The difference between digital PR, link building and authority building

The difference between digital PR, link building and authority building

Developing an online presence takes time. Search engines continue to display results that meet the needs of users more accurately than ever before. Now, websites are ranked and displayed in the SERPs depending on the effectiveness of their SEO strategies and how well they meet users’ needs.

One such SEO strategy involves gaining backlinks to your website in order to improve your domain authority and boost your brand’s online visibility. Quantity matters. As this graph shows, the average page ranking first in the Google Search results has 35,000 backlinks.

Graph showing correlation between google position and average number of backlinks

Neil Patel

Backlinks are an essential part of your SEO strategy and one of the best ways to ensure your website shows up in the rankings when users type in their search terms. But how do you earn these all-important links? Where do they come from? And what is the best way to build links?

In this article we will be looking at three of the most popular methods: digitalPR, link building, and authority building, and the differences between them. Whether you are a startup or a large corporation, this article will highlight the key differences between these methods, and which is the most appropriate for you to invest your budget into.

Digital PR

Our first stop is Digital PR. One of the most essential elements of any successful link building strategy, Digital PR helps you gain a competitive edge in your industry. There are very few marketing strategies that can earn you high-quality links on a large scale, but Digital PR can achieve this – as well as a whole host of other benefits, including:

  • Authority links from top-tier publications
  • A competitive advantage
  • Links that drive traffic
  • Increased brand awareness
  • Positioning as an industry expert
  • An opportunity to build trust
  • Increased social engagement

What is digital PR?

Digital PR link building is all about utilising PR strategies to gain quality backlinks to your website to support your SEO strategy. It involves creating linkable assets, such as reports, articles, infographics, and videos, and promoting these to journalists and industry publications.

People skills are a must in Digital PR. It’s all about building valuable relationships with journalists and publications in order to gain high-quality coverage and authoritative backlinks from reputable websites to improve your site’s SEO.

Let’s take a closer look at Digital PR and examine why, exactly, it’s a tactic you won’t want to ignore when it comes to boosting your website’s organic growth.

Digital PR as link building

Despite the fact that digital PR is most often used as a link building tactic, it can deliver so much more. Digital PR includes a little bit of everything, traditional PR, link building, content marketing, and social media. But the aim is to get coverage in high-authority publications such as national newspapers that can increase your website’s position in the SERPs.

Digital PR is scalable, helping you earn authority links that can help build your brand. It allows you to expand your customer reach, connect with a wide network of journalists and publications, and grow your business.

Who is digital PR for?

One of the most common assumptions we hear about Digital PR is that it’s only suitable for B2C or brands that are ‘fun’ and engaging. However, this simply isn’t true.

All businesses can benefit from Digital PR, whether B2C or B2B. And whether you feel your brand is ‘fun’ or not, Digital PR can help promote your company far and wide, establishing your brand as an industry authority.

Ultimately, the success of any Digital PR campaign often comes down to really understanding what your audience wants and what they tend to consume online. If you can understand this, you stand a much better chance of reaching your target audience effectively and enjoying success from your Digital PR campaign.

Speak with Maxine to find out if Digital PR or link building is right for you

Different digital PR tactics

When it comes to Digital PR, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach. Every publication is looking for something different and unique. Typically, the types of Digital PR tactics used by agencies will stem from performance research and can be turned into a bigger link building campaign to help target specific sites/audiences and inform or entertain the consumer.

Not every tactic will be best for your business, so it’s important to take the time to understand the types of content that are right for your industry.

Data-driven reports and research studies: to earn backlinks to your website, you need to share content people want to link to. Data-driven reports and original research studies are a unique and effective way to achieve this. Journalists and publications alike love them, making them one of the most popular digital PR strategies.

Creative campaigns: getting creative is a great way to draw attention to your brand and encourage people to publish your content. Creative campaigns are ideal for brands who like to do things differently. They often play on the audience’s emotions, encourages them to take action and are instantly recognisable – such as Nike’s “Just Do It!” campaign. Creative campaigns are a great way to stand out in the competitive world of link building.

Newsjacking: Newsjacking keeps you on your toes. It is an effective link building strategy that can help your brand get noticed. It involves monitoring the news and reacting to breaking stories with your own expert insights and unique thoughts. With 47% of British adults accessing news daily, newsjacking is an effective way to get your brand noticed.

Expert guidance and advice: as an industry leader, you can share your knowledge and expertise with your audience. Arguably now more than ever before, journalists are searching for industry experts who can offer guidance and advice to their readers.

Product PR: this is where your products or rather the deals or stories around your products can help you earn links. If product links are clicked on in an article, it is likely that the user’s intent will see them go on to buy your product, providing the website is optimised to achieve this. So, product PR is a great way to increase those conversions.

What makes digital PR different?

If you have a public facing company, employing a digital PR strategy could be just what you are looking for.

Digital PR is all about targeting branded publications to increase your audience’s trust and to bolster your own brand’s reputation, unlike link building that focuses on acquiring backlinks that compliment SEO strategies.

Digital PR focuses primarily on publishing articles disguised as feature stories or advertisements that are not used as an SEO asset. The aim of these posts is to bolster your online image and help customers find your website without having to type it into Google.

Is digital PR right for you?

Digital PR campaigns tend to need more investment than traditional link building tactics. The same way as link building does, digital PR begins with research.

Typically, those working in digital PR will work closely with an SEO team to decipher behind the scenes insights that will help them discover opportunities for their client to get more visibility. And sometimes, there can be additional costs, such as third-party video or graphics creation.

Typically, digital PR campaigns will run over a number of months in order to achieve the best results. However, despite the initial time investment and the content creation, digital PR campaigns can reap significant rewards for your business. As well as great exposure and potential referral traffic, gaining high quality links from authoritative websites will see your website increase in the rankings.

Digital PR is all about building relationships with journalists and publications to give the consumer something to talk about/share with their connections. It is driven by the need to make people feel something. It involves speaking to people and building relationships for the furthering of your brand. It’s all about promoting your brand in the best way possible.

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Link building

Expert link building is at the centre of many successful SEO strategies. Whilst link building plays an important role in driving organic traffic to your website, its main function is to provide authority and topical relevance to assist with rankings. As well as helping search engines to rank websites based on relevance, links gained from other websites to your own help users to navigate between different pages and websites online.

Backlinks are a major factor in how Google ranks websites and can increase your website’s visibility online. It is understood a large portion of Google’s ranking factors considers the number of quality links your website has, making quality link building a great investment.

The benefits of link building

92% of marketers believe that links will still be ranking criteria in Google algorithms. The benefits cannot be ignored:

  • Increased website trust and authority
  • Increased organic traffic to your site
  • Lower bounce rates
  • Greater opportunities to convert customers
  • Increased visibility
  • Improved relationships within your industry
  • A loyal following
  • Higher site metrics and SEO scores

Simple link building strategies

Link builders work with keyword researchers to discover weak areas of a website where performance, conversions, and engagement is declining. This process is a technical one and involves keeping the brand at the centre of all ideas.

Link builders will earn links by working with bloggers, working with similar niche sites, creating infographics, and more. Good link builders will consider relevance at the forefront, and then a wide range of metrics including domain rating (DR), country-level traffic, TrustFlow and many more to determine the potential value of the chosen link placement.

If you want to link build effectively, there are a few tried and tested strategies you can use that will increase chances of success in gaining quality links. These include:

Content creation and promotion: if you want other sites to link to yours, you need to create unique and engaging content that people want to link to.

Links from connections and partners: sometimes, it’s all about who you know. Take the time to reach out to your business connections and create a strategy that involves acquiring links to your website from them. But don’t forget, relevance matters. There needs to be a reason for the link, and the website(s) you are gaining links from need to be relevant to your company, industry or niche, otherwise Google will dismiss the link as unrelated/spammy.

Share reviews and mentions: the more reviews your website has, the more your audience will come to trust you. One strategy you can use to increase your reviews and mentions is to put your product, service, or site in front of influencers within your industry. They can then share your information with their followers.

Types of links

Natural links: a natural link is one that occurs organically. This means that the link does not exist within paid or sponsored content. Instead, it exists as a reference to a piece of content, a website, or a source.

Manual links: manual links are the result of outreaching to websites and bloggers asking for a link. They are often the result of a story or a piece of content you’ve created that you’ve promoted to other sites (and that they want to publish!)

Acquired links: acquired links are those that have been paid for.

Non-editorial links: otherwise known as self-created, non-editorial links are links that will be penalised, negatively affecting your website. They are often found in the form of embeddable widgets and unmoderated blog comments.

Is link building right for you?

Link building is a very targeted and focused approach to earning backlinks to your website. It involves reaching out to a predetermined list of journalists and publications that you would like to gain a link to your own website from. This list will have been carefully researched and selected to ensure that the link will be beneficial.

Because link building is heavily influenced by the more technical aspects of website growth, such as SEO strategies, it is used predominantly to boost your positions in the search engines, increase the authority of your domain, and position your brand as an industry mandate.

If you want to rank highly for your keywords, increase your site visibility, and develop a deeper level of trust with your customers, SEO link building is a great strategy to employ.

Authority building

If you don’t care about domain authority already, you definitely should. Well, by domain authority nowadays we mean a lot more than the 0-100 score provided by Moz – as so many more metrics are available to measure how powerful a website is today. There have been many studies, such as this one from Ahrefs, that suggest there is a correlation between authority and SERP ranking positions. In fact, it has been strongly suggested that websites with a higher domain rating correlate with higher rankings on the first page of Google.

Domain authority can have a direct impact on how much organic traffic your website receives from Google. However, it’s important to note that it can take time to develop a good domain authority, so don’t panic if you don’t start seeing results straight away.

What is domain authority?

Domain authority (DA) as a metric considers a number of factors, but mainly the number of quality backlinks your website has. The more links your website has from reputable sites, the higher your domain authority will be. You can find out more about domain authority here.

How to increase domain authority

Raising your domain authority is a long-term process that takes time and dedication. Below are a few strategies commonly used to increase domain authority online:

Link audits: conducting a backlink audit is one of the best ways to ensure the links to and from your website are high quality. They allow you the opportunity to sort through your website backlinks with a fine tooth comb and assess what is or isn’t working. A backlink profile is ever evolving, and sites can improve or decay over time. So, what was a good backlink years ago may be worse now, or its potential could be greater – which would require manual action. Either way, having this knowledge is key. Disavowing links is not a decision to be taken lightly, but there are times where it is unavoidable and the best way to understand this is with a thorough backlink audit.

Review mentions: by having an active online reputation management and link reclaim strategy, mentions of the brand can be found, analysed and converted into valuable links to boost authority.

Earn backlinks: naturally, the largest part of increasing your authority comes through earning backlinks from authoritative websites that are relevant to your business or industry. Authority should be the result of your strategies created with digital PR and link building campaigns.

Using the digital PR and link building strategies we have outlined above; you can increase your domain authority over time and effectively grow your brand’s reputation online.

Final thoughts

Each marketing strategy has its place when looking to increase your position in search. Digital PR, link building, and domain authority can all exist separately but the further you delve into SEO strategies, the more you realise that all three of these tactics work to complement each other and to ensure the steady, healthy growth of your website over time.

The strategy you choose to focus on will depend on the bespoke needs of your business and your unique SEO requirements. We hope this article has outlined the differences between all three and given you an idea of which would be the most appropriate to invest your time and budget into.

Are you looking to develop site authority, increase your search traffic and see a boost in rankings?

Hive19 can help you achieve just that. With decades of combined experience within our team, we have the expertise to create unique content and bespoke link building campaigns to grow your business and white label services to grow your agency.

We’ll analyse the industry landscape, identify your competitors, and assess over 40 metrics to find the best possible opportunities for maximum impact based on your target keywords.

To find out how we can build a tailored campaign, get in touch with Hive19 today.



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Maxine Bremner

Head of Content & Outreach

Maxine is the content marketing specialist at Hive19, and manages the digital PR strategy for clients

Meet Maxine
Email Maxine

Maxine is Head of Content & Outreach

and is the content marketing specialist at Hive19, and manages the digital PR strategy for clients