When people talk about your brand online, you want to know about it… right? Because when you do, you can:
Better understand your audience
See where you stand with your competitors
Hone your marketing strategy, and
Build a hella-load of free backlinks
But while you’re probably on board with the first three – especially if you’re already using a brand monitoring tool – you might not be taking advantage of the fourth. And if that is the case, you are missing out on a crucial piece of the brand-building jigsaw - creating brand awareness and recognition.
Thankfully, it’s easier than ever to build backlinks for free by finding and claiming your online brand mentions. With some simple search engine tricks and a good paid tool, you can uncover lost mentions on public forums, directories, websites, and more and not only turn them into links, but use them to build a strong brand.
In this post, we’ll tell you exactly why you should claim online brand mentions as a way to build your brand, plus how you can do it. By the end, you’ll be able to take full advantage of one of your brand’s biggest untapped resources.
Why Claim Online Brand Mentions?
Backlinks are hyperlinks hosted on third party domains that point back to yours. Every brand with a web presence needs to build these backlinks as one step in building a strong brand. A good backlink profile:
Drives traffic to your site
Builds authority for your brand online
Bumps your website up the SERPs (search engine results pages)
Link building is an essential part of brand building because backlinks make your brand more visible and authoritative.
The most common backlink is a mention of your brand on another website’s blog. But a backlink might also be a linked mention in an online directory, Wiki-page, or forum comment.
However, a significant proportion of your brand mentions will be unlinked – meaning someone has talked about your brand but not added a hyperlink to the text to point readers towards your site.
Claiming these unlinked brand mentions is a much cheaper and more efficient way to build backlinks than the alternatives. Why pay hundreds of dollars for sponsored posts or pour all your energy into content marketing when you could claim backlinks for free?
All it takes is a little bit of know-how and some time. Which brings us to…
Find Brand Mentions With Google
One of the easiest and cheapest ways to find online brand mentions is to use Google. Whilst it’s not the most efficient route, it is free. Small businesses may find this method is enough to uncover their brand mentions. But larger businesses should use it to scope out the viability of a more extensive brand mention search.
To demonstrate this method, we’ll use the example of SiteGround, one of the best-rated web hosts. If the marketing folks at SiteGround were to use this method, they’d find the unlinked brand mention in my previous sentence.
Here’s how to do the same for your business.
Run the following search using Google, replacing Siteground with your business name…
“intext:siteground -siteground.com -twitter.com -facebook.com -pinterest.com -youtube.com”.
This will run a search that picks up the keyword ‘Siteground’ but excludes the SiteGround website and popular social media platforms – for the purpose of building backlinks, social posts aren’t useful.
This search brings up over 2,860,000 results, which is why this method isn’t suitable for large businesses. It would take a very long time to sift through that many results to find unlinked brand mentions. Especially because you can’t narrow down your search based on the hosting website’s domain rating or monthly traffic volume.
However, a search for the name of a smaller business would return fewer results and – with a sizable helping of manual work – could yield some valuable unlinked mentions. If you could turn just a fraction of those mentions into links, you’d be well on the way to building your brand.
Top tip: Use Google Alerts to keep track of new brand mentions in real-time. Whenever your brand is mentioned in a post, Google will send you an email and you can check that content for a link. Create a simple spreadsheet to record unlinked mentions and use the method below to get them linked.
Get more specific results using ahrefs’ Content Explorer
With ahrefs’ Content Explorer you can search for brand mentions and, in a few clicks, find those mentions that would yield the most valuable backlinks – something you can’t do using Google search. Let’s take a look at how this works.
Using a different example to the one we used with Google’s advanced search, we’re now going to search for “ahrefs” via Content Explorer. When we omit the ahrefs website from the search results, we get over 380,000+ page results.
But by adding a filter to remove pages with a Domain Rating (DR) of less than 30, as well as pages with fewer than 100 organic visits per month we can reduce the results to just over 1,000. A little easier to sift through than the results we get from a Google search.
You can easily export your results from Content Explorer into a CSV, then pass this file to your VA to identify the unlinked mentions.
You can try Content Explorer for just $7 for a 7-day trial which is enough time to uncover and download the details of your current brand mentions.
How To Claim Your Online Brand Mentions
Now you’ve found your unlinked brand mentions, it’s time to get them linked and start strengthening your brand.
This is an outreach technique but one of the positive ones. By linking brand mentions, the person who produced the content can add value for their reader. So, it’s not just you who gets something out of identifying unlinked mentions and requesting they be linked.
All you need to do is get in touch with the author of the content or the marketing manager of that website and request that they add a hyperlink to the mention.
Before we take a look at an example email, here are a few tips to consider:
Personalise: Cold emails are often picked up as spam. To avoid spam filters, try to include in the email the position or name of the person your inquiry is directed at. You can use a tool like IsNotSpam to check how likely your email is to hit spam filters.
Be friendly: This goes for all communication but it’s worth highlighting here. You are asking someone to take time out of their day to help you. So, make sure to address them in a friendly and respectful manner.
Don’t push: Pushy emails are downright irritating and won’t work. If a website already links to your brand on other pages, is it really worth pursuing them to include a linked brand mention on another page, or do you risk losing them altogether? Choose your battles.
Add value: You should only attempt to convert unlinked brand mentions if they really add value. If an article says “Why other tools are better than ahrefs”, you probably don’t want to link that brand mention.
Offer more: Try to offer something of value in return for your link. For example, could you share on social media the content that contains your brand mention? Exposure is always appreciated and your offer will help tip the scales of the favour in the receiver’s favor.
Taking these tips on board, here’s an example of a good brand mention outreach email.
Bonus tip: Before you send a single email, make sure you have a professional email address with a personalized domain name, e.g. firstname.lastname@example.org. With a business email address, you’re less likely to hit spam filters and more likely to get clicks. Most good web hosting providers offer a personalized email address for free.
That’s a wrap
Whilst it may seem like a gruelling task, converting unlinked brand mentions into backlinks is a valuable exercise that will help build your brand. It takes time to uncover a backlog of links but, once you’ve caught up, you can set an Google Alert to be notified of new brand mentions in real-time.
So, put aside a bit of time and put this underestimated and underused technique into practice. You may just give your brand a boost in the SERPs, gain authority and exposure and drive a wave of new traffic to your site without spending a penny (over $7). Good luck!
Author bio: Jodie is a Conversion Copywriter and Content Strategist working with bold B2B SaaS and tech brands. Before founding This Copy Sticks, she spent a decade selling the toughest value proposition around and raised £2 million for charities before her 25th birthday. After 10 years in fundraising, Jodie now helps tech-mad trailblazers grow their businesses.