrelevant campaigns get ignored by Google and the people who see them. At worst, these campaigns are confusing, miss the point, and actively work against the user. Quality is far more important than quantity, particularly given the importance of a people-first approach. Rather than seeing links as a ranking factor alone, we want them to be engaged with by people because they’re useful. This makes a good story far more powerful.”
— Charlie Warner, Digital PR Specialist
In other words, you don’t want to waste your time building links through campaigns that have zero relevance to your brand. However, your campaigns needn’t be hyper-focused on your product or service offering, oftentimes, you’ll find it far easier to gain coverage through pitching broader ideas. After all, journalists are only going to cover the stories that they think people are going to be interested in.
Broader campaigns will garner more coverage, meaning more link juice for your site. Just remember that ‘broad’ doesn’t mean completely unrelated — your campaign still needs to have a strong enough connection to whatever business you’re aiming to promote.
These broader campaigns are ideal for brands occupying niches considered less exciting to the general population; finance or technology, for example. Catapulting these kinds of businesses into the public’s consciousness requires careful consideration. In these cases, ideation should focus on broader topics that, while still brand-relevant, are more emotive than the product or service alone. Once you’ve got several of these ‘general consumption’ campaign ideas locked in, you can then turn your attention to your hyper-relevant, specialist content ideas.
How to create relevant and newsworthy content
Before we wrap up, let’s glide over the key ingredients our digital PR specialists use to lure in those news-hungry journos.
Without wanting to state the obvious, it helps to have a deep understanding of your target audience. If you haven’t done so already, conduct thorough research to identify their preferences, pain points, and interests. Tailor your content to address their needs and provide valuable insights.
Digital PR is about more than just obtaining links; it’s about storytelling. The hook is everything. Your hook could be your headline, a thought-provoking question, a clickbait-y angle, or a shocking statistic. Laura, our Digital PR Manager explains:
“The hook to a digital PR campaign is the ‘thing’ that will draw a journalist to cover your story now. A campaign hook can come in many different formats, but it will always have one of these things: A timely reason why or an emotive drive. Examples of time-sensitive hooks are seasonal, holiday or awareness day-focused campaigns that hook themselves to a specific date or time of year to give seasonal relevance, for example, Valentine’s Day date spots or how to stay cool in a heatwave. Emotive hooks will speak directly to your target audience, using data, trend reviews, or expert content to generate a response, be this excitement, anger, sadness, shock, or happiness. For example, data hooks can be used to showcase statistics to highlight a shocking fact like “80% of Brits actually hate tea” (that would be outrageous!). A good hook will be clearly outlined at the start of a press release and guide the presentation of your campaign, using expert authority, valid sources and interesting formats to tell the story.“
A finger on the pulse
What are the hot topics within your niche? Crafting content that aligns with these trends positions your brand as a thought leader, so it’s worth keeping up-to-date with the latest industry developments. Remember that journalists want content that’s relevant to what’s happening today, not last week. Let’s say one of your clients owns a vintage furniture store — in this scenario, it would make sense to stay in touch not only with the world of interior design, but also with vintage fashion trends, DIY trends, and even broader areas, such as popular arts and entertainment. It’s all about immersing yourself in the sectors your brand — and audience — play in.
While not the sole focus of digital PR, keyword research should still be considered when crafting campaigns. Keyword research may even be your first step of ideation. Platforms like Answer The Public are particularly effective in offering that elusive initial spark of inspiration, which is often challenging to find during the ideation phase. Keyword research also allows you to add a layer of hyper-relevancy — you might optimise the anchor texts used in your campaigns, or ensure certain key phrases are included. Both actions will give your campaign an SEO boost.
Relevancy often hinges on timing. The best digital PR campaigns capitalise on current events, industry developments, or seasonal trends. If you haven’t already, it’s worth building up an awareness calendar. The calendar should highlight key dates, industry milestones, and noteworthy events relevant to your brand, allowing you to generate ideas in advance and react to the news cycle quickly.
Struggling to generate your own digital PR campaigns? Don’t have the time to stay abreast of the latest trends and newsworthy topics? Why not let our digital PR specialists take the reigns? Get in touch with our friendly team today, and find out how we can get your business the coverage it deserves.