On Avoiding Penalties and Increasing Conversions

On Avoiding Penalties and Increasing Conversions

23rd May 2013

The media is in a real state of change, and in my opinion we are nowhere near reaching a plateau. Change is still to come. Who knows if it will ever even out?

One thing is for sure: we are in a multi-platform environment. But where the old ‘big media’ was for some time a little like a startled rabbit in the headlights, not really knowing which way to run, most publishers have now at least a strategy, and it includes digital. Which doesn’t just mean online.

Does it matter?

I wish I had a pound for every time someone – usually an SEO professional – repeated that old mantra, “It doesn’t matter where the link’s from. It just needs to be a link.”  And I guess there’s some truth in that. Until, that is, a Panda catches up with you and you spend as much time recovering as you did writing and placing copy in the first place. It’s time to wake up and smell the roses.

My heart bleeds every time someone says to me “You can place an article on [insert topic here] on this wonderful PR 6 site”, which on closer examination covers such closely related subjects as red shoes, leadership and African wildlife, carefully split into those three channels.  Really? You expect that publication to have a good/trusted readership? It may well give you a link. It may well even help your site until such time as the Big Bad Panda comes along and snaffles it. But then, of course, I suppose you can charge your client to undo the damage – assuming they don’t jump ship and get someone else to do it instead.

Come on! We can do so much better. Publishing happens on more than the web. Visits may still come to a central website, but how often do people ever think to look outside of this?  Maybe I’ve been unfortunate, but I’m not hearing much outside of ‘business as usual’ from most SEO sources.

A fresh look at the media

image: panda with paperHere are some media related facts to get you thinking. National media (UK) daily circulation is as follows:

The Sun                2.3 million

Daily Mail             1.8 million

Daily Mirror        1.0 million

Daily Telegraph 0.5 million

Financial Times  0.3 million

But stop! Didn’t these titles used to have far wider circulations? Isn’t old media dead?

Despite the numbers, if you combine digital readership the figures look very different:

The Sun                6.7 million

Daily Mail             4.2 million

Daily Mirror        2.9 million

Daily Telegraph 1.4 million

Financial Times  0.3 million

Over 21 million people buy a paper or access national publications’ websites daily. The potential audience is huge, so if you’re looking for generalist coverage (see shoes, leadership and African wildlife plus more) there’s ‘traffic’ waiting to be had. Far from dying, traditional media is expanding.  Oh, and by the way, those figures exclude access through mobile apps. (Sources: The Guardian – guardian.co.uk – ABCs (Audit Bureau of Circulations figures) for April – Friday 10 May 2013. NRS data for March 2013. Figures rounded to one decimal point.)

That represents  thousands of pages needing to be filled with glorious, engaging content addressing a massive audience. (Warning though: use the term ‘content’ advisedly with the media.)

And don’t overlook the power of broadcast to drive people to your site. Last week over 45 million people watched and average of 26 minutes TV daily. 45 million! Over half of whom were watching BBC1. (Source BARB, May 6 – May 12, 2013)


Ah yes! We got there. The thorny subject of audience. I realise that numbers matter. Lots. But how much better would it be if those numbers didn’t increase your bounce rate because they’re only there for that single article? How good would it be if your conversion rates rocketed? Audience is important.

The average FT reader won’t be looking for the same information (or pictures!) as the Sun reader. Awareness of who would read any blog, media site etc has to be valuable – and not just for pitching. Whilst the shoe-leader-wildlife title may well be found for the odd article, do you really think its sending focussed traffic? Maybe the odd article will, but it’s hit and miss at best.

For shoes think women’s titles. For leadership think business management and leadership titles. For wildlife think nature titles. That’s just for starters. I’m hoping that those punting shoes will be thinking “There’s more than those titles, you know”. Yes! There’s the fashion columns in the nationals. There’s local media. And if people have come to your site from genuine media sources, on a genuinely related topic, they’re far more likely to be ‘warm lead’s traffic, than the person who’s looking at the shoe-leader-wildlife title because one of their articles is there and they chanced on yours. Yes:  I’m talking better conversions.

With a world of possibility at your fingertips on genuinely good media sites – and I include good quality bogs in this category –  why, oh why, would you want to be on an obscure, back street blog with poor editorial values that’s just begging to be ‘got’ by the next algorithm change?

If you’re already link-building, you already have the skills to up your game and tackle placing stories in the genuine media. Sure, you may increase the number of citations compared to links, but – don’t shoot the messenger – that’s what a natural profile looks like.

Featured image source



Written By
Claire Thompson has has 15 years PR experience and runs Waves PR, which she founded. She has great taste in wine and lousy taste in music. The two are not unconnected!
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