How to Get Traffic and Leads with 10 Digital PR Strategies (Without SEO)
This post is about Link-based Visibility, Traffic Generation, Website Monetization / 14 minutes
PR here means Public Relations, not PageRank.
But it may also mean Personal Relationships with other webmasters and marketing teams in the same or a related niche.
Ideally, you may be able to get all the good targeted traffic (and some juicy leads) that you need using only PR-based ways to attract users to your site and forgo SEO completely.
(However, some SEO – at least On-Page SEO – will always turn out useful to get your site found on any SERP for your main keywords or at least branded keywords.)
In this post, crafted with the help of some wonderful people in the marketing industry and genius webmasters, I will show you 10 ways to get traffic and leads to your website using only PR, without having to rely on search engines.
How to Get Traffic and Leads Without SEO (10 Digital PR Strategies)
1. Go to Industry Conferences
Yes, the hard stuff goes first.
But there’s a reason to it. When you go and attend to an industry conference, you are:
- Getting your face and name out there
- Talking to real people who now know you personally
- “Showing off” your expertise and getting known for it
If it comes to that “Ah cool! So, do you have a website?” — you have your answer ready.
There! You just got website traffic (and maybe a lead?) without SEO.
(Hint: have your business card and elevator pitch ready.)
And one (or more) new interested visitor who trusts what you say.
Looking somewhere to get started?
- Go to your city’s public library or the city hall to look for news posters. You might find local conferences there
- Look for local conference news at newsstands and bookshops
- Use search engines to search local and international conferences in your industry
Some example conferences you may want to look up to get started:
- SMX – Search Marketing Expo (SEO and Marketing)
- The Packaging Conference (Packaging and Branding)
- Codemotion (IT and Software Development)
- HIMSS Health IT Conference (Healthcare)
- Retail Innovation Conference (Retail)
2. Respond to Journalists’ and Bloggers’ Queries
David Pagotto, the Founder and Managing Director of SIXGUN, a digital marketing agency based in Melbourne, admits that
“One of the best sources of PR for us and our clients is a combination of HARO and SourceBottle. We generate a very substantial amount of referral traffic by using these channels.”
The traffic from HARO and SourceBottle opportunities easily turned into conversion actions because David’s team used these channels strategically and diversified their marketing mix.
In a follow-up email, David was so kind to share the whole breakdown of this strategy into two different stages to get the best outcome:
2.1. Reply to the right queries
David laser focuses on quality.
“It’s imperative that we put energy towards the right callouts, and skip over any that aren’t 100% relevant. We also look at the quality of the publication itself to access the likelihood of referral traffic.”
2.2. Use a tailored response framework for queries
David and his team have found out that there’s a way to respond to queries that gets the best response rate:
“It involves establishing credibility, providing an easy copy-and-paste quote, and giving a promise to share the piece of content the journalist is working on.
“If we look at a particular clients performance over the course of a week you can see that referral traffic generation using HARO and SourceBottle can generate powerful referral based traffic.”
Below is the screenshot that David shared with me:
3. Engage Your Posts to Social Media
Don’t just share them.
- Tag people using @mentions
- Involve followers in meaningful conversations around your posts
- Share your posts to hashtag-based communities where they can gain visibility (e.g. #MondayBlogs and #WritingCommunity on Twitter)
Make sure to devote some time to engagement-based promotion for your posts every week.
4. Create Your Own Infographics and Offer It
Visual content has been going strong in 2019, so much that it gets 80% users more willing to read online content.
So, why don’t you create some unique infographics for your audience and offer them up for grabs on social media and distribution sites?
Or send it to your email subscribers?
Or better yet, find like-minded people on the Web who may be interested in reading and resharing or linking it?
If you have the art skills, you can create infographics yourself.
Visme has a cool guide on how to make an infographics if you want to get started headache-free.
Or you can just experiment, find your own style and unique way to convey information through images and charts.
Or hire a designer to do it for you.
Either way, infographics are great source of traffic to not overlook.
(Personal note: I’m a cartoonist, so I may attempt to create some… digitally hand-drawn infographics? Might be cool to try. 🙂 )
5. Link Reclamation for Link-based Visibility
Backlinks don’t exist only for SEO.
There are plenty of link building tactics you can use to get traffic and leads without SEO.
Apparently, Ricco Leung, Senior PR & Content Manager from is on my same book.
Ricco suggests that you use free tools such as TalkWalker and Google Alerts to monitor brand mentions for any campaigns or ad hoc news pieces:
“If you’ve been successful in getting your content published, and the content does not contain a backlink, then pick up the phone and ask to see if they can include a link back to your website. You can then use tools such as Google Analytics to monitor the amount of referral traffic – if you have Google Tag Manager set-up, you can track any goals (such as purchases or people filling out contact forms). ”
6. Stay Up to Date With Industry Trends and News
In addition to going to conferences, it’s critical to stay up to date with news and trends in your industry that you can leverage to attract more eyes to your website.
Ryan Jones, Digital Marketing Executive of Imaginaire Digital, told me this is his #1 strategy to generate leads using digital PR:
“Ensure you are staying up to date on the latest news from big news websites such as Sky News and the BBC. Often, these sites will release breaking news pieces and ask for reaction from the public. If the news is relating to your business then you can swoop in with a relevant comment very quickly and have your reaction shared on these great news websites.”
From theory to practice, when one of Imaginaire’s clients finished a refurbishment on a 17th Century mill building, Ryan’s team saw this as an opportunity to generate some good PR for them and sent it out to news outlets.
The result was some good feedback, including a link back from a relevant news publication in their area.
7. Know Your Editors and Publications
I don’t want to comment on this, because Ricco Leung put it beautifully:
“Before digital marketing and SEO saturated the market, there was much more importance placed on forging long-lasting relationships with editors and journalists working in your desired industries.
“The best way to build that all-important relationship is by researching your journalists, editors and publications, and emailing or calling them to find out what they are likely, or not likely, to run. Once you have had these conversations, you can then fine-tune your content to suit what they want to see, and maximises the chances of your news being picked up.”
Ricco makes an example of engineering and trade press and suggests a practical approach:
“Editors and journalists for these titles are usually seeking specific, niche comments on high-level technical issues. This is to stay ahead of the curve against rival publications and keep their audiences engaged with the content.
“A typical approach to take here is to target a forward feature your company can contribute to. Then, call the editors to firstly verbally agree that you can provide editorial, and to research more about the feature itself, including word count, deadline, imagery requirements and sub-topics. — Ricco Leung“
8. Offline Giveaways
All that matters in marketing is not entirely online.
Didier Penine, Director of Say It With Champers, says that his personal favorite for generating PR is using offline giveaways as a “gateway” to online exposure.
Didier told me about getting this offline exposure with Falkirk FC, a professional football club in Scotland:
“Since the start of the season I have been giving Falkirk branded Champagne for their man of the match and player of the month awards. [In the photoshoot for] the associated press release, [I appear] on the left, [and it] was amazing PR for myself: it gained me national coverage and my LinkedIn and social media went crazy when I published it, as far as ‘social proof’ goes, it was a fantastic example.”
And this fantastic story didn’t end there!
“I am regularly mentioned in their tweets and they have also put a clickable link to my product on their website. The great thing is I am only doing this for a season, and then they will be paying for it next season, so a win all round.”
Didier found giveaways to be very useful with bloggers, too. He did some for Christmas giveaways:
“The benefit here is that for the price of a giveaway I receive exposure, a link to my site and increased social media followers, there’s not much marketing that could achieve me that for the cost of the sent products.”
The same could be said with approaching newspapers:
“I received a free article in the local press and the media coverage was amazing and I received a huge spike in sales that day and days afterwards.”
That sums up to:
“Go[ing] for the social option: give away your product to the right people, interact with the right people, take any opportunity that comes your way. In my opinion, only by building a social network of contacts can you start to reach people. Whenever people contact me on Linkedin, I always respond, some interesting turns of events can take place that you weren’t expecting. Essentially be active, social and interact.”
And of course, Didier reached out to me through #JournoRequest on Twitter for this post… which adds to social proof. 😉
9. Create an Irresistible Tool
I mean, that’s what Neil Patel did with with Ubersuggest, right?
And it works!
Full-stack Developer Vladimir Osipov experienced something similar:
“I’m running a software development company and our developers for a long time had a problem of lacking a video conference tool that would suit all our daily needs, both teamwise and individually. There were plenty of alternatives on the market, but none was our ideal solution. And finally last spring we decided to solve this problem ourselves by building that solution internally. After a week of development the tool was basically ready and we started happily using it.”
The tool in question is the free Xroom.app to create an online conference room. (You know, Vladimir, I had to bookmark this. Just one of the things I was looking for! Glad we met for this post!)
Vladimir told me that in matter of days, one of their clients got interested in the tool, and after that he wanted to start promoting Xroom.app actively.
“Just not with the classical SEO or ads, but instead by approaching directly to the possible users. Preferably it had to cost nothing! I built a basic strategy and realized I’ll go for 2 channels: social media and posting on the Internet within a suitable context. As it turned out social media was pretty useless in my case, I invested too little time into that. Posting, in its turn, was really effective. I was looking for people having problems similar to ours, discussed that with them and at the end offered a solution. I didn’t take only one aspect (let’s say shorter call setup time), but many of them, everything that the tool was able to help with.”
And that put things in motion, because eventually Vladimir noticed that other people started coming from those discussions to the site.
“Some of them stayed, supposedly some of them brought new users. Last month [some] media started writing about the project (although I did not contact any) [and] I was really surprised. People started offering me to translate the tool into other languages; that way we got Spanish and Dutch. Well, yes, it’s important to note here that two parts of the tool that could help with growth were intentionally made open-source and publicly available: translations and plugins, so that helped with the engagement, too.”
And now the app user base is growing steadily every month!
“I plan to continue with this strategy of directly approaching the potential audience converting them into loyal users. I’ve attached a graph of the user base growth to this mail. This is all with literally zero advertising costs, only took 10-15 minutes per day of my time a couple times per week during half a year.”
(P.S. Now I’ve got to put those few PHP scripts I wrote to good use… Uhm.)
10. Well, Press Releases. Duh
I know, I know… playing Mrs. Obvious here.
But it’s true! Press Releases are still a great way to generate buzz and leads for your product, service or website without direct SEO efforts.
Still, don’t take it from me (who wrote only ONE press release for a now retired website project years ago) but listen to the experts:
Jakub Kliszczak, Marketing Specialist at CrazyCall, kindly replied to my SourceBottle query and gave me some good pointers.
“The thing is that if the press release is interesting – the topic is eye-catching – e.g. New AI app that will do makeup for you! – various outlets will be happy to share it, therefore creating traffic and possible leads that will visit your website.”
And the strategy:
“First set the budget for the campaign and then go for the most suitable distribution network. Press Releases are quite tricky and that’s because they are date-dependent. Who likes the old news, right? And submitting press releases on your own can result in your pr being published long after it actually should be published.
The first time we did it, it was just to test the waters, and we’ve decided to do it on our own. SEO-wise it was a good choice as we’ve got a few links here and there but there was no significant traffic. Yet, when we decided to invest in a campaign ran by the PR network we got listed (on time!) in various outlets that were worth the price – both SEO- and PR-wise.”
To Sum It Up: Talking to People Is How You Get Traffic and Leads with PR Without SEO
That’s the exact way this post was born.
Seriously: much of the advice you just read comes from email interviews I did with experts I found through #JournoRequest and SourceBottle (Strategy #2) and from the follow-up conversations we had.
Everything else comes from my experience building community and from observing others doing (successful) things.
And then… I engaged this post socially.
Get in touch with people. Network. Build community.
It’s how you get loyal visitors and good leads.
And if this is not enough, check out these 6 traffic alternatives if you got penalized by Google.
To your success!
Enjoyed this post?
In addition to being an artist and somewhat of a practitioner in Marketing and SEO, I’m a freelance blogger and copywriter for B2B clients since 2009.
Feel free to get in touch if you need a good blogger who also knows her industry!
Originally posted on: Written on January 30, 2020, ThursdayLooking for older posts? Check the Articles archive!