What Are Editorial Links? (+ How Do They Help SEO?)
Backlinks are good, but some backlinks are better than others.
At the top of the backlink hierarchy of SEO greatness? Editorial links.
Editorial links are backlinks from a third party – often a big publication – pointing to your site that you didn’t explicitly request or pay for. Let’s get into what exactly they are, why you definitely want them, and how you can secure more of them.
What Are Editorial Links?
Editorial links are links to your content that a publication chooses to use because your content is just that great and worthy of being linked to.
They aren’t always from big-name publications, but this is frequently the type of publication implied by the term “editorial links.” Smaller, industry-specific and respected publications can also provide editorial links.
Since these referring websites tend to have very impressive stats, the link juice that they pass to you by linking to your content can significantly boost your rankings. In other words, when panning for SEO gold, editorial links are the big shiny nuggets.
Here’s what an editorial link can look like in the wild:
Image Source: Forbes
This is an example of a news editorial link, and if you can get one from a major newspaper like Forbes, The New York Times, or The Guardian, the impact on your rankings can be significant.
Another kind of editorial link you may come across often looks like this:
Image Source: Search Engine Journal
This is a roundup of 25 websites with noteworthy homepages, but any kind of roundup-style article will include plenty of editorial links for the businesses, people, or products being profiled.
Being quoted in an article can also be a great way to secure an editorial link.
All of these different examples of editorial links have the same SEO-boosting impact. But why are they so coveted when there are so many other kinds of backlinks out there that also help SEO?
Editorial Links and SEO
To understand why editorial links are among the most valuable kinds of backlinks, it helps to get back to the fundamentals of SEO.
What is search engine optimization? Well, it’s optimizing your website and content for search engines, of course.How do you do that? By sending signals to Google’s algorithm that your content is fantastic, relevant, and informative, and should appear at the top of search results.
How does Google interpret these signals? Through its algorithm.
How is the algorithm designed? It’s built to do as good a job as possible of interpreting the content on a page and the behavior of real people using the internet to determine what they like and find relevant and useful.
The whole point of factoring backlinks into this calculation is that if a page links to another, surely that should be interpreted as a strong signal that they like the content and find it useful.
However, decades of shady SEO techniques aimed at tricking the algorithm have led Google to get very sophisticated with their algorithm, attributing different value to different kinds of links depending on how strongly they are correlated with the quality of the content being linked to.
After waves of updates and refinements to the algorithm, editorial links remain a powerful signal, trusted by Google as a strong vote of confidence for the linked content. Respected publications are concerned about maintaining high standards throughout their work, and linking to quality references is a part of that. If they link to you, your content must be of good quality.
Additionally, large publications have some of the best domain metrics out there, often with high domain authority (DA) scores and tons of traffic. Since link juice depends in part on DA these links pack a serious punch.
This doesn’t mean other kinds of links aren’t valuable, but the people at Google are pretty clever. It’s understood that a guest post is more likely the result of a business agreement, and therefore shouldn’t be quite as powerful as an editorial link.
Benefits of Editorial Links
Editorial links aren’t the easiest kind of link to get, but the perks make the effort well worth it. Here are some of the top reasons editorial links should be on your radar.
- They are rocket fuel for rankings – No single link will be enough to take you to the top of the SERPs, no matter how authoritative it is, but a backlink profile with a significant number of editorial links has a great chance of ranking for relevant search queries.
- They can help you build relationships – Editorial links can either be the product of an existing relationship you’ve cultivated with a reporter or journalist in your niche, or they can open the door for a relationship. If a writer provides you with a valuable editorial link, reaching out to them to thank them and introduce yourself can help keep you on their radar for even more links in the future.
- They build your brand – Having your name or business associated with a notable publication is great PR for your brand, SEO aside. It helps build trust in what you are offering since you have been vetted by a trusted source.
- They can drive serious referral traffic – Since editorial links tend to appear on sites that get a lot of traffic, you can in turn enjoy lots of referral traffic from those links. This might result in more conversions for your business or a general increase in awareness of your brand.
- They establish you as an authority – if you get quoted in an editorial link, other writers may see you as an authority in your niche and be more likely to reach out to you for commentary in the future. In other words, the more editorial links you get, the more you can expect to get in the future.
Editorial Links Best Practices
Hopefully, by now, we’ve convinced you of the role editorial links can play in your SEO strategy. If you’re ready to start securing some of these juicy links, here are some best practices to keep in mind.
Evaluate the competition
A good way to discover which publications are backlinking to content like yours is by peeking at your competitor’s backlink profiles. You can do this using Ahref’s free Backlink Checker tool. If you already know a popular piece of content from a competitor, you can go ahead and enter it in the backlink checker to see which domains have linked to it.
If you’re not sure which content to check, start on Google. Search for keywords you’d like to rank for and grab some of the URLs for competitive content that comes up. Then, search those in the backlink checker. This gives you an idea of which publications’ radars you might want to get on.
Create link-worthy content
Yes, it’s been said to death, but it’s true: content really is king. People want to link to fantastic, well-written, original content. If you create it and get it out there, you have a far better chance of securing editorial links than if you churn out frequent but unoriginal and low-quality content.
Certain kinds of content are particularly popular as link bait:
- Original research
- Interactive content, such as quizzes
- Ultimate guide style content
Another content creation technique that some swear by is finding the top hit in Google for something you’d like to rank for than creating a vastly improved version of it. It might be longer, more thorough, more well organized, or more up-to-date. The goal is to supplant the existing top hit with your own.
Find speaking opportunities
Podscasts have become hugely popular in recent years, with many popping up across just about every niche and subject area you could think of. These are a great way to get your voice out there and to create potential opportunities for editorial links.
If a writer listens to your episode on a popular podcast, they may mention it in an article. Big shows can generate plenty of coverage.
In addition to podcasts, digital conferences can be another way of generating editorial links. As reporters cover the conference, they may mention your presentation.
Promote your content
If a piece of content gets published and no one is around to read it, does it even exist?Esoteric questions aside, you have to put the work into putting your content in front of people if you want it to be linked to. Any blog posts should be repurposed for every social media channel and mentioned in your newsletter, increasing the chances that a writer will spot them and use them in an editorial link.
Offer replacements to broken links
Broken links aren’t good for SEO. If you spot a broken editorial link somewhere, you can give the publication a heads-up about it. They’ll appreciate the tip, and you can take the opportunity to offer one of your links as a replacement.
There’s no guarantee that they’ll use it, but many SEOs find success with this technique.
Get your PR team involved
If you have PR pros on staff, or if you work with an external agency, securing media mentions through PR outreach, gifting, and press releases should be one of their KPIs.
Register for HARO
Help A Reporter Out registry allows you to provide input when reporters require blurbs or information from someone in your industry. If your input gets selected, it can appear along with an editorial link in a large publication.
Editorial links send Google a strong signal that your content is truly valuable and deserves a spot at the top of its search results.