During recent years it’s been common to hear PR, SEO and marketing agencies, and their clients, use the term ‘earned media’ – but what is it and how can businesses utilise it?

In this article, we will break down the importance of earned media and how the technique can be used to deliver results, both in terms of exposure and lead generation.


What is earned media?

Earned media refers to the practice of earning media coverage to support the broader objectives of an SEO campaign. Agencies launch SEO campaigns for clients to get their brand higher up the Google search results for key terms – and earned media can play a key role in achieving this.

Earned media has some similarities to traditional PR as the overall objective remains to create an engaging story about the brand that generates coverage on identified media platforms. But the key difference is in the output.

While traditional PR is typically measured by the number of articles generated, the strength of the messaging and the quality of the media platform – online or offline – earned media is all about link building.

A successfully executed earned media campaign will generate coverage on online platforms that includes a link back to the client’s website.

Why are links important?

Earning links from a media platform is a great way to boost SEO rankings for a website. One of the ways Google decides which websites to put at the top of its ranking is by identifying the ones that have the most authoritative and relevant links pointing to it.

Put simply, think of every link to your website as a vote of confidence from somebody else – the more votes from respected brands that your website gets, the more likely Google is to trust it.

But some links are more valuable than others, while links from bad sites can even have a negative effect on your website’s search rankings.

How can you tell a good link from a bad link?

To help you spot a valuable link, you can check a website’s domain authority. Every website has a domain authority, which is based on factors including visitor traffic, its reputation, and the number of links it has pointing it.

Websites like the BBC, The Times and HuffPost have a high domain authority because they perform well in these areas.

Less established or new platforms, or websites that are cluttered with spam, or that attract less traffic, are very likely to have a much lower domain authority.

And websites that Google detects as being disreputable, or operated even operated a bot, can actually damage your site’s SEO performance if they link to you. Fortunately, Google provides a tool that lets website owners detect and disavow links from the bad websites.

How can I utilise earned media for my business?

If you have identified that your customers find you by Google search or if you are eager to reach more people this way, then earned media can be an effective strategy.

The key to an effective earned media strategy is being able to incentivise the publication of a link in articles that a journalist publishes. In other words, you must consider why a journalist would consider linking to you as part of an article.

One way to incentivise a link being included is to offer something additional to your press release on your website. For example, you may issue a press release that reveals some headline results from a survey you commissioned, and which invites the reader to see a full graph of results on your website.

You may publish a news story that features comments on a particular issue from your company’s managing director, and invite the journalist to link to an article on your website that contains the fuller interview.

The key element through all of this is being able to offer additional value to the journalist, their platform and their readership. If you can do this, then an earned media campaign can boost awareness of your brand and send your website flying up the search rankings.