By Razvan Gavrilas
30 Nov 2015

3 Great Ideas on How to Convert (Unlinked) Brand Mentions into Links

Advanced Link Building     SEO Strategy

Articles and opinions are published daily on the ultra-discussed topic of link building. A simple search on Google with the “link building” query will prompt a “link building is dead” auto complete.

Despite this, link building is far from dead.

Articles and opinions are published daily on the ultra-discussed topic of link building. A simple search on Google with the “link building” query will prompt a “link building is dead” auto complete.

Despite this, link building is far from dead.

It would be arrogant to say link building (or even SEO) is exactly the same as it was a couple years ago. It’s true that the landscape of SEO and link building is always changing, but this hasn’t put an end to link building. This only means that the importance of building high-quality links has never been higher.

When it comes to link-building, you need to know the difference between good links and bad. And you need to know how to build quality links with tactics that aren’t extremely used and abused. Whether your business is new to link building, or you have been doing it for a while, there is an underused link building technique that might help you to secure high quality links: Web Mentions.


We all want to earn more and better links, and web mentions can help.

In this post I am going to expose some of the greatest ways to get links using web mentions, noting that we don’t believe in “success formulas” which work flawlessly--regardless of the context--but in ideas that might help in creating your digital marketing strategies.

1. Unlinked Mentions

The Unlinked Mentions technique is simply finding brand mentions without links.

However, finding these link opportunities isn’t a ride in the park. It requires perseverance, attention, thinking outside-the-box, and also some marketing tools. Of course, you might do the job without tools; all you need to do is find anything written about your brand on the internet.

But thousands of pages are created every day on the web. And from this never ending sea of content you need to find where and when you are mentioned. Moreover, you want to find those web mentions that don’t have a link to your website; mentions that represent link opportunities for you.

Having the right tools at our disposal will save us an unimaginable amount of time in finding unlinked mentions.

Let’s say we are interested in the coffeehouse chain Starbucks. A simple search in Google serves us with around 154,000,000 results. Let's narrow the results by searching “Starbucks articles” that appeared within the last week. This leads to 124,000 results. And these are broad results that may not include what we are most interested in, web mentions. 

That’s why I created BrandMentions: to help find relevant and fresh web mentions.

As we can see in the screenshot below, last week Starbucks had no fewer than 1000 web mentions. Thumbs up for Starbucks, as this is quite an impressive number given the fact that we only took into consideration the mentions written in English.


Therefore, half the job is done - all we need to do now is to find the unlinked mention.

Having a list of the URLs containing mentions, we could try the “classic” method. This would mean to use advanced Google search operators in order to find if certain mentions are linked or not. In our case, it would be a formula such as the one in the screenshot below.


A bit complicated, isn’t it?

It would be handier to use BrandMentions’ friendly interface to identify the unlinked mentions. The advantage is that we can access the mention directly from the tool and we don’t have to search with advanced Google formulas for each and every mention.

Once you click on a URL, simply use the find function (ctrl+F) to look for your brand on the page. In our case, we found an important mention for Starbucks, an article written on a media site, dedicated exclusively to Starbucks’s Holiday cup. As we take a closer look we notice that even if this is a dedicated article, there is no link to Starbucks’ page, blog, social networks or anything.


Once we “identify” the missing link, a bit of outreach needs to be done. Who is the author of the article? How do we find him/her? Is he/she affiliated with the website our mention is on?

In our case, identifying the author of the unlinked mention is an easy job as all the details were mentioned on the website. As you can see in the screenshot below, we can find a few things about the author and we can even search for him on the social networks.


Now that we have all the details, we can contact him, build a relationship, and ask him to add a link to the article. This way, we can obtain a high-quality link and potentially gain a long-term relationship.


2. Community Engagement

No matter how large or small, a business is part of the community in which it operates.

It’s the law of nature that if you take something, you need to give something in return. But how does this lead to link opportunity? Let’s take Starbucks' example again.

One of Starbucks’ beliefs, declared by the company is Fair Trade, a quite important and trending matter. Fair Trade represents a comprehensive approach to ethical sourcing, using responsible purchasing practices; farmer support; economic, social and environmental standards; industry collaboration and community development programs.

In the glocalized world we are living in, fair trade is (or should be) a point of interest for all of us, regardless of the position we are: producers or consumers. And with Fair Trade being such an important matter, it wouldn’t be a bad idea for Starbucks to associate itself with events in this theme.

Search for “fair trade” in UK only and we seen that there were no fewer than 704 mentions in one week. Analyzing some of them, we notice that most relate to events that promote fair trade products, even events specialized in fair trade coffee.


In the screenshot below you can see an event from UK initiated by a student association where fair trade coffee is being promoted. It looks like a great event for Starbucks to associate itself with, and opportunity to lend their support.


Again, it's not just a high-quality link that is gained here but also community engagement that cannot be quantified in traffic stats or SEO value, but in a long term win-win relationship.

3. Monitor Competitors, Influencers and Topics

Monitoring competitors, topics, and influencers in your niche is always a good idea. Yet, how can you earn links through monitoring your niche?

Let’s say you are a travel agency in Canada interested in getting more and better links and therefore, more online visibility. You can always chose to take a look over the fence and spy on your competitors. Where do they have links, what strategies are they using, and what mentions are they receiving?

Let's take another example: Marlin Travel, a well-known travel agency in Canada.


We can see they are mentioned in quite a range of articles. For instance, one of the articles they are mentioned in is about a charity action centered around donating shoes to homeless women at their offices. A very nice thing to do which also creates a link opportunity.

The main topics and influencers in your niche can also be a great source of links.

As we take a look at the trending topics from “holiday destination” query in Canada we notice that political issues along with different destinations' local news are among the most discussed topics. Therefore, the main influencers in our niche could be reporters or writers affiliated with newspapers. Contacting them could be a great idea, not only for a link but for an overall marketing strategy.


As mentioned at the beginning of the article there is no single “success formula” in building high quality links, except perhaps an unconditional acceptance of how the digital marketing landscape is shaped, and how to successfully navigate it.

Perseverance, open mindedness, context adapting, and tenacity are the “weapons” that will help you get the links you deserve.

Razvan Gavrilas

Razvan Gavrilas is the Founder & Chief Architect of cognitiveSEO & BrandMentions, tools to help you monitor, research and improve your digital marketing. Razvan has over 15 years of internet marketing experience and has improved the digital marketing strategy for both small businesses and large enterprises.