Using SEO Data to Build a Media List

Media lists become stale over time. SEO data provides an opportunity to freshen them up and find more impactful media opportunities.

The media list is a key document for all agencies and internal teams managing a PR strategy. It guides pitching direction and saves staff countless hours researching contact information. But why is such a critical document so rarely refreshed? 

Media lists often become stale with the same-old vertical and trade publications and outdated contact info. SEO data provides an excellent opportunity to freshen things up by adding publications that have already covered (and linked to) competitive brands. As I laid out in my last post, the technical term for this exercise is a “link gap analysis,” which sounds far more complex than it is in practice. 

Let’s walk through the process of making this a reality. 

Start by pulling the SEO data

This is the only technical portion of the process and the only step that requires a subscription to an SEO tool. From start to finish, it’ll take 30-45 minutes to complete. 

  1. Log in to your SEO tool of choice (e.g., SEMrush, Moz, Ahrefs).
  2. Input your website as the primary domain within the backlink gap tool, and add up to three primary competitor domains. Ensure these domains are set to “Root Domain” by default to capture links to all pages on each respective website.
  3. Weed out lower-quality publications/websites by filtering only 50+ authority domains. 
  4. Export the data, and add it to your spreadsheet of choice for easy collaboration.

I’d recommend getting into the habit of refreshing this two to four times per year depending on how active your competitive space is.

Spend time reviewing the publications for brand relevance

Once we have the backlink data exported, it’s time to check for brand relevance before deciding what outlets to add to our media list. Depending on how much coverage your competitors have earned, you may be looking at a list of hundreds of publications. 

Unfortunately, there are no real shortcuts in this step. It may take a couple of hours to sift through the results, but the ROI makes the effort worth it. While there’s no right or wrong way to go about this part of the process, I typically follow a few simple guidelines:

  1. Make sure the websites are sorted by domain authority so you’re looking at the results with the highest potential impact first. 
  2. Start by reviewing the first 100-150 rows – many times, this is more than enough to expand the list.
  3. Share findings with your colleagues for broader input. A fresh set of eyes is always helpful!
  4. Delete anything that immediately jumps out as spam (link farm or irrelevant directory) or a publication that’s misaligned with brand messaging.
  5. Highlight anything that you know would be a great fit. 
  6. If you’re unsure of the website/publication, click the link for a brief review before making a determination.
  7. Add all relevant targets to your updated media list, and tag with the date for archiving. 

Organize and align with pitching roadmaps

Now that you’ve got your list refreshed with new targets, it’s time to organize and mobilize. We don’t always have the convenience of time to plan ahead for significant news or marketing campaigns, but if we do, sorting these new outlets added to our media list will come in handy. 

Take 20 minutes to sort your new outlets by topical focus, tier and any other criteria you typically use. If possible, take it a step further and align new outlets on the list with the next three to six months of planned news.

Using search data to expand your media list a couple of times a year will add tremendous ROI to your PR strategy. In addition to providing a creative way to identify new outlets, this exercise will ensure that you’re maintaining pace with key competitors and will increase SEO success through backlink expansion.

SEO data
media lists
brand relevance

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