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No-follow links are useful! Reckons Hallam’s Ken Scott

13th August 2018


As with any industry, digital PR is full of misconceptions, rumours and differing opinions. However, as digital PR also has to dip its toes in the ever-changing SEO world too, these misconceptions are more frequent and more in number.

1.      I don’t need no-follow links

Building a comprehensive backlink profile for your business or client with coverage on relevant, high authority sites is our job. However, there is an obsession with only getting “follow” links in digital PR. Whilst the follow variety should be your first point of a call for SEO value, there is a large school of thought that argues that “no-follow” links should still be a part of your link building strategy. 

Experts including Megan Marrs from WordStream and Pratik Dholakiya from Search Engine Land argue that no-follow links still drive large amounts of referral traffic, and contribute to your overall authority online. Furthermore, rather than concentrating on follow or no-follow, you should be building your brand with different types of links that will build trust. As Marrs explains: “Don’t think of what links are good for SEO, but instead think what links are good for your business, your brand, and what links can help establish you as an industry authority. Ultimately, you want a healthy balance of do follow and no follow for the perfect link profile”.

2.      Brand mentions are pointless

Google considers more than just links to determine authority. How many of us are disappointed when we get unlinked brand mentions and then chase that link? Well, again there is evidence that brand mentions are a powerful ranking factor that we should be chasing and tracking as part of our work.

Experts speakers from Google and Bing confirmed last year that mentions on relevant quality sites and across social media are a ranking factor – you can read more about their findings here

There have also been new updates from Google such as the Panda Patent that recognises mentions as “implied links” and can bump up your rankings. This is good news for us in the industry as brand mentions are easier to get than links and will likely help boost your business or client. Like any balanced diet though, you should still look to build high-quality links with your brand mentions.

3.      Content marketing will be a huge success

Sometimes content just doesn’t work – even if you do everything right. While you can have a great, topical idea, build a watertight media list and pitch like you’ve never pitched before, sometimes campaigns just fall flat and it’s something all the best brands experience.

The trick is to take it on the chin, learn lessons and try to do something different next time. As already mentioned, think beyond just links too. Look at social shares, referral traffic and be patient – you might see results come through further down the line.

4.      Forget about ‘boring’ content

So initially this might seem a bit misleading. Of course, there will be content ideas thrown around that have been talked about a million times before, so don’t waste your time on these unless you have a new angle. However, real PR professionals know that there are so many publications out there that will gratefully receive your “boring” content. 

The skill comes from exploring an industry you’re not familiar with and building relationships with the right media. Soon you’ll gain loads of interest in that top tips for cleaning ball bearings article.

5.      The media will care about everything I give them

There are some hard truths that PR professionals and their clients have to get used to in the modern media. However, as heart breaking as it might be for businesses, it’s better to know what journalists actually care about.

So here we go, deep breaths…

Written by Ken Scott, PR consultant at digital marketing agency Hallam

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