Link building is essential to every SEO strategy. Some links are more valuable than others, and links’ value goes beyond the website’s quality. How you got that backlink and your process of link building can also determine just how valuable it is.
Editorial links are the highest in the hierarchy of links. They are a part of a strong link profile.
Sites having lots of high-authority editorial links are hard to defeat, and they also rank highly in the search results.
However, building editorial links is challenging because they are the hardest to get. 85% of SEO experts and marketers believe building links significantly impacts brand building and authority.
41% of SEO experts believe link building is the most challenging part of search optimisation. Here are some of the best ways to acquire editorial links to your domain.
What are editorial links?
An editorial link is a backlink from another website that leads to your page. Editorial links are neither paid nor requested. They result from great content and signals that you have established yourself as an authority in your niche.
Ideally, you get editorial links from high-authority websites and prominent media publications like Forbes and The Guardian. However, they may come from smaller websites within your niche or industry. Where the links come from will depend on your niche and subject matter expertise.
Editorial links are backlinks that are acquired naturally by preparing link-worthy content. These organic inbound links come naturally when other webmaster links back to your website’s content.
Your website’s chances of obtaining editorial links increase with excellent, thorough, original, and link-worthy content. Some of the top ways to get editorial links are:
- Getting your website mentioned in top publishers’ articles.
- Creating infographics on your website with embedded code.
- Getting your website content quoted in a link roundup.
- Interviewing people associated with your industry.
- Getting featured in local publications.
- Answering reporter questions using services such as HARO.
- Publishing stats and trends-related articles because they have the highest chances of being quoted by other publications.
Editorial links can be a goldmine for your page because they usually come from websites that have high traffic and are authoritative websites themselves.
A handful of editorial links from quality websites can help improve your search engine ranking faster than having a ton of low-quality links from random websites. Think of an editorial backlink as a vote of confidence from peers and industry experts
Editorial links vs. acquired links
There are many ways to generate backlinks. Two of the most popular methods include:
- Acquired links: These are the links you generate after performing outreach activities to get more links. You can do this by contacting a website owner (paid links), guest posting, article distribution, and broken link building, to name a few.
- Editorial links: These are links that come organically when you produce high-quality content and other websites take notice.
While both types of links will add value to your website, Editorial links are more valuable because they are more trusted and harder to get.
According to Ahrefs, the average cost of buying a link is $361.44, while a guest post costs around $77. Editorial links are free but require a bit more effort to attain.
Many use the terms acquired links and editorial links interchangeably. However, there is one main difference between the two. The latter is free and acquired naturally, while the former is paid or asked for. Let’s understand both forms of backlinks better.
Related: Link building basics
Editorial links are naturally acquired without asking or paying for them and fall under digital PR. You might wonder why a high authority website would link to your website if you don’t pay for it. Right?
The answer can be your authority in your niche, the engaging content you produce, the unique information you have, etc.
To keep it simple, I can say that your website can attract high-quality links by creating link-worthy content. While forming a link-building strategy, you must remember that earning editorial links is not easy.
Your job is to invest time and effort to build credibility and authority for your website that can attract natural backlinks.
Acquired links, as the name suggests, are links for which you pay. It is a form of paid linking generated via premium web directories, paid guest posting, paid listicle addition, etc.
Acquired links are easy to get because you pay for them. However, you should always have a proper mix of natural and acquired links to keep your link profile safe from Google penalties.
What are the benefits of editorial links?
The advantage of getting a backlink on a reputable website is obvious — they have a sizeable audience that could potentially land on your page. Getting an editorial link from a high domain authority website such as Forbes can:
- Build your authority: Editorial links can help establish you as an authority in your niche. It also tells Google that your content is valuable, which means an increased domain authority score.
- Get more organic traffic: Increase referral traffic and organic search rankings.
- Improve brand awareness: Editorial links can expose you to a broader audience who otherwise may not have known you existed.
Why should you consider editorial link building?
Now that you know about editorial links, it is time to unwrap the benefits of editorial links. Every business owner uses SEO strategies to build a strong reputation in the market, improve search rankings, and drive organic traffic.
However, getting steady traffic can be an uphill task for many companies. Editorial links allow you to establish yourself as a thought leader in the industry and draw visitors’ attention toward your brand. Here is why editorial link building is essential:
Helps build a strong domain reputation
Gaining a robust reputation in the eyes of search engines and users is the best way to increase domain trust. However, with high competition in the market, it is becoming tough to stand out from the crowd.
Editorial links help you get more authority. Whenever an authoritative domain links to your website, search engines see your site’s content as more trustworthy.
Assists in building relationships
Editorial links allow you to build strong relationships with influencers, journalists, bloggers, and other businesses. Other than considering link building as the sole purpose of connecting with people, it can also prove beneficial for your business in the future.
Helps achieve higher rankings
When a high authority site links to your website, it passes its SEO value. With higher SEO value, your site climbs up the ranking ladder faster.
However, this doesn’t mean you need to get as many links as possible. No! Instead, you need to focus on the quality of your editorial links. That said, getting one link from an authoritative and relevant website is far better than ten links from low-authority websites.
To obtain editorial links, you don’t need to invest a lot of money; instead, concentrate on creating relevant and highly authoritative content. Editorial links are a great option for businesses that publish high-quality content regularly. With time, the site starts to gain quality natural links, which are hard to get otherwise.
Drives more web traffic
There is no denying that high SEO rankings bring more web traffic. Posting relevant, informative, and user-friendly content will help you attract readers.
There are higher chances that readers will visit your website by clicking on the editorial links. The more clicks on the link, the more increased web traffic you will get. A good link building strategy will position you as an expert and help you spread the word about your services and products.
How to get editorial links?
The process of getting editorial links is more complicated than regular link building. It requires serious work because they do not count if you have to ask or pay for them.
But once you acquire that first editorial link, you’ll know it was well worth all the hard work. Here are some editorial link building techniques to help you get started.
1. Pitch journalists on sites like HARO
One of the best ways to attract links from high-authority websites is by using tools like HARO (Help a Reporter Out). You can use HARO to earn premium quality links from big media houses.
Every day, top journalists share their stories in their daily email newsletter. HARO users, who are experts in the field, can share their insights with the journalists.
To share insights, you must skim through the email and reply to requests that seem relevant. If the journalist or blogger likes your request, they will feature you in their story, and you will get an editorial link.
Pitch fast when you find a journalist with a query that matches your expertise. This will help you land on the top of the feed, maximising the acceptance rate. Avoid sending pitches after 24 hours of the query, as there are little to no chances of getting the opportunity.
Be crisp and concise
Instead of adding filler content, focus on limiting your pitch to 200 words. Convey your expertise clearly, and concisely in an informative and captivating way.
For editorial links, a generic content pitch rarely works. To earn backlinks, offer interesting, actionable advice or something that is contrarian, which goes against popular opinion on a topic — and can be clearly articulated.
How to pitch journalists on HARO?
Go to the HARO website, and click on I’m a source.
Now, fill in the form by entering basic details, such as your name, email, company, and phone number.
After you fill in the details, you will receive a confirmation email.
Confirm your email and sign in to HARO. Then, choose the industries you are interested in, and HARO will resume sending you emails relevant to your profile.
HARO sends out three daily emails containing requests from reporters and media outlets worldwide.
Carefully review the emails and respond to the reporter if you have valuable information on any topic using the anonymous @helpareporter.net email address provided at the beginning of the source request.
Continue responding to relevant requests, as you never know which answer of yours might get picked up in a news story and published in a reputed media publication.
HARO sends three daily emails from Monday to Friday. Make sure to read them and pitch the journalists accordingly to start building relationships.
2. Collaborate and develop relationships with bloggers
Collaborative link building is an association of resources and opportunities with various bloggers and advertisers to promote each other’s websites by building links on their own.
When you participate in interviews or share insights with bloggers and journalists, they will see you as a source or expert and consider linking your website to their articles. You can also collaborate with content writers and editors too.
The benefit of collaboration does not just end here! When you develop good relationships with other bloggers, your chances of getting mentioned on other websites increase. As a result, it helps you to get referral traffic.
How to collaborate with bloggers for link building?
- Choose the right software to reach out to bloggers: Manualing searching for bloggers can be tedious. To ease this search for bloggers, you can use software like Buzzstream, Snov, Hunter, or Respona.
- Choose an industry: If you are in the fashion industry, look for fashion bloggers you can collaborate with.
- Conduct comprehensive research: Check the activities and engagement reach of influencers and bloggers you are targeting. Research deeply about their audience profile.
- Create an attractive personalised message: Make your message short and crisp. Introduce yourself and your brand in the shortest but most effective way possible. Demonstrate what value you can provide them with.
- Let them experience your product or service: Provide them with samples of your product or service and let them post a review with your website link on their social media handles and blogs.
Related: Creating engaging outreach emails
3. Set up an outreach campaign using PR software
Outreaching to industry experts and sharing why you are the best can help generate editorial links. Even though you can reach out to other businesses manually, it can be time-consuming.
The hassle-free way to tackle the outreach campaign is by using the best PR software like Meltwater and Cision. These tools help your PR and marketing team to identify relevant influencers, create relevant content, track the result, monitor media, and much more.
How to create a successful outreach campaign?
Planning and executing campaigns involve a lot of surprises around the corner. Your ultimate business goal is to create awareness about your brand, attract media attention, build stakeholder relations and inform the public about your company. Here is how to create an outreach campaign.
Determine your goals
To begin with, you need to brainstorm ideas and list accomplishable goals. Your goal should be Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time-based.
Always follow the SMART method to determine the campaign goals. For instance, in this case, you can consider how many editorial links you want for your website.
Understand the target audience
The next critical piece of information is understanding your target audience. Map out the websites from where you want to get editorial links.
Remember, PR outreach is pitching journalists, bloggers, and influencers to get press coverage. Knowing who to target beforehand will save you time and help you achieve your goals.
Research media contacts
Once you have set your goals straight and understood the market scenario, you need to focus on the type of media persons you want to collaborate with.
Software like Cision and Meltwater provide various options to filter and sort media contacts according to your business industry.
Create a media list
To create a media list, begin with searching media contacts by putting filters according to the industry in which you have your targeted audience.
The search feature lets you go through various media personalities and media houses globally. Create a list of all the bloggers, media houses, and reporters you feel best suited for your campaigning as listed below.
Prepare a compelling pitch
This is the next most crucial step, where you must prepare a compelling pitch. PR software like Meltwater and Cision will help you identify trending content, hashtags, and competition.
These tools will streamline your social media management workflow, allowing you to connect with high-authority sites and get editorial links via solid pitches.
Analyse your results
PR software also lets you track your campaign activities for every pitch you send. It lets you check the click rates, open rates, etc. The results show which contacts are interested in your pitch and who you may want to pitch to in the future.
PR outreach is the best way to gain editorial links and positive brand exposure. The advantage of using PR software is that it allows you to track your progress, optimise it and generate the best results. Only a well-executed strategy and a thought-out process will help you maximise the results.
A well-written and professional outreach message with your content can work wonders to build relationships and get links. So, be sure to follow up and engage with them ahead of time before reaching out.
4. Create linkable assets
Linkable assets are content pieces that are created to attract backlinks. Your content must be unique and valuable before it’s considered a linkable asset.
WordPress hosts 70 million monthly posts and over four million blog posts daily across all platforms. The sheer amount of content available is incredible — how can you cut through the noise?
You need to create linkable assets if your business wants to attract authoritative websites. As they say, “content is king,” and the best way to earn editorial links is by producing evergreen content — which requires brainstorming. Here’s how you can create authoritative content.
- Brainstorm ideas: The first step is brainstorming ideas and choosing a topic relevant to your niche on how you can attract editorial links. You gain more editorial links when you write as a thought leader and present a unique perspective. Your ultimate should be to provide engaging, unique, and valuable content.
- Produce evergreen content: Evergreen content is one of the best methods to gain editorial links. Bloggers and influencers are always on the hunt to choose link-worthy content. But producing it isn’t as easy as it seems. Create content that is worth linking to.
No matter which topic you cover, it should be informative and detailed. The more helpful content you create, the higher your chances of ranking. Some of the best examples of linkable assets are:
Long-form content attracts a lot of links. They are perfect assets for creating case studies, analyzing data, sharing insights, and they should be a part of your content strategy. If your data is authentic, you can pitch the explicit content to relevant websites and get organic backlinks. For example, the Awai guide to copywriting helped to attract more than 1000 backlinks.
These are interactive and eye-pleasing. You must create attractive infographics with essential links attached to them. For example, the COVID-19 infographic by Paho attracted around 170 backlinks.
Another great example is the infographic by Boston-based real estate portal Boston Pads Average Rent Map infographic, which was referenced in a few valuable sites within its niche.
Image source: Boston Pads
If you want to attract editorial links with the help of infographics, create something that’s not just visually stunning but also informational.
For example, if your website focuses on real estate in Australia, you can illustrate a map that shows the average price per square meter across different cities.
If you’re in the automotive industry, you can create an infographic about petrol prices in different areas.
Anything comprehensive and informational is always a potential link magnet because they’re a great way to establish yourself as an expert in your niche. More than filling it with helpful information, ensure it’s well-designed and easily digestible.
To develop a winning “ultimate guide,” check out what other pages in your industry have. What’s lacking? What are your audience’s burning questions? How can you help serve your audience better?
Take a look at this guide and walkthrough by IGN. It’s become a major resource for its readers and a great link magnet with 353 backlinks from 157 referring domains.
Image source: IGN
Online calculators and tools have great potential to attract a lot of backlinks. You can pitch these tools and calculators to the websites related to the problem your tool solves. For example, the Alcohol by volume ABV calculator has over 2000 backlinks.
Useful tools like calculators and generators can attract thousands of backlinks from high-authority pages. While creating tools may require a bit of a budget, it’s definitely worth the potential traffic on your page.
Image source: Coolors
Take this colour palette generator as an example. It has a whopping 5.9 million backlinks from over 63,000 referring domains!
Your tools don’t have to be complicated or fancy. As long as they solve a common problem, you can expect positive response and perhaps a handful of editorial links.
Case studies and research
Data-driven or personal case studies can reward you with valuable links because articles and other sites within your industry can use your study as a reference.
Of course, your research should provide insight and data that no one else has found and should be something either your audience or other companies within your industry would be interested in.
For instance, if you’re an app development company, you can write a case study about how your app redesign helped decrease your client’s churn rate by X%. This type of research can attract design-focused websites and potential customers.
The Zapier case study from Ahrefs is an excellent example, as not only is the article interesting to read, it allows shows a ton of wisdom and things that can people can immediately learn.
There are many reasons why everyone keeps posting listicles. Beyond their perceived value for audiences, they work wonders for your SEO because they are highly linkable.
To attract editorial links to your listicle, creating a ranking or best of the best list would be a great idea, then letting your winners know once it’s published. This tactic is different from asking for a backlink (acquired link) because whether they decide to link back to you or not is entirely up to them.
Image source: Polymer
Here’s a great example from Polymer, which lists various Excel spreadsheet templates people can use. The information is clearly laid out, and the article also provides additional value to readers as it displays links where people can download the templates.
If you have a unique term that might be related to your business, you can make it a word. If your coined term gains popularity, it might receive a lot of backlinks.
Since your coined term will be unique, people might be interested to know and read about it, leading to a high ranking on search engines. One of the most popular terms coined to attract links is the ‘skyscraper technique’ by Brian Dean.
5. Get ideas from competitors
Every business has direct and indirect competitors, and gaining an insight into your competitors can help you gain more editorial backlinks.
Examine the quality of their content and reverse engineer their link building strategies by using SEO software like Semrush or Ahrefs.
Semrush’s backlinks gap tool compares gaps, showing which sites link to others but not yours.
Here are the steps to check a competitor’s referring domains.
In the picture below, WordStream has sent 158 links to SEJ, and Geekwire has sent 91 links to QuickSprout. You can check all the links by clicking on the number.
Clicking on the number will take you to another page showing the source of all the backlinks, as shown below.
SEOs can also use Aherfs by entering a competitor’s website into Site Explorer and then clicking on “best by links.”
In the example of Prosperity Media, you’ll notice that they’ve created an Australian internet statistics article that garnered 71 unique referring domains. This page generated links from Square, the Australian Post, the University of South Australia, and Officeworks.
By checking out a competitor’s best pages by links, will provide you with insights as to what they’re doing on the link building front, but it will also give you ideas for creating content.
Related: Backlink quality checks
6. Influencer interviews
Interviewing a noteworthy person in your industry or making someone within your organisation available for interviews is a strategic way to get more editorial links.
Image source: Medium
Entrepreneur and author Kelly Hoey has quite several interviews available online, most of which link back to her website.
If your interview is intriguing, well-written, and with actionable insights, a higher authority website may want to pick up some quotes from the person of interest.
7. Mention other brands
If your page is still relatively new and unknown, the hard truth is you can’t expect natural backlinks to come your way. After all, not many people — especially high-authority websites — know of your existence.
One way to change that is by discussing other companies and websites on your channels. Check out this example from Loganix’s Twitter feed:
Adam Steele represents Loganix here, but he’s sharing an advertorial reference to FlippingBook — the program he used to make his presentation.
By giving Flippingbook credit for its service, Adam may hope to get a backlink from whatever content Flippingbook puts out in the future. He isn’t going out of his way to request the link. But, the reciprocal nature of these things means he may get a backlink in return.
Related: What is a niche edit?
8. Make valuable connections
Having content creators or journalists connections will always be helpful — yes, it’s about who you know. Unfair as it is, being friends with so and so can help you get a leg up. So, if you haven’t started expanding your network, this is your sign.
Aside from the traditional Linkedin, you can also join relevant discord servers or Slack groups where you can meet key people in your niche. Twitter is also a great platform to meet industry leaders and key personalities.
Image source: Twitter
Take Neil Wainwright, Founder of tech startup UpHabit and Kelly Hoey, for example. Kelly is an author and entrepreneur specialising in networking, while Neil’s app is a CRM that focuses on building professional relationships.
The two entrepreneurs have supported each other’s products through blogs on their respective websites and social media posts. It helps to know people within the same industry.
Related: 7 creative guest post strategies
9. Build your credibility
There’s no shortcut to building your credibility, especially when getting an editorial link. Before a high-authority website links back to your page, it’s crucial to have a rich body of work available beyond that one case study or listicle you’re hoping to use as bait.
This means constantly updating your website, publishing well-researched, unique content, and providing value to your audience.
Image source: Neil Patel
A great example of this is Neil Patel. If you check out his home page, his background stands out:
- A New York Times Bestselling author.
- The Wall Street Journal calls him a top influencer on the web.
- Forbes says he is one of the top 10 marketers.
- Entrepreneur Magazine says he created one of the 100 most brilliant companies.
- President Obama recognised him as a top 100 entrepreneur under the age of 30 and a top 100 entrepreneur under the age of 35 by the United Nations.
Related: The byline technique
Some of the best websites that offer editorial links include Forbes, Wired Magazine, Entrepreneur, Inc Magazine, etc. Getting a backlink from such websites boosts your online visibility, connects you with your audience, and gains your customers’ attention.
Creating linkable content to get editorial backlinks should be engaging, informative, authentic, and comprehensive. Linkable content often involves creating long-form content, online tools, infographics, insights, coining a term, sharing an exciting opinion, or producing beautiful visuals.
- Publish statistics and facts: Journalists prefer linking to resources that contain unique facts and statistics.
- Create case studies: Case studies are an excellent method to get backlinks by sharing an interesting insight into a particular topic, whereby readers can learn something from.
- Pitch expert roundup creators: A Google search including “your keyword/niche + expert roundup” will help you find several websites that can contribute to linking back to your website.
Linkable content attracts high-quality backlinks to your website and, at the same time, helps brands reach large audiences by having their brand mentioned or linked to from authoritative sites.
Editorial links are the most valuable backlinks you can get. But because they’re so difficult to come by, not many will make an effort to get them. Don’t make that mistake.
Editorial link building takes time and a lot of work, but once you get the hang of generating these valuable links, which will help your SEO rankings. With the help of linkable assets, industry interviews, reciprocal shoutouts, and valuable connections, you can build the credibility of your page and attract these priceless links.
Founder of Earned Media. Nick specialises in SEO and he has been working in the industry for over 12 years. He is a recurring digital marketing expert guest on Kochie’s Business Builders on Channel 7 network TV. Nick is a member of the Entrepreneur Leadership Network and regularly contributes to many top business publications. Nick has also guest lectured on SEO and content marketing at the University of Technology Sydney.