There Are Only Two Sources for Real Editorial Links. Choose Wisely.
Editorial links are currently the hottest thing in the link building world. I’m talking about links from Forbes, Huffington Post, Inc, Entrepreneur, Tech Crunch, Wall Street Journal and New York Times. They are more popular than ever because they work and the demand exceeds the supply. This is why single links on these publications can fetch several thousands of dollars. That’s right. There are companies begging to pay thousands of dollars for one link.
Why are Editorial Links so good?
Biggest authority signal you can buy: Securing editorial links from these websites pass a huge amount of juice, even if they are no-followed. The old way of thinking has people still stuck on the follow/no-follow debate. Some of the best links you can get are no-followed. Would you like a Wikipedia link? Those are some of the most desired links (and hardest to get) and they give a website an almost instant boost in the SERPs. Guess what? They are no-follow.
Recently, Huffington Post converted every outbound link on their website to no-follow. They started the process several weeks ago and are almost done. Huffington Post is one of the biggest web properties online and one of the highest authority placements you can get. I can promise you that a link from there carries the same weight in Google’s eyes, to think otherwise is plain stupid.
I’m willing to bet all of these websites take notice and follow in their footsteps. Will it do anything to cut back on the demand? Of course not. When a website like Forbes or Inc links to a website they are essentially giving it a “stamp of approval,” and that tells Google that it’s a trusted website. There aren’t any PBN links that can match what a top editorial link can do in terms of SEO value.
Only need a handful to rank: The days of having to build thousands of links (using bots and software) are long gone. People used to get stuck on domain age, exact match keyword domains, etc. Throw that all out the window. You can rank a brand new domain for medium competition keywords with just a handful of editorial links. You need to make sure your on-site optimization is on point, but aside from that, you can move right up in the SERPs with a few of these beauties.
If you pay attention to some of the hot startup companies, you will see that they quickly secure a dozen or so editorial links, and then put the logos of the outlets on their landing page. This gives them social proof and can also help to attract investors. Even if they spent $2,000 per editorial acquisition, and $24,000 total for a dozen solid placements that is still much cheaper than a tech PR firm would charge and they wouldn’t get them nearly as many placements. As they say, you have to pay to play!
Branding opportunity: In the point above I talked about how startups will secure a bunch of editorial links and then place the logos on their websites of the places they were featured on. This is because it’s such a powerful branding play. If someone visits your website and they see you were featured on Forbes and other high profile it gives you instant credibility.
Seeing those logos creates the instant trust that causes people to complete lead forms, contact a business or even make a purchase. There is so much BS out there on the internet these days and people are extra cautious, especially when it comes to their personal information.
These editorial links are something not only SEO agencies go after, but large PR firms, as well. The competition is tough to land them. It’s a very closed door community and only a few hands have access.
Referral traffic: These editorial links are on some of the largest websites in the world. Huffington Post, Forbes, Entrepreneur, and similar sites receive millions of unique visitors every single day. So, your placement is going to be seen by such a huge audience and a percentage of those people are going to click over to your website.
Securing an editorial link presents you with an evergreen referral opportunity. Even after the article is posted, the publication is going to continue promoting it. They send it out to their social media followers, their email list, and they cross promote across other similar articles on their website. So, before you question why someone would spend thousands of dollars on these links, understand the return they can deliver over time far outweighs the initial expense.
Now that you know why editorial links are the most sought after links, it’s time to break down the two sources for obtaining them. These links are not easy to score. You have to know people and be ready to pay. There are real journalists and then there are ghost accounts that are controlled by underground link networks and sold on cheap market places to anyone and everyone. While both might get you links on a particular website, they are not equal, as one comes with a major risk.
The publications these authority links come from have two types of writers. They have a handful of staff writers that are paid for their work. They are often given assignments from the publication and have to meet deadlines. They are also on hand to write about breaking news stories. For example, Huffington Post had an entire team of staff writers covering the recent United States election. They had to be able to turn out a story within minutes of something happening.
Then, there are contributors, who aren’t compensated financially. This makes up the majority of the journalists at any given publication. They are allowed to have a bio and they get exposure for their business or ventures by writing. It’s a win/win situation and publications like Forbes know that they can get plenty of great writers for free because of the clout and exposure they are able to provide. They have people lined up willing to write for free. This helps them keep their operational costs down and never have a shortage of content.
Contributors typically don’t have strict deadlines, but they are usually required to write a certain number of articles per week or month. There is usually a staff member that serves as the editor for all the contributors, who has the final say on topics and whether or not an article gets published or not.
The biggest pro here is that anything posted by a real writer or contributor is going to stick. You don’t have to fear them getting pinched because they are real. They are respected business owners and experts that the publications value.
One of the biggest differences between my agency’s editorial links and those from other providers is that we only work with real journalists. Now, there is something else to consider beyond the fact that a fake writer could get wiped out, and that is these real journalists have a lot of followers. They have loyal readers that tune in and read their columns religiously. They usually have strong social media followings as well, so when they publish new content and share it there are a lot of people that see your company linked and mentioned.
The more eyes that read the content, the more potential referral traffic you are going to receive. There are also a lot of smaller publications that follow certain writers and republish their work. When this happens, you get even more exposure. I have personally seen several writers we work with get picked up by other great outlets, which delivers our clients more editorial links than they expected, which in turn makes us look great in the eyes of our clients.
The only drawback here is that the staff writers at these publications are very difficult to crack. It takes a lot of relationship building to get a high level of trust built up to the point that they are comfortable dropping links for you. Contributors can be a little easier because they aren’t direct employees of the publications and aren’t on the payroll.
A lot of them won’t entertain offers because they don’t have time and some of them don’t even write their own content. Bigger names have PR firms that write and even upload their articles, and the sites are well aware of this.. (Neil Patel is a good example, do you think hes churning out 100s of articles himself every week? Fuck no). They just want to have their names associated with the site, especially if they have millions of followers on social media.
They are also more selective when it comes to what they will and won’t post. A real journalist isn’t going to post links to questionable sites and they aren’t going to take anchor text requests. The fake ones will post anything, as long as the payment clears.
Ahhh, the biggest scandal when it comes to editorial links. If you have been in the industry long enough you have most definitely seen some ghost accounts posting content freely on the top sites, featuring exact match keywords and links to obscure websites. They usually post a lot of random content and don’t stick to a particular niche.
The “author” usually has some random title, like a “freelance journalist” or a “blogger.” What’s funny is that if they were truly a freelance writer they wouldn’t be contributing free content. They would be working paid assignments. After all, the purpose of being a contributor is to self promote your business. I have personally witnessed a handful of ghost accounts uncovered and wiped off the face of the earth. Once an outlet discovers they are fake other websites take note and they soon become entirely scrubbed from the web.
How do they do it? Usually it’s an agency that has an inside connection or makes a sizable “donation” to an editor for an account or two. Once they get their made up author on one big site they then apply like anyone else would at the other sites. These other sites assume they are legit because they have been published on a similar authority publication. They usually find a friend or relative that doesn’t do any business online or have social media profiles and use their likeness for headshots.
It’s clever, don’t get me wrong, but they are forever getting pinched and anyone purchasing editorial links from these accounts is eventually going to be in for a rude (and expensive) lesson.
They are often cheaper and they have zero review process. These writers will not turn down a link request, no matter what it is, as long as they are paid. They have nothing to lose as they aren’t even real people. While many people go this route, because they want to get links for questionable sites, you have to understand that this “take anything” mentality puts everyone that has ever purchased a link from them at risk.
As they continue to drop links for shady websites and use exact match anchors, they eventually get on the radar of the editors. When they are finally discovered to be fake and deleted, everyone loses their links. I can remember a very large Huffington Post account was deleted after it became obvious they were fake. They had more than five years of posts. Hundreds of posts and hundreds of links all disappeared instantly. When the ship goes down it takes everyone with it. So, while the fact that they will take your link is a pro, there are so many possible negatives to consider.
I have been approached by groups that own several ghost accounts, but I always turn them away. I have no interest in putting our clients in danger. Honestly, I could save money on my end and make a larger net, but my goal (and one of the reasons SerpLogic has grown so fast) is to provide solutions, such as editorial links, that deliver results and act as a long term marketing asset for every client we work with.
It doesn’t matter if we are working with a client that is buying 5 placements or another agency that is reselling, and ordering $100,000 a month. Being 100% transparent and delivering what is promised every time is what separates my agency from the others. If we were to use ghost accounts it would compromise everything I stand for.. it’s not worth the headaches.
Regardless of where you get your authority links from, they are going to come at a price. If you are willing to risk getting your links stripped and removed just to save a few dollars, then that’s the risk you have to be willing to take. Personally, I wouldn’t touch them.
My agency only works with real sources, that are proven journalists and have a successful track record. These are professional writers that do this for a living. They aren’t fabricated personalities that are created just to drop links. More and more of these profiles are being exposed and removed, along with hundreds of thousands of dollars, if not millions of dollars of purchased links.
Make sure that you are purchasing editorial links from sources that will get you placed on articles written by seasoned professionals that really exist and have a solid following. This will end up getting you more exposure and also keep your link intact. The fake writers are slowly getting clipped and banned, so tread carefully.
As always I’d love to hear your feedback.. have you been stung by these “Ghost Accounts” or got some tips to share on obtaining these type of links? Fire away in the comment section below.
Until next time..