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How to Use Brand Monitoring Tools to Gain Valuable Backlinks

“Your brand is what other people say about you when you're not in the room.” - Jeff Bezos

You might have heard of this quote from Jeff Bezos, the founder and CEO of Amazon, on his definition of a brand. Here’s the official definition of a brand:

“A type of product manufactured by a particular company under a particular name.” - Oxford English Dictionary

The key difference between these two definitions is that Jeff focuses on the idea of perception and how others view your brand. In today’s modern world, Jeff’s seems to be the most accurate definition (well done Jeff!). 

A brand is less about the name that encompasses your commerce and more about the associations that customers make with that name. However, perhaps the most interesting aspect of Jeff’s definition is the last portion, “... when you’re not in the room.”

This is where brand monitoring enters the frame.

In its simplest sense, brand monitoring is about the process of tracking who is talking about your company and its products. The more you know about how your brand is perceived, the better.

But it's not all about knowledge. If you are able to monitor your brand, you are able to take advantage of organic mentions for the purpose of acquiring valuable backlinks.

Let’s look at the 5 steps to using SEMRush to help you become a backlink pro.

1. Set Up Brand Monitoring Tool

Before you are able to act on the online mentions of your brand, you need to first set up your brand monitoring. To do this, you’ll need to utilise one of the best brand monitoring tools out there - SEMrush’s aptly named, Brand Monitoring Tool.

SEMrush has a kitbag of features to help monitor and improve SEO and nothing improves SEO like a high-quality backlink.

Once you’ve signed up, the brand monitoring tool can be found under your projects dashboard. If you haven’t created any projects, you can do this easily in this section. Once you have your project set up, you can then set up a campaign.

The campaign is where you will track your brand or whatever aspect of your business you want to track, including your competitors.

Let’s assume, since you’re here to learn about brand monitoring, you will be monitoring your own brand. The first step, once the campaign window pops up, is to input the keywords for your brand. You can also exclude keywords and add similar words in case you brand is misspelt online. For example, Amazon might include the keywords ‘amazon’, ‘amzn’ and ‘amazone’ but exclude words like ‘forest’ in order to filter out any irrelevant mentions of its namesake river.

Once you have your campaign set up, you can take a look at any mentions of your brand online as well as on social media. There are other tools that allow you to track your mentions on social media but they do not offer the option to monitor mentions in other online formats like blog posts and articles in the way that SEMrush does.

2. Find Mentions

The next step is to find mentions within your campaign that are worth acting on. There will always be some mentions that aren’t really relevant or perhaps aren’t worth the time it will take to follow up.

If you correctly utilised the keywords when you searched for mentions in the last section, you will be better able to narrow the results to only those mentions that specifically refer to your brand, filtering out the irrelevant mentions as much as possible.

The tool allows you to filter the listings that you see by ‘news’, ‘blogs’ and ‘web’. This makes it easier to categorise the mentions of your brand and focus on those that exist in blogs, for example.

You can also further refine the results by blocking mentions from certain domains if you find them to be irrelevant. This is a very useful option as it can help to clear the clutter and streamline the results you see, allowing you to capture those mentions that are actually valuable to your business.

Before we get into how to use these mentions to generate backlinks, we should cover the backlink section here first. You can actually see those who are already linking to your site in the brand monitoring tool from SEMrush. This is a great timesaver, no need to outreach those that are already linking to your website.

SEMrush’s tool also allows you to set up a weekly email report at a time of your choosing to give you a summary of who has mentioned you in the past week. This is a must for keeping tabs on how your brand is being discussed week-to-week.

In the next section, we will talk about how you can act on the mentions we’ve just found, but if you want to know more about how to use the brand monitoring tool, take a look at SEMrush’s more in-depth post.

3. Identifying Backlinks

The essence of outreach is to gain backlinks. Backlinks are a vital part of fully formed SEO strategy and even just a few valuable backlinks from high-ranking domain authority sites can be the difference between having your site ranking on Google’s first page or not. According to SEMrush’s Ranking Factors, having 2.2 times more backlinks lead to URLs on the first position than to the URLs on the second.

A proven way of gaining valuable backlinks, that can boost your SEO, is by finding unlinked mentions of your brand and converting them into links to your website. This is where SEMrush’s brand monitoring tool can reap the SEO rewards for your business.

Once you find a mention, to check that it is worth following up, you need to check their domain authority. The whole point of gaining backlinks is to boost your SEO. If you’re pursuing potential backlinks from sites with a low domain authority score, you could be wasting your time and effort.

The brand monitoring tool has a built-in domain authority score for each mention. Having a domain authority checker inside the brand monitoring tool is extremely useful to quickly ensure that the mentions you choose to pursue are worthwhile links.

Some domain authority checkers have different ways of calculating their scores. SEMrush scores site authority based on:

  • Backlink data including Domain Score, Trust Score, referring domains, follow and no follow links, and more
  • Organic search data including organic search traffic and positions
  • Website traffic data

The tool even offers a quick score for that site’s traffic, high, medium or low. This is useful as it is best practice to have backlinks from sites that have medium to high traffic in order to capitalise on that site’s popularity.

Make a list of all the sites that you want to contact and order them by their domain authority. Don’t waste time contacting the lowest domain authority sites first. You want the most valuable backlinks now, not once you get to the end of your list. 

The domain score is a figure out of a total 100. For example, has an authority score of 97 in SEMrush. LinkedIn is a high authority source and gaining a backlink from such a site would do wonders for your SEO.

Conversely, you wouldn’t want to seek out backlinks from sites with a low score. It’s good practice to ignore links from sites with an authority of less than 20 and focus your time on those that will boost your SEO the most. SEMrush’s quick-check BM Score within the Brand Monitoring Tool suggests that domains with a score of 22 can be considered a good authority.

Don’t forget, you should make sure that the mentions of your brand you have identified for outreach are not already linking to you.

4. Outreach

Now you have a list of the sites that have mentioned your brand, in one way or another, you can begin to reach out to them and convert that organic mention into a valuable backlink. 

Once you have a domain, it’s a good idea to take a look at the site to find an email address that you can use to get in touch. This can be done manually but, to save time, you can install the Google Chrome extension, Hunter.

Hunter is a handy tool, not only for crawling a site for email addresses, but for giving you the most common email pattern for that company, i.e. {name} You can then take a look at the individual who wrote the blog post or article that mentioned you and place their first name in the email pattern. This gives you a great chance of emailing the exact person who mentioned your brand in the first place.

When crafting the email, be sure to include a link to the blog, article, or webpage that you found the mention on. This helps to show that you have actually done your research and are specifically singling this person and their content out for personalised outreach, not a blanket email. It also means, if they have a large backlog of content, they can easily identify the mention you are referring to and they can easily find and edit the content to include your link.

Thank them for mentioning your brand on their website. They could have just as easily mentioned one of your competitors so, instead of being irritated that they didn’t include a link, be grateful they found your brand valuable enough to mention it.

Try to explain to them why you have reached out and you could even explain to them how you came to find out about the mention - through the SEMrush brand monitoring tool. Otherwise, they might not fully understand how you came to know about their content.

Along with providing them with the link you want them to include, it’s a good idea to explain to them why it will be in their best interests to create the backlink. Backlinking is all about exchanging value. If you have nothing to offer them, why should they help you? When doing this, try to be persuasive but not too pushy.

They have taken the time to create a piece of content, so be complimentary about their efforts and remember to thank them for mentioning your brand in the first place. Anything you can do to build a great relationship will be beneficial going forward. If you go about this process in the right way, you can build a lasting connection and might be able to gain further backlinks in the future.

5. Negative Mentions

When identifying mentions to outreach to, do not forget to read the article before you contact them. Don’t just assume that, if they have mentioned your brand, it will be in a complementary way. If you identify any criticisms, you can use SEMrush’s ‘tags’ to label the mention as ‘negative’.

Then, if you have the time, you can start a separate outreach strategy to contact the negative mentions. Try to understand why they have mentioned you in a negative light. While you wouldn’t approach these people as an opportunity for backlinking, don’t simply ignore negative mentions. Through the brand monitoring tool, you have been given an opportunity of a different kind; to convert a negative mention into a positive.

You can reach out to the person in the same way as you would for backlinking but, this time, try to get to the bottom of the negative experience of perception that they have of your brand.

Your brand, as mentioned before, is the way that people perceive and talk about your company and products. Negative mentions can impact your brand so be sure to take some time to focus on these criticisms that you find and, even if you don’t turn them around, try to understand them.

So, now you know how to monitor your brand and act on the mentions you get, you can finally be aware of what other people say about you when you’re not in the room.

Try SEMrush’s brand monitoring tool today to see who’s talking about you right now!

Brand monitoring is just one of the tools to help your business understand it's footing in our online world. If you want to learn more about how your business is performing online, book a FREE marketing assessment with one of our team. Take this first step and watch your business grow to heights you never before imagined.

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