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What It Is & How To Use It For Link Building



Over the last decade, we’ve seen an increase in the number of agencies and in-house teams who use “digital PR” without their digital marketing strategy, focusing on driving links that impact organic search performance.

Essentially, the SEO industry started to borrow techniques that the PR industry had been using for decades and applied them to the digital world.

This included things such as:

  • Building relationships with journalists.
  • Building value in “black books” of contacts to use with different clients.
  • Integrating stories and hooks into the content.
  • Using press releases to capture the attention of journalists (and not just for spammy link building!)
  • Use survey data to drive content and stories.

This, coupled with the rise of content marketing as a link-building tactic, led to today’s digital PR industry.

For a while, most activities from digital PR happened via the creation of large-scale, “hero” campaigns that may take weeks or even months to put together and launch.

While these are still very active, the last 18 months have also seen the rise of a new tactic within digital PR – reactive.

Today, I want to talk about reactive digital PR and give you an overview of what it is, how to know if you can use it, and how to get the most out of it if you do try it.

What Is Reactive Digital PR?

Reactive digital PR is when you spot an opportunity to gain coverage and links for a business and react quickly to that opportunity to seize it.

It’s dependent on someone else (usually a journalist or news outlet) publishing a story that fits the business you’re working with.

You then react to that story. By its nature, it can be difficult to plan how to seize the opportunity.

Contrast this with proactive digital PR, where planned campaigns aim to push messages to your target audience that they may not have otherwise heard.

Is Reactive Digital PR For Everyone?

Definitely not.

Using reactive digital PR relies on several factors to be successful.

If these factors are an issue for your business, you may find this isn’t a technique providing a good return on investment for you.

Here are some examples of what you need to think about when you consider trying reactive digital PR.

Topical Relevance

Some industries are naturally talked about in the news more often than others. Some will have clear, repetitive news cycles that allow you to predict when reactive digital PR opportunities will present themselves to you.

For example, it’s almost certain that the following will appear in the news cycle over and over again regularly:

  • Budget announcements from the U.K. government and the impact of it.
  • Christmas gift guides and the most popular toys each year.
  • The housing market and price increases/decreases.

There are many more, but hopefully, you get the idea that the press will continually discuss certain topics.

If you work in an industry where, to put it bluntly, not a whole lot changes or happens when it comes to the news cycle, then reactive digital PR may be a challenge.

It won’t be impossible, but you may need to temper your expectations and refrain from spending too much time or resources.

On the other hand, if you work in an industry where the topic is discussed frequently, you’ll naturally get more chances to utilize reactive digital PR, which means that you may decide to invest more.


As the name and process suggest, speed is essential for reactive digital PR.

You often need to react to an opportunity within a few hours or, at the most, a few days.

Even if you’re fast, you may get drowned out by others trying to react quickly. If you can’t react quickly in the first place, you have little chance of the technique working for you.

Ideally, you should have a good level of trust and autonomy from the business and key stakeholders to make reactive digital PR work well.

Try to avoid long timeframes for approvals or decisions by committees when producing content or comments for a story.

Even if you don’t have full autonomy, reactive digital PR can still work if you have a stakeholder on your side who understands the need to move quickly and can approve whatever you need in a timely manner.

Realistic Expectations

We’ll talk about this more shortly, but in summary, reactive digital PR is a short, sharp project that can yield good levels of links but is unlikely to lead to the same results as a hero campaign that goes viral.

Of course, this can happen, but in most cases, you’ll end up with dozens of links (not hundreds) due to reactive digital PR.

Because of this, your stakeholders (and you!) must have the right expectations when going into this tactic and understand this is different from other forms of digital PR and link building.

It’s a bit like how certain types of technical SEO fixes will have different levels of impact on organic search results.

You’ll need a stakeholder team that understands this and keeps expectations in check.

Overall, if you have concerns in any of these areas, reactive digital PR may not be right for your business, or it may be worth trying out before committing too many resources.

Opportunities You’re Likely To Find

Reactive digital PR will likely present you with opportunities to do several things that may lead to coverage and links.

These aren’t mutually exclusive to the opportunities that larger, hero-style campaigns may present, but they are more likely to come about without the need for large-scale content.

Comments On Topical News Stories

There will be times when a journalist is looking for some additional credibility from an industry expert to add to an existing story they are writing.

When this happens, they may tweet using this type of hashtag or use services such as HARO or ResponseSource.

Monitoring these areas can help you spot opportunities for your in-house experts to provide a comment accompanied by a brand mention or, even better, a link.

It can also be a chance to gain credibility in this topic area and build a relationship with the journalist who may come directly to you in the future for more comments.

Content On A Specific News Item

Sometimes, you will use reactive digital PR to produce content you provide to journalists to help support stories they may be planning to publish on a news item.

Compared to hero-style campaigns, the key difference is that you’re producing the content very, very quickly and making it specific to the news item or topic already being talked about (or will be very soon).

The idea is that you’re spotting a trend likely to be written about over the next few days or weeks, and you’re producing a piece of content journalists can use to add more value to what they plan to write.

Your content should be simple, easy to produce, and add unique information to a developing news story.

This will often be a piece of data or a simple visualization.

Additions To Existing Stories

It’s actually fairly common for journalists to update news stories after publication.

This is particularly common for developing news where more information is gathered and can add to the existing story.

You will have opportunities to add value to an existing story that you’ve seen a journalist already write and publish.

Now, this can be hard, and you should only do this if the content or comment you have to offer will genuinely add value to the existing story.

If not, you’re likely to get a negative response from the journalist.

What Results You’re Likely To Drive With Reactive Digital PR

As mentioned above, set expectations with this tactic. It won’t always yield the results of a larger, planned hero campaign.

But as with most things, it’s hard to predict.

Remember that the time and resources you invest should be proportionate to the expected results.

If reactive digital PR tasks take you 15 minutes and you only get one link, that’s actually a good return on the time that you’ve spent.

You should also keep in mind you’re likely to get a mix of regular links, nofollow links and brand mentions with this type of activity.

You can certainly do your best to turn a brand mention into a link, but this isn’t always possible.

Again, this isn’t a huge issue because it’s perfectly normal and natural to get a mix of results, but set expectations with stakeholders that this is likely to be the case before starting.

How To Prepare For Reactive Digital PR

Even though reactive digital PR is hard to plan for, you can stack the deck in your favor a few ways so that when the time comes, you have the best possible chance of taking advantage.

Available Expert With Opinions

Spend time working out who to go to in your business for expert comments on the core topics you want to cover.

For smaller businesses, this may just be one person. Larger businesses may have different specialists for different areas.

Whichever it is, find out who these people are and introduce them to the idea of what you’d like to do.

From here, assuming that they are on board, you can arrange to speak to them directly if comments are needed and communicate the need to get comments quickly where possible.

It’s also worth noting that you need them to have an opinion!

It may sound a bit strange, but ideally, they should have reasonably clear or strong views to stand out to a journalist writing about that topic.

You don’t need extreme opinions, but you should probably know which side of the fence they sit on in most situations.

Planned Dates

There will be certain dates over the year when topics are written about more often than usual.

There are obvious topics, such as Christmas and Halloween, but many others to cover.

For example, did you know that No Dirty Dishes Day is a thing?

Or that National Dance Like a Chicken Day happens every year?

While some are clearly not serious and just a bit of fun, look for days of the year relevant to your topic and may provoke news and stories from journalists.

If you can do this and prepare some content that ties to the day of the year, you can pitch this content to journalists ahead of time and perhaps get covered in their stories.

Assets Already Signed Off

Speed is important for reactive digital PR.

To help combat content production and sign-off slow down, prepare by preparing assets before you actually need them.

When the time comes, and a key topic is in the news, you have content ready to go and can pitch it quickly – instead of waiting for it to be signed off and slowing you down.

One way to do this is to spend 30 to 45 minutes on a call with one of your experts and interview them on the topic in question.

This can lead to a goldmine of insights and comments for reactive digital PR.

Reactive digital PR can be a great method for generating more links and coverage for a brand, but it’s not for everyone.

If you do go ahead with it, plan as much as you can in advance and prepare to move quickly when opportunities present themselves.

More resources:

Featured Image: wellphoto/Shutterstock


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Google Updating Cryptocurrency Advertising Policy For 2024




Google Updating Cryptocurrency Advertising Policy For 2024

Google published an announcement of upcoming changes to their cryptocurrency advertising policies and advises advertisers to make themselves aware of the changes and prepare to be in compliance with the new requirements.

The upcoming updates are to Google’s Cryptocurrencies and related products policy for the advertisement of Cryptocurrency Coin Trusts. The changes are set to take effect on January 29th, 2024.

Cryptocurrency Coin Trusts are financial products that enable investors to trade shares in trusts holding substantial amounts of digital currency. These trusts provide investors with equity in cryptocurrencies without having direct ownership. They are also an option for creating a more diversified portfolio.

The policy updates by Google that are coming in 2024 aim to describe the scope and requirements for the advertisement of Cryptocurrency Coin Trusts. Advertisers targeting the United States will be able to promote these products and services as long as they abide by specific policies outlined in the updated requirements and that they also obtain certification from Google.

The updated policy changes are not limited to the United States. They will apply globally to all accounts advertising Cryptocurrency Coin Trusts.

Google’s announcement also reminded advertisers of their obligation for compliance to local laws in the areas where the ads are targeted.

Google’s approach for violations of the new policy will be to first give a warning before imposing an account suspension.

Advertisers that fail to comply with the updated policy will receive a warning at least seven days before a potential account suspension. This time period provides advertisers with an opportunity to fix non-compliance issues and to get back into compliance with the revised guidelines.

Advertisers are encouraged to refer to Google’s documentation on “About restricted financial products certification.”

The deadline for the change in policy is January 29th, 2024. Cryptocurrency Coin Trusts advertisers will need to pay close attention to the updated policies in order to ensure compliance.

Read Google’s announcement:

Updates to Cryptocurrencies and related products policy (December 2023)

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SEO Trends You Can’t Ignore In 2024



SEO Trends You Can’t Ignore In 2024

Most SEO trends fade quickly. But some of them stick and deserve your attention.

Let’s explore what those are and how to take advantage of them.

If you give ChatGPT a title and ask it to write a blog post, it will—in seconds.

This is super impressive, but there are a couple of issues:

  • Everyone else using ChatGPT is creating the same content. It’s the same for users of other GPT-powered AI writing tools, too—which is basically all of them.
  • The content is extremely dull. Sure, you can ask ChatGPT to “make it more entertaining,” but it usually overcompensates and hands back a cringe version of the same boring content.

In the words of Gael Breton:

How to take advantage of this SEO trend

Don’t use AI to write entire articles. They’ll be boring as heck. Instead, use it as a creative sparring partner to help you write better content and automate monotonous tasks.

For example, you can ask ChatGPT To write an outline from a working title and a list of keywords (which you can pull from Ahrefs)—and it does a pretty decent job.


Create an outline for a post entitled “[working title]” based on these keywords: [list]


ChatGPT's outline for a blog post. Pretty good!ChatGPT's outline for a blog post. Pretty good!

When you’ve written your draft, you can ask to polish it in seconds by asking ChatGPT to proofread it.

ChatGPT proofreading my content and making it betterChatGPT proofreading my content and making it better

Then you can automate the boring stuff, like creating more enticing title tags…

ChatGPT writing enticing title tagsChatGPT writing enticing title tags

… and writing a meta description:

ChatGPT writing a meta descriptionChatGPT writing a meta description

If you notice a few months down the line that your content ranks well but hasn’t won the featured snippet, ChatGPT can help with that, too.

For example, Ahrefs tells us we rank in position 3 for “affiliate marketing” but don’t own the snippet.

Ahrefs showing featured snippets that we don't own, despite ranking in the top 3Ahrefs showing featured snippets that we don't own, despite ranking in the top 3

If we check Google, the snippet is a definition. Asking ChatGPT to simplify our definition may solve this problem.

ChatGPT rewriting a definition and making it betterChatGPT rewriting a definition and making it better

In short, there are a near-infinite number of ways to use ChatGPT (and other AI writing tools) to create better content. And all of them buck the trend of asking it to write boring, boilerplate articles from scratch.

Programmatic SEO refers to the creation of keyword-targeted pages in an automatic (or near automatic) way.

Nomadlist’s location pages are a perfect example:

Example of a page from NomadListExample of a page from NomadList

Each page focuses on a specific city and shares the same core information—internet speeds, cost, temperature, etc. All of this information is pulled programmatically from a database and the site gets an estimated 46k monthly search visits in total.

Estimated monthly search traffic to NomadListEstimated monthly search traffic to NomadList

Programmatic SEO is nothing new. It’s been around forever. It’s just the hot thing right now because AI tools like ChatGPT make it easier and more accessible than ever before.

The problem? As John Mueller pointed out on Twitter X, much of it is spam:

How to take advantage of this SEO trend

Don’t use programmatic SEO to publish insane amounts of spam that’ll probably get hit in the next Google update. Use it to scale valuable content that will stand the test of time.

For example, Wise’s currency conversion pages currently get an estimated 31.7M monthly search visits:

Estimated monthly search traffic to Wise's currently conversion pages (insane!)Estimated monthly search traffic to Wise's currently conversion pages (insane!)

This is because the content is actually useful. Each page features an interactive tool showing the live exchange rate for any amount…

The interactive currently conversion tool on Wise's pagesThe interactive currently conversion tool on Wise's pages

… the exchange rate over time…

The exchange rate over time graph on Wise's pagesThe exchange rate over time graph on Wise's pages

… a handy email notification option when the exchange rates exceed a certain amount…

The email notification option on Wise's pagesThe email notification option on Wise's pages

… handy conversion charts for popular amounts…

The handy conversion charts on Wise's pagesThe handy conversion charts on Wise's pages

… and a comparison of the cheapest ways to send money abroad in your chosen currency:

The useful comparison table on Wise's pagesThe useful comparison table on Wise's pages

It doesn’t matter that all of these pages use the same template. The data is exactly what you want to see when you search [currency 1] to [currency 2].

That’s probably why Wise ranks in the top 10 for over 66,000 of these keywords:

Wise's keyword rankings for currency conversion pagesWise's keyword rankings for currency conversion pages

Looking to take advantage of programmatic content in 2024 like Wise? Check out the guide below.

People love ChatGPT because it answers questions fast and succinctly, so it’s no surprise that generative AI is already making its way into search.

For example, if you ask Bing for a definition or how to do something basic, AI will generate an answer on the fly right there in the search results.

Bing's search results for "definition of mental health"Bing's search results for "definition of mental health"
Bing's search results for "how to add drop down list in google sheets"Bing's search results for "how to add drop down list in google sheets"

In other words, thanks to AI, users no longer have to click on a search result for answers to simple questions. It’s like featured snippets on steroids.

This might not be a huge deal right now, but when Google’s version of this (Search Generative Experience) comes out of beta, many websites will see clicks fall off a cliff.

How to take advantage of this SEO trend

Don’t invest too much in topics that generative AI can easily answer. You’ll only lose clicks like crazy to AI in the long run. Instead, start prioritizing topics that AI will struggle to answer.

How do you know which topics it will struggle to answer? Try asking ChatGPT. If it gives a good and concise answer, it’s clearly an easy question.

For example, there are hundreds of searches for how to calculate a percentage in Google Sheets every month in the US:

Estimated monthly search volume for "google sheets percentage formula" via Ahrefs' Keywords ExplorerEstimated monthly search volume for "google sheets percentage formula" via Ahrefs' Keywords Explorer

If you ask ChatGPT for the solution, it gives you a perfect answer in about fifty words.

ChatGPT's answer to the Google Sheets percentage calculation formulaChatGPT's answer to the Google Sheets percentage calculation formula

This is the perfect example of a topic where generative AI will remove the need to click on a search result for many.

That’s probably not going to be the case for a topic like this:

Example of a topic that AI shouldn't impact too muchExample of a topic that AI shouldn't impact too much

Sure. Generative AI might be able to tell you how to create a template—but it can’t make one for you. And even if it can in the future, it will never be a personal finance expert with experience. You’ll always have to click on a search result for a template created by that person.

These are the kinds of topics to prioritize in 2024 and beyond.


None of this means you should stop targeting “simple” topics altogether. You’ll always be able to get some traffic from them. My point is not to be obsessed with ranking for keywords whose days are numbered. Prioritize topics with long-term value instead.

Bonus: 3 SEO trends to ignore in 2024

Not all SEO trends move the needle. Here are just a few of those trends and why you should ignore them.

People are using voice search more than ever

In 2014, Google revealed that 41% of Americans use voice search daily. According to research by UpCity, that number was up to 50% as of 2022. I haven’t seen any data for 2023 yet, but I’d imagine it’s above 50%.

Why you should ignore this SEO trend

75% of voice search results come from a page ranking in the top 3, and 40.7% come from a featured snippet. If you’re already optimizing for those things, there’s not much more you can do.

People are using visual search for shopping more than ever

In 2022, Insider Intelligence reported that 22% of US adults have shopped with visual search (Google Lens, Bing Visual Search, etc.). That number is up from just 15% in 2021.

Why you should ignore this SEO trend

Much like voice search, there’s no real way to optimize for visual search. Sure, it helps to have good quality product images, optimized filenames and alt text, and product schema markup on your pages—but you should be doing this stuff anyway as it’s been a best practice since forever.

People are using Bing more than ever before

Bing’s Yusuf Mehdi announced in March 2023 that the search engine had surpassed 100M daily active users for the first time ever. This came just one month after the launch of AI-powered Bing.

Why you should ignore this SEO trend

Bing might be more popular than ever, but its market share still only stands at around ~3% according to estimates by Statcounter. Google’s market share stands at roughly 92%, so that’s the one you should be optimizing for.

Plus, it’s often the case that if you rank in Google, you also rank in Bing—so it really doesn’t deserve any focus.

Final thoughts

Keeping your finger on the pulse and taking advantage of trends makes sense, but don’t let them distract you from the boring stuff that’s always worked: find what people are searching for > create content about it > build backlinks > repeat.

Got questions? Ping me on Twitter X.

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Mozilla VPN Security Risks Discovered




Mozilla VPN Security Risks Discovered

Mozilla published the results of a recent third-party security audit of its VPN services as part of it’s commitment to user privacy and security. The survey revealed security issues which were presented to Mozilla to be addressed with fixes to ensure user privacy and security.

Many search marketers use VPNs during the course of their business especially when using a Wi-Fi connection in order to protect sensitive data, so the  trustworthiness of a VNP is essential.

Mozilla VPN

A Virtual Private Network (VPN), is a service that hides (encrypts) a user’s Internet traffic so that no third party (like an ISP) can snoop and see what sites a user is visiting.

VPNs also add a layer of security from malicious activities such as session hijacking which can give an attacker full access to the websites a user is visiting.

There is a high expectation from users that the VPN will protect their privacy when they are browsing on the Internet.

Mozilla thus employs the services of a third party to conduct a security audit to make sure their VPN is thoroughly locked down.

Security Risks Discovered

The audit revealed vulnerabilities of medium or higher severity, ranging from Denial of Service (DoS). risks to keychain access leaks (related to encryption) and the lack of access controls.

Cure53, the third party security firm, discovered and addressed several risks. Among the issues were potential VPN leaks to the vulnerability of a rogue extension that disabled the VPN.

The scope of the audit encompassed the following products:

  • Mozilla VPN Qt6 App for macOS
  • Mozilla VPN Qt6 App for Linux
  • Mozilla VPN Qt6 App for Windows
  • Mozilla VPN Qt6 App for iOS
  • Mozilla VPN Qt6 App for Androi

These are the risks identified by the security audit:

  • FVP-03-003: DoS via serialized intent
  • FVP-03-008: Keychain access level leaks WG private key to iCloud
  • VP-03-010: VPN leak via captive portal detection
  • FVP-03-011: Lack of local TCP server access controls
  • FVP-03-012: Rogue extension can disable VPN using mozillavpnnp (High)

The rogue extension issue was rated as high severity. Each risk was subsequently addressed by Mozilla.

Mozilla presented the results of the security audit as part of their commitment to transparency and to maintain the trust and security of their users. Conducting a third party security audit is a best practice for a VPN provider that helps assure that the VPN is trustworthy and reliable.

Read Mozilla’s announcement:
Mozilla VPN Security Audit 2023

Featured Image by Shutterstock/Meilun

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