Choosing a Website for Outreach – What are the Right Metrics to Look for?

Unsure how to choose the most beneficial websites to outreach to? We identify the tools and metrics to use for the best content marketing results.

The first step with any successful digital PR strategy is to find the right platforms for your brand to reach out to. Knowing how to tell a compelling story is only half the battle. Being able to place that content in places where you’ll get serious recognition and search benefit is the real winner here.

At ICS-digital, we’ve built up trusted partnerships with publishers across the globe. All of whom have loyal, regular visitors and content that drives consistent engagement that brands need today to thrive online.

Another huge factor in our selection of new websites within our network of publishers and influencers is search metrics. Leveraging the SEO ‘juice’ of high-quality, hyper-relevant websites is vital when it comes to planning and executing a digital PR campaign.

SEO made of scrabble blocks

What are the kind of ‘search signals’ we look for in an outreach target?

While part of our digital PR approach is to craft engaging content that’s tailored to the needs of our publishers and their readers, we also want to ensure that the backlinks and coverage we create for our clients are credible and sustainable in the eyes of the major search engines.

As such, we consider the following search metrics to help prioritise our outreach targets:

Website relevancy

Choosing publishers that have topical relevancy to our clients is one of the key metrics for our team to consider. Achieving backlinks and exposure for our clients on websites that aren’t in the same industry or sector is a sure-fire way of Google hitting your website with a penalty that could be damaging to your bottom line.

Majestic released a tool called Topical Trust Flow, which helps our outreach specialists to quickly decipher the relevancy of a target domain and the potential value a backlink would give to our clients. Put simply, if a potential publisher isn’t topically relevant to your client, it’s best to move on and find the next opportunity.

Backlink profiles

Before you go too far down the line with arranging content for prospective publishers, it’s important to check the backlink profile of the publisher in question.

This gives you a historical overview of the kind of websites and backlinks the publisher has been willing to link externally to in the past. Advanced search tools such as SEMrush, Moz and Ahrefs can crawl prospective outreach targets to determine the quality of those backlinks.

Ideally, you want to ensure the links are relevant to the same topics discussed. You should also make sure they are going towards legitimate, authoritative websites and not spam-ridden sites with no editorial oversight.

The geography of a website’s backlinks

The geographical make-up of a website’s backlinks can also be a sure sign of a potentially suspicious publisher. As a general rule of thumb, if a website has a suffix, the vast majority of its published content should be in British English and point to other domains too.

Publishers that have a propensity to accept backlinks to websites in all four corners of the world, or concentrate their backlinks to websites in a specific country, could arouse suspicion in the eyes of Google and merit additional investigation.

IP addresses

Choosing outreach publishers within a ‘spammy’ IP network is a cardinal sin in the eyes of the major search engines. It’s easier than ever to check the IP address of a website using tools such as SpyOnWeb, which give you an oversight of any other sites operational within an IP network.

Even if potentially spammy websites aren’t on the same IP network but are operated by the same publisher, SpyOnWeb can give you that data. It can find websites that operate under the same Google AdSense publisher ID, as well as the same Google Analytics ID, to put you fully in the picture.

Duplicate content

Of course, duplicate web content has been an issue for outreach specialists for several years now, ever since the emergence of the Google Panda algorithm.

Fortunately, it’s easier than ever to check that a prospective publisher’s content hasn’t been lifted from elsewhere. Simply copy and paste a few sentences from a prospective publisher’s website in between double quotation marks into the search engine.

If the Google search displays multiple domains running with the same content as the prospective publisher, this should merit additional investigation.

It may be that the additional websites in the SERP have used canonical tags, directing all the value of the original content to your prospective publisher. If that’s not the case, it could be worth steering clear.

Google penalties

We’ve already mentioned Google penalties in passing, but it’s worth a little more attention as a standalone search metric. If a publisher appears to have been hit with a Google penalty the last thing you want is content related to your client being connected to their website.

Typically, we will look to use SEMrush or Ahrefs to try and determine web traffic trends that highlight websites stung by penalties, as well as those with stable, sustainable levels of traffic.

Google logo with SEO

Domain age and authority

The age and authority of a website domain can also influence the value of a client backlink. Older, well-established website domains tend to carry significantly more weight in the eyes of Google. This is largely because older websites usually offer improved brand awareness, traffic and more sustainable link equity.

Using the Moz plugin, it’s possible to see the domain authority metrics for any website you visit. Sites with a domain authority in the 30s and 40s (and above) are generally considered acceptable for outreach purposes.

Is it time to change your approach to digital PR?

Through continuous refinement of our own digital PR approach, at ICS-digital, we don’t just get our clients’ content out there to any old website.

Using the above search metrics, we can find a way to publish client content that achieves our aim of building high-quality, authoritative links back to their websites, whilst resonating with the audiences of our publishing network.

Find out more about our core values around content marketing and digital PR and see how our experienced, trained writers create hundreds of creative, unique stories a month that could stimulate interest in your brand.