Five proven content formats to maximize link acquisition with digital PR

content formats proven to maximize link acquisition for digital pr

When it comes to link building using digital PR, it’s important that you start with the story.

A great story can be told in many different ways. However, you’ll struggle to gain traction when there’s either a lack of it or a poor story regardless of what format you choose.

That means, almost ignoring the end format of your asset (infographic, interactive, and the others) until you’ve got a solid concept with strong headlines.

That said, there’s a lot to be said for spending the time to let yourself be inspired and to understand which formats are working for other brands.

Here, I’ll showcase five proven formats which help maximize link acquisition in a digital PR campaign, placing a focus upon specific campaign types as opposed to simply the visual delivery.

I’ll look at why each format is often successful at earning links and share campaign examples (to note; these aren’t all campaigns which I’ve been involved in, but ones which I love and have been inspired myself by).

(To note: All linking root domain statistics have been taken from ahrefs using the “Historical” figure. Correct as of 13th February 2019.)

1. Maps

Maps are a great format to use when running a digital PR campaign for two main reasons:

  • Due to the nature of the format, they make it possible to take campaigns out to multiple regions; thus hooking in angles to journalists at publications who focus on a specific geographical region as well as either national or international ones.
  • They’re a simple but effective way to display data or simple stats and are generally easy to embed by publishers.

When choosing a map as the most suitable format for your campaign, you need to be thinking of simplicity to avoid a design which looks too busy and need to have a comparable thing to compare either across regions or countries.

Whether you opt for a map which showcases regional differences across a country (think city vs city or state vs state), within a continent (think European countries or cities compared) or global; you need to ensure that the data is available as the format can fall down with too many gaps.

Ready to be inspired? Here’s three totally different, but equally great, map-based campaigns:

Veygo – The world’s most desired motors

The world's most desired motors

Linking Root Domains: 114

Credit Card Compare – The literal translation of country names

Map examples of Credit Card Compare's literal translation of country names

Linking Root Domains: 277

Expedia – Mythical creatures and where to find them

Map of Expedia on Mythical creatures and where to find them

Linking Root Domains: 90

2. Calculators & tools

Calculators and tools are a fantastic way to earn links. Why? For the simple reason that a link becomes a vital part of a journalist’s story. It’d make no sense for them to mention a new tool or calculator (which users can interact with) without linking out to it. It’s common user experience but the main consideration here is that the link adds value to the article. It helps the user to navigate to an asset which they’re being told to try out.

It’s only human nature that we want to find things out and working an element of personalization into a campaign is a great way to drive engagement and help to create a connection with a campaign.

Think about it this way, if you saw an article which mentioned a calculator which could showcase how quickly Kim Kardashian would earn your annual salary (hint: She earns the average annual UK Salary in 6 and a half hours), you’d want to try it out? Wouldn’t you?

Similarly, what if you heard about a tool which allowed you to enter your Instagram handle and be told how much you could be earning from brand collaborations?

Take a look at three very different examples of calculator-led campaigns to feel inspired and start to think of what you could create:

Missy Empire – You vs The Kardashians

Use of calculators by Missy Empire

Linking Root Domains: 219

Inkifi – How much are your Instagram posts worth?

Example of how Inkifi uses calculators to engage audiences

Linking Root Domains: 347

Totally Money – How much is your unpaid overtime worth?

Example of how Totally Money uses calculators to engage audiences

Linking Root Domains: 41

3. Indexes

We love to compare both ourselves and our lifestyles to others and that’s why an index format works so well for content campaigns.

Often used to compare cities or countries, but also seen comparing the popularity of brands, products or similar, indexes are a format which rarely struggles to earn links when backed by strong data.

Think about it this way; if you’re looking at running a campaign which looks at revealing “the best cities in the world for foodie tourists” you’ve got the opportunity to pitch this out to niche food and travel publications and blogs, regional publications (how the local city ranks on the list), national publications (where cities from the country rank), and global publications (to showcase the overall findings).

There are literally so many ways to hook into different sectors of the press with an index-led format and the data behind often reveals some interesting stories. Just be sure your sources are credible.

The challenge with this format is typically what to rank but the beauty is that they can be presented in so many different ways depending on the budget and resources.

Working to a low budget? Show the data and ranking as a table on a blog post. Have a little more resources? Why not design as an infographic? Looking for something even more stunning? Develop an interactive asset where data columns of the index are sortable.

Here are three great examples of campaigns which use this format.

Movehub – The hipster index

Example of Movehub's hipster index

Linking Root Domains: 271

Nestpick – The 2018 millennial cities index

Example of Nestpick's 2018 millennial cities index

Linking Root Domains: 330

Zalando – The world’s most elegant cities

Example of Zalando's most elegant cities

Linking Root Domains: 162

4. Social stat rankings

If you’re looking for a simple but effective campaign format; have you considered conducting a study into the social stats behind a concept?

From the most hashtagged sneakers to the most Instagrammed beaches, there’s plenty of fantastic examples of campaigns of this nature which have earned significant volumes of links yet have been able to be executed in a resource-friendly way.

At the most basic level, to launch a campaign utilizing social statistics, you simply need to find something comparable and collect the hashtag data. There’s also the potential to replicate a similar format utilizing follower-counts of celebrities in a sector or the like.

Are you ready to feel inspired? Here are a few of my favorite social stat campaigns from the past 12 months.

Forward2me – The world’s most Instagrammed sneakers

Forward2me's world's most Instagrammed sneakers campaign

Linking Root Domains: 120

MyVoucherCodes – Dogs of Instagram

MyVoucherCodes' Dogs of Instagram campaign

Linking Root Domains: 42

TravelSupermarket – The best beaches in the world according to Instagram

TravelSupermarket's best beaches in the world campaign

Linking Root Domains: 41

5. Brainteasers

Have you started to notice a trend here?

The campaign examples which I’ve shared aren’t all highly complex data studies or interactive assets and this may come as a surprise.

It’s important to understand when launching a content marketing campaign that simplicity is often the key to success and this last format certainly falls into that category.

Brainteasers have been used by marketers over the past couple of years, often to great success due to their shareable nature and the challenge which they present to users.

So long as you’ve got a great design resource and an imagination, the opportunities are endless with this format and are always fun to work on as well.

Here are a few examples to get your creativity flowing.

Lenstore – Can you spot it?

Lenstore's can you spot it brainteaser campaign

Linking Root Domains: 126

Bloom & Wild – Can you spot the Christmas robin?

Bloom & Wild's Christmas robin brainteaser campaign

Linking Root Domains: 26


When it comes to launching a digital PR campaign where the focus is on earning links, the story always needs to be the priority. However, by taking the time to understand what formats are working for others, you can start to think about ideas in a different way.

If a format is working, it makes sense to learn from this and understand why the stories which go alongside such campaigns resonate so well with publishers.

It’s all about understanding why some formats perform better than others when it comes to earning links and what it is that makes them attractive to publishers. Hopefully the above has given some inspiration for your own campaigns and left you thinking up ideas for what you could launch yourself.

James Brockbank is the Managing Director of Digitaloft, a multi-award winning SEO, PPC & Content Marketing agency. He can be found on Twitter .

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How I started traveling the world on my own, thanks to GoogleHow I started traveling the world on my own, thanks to Google

Plan your itinerary wisely.  

Start off by creating a list on Google Maps of all the places you want to visit. Once you have your destination in mind, use the Google Trips app to plan your travel and organize your itinerary. And if you want specific recommendations while you’re there, check out the Local Guides Connect forum.

One of the best parts of my Europe solo trip was meeting a Local Guides Connect moderator, Ermes. I was in Venice and had messaged him the previous day about my travel. In spite of the short notice, he drove down and met me! I got a Local Guide to show me around Venice, and it was so helpful and memorable. If you can’t get a Local Guide to be your personal advisor, try signing up for organized tours. You can relax and enjoy the scenery as a tour guide shares stories of local places, and navigates you through a new city.

Save money wherever you can.

If you use a travel agent, have them get you itineraries, but plan and book the places yourself to save some cash. Use public transportation wherever possible, and try staying at a hostel for a cheaper stay that lets you meet, mingle and share your travel experiences with other visitors. And if you need to apply for a visa, do it yourself, so you have more money for that kayaking trip of yours.

Now in more cities: Lime bikes and scooters on Google MapsNow in more cities: Lime bikes and scooters on Google Maps

Lime scooters and bikes on Google Maps are now available on Android and iOS in the following cities globally—with more coming soon:


Arizona (Mesa, Scottsdale), Arkansas (Little Rock), California (Monterey, Mountain View, San Marcos, Santa Barbara), Colorado (Denver), Florida (Miami, Orlando), Georgia (Atlanta, Statesboro), Idaho (Boise), Indiana (Bloomington, South Bend), Kentucky (Louisville), Massachusetts (Arlington, Bedford, Belmont, Chelsea, Everett, Malden, Medford, Melrose, Milton, Needham, Newton, Revere, Waltham, Watertown, Winthrop), Michigan (Lansing), Nevada (Reno), Missouri (St. Louis), New Jersey (Keyport, Metuchen, Plainsfield), New York (Ithaca, Queens, Rockaways), North Carolina (Charlotte, Charlottesville, Greensboro, Greenville, Jacksonville, Raleigh/Durham), Ohio (Columbus, Oxford), Oklahoma (Oklahoma City, Tulsa), Rhode Island (Providence), Tennessee (Memphis, Nashville), Texas (Corpus Christi, Lubbock), Utah (Salt Lake City), Virginia (Harrisonburg), Washington (Tacoma), Washington DC.


Brussels, Calgary, ChristChurch, London, Lyon, Madrid, Malaga, Malmö, Marseille, Mexico City, Milton Keynes, Oxford, Pamplona, Paris, Poznan, Stockholm, Sydney, Tel Aviv, Vienna, Warsaw, Wellington, Wroclaw, Zaragoza

The next time you need to get around town, check out Lime—right from Google Maps.

To help fight the opioid crisis, a new tool from Maps and SearchTo help fight the opioid crisis, a new tool from Maps and Search

This pilot has been made possible thanks to the hard work of many federal agencies, states and pharmacies. Companies like Walgreens and CVS Health, along with state governments in Alabama, Arizona, Colorado, Iowa, Massachusetts, Michigan and Pennsylvania have been instrumental in this project, contributing data with extensive lists of public and private disposal locations. The DEA is already working with us to provide additional location data to expand the pilot.

For this pilot, we also looked to public health authorities—like HHS—for ideas on how technology can help communities respond to the opioid crisis. In fact, combining disposal location data from different sources was inspired by a winning entry at the HHS’s Opioid Code-A-Thon held a year ago.

We’ll be working to expand coverage and add more locations in the coming months. To learn more about how your state or business can bring more disposal locations to Google Maps and Search, contact today.

Now on iOS: Follow your favorite places on Google MapsNow on iOS: Follow your favorite places on Google Maps

Starting this week, you can stay up to date on your favorite places right from the Google Maps app on iOS. Simply search for a place—whether it’s a new restaurant that just opened up in your neighborhood or that must-try bakery across town—and tap the Follow button. You’ll then be able to see important updates from these places in your For you tab so you can quickly learn about upcoming events, offers and more.  

Avoid the heartache of Valentine’s Day planning with GoogleAvoid the heartache of Valentine’s Day planning with Google

Whether you’re single, in a relationship, or planning a Palentine’s Day get-together, we’ve got a few ways to make planning your night out as sweet as Valentine’s Day candy. Here are a few helpful features on Maps and local Search that’ll help you plan a night out (or in) from start to finish.

The last minute lover

Although restaurants tend to book up on February 14, if you’re the spontaneous type you can still try your hand at walking in. To give you the best chance at a last minute table, just find the restaurant’s Business Profile on Google and scroll down to see when they tend to get busy. For some restaurants, we can even show you whether it’s busy in real time, so you can act like you actually had your night planned out all along.


The stay at home romantic

Sometimes, there’s nothing more romantic (and comfy!) than a nice night in. If you’re planning a party for two at home, it’s easy to get your dinner delivered right to your door. All you need to do is find the restaurant’s Business Profile on Google and select from any of the delivery services listed to have dinner on the table in a jiffy—saving time on cooking so you can spend more quality time together.

The fancy feaster

Dining out on Valentine’s Day probably takes the most advance planning. Lucky for you, Google has all the information you need to make a decision on where to go—and when you’re ready, make the reservation. Once you’ve found a place that interests you, just open the restaurant’s business profile to learn more by browsing photos, taking a look at menus and checking out the reviews. When you’re ready to go, tap the “Reserve a table” button to make a res without ever leaving Google. Bon appetit!


The Palentine’s Day organizer

Prefer to spend this night out with pals? The group planning feature in the Google Maps app is perfect for helping you quickly find a spot that all of your friends will enjoy. Simply long press on a place to add it to a shortlist, and then share it with friends via your favorite messaging platform. From there, they’ll be able to vote on where they want to go, or add other places to the list if they have alternative suggestions.


So no matter how you plan to spend your Valentine’s Day, Google can help you get your planning done in just a few taps or clicks.

Want to get fit in 2019? Here’s how Google can helpWant to get fit in 2019? Here’s how Google can help

For the two-wheel enthusiasts out there, you can find biking routes near you by turning on the cycling layer in Google Maps. Dark green lines on the map show dedicated bike trails and paths without cars, green lines show streets with dedicated bike lanes, and dashed green lines show other streets recommended for cycling.

4. Stick to your diet goals with Google and YouTube.

If your resolution is to count calories as part of your diet, Google makes it easy. If you’re in the mood for French fries at lunch, just search “how many calories in French fries” and you’ll get your answer — 312 calories, plus 23 percent of your daily recommended daily intake of fat. You can also turn to YouTube to learn how to make healthy recipes. Thanks to YouTube creators like Veggie Recipe House, The Serious Fitness, and Health Nut Nutrition, you can create nutritious and delicious dishes all year long.

5. Follow along with the #GetFitWithGoogle challenge.

To get you motivated, we’ve invited people from around the globe to show us how it’s done in the #GetFitWithGoogle global challenge. From January 1-28, teams of four influencers per country are competing against each other to earn as many Heart Points as possible during the month with Google Fit.

Here’s the global leaderboard after Week 1.

Twas the night before liftoffTwas the night before liftoff

‘Twas the night before Christmas, when at the North Pole

The elves and I took charge at mission control

We fed all the reindeer and charged Santa’s phone

To make sure they could reach every city and home

He’s off and away on his worldwide trip

Fire up Santa Tracker, you’ll be linked at the hip

On the web, in an app, or ask the Google Assistant

With good ol’ Google Maps, Santa won’t feel too distant

This year, hundreds of Local Guides will show you the way

With pics of each place, many mid-holiday

Or if you need a break from the snow and the rain

Santa’s Village is open with fun, cheer and games

Here at mission control, elves are working in shifts

To help Santa deliver seven billion gifts

Season’s greetings to all, and to all a good night

We’ll see you in the morning, after Santa takes flight

Santa takes flight today! Follow him on Google to make sure you don’t miss his visit.

Google for Nonprofits: 2018 in ReviewGoogle for Nonprofits: 2018 in Review

This year, more than 100,000 nonprofits around the world connected with their communities and spread awareness about their causes using Google products. As 2018 comes to an end, we’re taking a look back at the many ways these organizations used technology to make a difference.

donorschoose allows teachers to create projects that fulfill resources their students need. drives donations with Google Ad Grants

As the leading platform for giving to public schools, allows teachers across America to bring their classroom dreams to life by requesting much-needed materials and experiences for their students. Google Ads’ ad performance data provides the organization a clear picture of teachers’ classroom needs and donor interest. And conversion tracking data allows to make sure they’re using their Ad Grants account to the fullest. Through Ad Grants ads, the organization drove 7,000 teacher registrations and raised an additional $497,000 from about 5,000 donations in a year.

Raising money for Hope for Paws with YouTube Giving

Hope for Paws, a nonprofit animal rescue group, used YouTube Giving Fundraisers (beta) so that anyone could support them by clicking the “Donate” button on their videos. Through this feature, Hope for Paws was able to raise over $260,000 in September and tell their story to a global audience.

Using mapping tools at the Geo for Good summit

In October, the Google Earth Outreach team hosted the Geo for Good Summit. At the summit, Googlers and nonprofit partners demonstrated how Google mapping tools—like Google Earth, Earth Engine, Google Maps Platform and 360 Street View Imagery—can help organizations raise awareness, whether it’s through mapping and monitoring threats to the planet or mapping indigenous culture.

Expanding reach with Google Maps Platform credits

Organizations like iNaturalist, and charity:water use the Google Maps Platform to help them reach their goals—from using Maps as a new way for donors to view exactly where their dollars go, to helping people discover plant and animal life from around the world. In 2018, we expanded access for nonprofits to use these products in over 50 countries.


The Philippine Coral Reef at the California Academy of Sciences.

Collaborating with G Suite: Samasource and the California Academy of Sciences

This year, Samasource and the California Academy of Sciences presented at Cloud Next ’18 about how they used G Suite to make a difference. Samasource, a nonprofit organization that aims to reduce global poverty by connecting unemployed people in impoverished countries to digital work, connected its teams through G Suite for Nonprofits. By streamlining workflows across multiple locations, the Samasource team was able to focus on their goal of helping over 45,000 people out of poverty.

The California Academy of Sciences highlights biodiversity research and exploration, environmental education and sustainability across the globe. At no cost, G Suite for Nonprofits helped the Academy improve accessibility and collaboration across their team. Now, 650 staff members at the Academy can store, search and access shared content from anywhere.

Looking ahead to 2019

Let us know how Google for Nonprofits has made a difference for your nonprofit. In 2019, we’ll be traveling around the world to film a video with five different nonprofits. If your organization has benefited from using Google products, share your story here and you could be one of them.

Before kicking off the new year, here’s a look back at some of the work done by nonprofit organizations with the help of Google products this year.

How Local Guides on Maps helped my new city feel like homeHow Local Guides on Maps helped my new city feel like home

I’ve spent the entire 32 years of my life on the East Coast, specifically in Washington D.C. I had plenty of time to explore every nook and cranny of the city. I had my favorite coffee spot, a particular pizza place and even a beloved skate shop. I love D.C. with all my being, but sometimes you just need to shake things up and move across the country. Which is exactly what I did when I started my new job at Google in July.

I made the journey to the West Coast with my fiancée and dog along for the ride, with absolutely no idea where to start. We had no network of family or friends to rely on for recommendations. I knew San Franciscans favored burritos, brunch and bikes, but where would I begin? I was a little over my head. Luckily for me, Local Guides were there to help add some perspective.

Bobby's family portrait, on a road trip

On the road with my fiancée and pup in tow.

I had never given much thought to who uploaded reviews and photos on Google Maps before. Little did I know there was a massive global community of people who help share their views to craft a better experience for people everywhere. Local Guides are everyday Maps users who share their personal reviews and photos to give others a more informed perspective of their city.  There are also curated lists on Google Maps that feature recommendations from Local Guides, on themes like “Women-Owned Restaurants,” “Secret Menu Eateries” or even “Restaurants That Give Back in SF.”

These tailored options helped me navigate the individual neighborhoods of San Francisco and get a better feel for the city. I picked a few spots based on these lists, and gave myself a few weeks to get out there to explore. I even joined the Local Guides program to get a feel for how the sausage gets made. (Note to self: Find a place that sells veggie sausages.)

Sightglass Coffee in San Francisco

My first priority was to find a local coffee shop. I decided to check out Sightglass Coffee in the SoMA, or South of Market, neighborhood. The coffee bar’s flagship location also houses their production roastery and company headquarters. I scrolled through some reviews and noticed one pointing out, “Watching them roast then getting a pour-over of their single-origin coffee is something I look forward to every time I visit.” I like that, a latte. (I’ll see myself out.)  

Arsicault Bakery in San Francisco

After that, I wanted to find the best bakery in town. I visited Arsicault Bakery in the Richmond District to check out their assortment of croissants. After reading a few reviews, I knew to avoid the brunch and farmers’ market crowd during the weekend mornings, and figured getting there right when they opened at 7 a.m. midweek would be best. Thanks to Local Guides, I avoided standing in line forever, slowly losing my sanity. But it would have been totally worth the wait, because Arsicault Bakery has one of the best almond croissants I’ve ever had.   

Lolo restaurant in San Francisco

Burritos are serious business in San Francisco, but I decided to tackle another list, called “Must Try Tacos in the Mission.” The Mission is such a vibrant scene filled with murals, taquerias, bars and thrift shops. I was already sold on Loló, a restaurant on that list, when I saw photos of the décor on Google Maps, but after trying the Taco Tropical, a fish taco on a jicama shell, I knew I would be back again.  

Cafe du Soleil in San Francisco

I wanted to end the journey with a nice, relaxing brunch, so I found a cute French bistro in Lower Haight called Cafe du Soleil thanks to reviews calling it “another grand lower Haight cafe” that had “Inviting staff and a delightful atmosphere.” Immediately walking in, we were greeted with a huge assortment of pastries, macarons and other treats. As we sat out on the sunlit patio, enjoying our coffee and what had to be a two-inch thick piece of French toast, I realized what a great decision we made moving across the country.

Bobby on the beach with his dog

Though I know I’ve only begun to scratch the surface of what San Francisco has to offer, Local Guides offered me a great look at my new home. I was able to explore the city’s best eats, but the feature includes much more than that. It’s cool to share photos of an almond croissant or a bowl of ramen, but users also can share real-time information about any space on Maps, like letting people know about accessibility options, hours of operation and family-friendly destinations. Every review you write or question you answer, and every photo you post or rating you provide, helps visitors and residents alike explore a city with ease.

I think my dog feels a little left out after all of this, so I promised her I would take her on a tour of the best dog parks in San Francisco. Just trying to do my part as a newly minted Local Guide.  

I moved to San Francisco without a clue. Local Guides helped me find the best spots in town.