Done well, outreach can have a huge impact on your overall SEO strategy, but it’s not always obvious which sites are the best to target. If you were sending out a press release, you’d likely already be very familiar with a handful of your industry’s key press, but when it comes to the slightly more SEO-led outreach, you could be working with a larger pool of potential sites, some of which you might not already be aware of.
Outreach can be time-intensive, so it’s tricky to know where’s best to place your efforts. We’ve shared seven different factors for establishing the quality of the domains you’re looking to gain coverage or links from. In no particular order:
1. Domain authority
The obvious one, but it is important, especially if your objectives are more SEO-focused. Getting links from high domain authority (DA) sites does wonders for your own domain authority, plus in most (not all) cases, it’s a good indication of the quality and popularity of a site too. If you don’t have access to SEO tools to check domain authority, some such as Moz, provide a free browser tool that shows you the DA of any site you’re currently on.
But remember it’s not the be-all and end-all, there are plenty of reasons for a low domain authority that aren’t a sign of low quality, such as a newer site.
This is a big one for both SEO and PR-based objectives. Gaining links from sites relevant to your industry is good for your overall link profile and helps Google assess what industry you sit in and what searches you’re most relevant for. And from a less technical perspective, it simply makes sure you’re getting in front of the right people. Many magazines will include information about their readership in their ‘About us’ section, but these can be outdated or exaggerated, so it’s worth judging for yourself based on the content you see and who you feel it would be most relevant to.
3. How frequently updated is it?
This is a good factor to bear in mind for a couple of different reasons. Firstly, a site that regularly publishes new content is more likely to be receptive to your suggestions, so you have a higher chance of your time and effort being worthwhile.
Secondly, it’s also an indication of popularity and traffic. Yes there are tools that tell you the traffic of other sites, but these are only estimations. In my opinion, take these with a pinch of salt as tools like SEMrush do not have access to other sites’ GA accounts at the end of the day. I take a similar approach with monthly visitor stats published in advertising credentials – who can prove them wrong?! In the absence of any real traffic data for a site you don’t manage, one that frequently publishes new articles is more likely to have traffic than one that hasn’t been updated for a couple of months. After all, people don’t keep returning to a site that never publishes anything.
4. Social media following
Again, simply another suggestion of how popular a site is. Plus, if they’re planning to share your content with their audience, that’s extra eyes on your copy than you would have had, so there’s benefits from a wider marketing perspective too.
If they’re not big on social, it’s not necessarily a disaster, they may not have chosen to focus their efforts there, but if you have your doubts or are on the fence and they’ve got three Twitter followers, it’s safe to say it’s probably worth saving your time and energy.
5. Spam score
I revert back to my point about SEMrush and that tools need to be used carefully. They are technology without human context after all, and it may be something that can be explained, for example if a site linking to it repeatedly has a very high spam score, this increases their own score, even if they have no affiliation with the site in question.
However, if a site you’re considering has a high spam score, it should at least be a warning flag to go and check it out a bit more thoroughly.
6. Quality of existing content
If a site appears to publish content from anyone, about anything, that should be a red flag. Whilst naturally you have a higher chance of getting your content accepted, you have to consider the point of doing so. Too many links like this may actually begin to harm your overall link profile slightly, and you’re unlikely to enjoy any real-world benefits from being published on a site like this. On the flip side, if the other content you’re reading on this domain is on topics that genuinely interest you, are informative and well-written, then there’s a good chance the people reading this content are more likely to be your target audience.
7. Check who else is writing for it
This serves two purposes. Firstly, some sites simply don’t accept content from third parties, so you may find you’re wasting your time.
Secondly, checking the kind of company you’d be amongst is a good way of establishing if it’s where you want to be. If the companies you admire and want to emulate, including your competitors, are featured there, then that’s a good signal that this is a good outreach target for your list.