How to Get Editorial Links from Authoritative Websites

Vinny La Barbera
Written by

Vinny La Barbera

Have you followed all of the SEO best practices, but just cannot seem to get those traffic increases you need? Have your link building efforts fallen short of producing any significant backlinks that actually help your site? If so, then you’re definitely not alone as the most effective link building strategies take creativity, experience, trial and error, luck and some patience.

Fortunately for you we are going to share how to get editorial links from authoritative websites to save you the time and money that you might waste trying tactics that have never worked.

Editorial Links

What’s Considered an Authoritative Website?

Before we jump into the strategies we have used for getting valuable editorial links it’s important to understand what we consider to be an “authoritative website”.

An authoritative website is…

Authoritative Website Quote

Another way to look at an authoritative website is to think of it as a person you trust to give you what you’re looking for.

Some popular examples of very authoritative websites are:

Something to keep in mind, despite the examples we used, is that authoritative websites do not have to be big news publications or government organizations. Authoritative sites can also be, and usually are, made up of niche focused sites authored by bloggers, local businesses and trade journalists.

Pyramid of Media Influence
Pyramid of Media Influence by Search Engine Land

So what makes a website authoritative?

The reason the examples above are found to be authoritative is that they pass a considerable amount of value to any website or blog that they link to.

And why would you want or need a link on these authoritative sites to your website?

Getting links from authoritative sites can be huge wins for the receiving website. Here are some reasons why:

  • Get traffic from their large and/or niche focused audience
  • Build authority and respect by being mentioned in a well-known, respected publication
  • Pass link juice  to help build the SEO value of the receiving website

A few of links from these types of websites can be far more valuable than a ton of low quality links.

What are Editorial Links?

Hopefully we’ve clearly explained what authoritative sites are so that we can now move on to defining editorial links as these types of links actually carry a couple meanings.

For the purpose of this post, editorial links are…

Editorial Links Quote

Editorial links can also be seen as links attained through reviews. We are not going to focus on these types of “editorial links” as they involve different strategies, some of which may be frowned upon by Google at some point as marketers are finding ways to game the acquisition of these links.

So how do links “happen naturally”?

Editorial links are preferred and valued so highly by so many marketers and authors as they tend to carry a lot of legitimacy and authority with them.

Typically when a website’s content is so good other websites will naturally link to it.

Here are some content characteristics that can naturally attract editorial links:

  • Creative
  • Controversial
  • Funny
  • Unique
  • Timely
  • Helpful

If you’ve ever created a piece of content and wanted to back up the data that you reference, often times you will (or at least should) cite some trusted resources to support your content. In doing this you’re naturally linking to another website, thus providing an editorial link.

These links are very common on authoritative sites as the writers and journalists putting together that content typically know and understand the importance of proper citation through placing editorial links where applicable.

Ok, enough of the explanations.

Let’s jump into how to actually get editorial links from authoritative websites.

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Still not sure what authoritative websites or editorial links are?

If you need more clarification or want to know how these apply to your company, then please let us know by leaving your COMMENTS BELOW.

Earning Editorial Links from Valuable Websites

Editorial links can give your site authority and traffic that very few other types of links can. To get these links you have to make authors, journalists and editors want to link to you naturally. And sometimes you even have to “help” them want to link to you.

Steps to Attract and Earn Editorial Links

Here are some steps that we have found to be successful in attaining editorial links for our clients from authoritative websites.

Read the News

Google Trends

Authoritative websites, especially news sites, love to report stories that are relevant to current trends and news stories. Knowing this, start your research with different news channels and trending tools to help you find ripe content opportunities that someone would want to reference.

Here is a list of some of the tools to spot trends:

Don’t restrict yourself to only news stories or trends that directly relate to the content or link you want placed. In other words, if your company does financial planning, then don’t limit your possibilities to news stories or trends that are only about the economy, investments, etc. Off-topic trends that can still relate to your request can often be easier to accomplish and just as valuable.


Plan Out Your Content


Once you’ve narrowed down the trend or news story that you want to craft your request around, then the next thing you want to do is plan out your content. You don’t need to completely write, illustrate or chart out your pitch yet, but you do want to get a presentable mockup prepared to use in the upcoming outreach step.

Here are some ways (and tools) to create presentable drafts of your content idea:

Don’t think of the mockup in this step as a rough draft. Instead, think of it as a high quality sample of the complete piece of content you plan to get links from. This sample needs to help prove feasibility of your content, as well as sell it in your outreach steps, but it shouldn’t give away your entire content piece.


Research Your Desired Authorities

Google Email Search

Great content rarely produces great results on its own…until it’s promoted and distributed through the right channels. One of the best, and often times necessary ways, to help your content get the reach it needs is to go directly to the right sources. Finding these resources takes some leg work if you don’t have those relationships established already, but our steps below should get you started.

Here are some steps to find the right sources to contact and build relationships with:

  1. Do a Google search to find recent articles on the topic that your content is related to
  2. Grab the info (name and contact info) for the editors or authors of the most authoritative content you come across
  3. When contact info can’t be found from the article or a Google search use Buzzstream’s Email Research Tool
  4. Save and manage your newly attained contacts in BuzzStream
When scanning through relevant, authoritative articles make sure that two things are present; (1) links to external websites and (2) links that do not have a “nofollow” tag on them. In most cases, your time will be wasted asking for a link if the publication doesn’t ever link out to other sites and also likes to “nofollow” all of their external links. Use a simple Firefox addon like NoDoFollow to quickly see nofollow links on a page.


“Sell” Your Content

Twitter Outreach

Unless you’ve already established relationships and credibility with writers of authoritative websites or your content has already gone viral, then you will need to “sell” your content to the right sources. Everyone refers to this as “outreach”, but that’s really just a marketing term for selling your content – not for money, but selling the idea and attracting the interest.

Here are some outreach tips to get interest for your content:

  • Follow and engage each person ahead of time so they know you before receiving your outreach message
  • Share past articles from the writers ahead of time to get on their radar
  • Comment on past articles from the writers with meaningful feedback and input to show you actually read their work
  • Send professional, well-written outreach messages via email with your content piece, some background info and your contact info
If you plan on doing a lot of outreach, then create some outreach email templates and save them in TextExpander for quick access and easy customization. Just remember to personalize each message so it doesn’t sound like a template and know that the point of the message is to sell them on something that will help them, not you.


Know When to Fold ‘Em

Outreach Gender Comparison

Don’t always assume that your content proposition is going to be received with open arms by your target authorities. Every once in awhile you’re going to miss the mark and you need to either listen to feedback and adjust accordingly or scrap your idea and choose a different angle. Don’t spend another minute on your content and outreach efforts if you receive some obvious signals of disinterest.

Here are some signals of disinterest to respect before moving forward:

  • Less than 5-10% of the people you have reached out to have responded or shown any interest
  • The tone of the responses you get are less than enthusiastic (e.g. “Sure, send it over” versus “We’d love to see this! When will you be done?”)
  • Receiving questions that clearly indicate confusion about what your content is about or how it is beneficial to their audience
When your request is rejected it’s important to get feedback whenever possible so you can learn from the experience. By including a fun, light request for feedback in your outreach can often times lead to helpful insights and even further dialogue sometimes. Include a message at the end of your outreach emails that say something like “It would mean a lot to me if you could take a couple seconds to hit the REPLY button and provide your feedback on my pitch…even if it’s ‘Don’t ever email me again’.



Infographic Embed Example

Congrats, you’ve got some bites on your pitch. Now you’ve got to make sure you deliver on everything to secure that placement and to build trust with your outreach partners. The key here is to make the next steps for them dead simple and avoid forcing them to need something else from you.

Here are some things to include to finalize placement:

  • For content, provide your bio, a background story and quotes so the writer has what they need
  • For infographics, provide the full HTML embed code as well as an attached image of the full content piece
  • For links, provide the full HTML of the exact link you are requesting / recommending as well as the URL of the page where it should go
If you do not hold much authority or credibility yet, then try partnering up with someone who does. A good example would be a professor who has published papers / teaches courses on the topic. By co-representing a piece you will not only solidify your placement, but also add more legitimacy to your request.


Follow Up

Referral Traffic Spikes

After all of the research, outreach, rejection and hard work you’re going to experience from the previous steps, there’s nothing more fulfilling in link building than getting that editorial link from an authoritative website. Don’t pat yourself on the back just yet though as you’re job is not quite done. You want to make sure to complete the proper follow up work to secure your content / link placement and build upon the relationships you’ve established with other writers.

Here are some necessary follow up steps to close out the process:

  • Setup a Google Alert to notify you when your content / link has been published as some editors may not remember to notify you
  • Send a “thank you” message to the editor(s) who published your content / link to further build your relationship with them
  • Promote the published content / link by sharing the web page across your social media channels
  • Track the effectiveness of your work by following your Google Analytics for increases in organic and referral traffic
If you’re going to show off the published content / link that you were able to attain by linking to the web page from your website / blog, then make sure to “nofollow” the link. The last thing you want is for Google to think that you are involved in some reciprocal linking scheme after all of that hard work.

Real Relationships Bring the Best Links

As you can probably see at this point, getting an editorial link from an authoritative website is a lot of work. The payoff can be huge though as these types of links can bring a significant influx of traffic, improved organic placement and a long-lasting sense of authority for your website or blog.

Imaginary Friends
“Facebook Friends” by Jerry King

Unless you’ve been creative and/or lucky enough to produce a highly viral piece of content, then even your best piece could always use promotion and distribution from other online authorities. And if you didn’t notice, there IS a secret that can help you find more success in this process…

The SECRET is to build real relationships for the best links

That’s right. Think about how you’re going to build and maintain real relationships with the online authorities you want and need links from to dramatically shorten this whole process.

With these relationships you will find yourself getting inquiries from other authorities to provide quotes, content, interviews and opinions.

If you’re just starting out, then getting to this point will take some work and we’d love to help.

So, whether you need a better understanding of this process, need a push in the right direction to get more editorial links or want to know how to build real relationships, then let’s talk!

Need help getting more editorial links from authoritative websites?


Additional Resources You Don’t Want to Miss

The process above is one that we’ve been fortunate to find success in, but is far from the only one that works. There are some fantastic resources that we highly recommend that you spend some time going through.

How to Get Natural and In-Content Editorial Links

How to Find Authority Websites and Get Links from Them

How to Target Journalists and How to Pitch Journalists


    April 17, 2013

    Really good advice – the internet marketer’s “little black book” of contacts is just as valuable as any technical or copywriting skills. In many cases, coming up with your content idea and producing it is the easy part, getting it seen is the bit that requires the real time and effort.

    April 17, 2013

    Couldn’t agree with you more Alan.

    There are tons of ways to produce great content, but someone who is able to build solid, mutually beneficial relationships with the right contacts is invaluable.

    Thanks for reading and contributing your feedback.

    May 1, 2013


    I was just reading an article that was talking about realtors wanting to charge for their listings. I thought that was particularly controversial and the next article i read is yours which talks about what sort of contents would authoritiative websites like.

    BTW, i really like the flow of your article, great stuff.

    May 1, 2013

    That would make a fantastic article – especially in real estate as there are so many heated topics that the industry likes to discuss (e.g. MLS board fees and being able to showcase other agents listings on your site).

    Thanks for the feedback. Keep me posted on any efforts to attract editorial links as I am always interested in learning from others and seeing what works / doesn’t work for other people.

    December 2, 2013

    Hi Vinny,

    This is a very informative guide. I actually do this and it really spiked up my progress charts. It’s fortunate that I’ve lot of friends who have authority sites so I didn’t really have a hard time doing the entire introduction thing and other stuffs. Now, I already have signature links on their site, the challenge would be to the authority sites that I’m not familiar with. Thanks for providing what I needed now.

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