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ExplainersContent Marketing

Editorial Links: 5 Benefits & 5 Ways to Get Them

September 6, 2022
By Raisin Bread Editors

Table of Contents

Many marketers consider link building to be one of the more complex and tedious SEO strategies. Trudging through wordy articles full of industry jargon to glean the few pieces of essential information you need is a tall order that few have time to undertake, so in this one, we’ll get straight to the essentials of editorial links, and you’ll walk (or click) away with an understanding of the basics and how to approach your own campaign.

Link Building in a Nutshell
Link building is a digital marketing strategy that improves your search engine ranking, gives your site credibility, and increases your web traffic, to name just a few benefits. It’s the process of increasing the number of links, also called “backlinks”, on external websites that take visitors to a page on your site.

What are Editorial Links?
While link building in general can be either paid or organic, editorial links are exclusively organic. Editorial links are often regarded as “holy grail” backlinks. The term describes a link to valuable content from a reputable site that’s used as a legitimate resource. Editorial links can look like:

  • Inclusion of your site in an expert round-up
  • Citation of a person in your organization as an expert
  • Linking to your site as an additional information source 
  • An interview with a person in your organization
  • Linking to your organization’s interview of an expert

According to this Search Engine Journal article, editorial links are “not paid for, not asked for and not traded for. These are links which a website organically attracts because that site is producing good content and marketing that content via social media sites such as Dugg or Reddit, linkbaiting, syndication and public relations.” They differ from acquired links, which are “acquired by the site owner via payment or distribution. Such links include link advertisements, paid linking, template linking, article distribution, directory links and comments on forums, blogs and other interactive forms of social media.”

The inherently organic aspect of editorial links is the reason they’re so much more valuable than acquired links. An external site linking to you solely because you’re a legitimate, trusted authority says more about your credibility than that same site linking to you because you paid or traded for that link. Just as human perception would be biased toward an authentic promotion over a paid promotion, Google algorithms consider editorial links to signal more authority than acquired links.
Because getting editorial links requires more credibility, more time, and higher-quality content, they’re harder to get, but significantly more valuable in terms of the extent to which they can boost your authority, credibility, and trust from a search engine perspective.

What Can Editorial Links Do For You? 

  1. Cost-Effective Brand Promotion
    Because editorial links are achieved organically, meaning that no money is directly spent on their acquisition, they’re essentially a no-cost form of promotion. As a result of creating your own solid, valuable content, you land links, which gets you exposure and visibility.
  2. Higher Search Engine Rankings
    As we know, organic referral to your site as an expert resource by a trusted authority tells Google a lot about your value, and in turn, they rank you higher. However, there are still some misconceptions about what that conversation actually looks like. It’s worth noting that while domain authority (DA)/domain ranking (DR) are commonly thought to contribute to ranking improvement, they don’t necessarily play a role.
    Marketerhire SEO expert Rachel Vandernick gave us the scoop on DA in the context of link building, saying “ Google has repeatedly rebuffed DA/DR as a ranking factor. Lots of link building sites hang their hat on it, but it’s a third-party software metric that marketers use; it’s not a metric native to Google or its scoring factors for content. A site’s DA/DR is not inherently valuable – it’s more about topical authority and relevance.”
  1. Fewer Penalties
    Google favors content that benefits the reader, and sometimes penalizes sites that use strategies like paying for links and link exchanges excessively. Because editorial links signal more genuine authority in the eyes of Google, getting them decreases the risk of these penalties compared to acquired links. Strategies that won’t result in penalties are sometimes referred to as “white hat” strategies, while those that are prohibited or penalized by Google are referred to as “black hat”.
  2. Increased Web Traffic 
    Higher ranking achieved through editorial links is likely to increase organic traffic. Moreover, your name appearing on a reputable site via an acquired link is good for visibility and exposure, but when that trusted site refers to you as a valuable resource via an editorial link, its audience has all the more reason to consider you an authority and pursue information about your organization by visiting your site. This is yet another manifestation of editorial links’ potential to drive greater trust and authority vs. acquired links.
  1. Relationship Building

Just because editorial links don’t involve soliciting links directly doesn’t mean they don’t lend well to relationship building from other angles. Extending a “thank you” to a party who has linked to you, reaching out to them for more links, and tagging them on social media to acknowledge their feature of you are just a few examples of early relationship building that can result from an editorial link.

What Kind of Content Attracts Editorial Links? 

Content for editorial links should combine several of these qualities:

  • Unique
  • Innovative 
  • Data-backed 
  • Emotionally compelling
  • Credible 
  • Useful
  • Free

How Can You Get Editorial Links?  

  1. Create High-Value, Linkable, Evergreen Content

Your content needs to be valuable and relevant long enough to attract attention and remain a helpful resource as time goes on. Update old articles to reflect industry changes, and include emerging trends or information. Consider how the usefulness of your content might change over time.
Case studies are a great example of high-value content that can be referenced by another site.

  1. Collaborate Often  

Take advantage of opportunities to collaborate and share your expertise. Interviewing or being interviewed can both lead to editorial links.  They’re also often found in expert round-ups, or articles that feature a “best-of” list in a particular category. Check out this article by Capsicum Mediaworks for more information on round-ups in the context of SEO.
Responda also recommends building relationships with journalists in order to become a go-to source for them. According to Responda, “Possibly the easiest way to connect with them is through HARO (Help a Reporter Out), which provides journalists with a database of sources for news stories and daily opportunities for sources, in order to secure valuable media coverage.”

3. Promote Your Content

Don’t let your high-value content fall short of its potential. A great article shouldn’t collect cobwebs when it could be winning you links. More eyes on your content translates to more opportunities for you to get backlinks, so don’t underestimate the ability of  traditional forms of marketing like paid ads, social media, and PR to get your content noticed.

4. Fill in the Gaps in Your Competitors’ Content
What questions aren’t being answered by the prominent content in your industry? How can you make those answers more accessible, understandable, or digestible? What hard-to-find information can you provide? What unique perspective can you share? What clarity or context can you offer? One-of-a-kind content stands out.

5. Follow-Up on Unlinked Mentions

Tools like Google Alerts can help you monitor brand mentions, giving you the opportunity to reach out in the instances where you’re mentioned as a legitimate resource on a site, but are not linked. Your content already earned you a mention as an authority or expert, and you may yet be able to reap the rewards of that mention. 

Over and Out 

Link building is one of the most important SEO strategies in digital marketing, but it’s also regarded as one of the trickier and more time-consuming ones to get right. It’s clear that landing editorial links can be even more tedious than acquired links, but their metaphorical bang for your buck can far outpace the paid alternative. When editorial link building seems impossibly complex, your north star is remembering that just like everywhere else in the marketing world, great content and high quality are the keys to success.

Raisin Bread Editors
about the author

Raisin Bread editors partner with top marketers from the MarketerHire platform to share their knowledge and expertise directly with you. Eat it. Digest it. Apply it.

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