Citing Sources in Brand Journalism: How to Avoid Bad Link Penalties

Citing sources in brand journalism.Bill Hartzer at Globe Runner SEO has shared the story of an interesting manual penalty experienced by one of his clients who used HARO (Help a Reporter Out) to source an interview for their blog. It seems they fell on the wrong side of Google’s sword with three specific links pointing to their website; two from Help a Reporter Out and one from a media outlet that picked up the press release.

The argument for “these links are natural” is that the business owner was being quoted for an article. If you’re using HARO or other outreach tools and services to get exposure, this is your ideal outcome: you are used as a source for a story. Increasingly, that story is going to be printed on a blog or brand publication – you have a far greater chance of being selected by a smaller publication than mainstream media.

The argument against the links being natural, it seems, is that you used a service to connect with someone who then linked to your website and therefore are actively building links. This is being compared to the My Blog Guest debacle – which isn’t the issue at all.

If you want to either a) be a publisher, as many businesses do, and source quotes using outreach methods like HARO or PR agencies, or b) market yourself as a source for stories in the hopes of being cited as an authority or topic expert, here’s how you can avoid the long arm of Google.

Citing Sources for Brand Publishers

Brands are becoming publishers, yet as I said last year in an SES presentation, you don’t just wake up one day with a new career as a publisher. Publishing is a real “thing;” it’s a profession and it takes time to learn the nuances of the industry. If you want your team to act as journalists, they need to understand the basic tenets of mainstream media and journalism.

In this case, when citing an interviewed source, you don’t need to link to the website of the person you’re quoting.

If you are citing material they’ve already published, you should link to that material to give them credit for the work they’ve created. However, if you get a quote in person, over the phone or via email, there is no need to link to the person quoted. In fact, it’s unnatural if you do – you’re linking to a webpage (like a homepage) lacking material relevant to the quote.

People give links away for all kinds of misguided reasons and gratitude is one of the worst. You’re not actually doing the person any favors with a bad link as thanks for their participation in your story. If they’re asking for a link, they either don’t understand what I’ve explained above or are actively link building. Just say no, the exposure from appearing in your story is thank you enough.

Becoming a Source for Stories

You’re a business owner or manager and want to get your company’s name in the news. When done right, it’s a fantastic tactic for generating exposure and establishing topic authority.

If you’re a source for a story, tell the reporter or publisher not to link to your website.

Mainstream media probably won’t link anyway, but brand journalists (for the reasons mentioned above) may not know any better and could think that’s just what they’re supposed to do. The only real exception where it makes sense and is natural is where there’s something on your website – a report, a chart, a piece of research – that they’re mentioning in their article. In that case, it’s good user experience to offer that access to the information being discussed.

And for the love of everything linky, don’t demand a link in exchange for your statement.

And the verdict is…

Google doesn’t have a hate on for people who use HARO. This latest example of a manual action for unnatural links is just a reminder that so long as links are a currency exchanged between publishers and sources, businesses and publications, you have to toe the line. If the link doesn’t improve user experience or cite a source in the way journalists properly reference information, it doesn’t belong in a brand publication.

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54% of Consumers Will Leave You Over Lack of Relevant Content

State_of_Content_retail_reportFifty-four percent of consumers say they will consider leaving a relationship with a retailer if they don’t have tailor-made, relevant content delivered directly to them, according to the new State of Content Marketing: Retail report from Contently.

Aspirational brand stories drive long-term success more in retail than in any other industry, they say, making creative and original brand storytelling mission critical for retailers. Smart retailers have to look past pushing conversions; mobile apps packed with sales copy simply drive higher abandonment rates.

What’s a retailer to do in the age of spoon-feeding consumers information and potentially blowing the budget on relevant content? Try these quick tips from Contently: [Read more...]

3 Content Marketing Measurement Tips: Moving Beyond Pageviews

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If you’re not chasing pageviews though, how do you measure the success of your content? This is especially challenging for small business marketers, who are far less likely to have advanced, cross-channel analytics in place to properly attribute each touch and more accurately calculate the true value of any given piece of content. [Read more...]

Marketing to Millennials: What 18-33 Yr Old Consumers Want From Your Company

Millennials are on the road to affluence and will begin to hit their peak earning years in 2020. Even today, the roughly 80 million millennials in the US alone spend approximately $600 billion a year.

If your small business is trying to get in front of this potentially lucrative audience, take note of these findings from Adroit Digital’s Millennials: The New Age of Brand Loyalty report.

Adroit Digital Millennials

Looking forward, marketers should expect increased loyalty from millennial consumers, 64% of whom consider themselves just as brand loyal as their parents, or more so. [Read more...]

Periodic Table of Content Marketing: The Science Behind the Magic

Back when Danny Sullivan released his Periodic Table of SEO Success Factors, I thought, isn’t that a great way of visualizing the many ranking factors or signals marketers need to keep in mind? You’ve all seen a thousand infographics that say a lot without saying anything at all, so when a truly useful one comes along, we all appreciate it.

It was only a matter of time before something similar for content marketers hit the scene. While it might seem there’s black magic at work and one (especially a small business owner) can’t possibly keep up with the dozens of factors that go into a great piece of content, there is a science to it.

Chris Lake, Director of Content at Econsultancy, released his content marketing periodic table last week. While he acknowledges it is a work in progress, it’s a great framework for those trying to grasp exactly what it is that makes a piece of content irresistible to consumers.   Click the table below to enlarge it. [Read more...]

89% of Consumers Use Mobile Each Week, But Spend 3x Longer Watching TV

Which devices should you be targeting to reach your target market with the greatest frequency? Despite the meteoric rise of mobile, consumers still spend more than three times as much time watching television each week as using mobile devices, according to Experian.

Their digital benchmark report, now in its sixth year, offers insight into a wide variety of online marketing considerations, just one of which is the reach of specific devices. Today, 89% of US consumers use their mobile phone at least weekly, according to their research, with 68% reporting they use their mobile phone every day. eReaders and digital tablets are reported separately, with 10% and 15% daily use, respectively.

Device Reach insights for SMB marketers [Read more...]