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Posted by KristinTynski
The debate is over and the results are clear: the best way to improve domain authority is to generate large numbers of earned links from high-authority publishers.
Getting these links is not possible via:
There is no shortcut. The only way to earn these links is by creating content that is so interesting, relevant, and newsworthy to a publisher’s audience that the publisher will want to write about that content themselves.
Success, then, is predicated on doing three things extremely well:
We’ve covered point 1 and point 3 on other Moz posts. Today, we are going to do a deep dive into point 2 and investigate methods for understanding and choosing the best possible places to pitch your content. Specifically, we will reveal the hidden news syndication networks that can mean the difference between generating less than a handful or thousands of links from your data-driven content.
Not all news publishers are the same. Some publishers behave as hubs, or influencers, generating the stories and content that is then “picked up” and written about by other publishers covering the same or similar beats.
Some of the top hubs should be obvious to anyone: CNN, The New York Times, BBC, or Reuters, for instance. Their size, brand authority, and ability to break news make them go-to sources for the origination of news and some of the most common places journalists and writers from other publications go to for story ideas. If your content gets picked up by any of these sites, it’s almost certain that you will enjoy widespread syndication of your story to nearly everywhere that could be interested without any intervention on your part.
Unfortunately, outside of the biggest players, it’s often unclear which other sites also enjoy “Hub Status,” acting as a source for much of the news writing that happens around any specific topic or beat.
At Fractl, our experience pitching top publishers has given us a deep intuition of which domains are likely to be our best bet for the syndication potential of content we create on behalf of our clients, but we wanted to go a step further and put data to the question. Which publishers really act as the biggest hubs of content distribution?
To get a better handle on this question, we took a look at the link networks of the top 400 most trafficked American publishers online. We then utilized Gephi, a powerful network visualization tool to make sense of this massive web of links. Below is a visualization of that network.
An interactive version is available here.
Before explaining further, let’s detail how the visualization works:
Once visualized, important takeaways that can be realized include the following:
Last year, a fascinating project by Kalev Leetaru at Forbes looked at the dynamics Google News publishers in the US and around the world. The project leveraged GDelt’s massive news article dataset, and visualized the network with Gephi, similarly to the above network discussed in the previous paragraph.
This visualization differs in that the link network was built looking only at in-context links, whereas the visualization featured in the previous paragraph looked at all links. This is perhaps an even more accurate view of news syndication networks because it better parses out site-wide links, navigation links, and other non-context links that impact the graph. Additionally, this graph was generated using more than 121 million articles from nearly every country in the world, containing almost three-quarters of a billion individual links. It represents one of the most accurate pictures of the dynamics of the global news landscape ever assembled.
Edge weights were determined by the total number of links from each node to each other node. The more links, the stronger the edge. Node sizes were calculated using Pagerank in this case instead of Domain Authority, though they are similar metrics.
Using this visualization, Mr. Leetaru was able to infer some incredibly interesting and potentially powerful relationships that have implications for anyone who pitches mainstream publishers. Some of the most important include:
I would encourage readers to explore this interactive more. Isolating individual publications can give deep insight into what syndication potential might be possible for any story covered. Of course, many factors impact how a story spreads through these networks. As a general rule, the broader the syndication network, the more opportunities that exist.
Over our 6 years in business, Fractl has executed more than 1,500 content marketing campaigns, promoted using high-touch, one-to-one outreach to major publications. Below are two views of content syndication we have seen as a result of our content production and promotion work.
Let’s first look just at a single campaign.
Recently, Fractl scored a big win for our client Signs.com with our “Branded in Memory” campaign, which was a fun and visual look at how well people remember brand logos. We had the crowd attempt to recreate well-known brand logos from memory, and completed data analysis to understand more deeply which brands seem to have the best overall recall.
As a result of strategic pitching, the high public appeal, and the overall "coolness" factor of the project, it was picked up widely by many mainstream publications, and enjoyed extensive syndication.
Here is what that syndication looked like in network graph form over time:
If you are interested in seeing and exploring the full graph, you can access the interactive by clicking on the gif above, or clicking here. As with previous examples, node size is related to domain authority.
A few important things to note:
Now, let’s take a look at what syndication networks look like when aggregated across roughly 3 months worth of Fractl client campaigns (not fully comprehensive):
If you are interested in exploring this in more depth, click here or the above image for the interactive. As with previous examples, node size is related to domain authority.
A few important things to note:
New data tools are enabling the ability to more deeply understand how the universe of news publications and the larger "blogosphere" operate dynamically. Network visualization tools in particular can be put to use to yield otherwise impossible insights about the relationships between publications and how content is distributed and syndicated through these networks.
The best part is that creating visualizations with your own data is very straightforward. For instance, the link graphs of Fractl content examples, along with the first overarching view of news networks, was built using backlink exports from SEMrush. Additionally, third party resources such as Gdelt offer tools and datasets that are virtually unexplored, providing opportunity for deep understanding that can convey significant advantages for those looking to optimize their content promotion and syndication process.
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