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Search Engine Optimization

Why Brand Mentions and PR Matter More for SEO Than Links

Why Brand Mentions and PR Matter More for SEO Than Links

Experienced SEO professionals have already come to this conclusion through trial and error. However, the May Google API leak allows us to state this with certainty – Digital PR, which aims at as many as possible high-quality brand mentions, matters more than anything else for SEO. In this article, I will share insights from this leak that point to the primary role of Digital PR in SEO. Moreover, I will provide practical tips on using this data to significantly improve your website’s SEO performance.

Why brand mentions should be your top priority right now

Google has a special system that analyzes all pages on the internet and finds mentions of various objects, such as people, organizations, places, brands, and much more. These objects are called “entities.”

This system analyzes the context and relationships between entity mentions, even if they are not explicitly specified in the document. This allows for establishing connections between entities and content, similar to how links connect pages.

When Google finds a mention of a brand on a web page, it understands that this mention relates to a specific entity (i.e., a particular brand or person) without a link to that entity.

The more such mentions Google finds, the more significant and authoritative it considers that entity.

It’s important to understand that not all mentions carry the same weight. Mentions of your brand on authoritative resources, which themselves are significant entities for Google, will have more value than mentions on less authoritative sites. This is similar to how links from authoritative sites have more weight than links from lesser-known resources.

Furthermore, Google analyzes not only the mentions themselves but also the authors of the content in which these mentions are found. Authors are also identified as entities, and their authority influences the weight of the content they create, including for your blog or website.

If an author who has previously published in well-known and respected publications writes for your blog, the content created by this author will have more weight and ranking potential than content from a little-known author. In turn, this will positively impact the authority of your brand as an entity in Google’s system.

The logic behind Google’s algorithm for processing mentions and entities

  1. Google discovers and extracts text from web pages and documents.
  2. The text is broken down into individual words and sentences.
  3. The algorithm searches for mentions of important entities, such as people, places, organizations, and brands, within the text. It uses various methods to find even implicit mentions.
  4. For each mention found, the algorithm determines its exact location in the text.
  5. The algorithm then attempts to link each mention to a specific entity from Google’s knowledge base, using unique identifiers.
  6. The algorithm also extracts additional information about the mentioned entities from the context, such as their properties and relationships with other entities.
  7. For each mention, the algorithm assesses its credibility and relevance, taking into account various factors like the source’s authority and context.
  8. All the extracted information about the mentioned entities and their connections is combined into Google’s vast knowledge base.
  9. This knowledge base is utilized during the indexing and ranking of web pages in search results.
  10. As a result, the more organic and quality mentions entities receive, the higher the content published by these entities and on their resources is ranked. Pages with relevant mentions of these entities will achieve higher positions.
  11. And all of this can occur without the involvement of any links.

Examples

Brand “X” mentioned on financial news resources elevates its authority in Google’s knowledge base. So, when potential clients search for information about such financial technologies, articles mentioning “X” rank higher due to the accumulated brand authority.

Frequent mentions of startup “Q” in popular tech media strengthen its authority in Google’s eyes. This leads to “Q”‘s blog posts on technical topics ranking higher in search results, thanks to the brand authority gained through mentions on other resources.

Freelancer John Smith regularly publishes articles on leading financial media. Google recognizes John Smith as an authoritative entity in the field of finance. As a result, any content written by John Smith, including articles on his personal website or his clients’ sites, gains an advantage in ranking for finance-related queries.

Links are still important, but not quite in the same way as previously thought. In a nutshell, your SEO strategy should focus on regularly acquiring high-quality links of any format (dofollow, nofollow, and UGC) from news publications in articles that are most relevant to your brand.

The SEO niche is defined by strong inertia, and the link market will remain overheated for a long time, creating tons of black hat strategies and services for building link mass. Google doesn’t like this, so the weight of the link factor will gradually decrease in favor of entity mentions, content quality, and behavioral factors, which are less sensitive to manipulation.

So, if you’re currently focusing solely on links, you’re already losing the SEO race, and in the long run, you’ll lose it entirely.

Google is constantly boosting UGC signals, which is why user-generated content sites like Reddit and Quora have seen increased traffic recently. The leak directly indicates that brand mentions in user-generated content and links with the UGC attribute are ranking factors. Moreover, by the algorithm, the higher the quality of the discussion the more weight the brand will receive. Websites with high-quality user discussions receive a significant boost in search results. BTW, HackerNoon is also a UGC resource.

Links with no traffic have less value. Links with traffic have more value.

The link attribute, whether nofollow or dofollow, becomes less important, while content quality and behavioral factors on the page with the link gain more significance. A nofollow link from an authoritative brand with high-quality content will give your brand more weight than a dofollow link from a lower-quality entity with weak content.

Google ignores links that don’t come from relevant sources. In other words, the site or page linking to your site should be similar to your content or discuss related topics. Only then will Google consider it.

It may come as a surprise to many SEO professionals, but Google does not use link authority metrics like DA or DR. The leaked documents also contain no evidence of such metrics. While there are mentions of “SiteAuthority” in these documents, this system is more likely to reflect entity authority, behavioral factors, and overall page quality. In other words, link-based metrics like Moz’s DA and Ahrefs’ DR probably don’t matter.

Links from new pages appear to be more valuable than those on older pages. In other words, new publications with your mentions are considered just as important at the moment as links from authoritative entities in general.

Google positively notes links coming from news sites, giving them more value. Therefore, using PR tactics to obtain news links will be very beneficial.

Actionable advice for brands

Focus on increasing the quantity and quality of your brand mentions on relevant, authoritative resources that are significant entities in Google’s eyes.

Don’t limit yourself to typical SEO blog targeting keywords. Instead, create niche news micro-media outlets focused on your specific niche. Build small communities around them to discuss and enhance your content.

Analyze news content from major media outlets in your field, not just to see how they might write about you, but to identify what data journalists could use to improve their stories by adding more information and facts from you.

If you have analysts who regularly research the market or metrics in your niche, publish that data and share it with journalists so they can reference it and mention you as the source. Journalists are obsessed with data and new information.

Assign the role of expert to one or more members of your team, so they can regularly provide valuable comments on news stories relevant to your niche.

Contrary to what various SEO and PR “gurus” say, distributing press releases through syndication networks works well for SEO, and you can do this regularly. However, there are a couple of things to keep in mind. I recommend first publishing the press release on your own page (e.g., in your blog) and then distributing it through PR networks with a link back to the post on your blog as the source. Mention your brand and team members numerous times in such press releases. Also, if possible, send traffic to these press releases, as this will give more weight to your brand. And yes, good journalists still use press releases as a source for news, so you may even get native publications as a bonus.

Hire authors who have already written for various other major media outlets, as well as those who are cited or mentioned by other content platforms.

Encourage your current authors to publish guest posts on other platforms and participate in discussions.

Help them develop their personal brands whenever possible. The more authoritative your author’s entity appears to Google, the higher their content will rank.

The author’s profile should include many links to their social media accounts and possibly their articles on other resources, helping Google’s algorithm clearly identify an entity of the author.


Do you have any feedback on this article, or would you like me to elaborate on a specific point? Let me know on Twitter or Linkedin.

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