How PR helps with Link Building and SEO – 12 months of PR results

By | October 3, 2019

– Hello, I’m Rich Leigh,
I run Radioactive PR and we have looked at PR’s
role in link building. Basically we’re looking at
all our results as an agency over the last 12 months and
I wanted to run through it. Radioactive PR is a PR agency
based in Gloucester, England. As I say there, the
unofficial capital of PR. We work for consumer
clients, we work for business to business clients, product services, personal PR clients, you name it. We, as an agency, as a generalist agency, I guess we don’t specialize
in any particular subject or sector, we work on multiple brands, companies and individuals. And as the slide says, we
sell on two main things. I think when pitching
we sell hard on results, and the measurement obviously
backs up the results. So whether it’s a
strategic launch campaign, whether it’s, you know, just retain PRs at press office PR. Whether it’s creative stunts, social media management,
crisis management, or anything else the client might potentially come to us with. It’s all about results, and it’s all about
measuring those results. So I think one thing that we sell well on is PR for SEO, or
as I say, link building. As an agency, we are five
years old in December. Been doing it since day one, and I’ve been personally working, you know, PR for SEO arena
for about 10 years now, and the bit you don’t see there below the video is that any given time we’re working on kind of 15ish
projects and retain clients. Sometimes less, sometimes more. One thing we wanted to do was look at our link building results
over the last year. A few different reasons why, we wanted to find out the number of pieces of coverage per month, as an agency, per quarter and per client
to give us a bench mark, I guess for future
quarters, months and years. The number of links
per months those pieces of coverage got per quarter per client, and the link to coverage percentage. So that’s both what we operate at as an agency and per client. For me, it’s a case of, if we get a piece of coverage, how likely is it, as a percentage, that
we’ve got a link in that, and I think it’s something
a lot of clients ask us. We’ve used Coverage Book to track every piece of online coverage for the last few years, maybe three years, four years or so. And as you can see there, 14000ish pieces of
coverage across our clients in that time, particularly
online coverage. We don’t put every bit of, you know, broadcast or print or anything like that in this necessarily. So I went to its Insight section to break the data down by month, and as you can see there, we looked up to the 16th of each month. So I started this last week. And then exported it. And I ended up with 12 spreadsheets, with data that looked very much like this. Thousands and thousands of rows of data, thousands and thousands
of columns of data, which obviously needed a lot of sorting. And then I went through each spreadsheet to total that data up. So as you can see in this particular one, the total row for that month. I didn’t really bother with
estimated monthly visits, or estimated coverage views. We toted them up, as you can see, all the coverage views,
but it’s much less. Clients don’t particularly care, we don’t particularly care. It’s kind of a guidance. It’s like those opportunities, even, to see, that are used
to seeing PR reports, and possibly even still do where it’s like seven billion people saw this story. Did they? Domain authority, that does matter. So domain authority being a score from zero to 100, looking at basically a science effectiveness
from a search perspective. So that month was 64. That’s good, good going
from an average perspective, and social shares is
something I’m intrigued by. It’s something that we should keep a close watch on for clients. So that month we had 100,000 social shares of coverage that we’d got for our clients. (laughing) So I then totaled and
averaged those monthly totals to find our quarterly
results for the last year. You can see there are a
number of pieces of coverage. The estimate to coverage refusal, which against isn’t massively important but you know it’s kind of
indicative of how we’re doing. The average domain authority per quarter, and as you can see
there, 53 is our lowest, which is good going. And that’s mostly because we get a lot of 80s, 90s for
clients on a monthly basis. And total shares of coverage
per quarter as well. And as I say right there in bright red, this has always been the case across PR, since I’ve been in it
is about 12 years now that I’ve been doing it. Summer months always a tiny bit quieter. Journalists are harder to get hold of, damn you summer holidays. Damn you! And importantly, we looked at the number of links we got from coverage for clients through PR each month as well. And totaling those links per month, which gave us our per quarter, we were able to work out our link to coverage percentage, which for us as an agency is going to be something we use, you know, going
forward as a bench mark. It’s something I’ve never seen across industry either, so hopefully it makes for interesting viewing. You can see there, so quarter one, the link to coverage percentage was two, so two thirds
of pieces of coverage would have a link, but then second quarter that we identified we
were doing a report on, was close to pretty much every piece of coverage had a link. And then it’s more,
whenever a client asks me, what’s the average, you
know, in your experience link to coverage percentage, I’d always say kind of 75, 80%, and it, you know, kind of
bears itself out there, quarters three and four. And then I graphed it, and
this is what it looks like. You’ll see there that we
had that big quarter three, that March to May. We had a few more stories going out, we won a few more clients. It was a big couple of months for us, really excited, really proud of that. The quieter summer, as I touched on, but I think what clients often want to see is consistency. They want to see that as an agency, you don’t just have a big hit, and then a couple of months go by, and you know, and then
you have another big hit of coverage for one client
that you can then shout about. It’s consistency, and that for me as well as an agency, I want to see that. You know, it’s easy to
look at your coverage and think, you know, how are we doing this week, this month, but you kind of forget what’s come before it. That old thing of, your review’s as good as your last story, well, that’s what I wanted
to show with this data. I wanted it specifically so I could see and the team could see our results, obviously in the last 12 months, but in particular just to demonstrate that we, just to see
from a link perspective, from a coverage
perspective, how we perform. And you can see that our quietest quarter, we’re still pulling a thousand links in, you know, nearly 1300
pieces of online coverage. So really happy with that. And then with that I was able to pull together an average quarter. So we can see there, we’re getting just shy of 2000 pieces of coverage on a given average quarter. Average DA of that coverage, or of those links is 57. Total social shares around
130000 social shares of our client’s coverage. So nearly 1500 links,
and a link to coverage percentage, on average, of 81.3%, which we just would have had no idea had I not spent the time doing this. And I then average this out across the clients that we work
on for link building, or PR for SEO. So we can actually look at kind of average client performance, because some people come in, they say, “Can you get us hundreds
of links a month?” Some people, they come in and their goals or KPRs are quite low,
and we’re able to say, actually for the time that we’re spending with you, we can do better. So as an average, we’ve worked out we get 76 pieces of coverage
per month, per client. This bear in mind is average, and as I say at the bottom
there, plenty of caveats. Some clients pay less,
some clients pay more. The more time we spend on this, the more, you know, the more we’re doing for a client, obviously, the
better the results will be, which averages out to 62 links per month. That’s at that DA 57 average. Five and a half social shares of those stories per month,
of which 81% has a link. What about follow, unfollow ratios? So followings are massively important to clients, we know that. There obviously has been the recent news about user generated context, sponsored and no follow links, or
that equals no follow links being potentially used as hints by Google. So that’s exciting, that’s
something that means a lot of PRs, and actually it was, I guess, you know could potentially breathe a sign of relief that there’s some value in no follow links. But if we’re looking
purely at the coverage we’ve got of the last 12 months, what that follow unfollow ratio is. As I say here, 6000
links is a hell of a lot to go through manually, and I’d had to go through it manually. So took a sample size of 200 pieces of coverage and links, checked each and found 72% of them were follow links. Not bad going. And I thought at this
point it’s worth mentioning that buying links, it passed PageRank, so link active, it’s a violation of Google’s guidelines. As you can see there in red, buying or selling links
that pass PageRank is, could be considered part of a link scheme and a violation of
their master guidelines. Now you’ll be penalized, nobody wants to be penalized by Google. It can cost you a hell of a lot of money. We’ve seen it happen with clients, and potential clients
even that have come in and say, hey, we were
doing this, we’ve been hit. So, what does Google say there? Additionally creating links that weren’t editorially placed, or actual, can be considered a
violation of our guidelines. Conversely, links that
are editorially placed are welcomes by Google, and these slides will be made available. You can see there on the bottom right, just to the left of the video, a link to those guidelines. And I think what I’d like to do now is compare, despite the fact that it’s against Google’s guidelines, compare publicly
available, publicly visible pricing for SEO services
that guarantee follow links. So yes you shouldn’t do it, but people do. It’s common practice, as
I said in the last slide. Our average DA, just a reminder, is 57 for the year per quarter, and as it says there again, we getting multiple 90 plus for clients every single month. So it’s a case of, you know, we’re able to get links that you just cannot get through link buying. This one, this publicly visible one, you see on the right,
offers DA 40 plus links, starting from £130. And this one, yet another publicly visible review, even, of a years worth of link buying. You can see there, so this person bought 75 links, cheapest link $63, most expensive 363. The average link cost $151, spending over 10 grand on links in a year. So again, when I say this is common place, this is very common place. Some people will be
watching this thinking, yep, that’s even part
of our marketing budget. We budget for that. So as a pound value, worked out, so £120. The last one, DA 30, this
one is kind of annoying because in the review it didn’t show an average domain authority
of the links bought, but £120 on average was the cost of the link to this person. And this one, you can see here the DAs, on average, added them together, divided it up, and it averages 56. So 56 is as close to our average of 57 as you could find prices
aligned to publicly. And you can see from a
pricing perspective there, little bit more expensive. Average price $279, or £224.07
at the time of writing. So this person spent, on
average, £224 per DA 56 link. And that’s really useful to us from a bench marking perspective. Again, we’ve never done
anything like this, I don’t think the industry’s
seen anything like this. So I’m using publicly
visible SEO or link by data compared to PR data. We get an average number
of 62 links per client per month, 45 of these being follow links, you know, based on the 72%
of links are follow links. 81% of pieces of coverage has link. 45 links times that £224. You know, that was the approximate costing from the last slide with the DA 56 link, would cost you £10083.15. So get our average results per client, bearing in mind for some clients we get much, much more,
you’d have to be spending, at that rate, more than 10
grand, just to get that. So Google says don’t buy links, we’ll penalize you if we find out, and also says editorial links,
yep, we encourage those. That’s what PR is, PR is
all about editorial links. Editorial links that are gonna be useful to the readers of those, you know, those pieces that we do get, and ideally send some traffic too. So that’s before anything else, you’re spending 10 grand
just from a link perspective to get what we get on average for clients. Now I’m not, at those numbers, I am not talking out of turn to say that the average client
spends nowhere near that per month with a PR agency. Nowhere near. But again, it’s not uncommon to get 100 plus links for some
clients some months, and for those clients, maybe they are paying a little bit more, but again, they’re still getting much better value than you would be through a practice that’s so common still. And that’s before,
again, you even consider the reputational benefits of PR, and the brand awareness benefits. The traffic, and even the customers. We will get onto some case studies, the editorially earned
links can send your way. The fact that you can
re-target to those visitors through paid social, through
Facebook, through Instagram. You know so once we’ve got visitors to your site, you can continually then, let’s say we get 10000, 20000 visitors to your site through smart PR, through, you know, good link building PR, we can re-target and
hit those people again on their social feeds. And again, and most importantly probably, great PR isn’t just about get links. And I think sometimes when clients come in from a link building perspective, they think that’s all it is. For me, PR is how do we reach target audience and make them do or think what we want them to do or think? And as silly as that sounds, it very often is just the case of how do we get them to think that your brand’s the one they need to be spending their money with, or that your company’s the one that they should be invested in some way. You know, even, you know, PR from a charity
perspective, it’s donations. From a public affairs or from a, yeah, from the perspective that you want to get people on site. You know, you want them to think what you want them to think. Good PR can do that. And that’s nothing to do with
a link build side of things. I think one criticism,
if I was watching this, would be sure, this all sounds good but this is just outputs, not outcomes. And I’ve talked a lot in things I’ve written online, in
my book, Myths of PR. I talk a lot about
measurement and outcomes, not outputs, and output
is a piece of coverage, and outcome is something that actually comes as a direct result of that. It’s no good anymore, just
get yourself on The Sun, or brilliant, you were on BBC Breakfast, what does that actually do? So what I’ve done is I’ve put together a few examples of our
approach to PR for SEO, and the measurable benefits. And I’ve also said there, and again going to be posting these slides, on our agency blog we share a lot, and our home page even. We share a lot of case studies, all with a measurable outcome orientated, you know, review almost
of that piece of work. So we’re really proud
of it, do have a look. So this work, we work with Hopper HQ, they’re an Instagram scheduling tool, and every year for the past three, we’ve done something called
the Instagram rich list. Kind of a Sunday Times esque take on, you know, how much people
earn as Instagram influencers. And 2019 was our third year doing it. We started it in 2017 with Hopper, did it in 2018, did it in 2019. So in the, you know, summer just gone, so in 2019, we got 250 pieces of coverage including those linked pieces there. 60% linked to Hopper’s onsite
context and or homepage. The average domain authority of the sites linking was 71, but importantly, within two days of the story launching. The text is slightly obscured there, but again slides will be available. The rich list on the site had 32000 views, that’s unique views, and that’s compared to 20000 in 2018. So a huge increase. A bit more coverage, huge increase in the number of people actually, you know, hitting the site
to read the full report. And the most important thing for us is that Hopper gained new
service users in the process. That’s, you know, hugely
beneficial for any client. Obviously some traffic that
converts into paid users is, you know, is absolutely cherry on top. For our client, they’re a local service marketplace. We came up with an idea around the final episode of Game of Thrones for a counseling service. So Bark has a huge number of counselors available across the UK. So we thought, well,
maybe there’s some fun editorial mileage in this story. You might have seen it. And it did very, very well. So well in fact that I feel
okay doing puns that bad. Anyway, we got about
350 pieces of coverage of UK and international coverage. This one did incredibly well globally, which is fantastic from a
link spread perspective, with pretty much, you
know, the majority linking. And as you can see there, that’s an actual grab from analytics. As an agency, we always ask to be invited to client analytics. It’s odd to me that you wouldn’t want to see the impact of your work, especially when a client
has Google Goals set up, and you know you can see conversions too. So 18000 plus visitors with, on the right hand side there, you can see transactions, 371 going on to become customers. Now that’s, any conversion is beneficial from PR for SEO, but
you know the fact that, yeah, as a percentage, that’s quite a high transaction ratio to two sessions for a PR for SEO bit of work. And the average main authority of this website’s link in was 75. So not only did this story
get shared with good coverage, loads and loads of links
at a high average DA, it also sent a lot of visitors that can re-targeted to,
but also a number of them went on to become customers. So incredibly happy
with this piece of work. Well here’s a campaign we did for, this is our third and final campaign that we’re going to be looking
at for They are the UK’s leading
child care website. If you need a nanny, an au pair, a baby sitter, et cetera, go to Childcare. Millions of people already do. You can see there in the
bottom right actually, just to the left of the
video, that we’ve written all of these case studies
up for the website. Again, these are some of the ones that you’ll find if you go to the site. And please do have a look, you know, there’s more information than is within these slides on those. So in this campaign, this particular one, we created an anti-bullying self defense class campaign for kids. And it was all born out of a survey story we did with Childcare that found that more than half of parents were most worried about their
children being bullied. So we used that as a hook. And we arranged a partnership between and the
Jiu Jitsu Foundation. One of the team’s actually been doing Jiu Jitsu for years and years. So we arranged a partnership to offer free self defense classes to kids, scheduled to go live in
time for anti-bullying week. And with that opt in mechanic, which is fantastic from a
link forcing perspective, from a link building perspective, we targeted parents with young children, and the first 500 members that registered their interest would receive a free months worth of classes for their child, which is, you know, an
incredible partnership to broker. And as a team, incredibly proud of that. We got 100 plus pieces of coverage across national and
high DA regional titles with the cast majority linking. Average DA 72, so that’s very high. And 6000 parents opted in. So post GDPR, it’s incredibly difficult but also important for companies to manage their data well, but
also to get new opted in members and kind of members of a database, and you know, with a boost of a thousand new members to the site. So it’s something we’re
incredibly proud of. And as a piece of work,
it works from beginning, middle, end, and it works, obviously, as you can see, from a
measurement perspective. I think one think we do is we also track site visibility of clients, and this is one of our clients, I think we looked at their site visibility a little while back. But if you look at that
graph, you can, I would hope, see where we started working with them. There’s a blog that I
wrote there about SEO, the three pillars of SEO measurement, and basically what we do. That graph was from that blog. Please do go and have a look. And you can see there
their paid visibility versus their organic visibility, and the blue line being the organic. And site visibility being a measure of, you know, how visible a site
is for transitive key words, or transitive of key words
that are important to them, especially versus competitors. And again, search engine
performance can be hugely impacted. You can see there on the left, tiers are the transitive
key words for that same client, from that
site visibility graph that you just saw. In green, they’re the ones
that they’re winning on. And you can see there’s only one that they’re not, from
the transitive key words. You know we’ve worked with an
SEO agency to put together. In fact the SEO agency, you know, fantastic at this, and that’s why we also love working with in house SEOs and SEO agencies because
they’re phenomenal from a technical and a
key word perspective. I think where we come into our own as a profession is truly in that editorial link building side of things. And if you work together, then the results can be much, much stronger than, you know, trying to
work against each other. For some reason, PR and SEO has this kind of weird rivalry where, you know, SEOs think, you know,
we can do what they do. PRs think, yep, we can do what they do. I’ve got no designs on being
a technical SEO person. What they do blows my mind. What we’re good at is coverage. Knowing from a creative perspective what’s going to get coverage, what’s editorially viable, interesting, and also then measuring
how that actually performs. So as you can see there,
when these two things come together, it works an absolute treat. And again, we got plenty more case studies on our home page and blog. So those three, they’re
all outcome orientated, yes, but we’ve got plenty more
that we highlight regularly. So, some weird and wonderful, more creative, predominantly
link orientated. That’s kind of where
stunts fit for us now. It used to be the case that clients would come to us with a six figure budget and say, “What can you do?” Now that’s not always gonna happen. It’s what can you do for kind of a no to lower budget, and very often because it’s so tightly
tied into digital marketing, it falls under this remit. Some with a more serious message. We did a campaign for a client about a smear test campaign, you know, to encourage women to kind
of have smear tests done. Some simply using client data to create useful tools that kind of
sit as almost anchor context. Rank well, regularly drive traffic, so it’s then not just about the editorial PR benefit of, it’s people are searching for these tools and using clients data. Some clients have millions
and millions of data points. Well, if we can find a hook in, if we can find a reason or way to create a calculator or tool out of something, and then
even editorialize that, we will because not only
can we drive traffic. You know, if you go through, click through you’ll see what I mean
about that particular story, that particular tool. We don’t just drive traffic
through the PR itself, but also from a, in terms of longevity, because this is actually useful data. People want to see it,
they need to use it, they want to use it. And I’ve talked a lot about measurement. One thing I’ve done is actually started, so it’s now the Ratioactive Group, and Ratioactive PR is a
company under the umbrella. Radioactive Talent is the second company, second limited company
under that umbrella, and what Radioactive Talent is, it’s almost like a
talent agency in reverse. We work with brands first
to identify streamers, influencers, context creators, and basically publishers, and we work out kind of affiliate marketing orientated ways of working with them from
a performance perspective. So we’ll work on cost per lead, cost per quote, cost per acquisition. You know sometimes on placement, or a mix thereof, but the main benefit to clients with that is that it’s, I’d say that performance piece, it’s important to them that,
to certain clients that, you know, that their budget
goes that bit further. And if they’re earning, we earn. And that was very much a case of me just listening to clients, when it does come to budget time, sitting down and saying, right PR, all of these benefits absolutely, but you’ve got a performance budget, can we support you in that? And I think that’s the end. Hopefully this has been interesting. I think for me, it’s kind of scary putting this out because we’re setting ourselves up to be judged massively, but again, as I say in
that, I’ll be damned if I lose client budget because, you know, they see
something shiny over there and think, you know, well
we just didn’t speak up and show our results. I think, you know, they should be and probably will be judged positively, because you know, I genuinely believe that we’re very, very good at what we do. I think we’re absolutely, we
do fantastic work for clients, and it helps now having benchmarked this, and might even potentially help you guys, that when we go and a client comes to us and says “Hey, I want
150 links or nothing”, or I’m not coming on as a client, we can say “Okay, that’s
fine, we can do that “and here’s the amount of team time “we’d need to spend to do that.” But here’s our average, industry average, you know, who knows
again, this is the first benching marking report, as
far as I know, of it’s kind. Here’s our average, so you know, average spend is this, this
is what you could expect. So you spend more time with us, you spend more money with us, these are the results you could expect kind of factored up. And I think it is important to say PR just is not just about
column reaches anymore. Again, in the industry we all know that, we all talk about AVE and say that it’s not good anymore, it’s not, you know, we all talk about the PASO model and you know, that mixed marketing model. Well the fact is, this is hugely important to us as an industry, I think, and if I can add to the conversation per the conversation, then happy to. And again, I touched
there on the UGC sponsored no followers, a hunt towards SERPs. Who knows what impact that’s gonna have, but we’ll be checking,
we’re gonna be looking. Thank you very much for watching. Hopefully this has given you
something to think about. If you would like to get in touch, I’m on Twitter at RichLeighPR, and also you can’t see
my email address there, but it’s just [email protected] If you want to chat, if you want to talk to us about your needs, or if you just want to, you know, query something, then just get in touch. Hopefully it’ll otherwise make sense. Thank you very much. Bye.

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