Are Linkless Mentions Important for Publishers?

audience development

Should you be trying to acquire linkless mentions?

You may have heard the phrase “linkless mentions” rolling around in social media and your email inbox over the last year or so. The concept is explained exactly as it sounds: a linkless mention, also called linkless attribution or an implied link, is the mention of your brand without a hyperlink back to your website.

Since we know Google is pretty good at determining authority from real links from site to site, it’s no surprise that SEOs suspect they can also offer some authority points for unlinked mentions of your brand. In theory, if you’re Wondermade, a company that makes gourmet marshmallows, and you get mentioned in The New York Times, then you get a little thumbs up from Google.

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But what does that really mean? Does your content somehow rank better? Or do you just rank better for your own brand name? And how would Google determine which site to rank for that brand name if there is no link?

Linkless mentions live in the same SEO world as nofollow links, but they might just be a little lower on the scale of predictability. We know that nofollow links, like those we get from social media and larger content portals, offer a small amount of search juice. We know that a post published on social media gets indexed faster than one that doesn’t, and when a post is re-tweeted or re-shared in social media, it can bring a post that’s fallen to page two, back to page one. These things we know through testing.

But a linkless mention is nearly impossible to measure. If someone writes about you in the New York Times with no link, will people Google you afterward and click on your website? Yes, but that was always the case. Does Google somehow figure that process out to determine who the NYT was talking about, website-wise? Maybe also true.

What we’ve gathered from the small amount of research and writing on the topic of linkless mentions, is that publisher’s shouldn’t consider PR dead, and that even a linkless mention or attribution can give a brand a boost. But more likely, a negative mention can give them a penalty.

The proof that linkless mentions really matter is pretty loose.

SEO experts cite this quote from Google’s Gary Illyes, and other vague quotes as proof that linkless mentions are SEO-portant:

“Basically, if you publish high quality content that is highly cited on the internet – and I’m not talking about just links, but also mentions on social networks and people talking about your branding, crap like that. Then you are doing great.”

So is there anything to “do”? Not according to Gary.

As publishers, you’re really the ones expected to be giving the linkless mentions, not the ones getting them.

So do linkless branding mentions matter to publishers? Since our SEO strategy is really trying to rank on individual articles, we don’t think so. Getting physical inbound links to our content from high domain authority websites is more important than brand mentions on major websites.

So, here’s how you can get more inbound links:

  • Get syndicated into a major media portal.
  • Write a guest post for a site with a higher domain authority than you
  • Write a guest post on a contributor network like Medium.
  • Use the 12x12x12 social media strategy.
  • Publish press releases using sites that allow hyperlinks and distribute press releases asking for a hyperlinked mention.
  • Ask a blogger with a higher domain authority than you to review a product of yours.
  • Offer interviews and ask for a link back to your site or a specific article.
  • Create an infographic that includes code to link back to your original article.

Most SEO blogs cater to brands, so linkless mentions might sound appealing or at least new and flashy, but when you’re a publisher you have a different set of rules and priorities to think about. A brand only has so many pages and so a linkless mention about their brand is important for them, whether Google recognizes it or not. For publishers, our content pages are our priority, which makes brand mentions not as important.

If you’d like to discuss how to use your content to generate more revenue, please reach out to schedule a no obligation chat with Don Nicholas, our Founder, Chairman & CEO.


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