People often think link-building is one of the hardest parts of the SEO process. Sure, with Google now cracking down on excessive hyperlinking and spam tactics, it’s a valid argument. However, it’s only difficult if you insist on using traditional methods.
These days, it takes out-of-the-box thinking and marketing prowess to create reliable and authentic brands. While traditional link-building still has its place in making this happen, there’s now a greater focus on using a non-linked brand citation. In this article, we look at what this means, why you should care, and how to include it in your link-building strategy.
In simpler terms, “non-linked brand citations” are also known as a “brand mentions” or “implied links.” Compared to “express links” (backlinks or hyperlinks), they are exactly as they sound – references or mentions of a brand or website without an explicit link. These references could be anywhere – in the body of a blog post, a comment on social media, web page, or customer review.
But why are they so important? Well, let’s first establish some context. For anyone involved in SEO, it’s common knowledge that it’s an ever-evolving field. Back in the day, stuffing websites with keywords and hyperlinks would help build a brand’s authority. But this kind of strategy is outdated, and now has the reverse effect. Today, the focus is more on content.
This modern approach aligns with Google’s Panda patent, which suggests that the search engine is giving greater importance to brand mentions – whether this is to better measure a site’s authority, devalue the irrelevant spamming of links, or increase the potential for direct traffic. Either way, it’s clear that brand mentions are crucial to building authority. However, it’s a strategy that people often forget to include, even though it works great for brands both big and small.
Why should you use them?
To start, using non-linked brand citations is a 100% white hat SEO strategy. That is, it’s a way of improving search performance without compromising integrity. Not only does this keep Google happy, but it also helps to create ethical and sustainable websites and brands.
As mentioned above, using this SEO strategy aligns with Google’s evolving algorithms. For brands, it helps create a more naturally balanced backlink profile, provides better protection against manipulation, and boosts branded search. Plus, for SEO experts, there’s no need to start from scratch – brand mentions are easy to find, monitor and transform into high-quality links.
How to do this fast using Scrapebox
Turning brand mentions into links is one of the easiest and most effective link-building strategies out there. It increases a brand’s authority, and search rankings help establish new relationships with reputable websites and offer greater audience insights. But to use brand mentions, you need to discover them first.
Enter Scrapebox. This powerful SEO tool is known as the “Swiss Army Knife of SEO,” renowned for its different capabilities – from extensively harvesting URLs and keywords, to verifying links and in this case, researching non-linked brand citations. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to do this:
1. As an example, let’s use http://coronationim.com. Now, open Scrapebox, test if you have a working proxy (you will need them!), then type in:
- intext: “domainname.com”
- intext: “domain name”
Tip! If your domain is focused on a specific market besides the US or global you can add it to the search query. E.g., for France add site:fr, for United Kingdom site:UK, etc.
- intext: “domainname.com” site:fr
- intext: “domainname” site:fr
2. Click “Start Harvesting,” then click first three search engines and click “Start.” When harvesting is done, click “Exit to Main.”
3. Time to get rid of unwanted URL’s. Do this by clicking “Remove/filter” and then:
- Remove Duplicate Domains
- Remove URL’s containing and type in: .pdf and click “ok”
- Remove URL’s containing and type in: wiki and click “ok”
- Remove URL’s containing and type in: google and click “ok”
- Remove URL’s containing and type in: facebook and click “ok”
- Remove URL’s containing and type in: directory and click “ok
4. In URLs harvested, click the right mouse button and choose “Copy All URL’s to Clipboard.” Then:
- Open NotePad++, paste URL’s from Clipboard and click “CTR + F” (for Windows) or “Command + F” (for Mac) and go to tab “Replace”.
- In “Find What” paste: (((https?://).+[^/]+$)|.+)
- In “Replace” paste: $2
- Remember to have ticked “Regular expression”.
- Click “Replace All” – this will get rid of homepage URL’s, and non-linked citation will be only on article pages
- Copy URL’s that are left and return to Scrapbox
5. Click right mouse button again in URL’s Harvested window and choose “Paste/Replace from Clipboard (replace current list)
6. In this step, check on URLs if there are already clickable links – you don’t need these. Click “List” and choose “Transfer URL’s to Blog List for Commenter”.
7. In “Comment Poster” section, tick “Check Links”. There are only two active menus, but now you need to open “notes” or “notepad” and create a new file where you will paste the domain’s homepage URL’s in separate lines (with https and without, with www and without). For example, for http://coronationim.com it will look like this:
- Save the file and return to Scrapbox.
- Websites – click “open” and choose file that has already been created (with domains names)
- INTERNAL – these are URL’s copied before when you clicked “Transfer URL’s to Blog List for Commenter”.
- Now click “Start Link Checker.”
8. In the new window, click “Start/Recheck”. After checking if your domain already exists on harvest URL’s you will see:
Click “Export” and choose “Export links not found as text file” and save file.
9. Open Google Sheets and create a spreadsheet as shown below:
10. In column A (URL), paste URLs from the file that you saved “links not found as text file” and check them manually. After this, it’s time to start outreach!
When it comes to outreach, common sense goes a long way. Before getting in touch with websites, it’s best to avoid forums, directories, press releases, spammy websites and most importantly, negative mentions of your brand. Once you’ve settled on sites that are legitimate and relevant, it’s time to get in touch. This is where etiquette goes a long way. Here are a couple of tips:
- Use https://hunter.io to find the website owner’s email address.
- In your email, use their first name and make sure your content is customised and relevant.
- Clearly and concisely communicate the value of what you’re asking for – and how it benefits them.
- Ask kindly if they could insert a link to your website if they already mention it.
- Outreach from your domain name – it holds more authority
- Check back after a few days if you haven’t heard from them
- Offer additional value if needed – e.g., your expert SEO skills
Just remember that when you’re outreaching, you’re talking to real people. So don’t communicate like a robot or use overly technical language. Simply be genuine, engaging and straightforward.
Jaroslaw started his career in SEO 8 years ago and since then, has been a part of the evolving tactics required to get success online. Now focusing on Content Marketing and Link-building strategies, he always keeps in mind that quality is more effective than quantity. As a Content Marketing & SEO Specialist at Web Profits, Jaroslaw provides clients with custom campaigns to increase their online profile.