There’s no easy way around it, building high-quality backlinks is one of the most difficult and time-consuming elements of SEO.
In essence, a link to your website acts as an authority signal or an ‘up vote’.
The more external links (backlinks) to your website, the more trustworthy and authoritative Google deems it to be.
Still not sure why backlinks are important?
Think about it like this. Google wants to create the most seamless and intuitive experience for its users by delivering relevant content. If your website features contextually relevant links from trustworthy sources, then Google (and other search engines) will deem your site to be more pertinent to the end user.
Of course, where there is a way to increase organic traffic and reduce paid advertising spend, there will inevitably be a number of questionable “black hat tactics” that follow.
Google’s Panda and Penguin updates mean that it’s become increasingly difficult to manipulate the system. Spamming, buying-links, and other black-hat link building techniques that were once common place are becoming easier for Google to spot and punish.
A quick Google search will reveal that there is no shortage of ideas on how you can build backlinks. The fact is, most of them require time, networking, and a bit of good ol’ fashioned luck.
Happily, there are still a number of simple link building strategies that work in 2018.
The one I want to discuss today is Brand Mention link building.
What is a Brand Mention Link Building?
In simple terms, brand mention link building involves finding websites that have mentioned your business, brand or blog and turning those brand mentions into SEO enriching backlinks to your website.
If you’re an established business (or even a new one) there’s a good chance that there are dozens of perfectly good brand mentions floating around just waiting for you to claim them.
Why should I bother with Brand Mention Link Building?
Turning brand mentions into backlinks is a simple and highly-effective white-hat link-building strategy. It is one of the first link building strategies that I undertake when working with a new brand or business.
Why? Because brand mention link building is a simple, cost-effective way to build links without needing to create content.
Brand Mention Link Building Factors
There’s a couple of things worth considering when going after these kinds of links. Some of the things you need to consider include:
- Source strength
- Geo Specific
- Posts marked review or “advertorial” seem spammy by nature
- Excessive amounts of outbound links from a single page
- Spam material in page comments indicate weak page
- Excessive advertising on page
- Domain and Page authority
Relevant, high domain authority links from reputable pages is the most effective way to strengthen your link profile.
How can I find Brand Mentions?
Before we go into acquiring those valuable backlinks. Let’s go through the basics.
There are a number of paid options and full-service SEO programs that offer ‘Brand Mention Tracking’ such as SEMrush. If you already have a subscription to a full-service SEO program, use it!
If you don’t have access to a full-service SEO program, don’t fret, Google offer a perfectly good tool for monitoring brand mentions — Google Alerts.
Google Alerts for Brand Mention Link Building
Google alerts can be set up to send you an alert via email once a day, week or month if your target keyword — Brand name in this case — is mentioned anywhere online.
Google Alerts give you a number of options for selecting alert frequency and source. For instance, you can select to receive alerts from only sites which Google deems to be authoritative (great for big business) or to receive an alert for all brand mentions.
Select the keywords that you would like to receive alerts for, set your frequency and choose your desired email and you’re ready to go.
Brand Mention Link Building using SEO Programs
Ahrefs, SEMrush, MOZ and a host of other “full service SEO programs” offer the same functionality as Google Alerts. Search “Brand Mention Link Building” + “Your SEO Program” to find out more about how to use them.
Brand Mention Link Building Outreach Email
I’m not going to go into detail about how to build that perfect email — I’ve used this one hundred’s of times to great effect — tweak it for your own use.
Hey (Their Name/Website),
I’m a big fan of (insert their website name/brand/blog)! I really enjoyed your article about (Insert name/topic of recent article)!
I notice that you’ve mentioned my (brand/business name) on your website. First off, I really appreciate the mention! It’s always nice to get recognition from trusted sources like (insert their website/blog/brand name).
Given how popular your website, we would really appreciate turning this mention into a link back to our website (insert desired link)! It helps your readers find out a little more about (insert name of your website/blog).
Either way, I’ll continue to be an avid reader!
Brand Mentions Without Backlinks
Let’s say you’ve tried to turn those brand mentions into valuable backlinks but it’s just not working for you. This could be for any myriad of reasons; the source of the mention is no longer monitored by the site owner, the website does not link away from their own content (common with news sites, government sites etc.), your emails are going unanswered.
Does this mean that your unlinked brand mentions provide no SEO value?
In 2017 Google Webmaster Trends Analyst Gary Illyes stated that:
“If you publish high-quality content that is highly cited on the internet — and I’m not talking about just links, but also mentions on social networks and people talking about your branding, crap like that. Then you are doing great.”
And it’s not just Google who values linkless brand mentions. In 2016 former senior product manager at Bing, Duane Forrester, admitted that unlinked mentions can be just as strong as backlinks:
“Years ago, Bing figured out context and sentiment of tone, and how to associate mentions without a link. As the volume grows and trustworthiness of this mention is known, you’ll get a bump in rankings as a trial.”
Wait, does that mean Brand Mention Link Building is redundant in 2018?
Nope. Links are far from being obsolete in the SEO landscape.
In fact, according to the most up to date interpretation of the Google Algorithm, backlinks are still considered the number #1 ranking factor by Google.
While there is a lot of chatter about the strength of brand mentions as a standalone ranking factor, backlinks are still the most effective way to build website authority and improve your legitimacy in the eyes of Google.