Safe link-building tactics explained – chasing unlinked brand mentions

Link building is often referred to as one of the most difficult and time-consuming aspects of SEO. With Google constantly clamping down on tactics, it’s becoming more and more important to master safe link-building tactics and age-old techniques; one of which is chasing unlinked brand mentions.

If done correctly, you’ll find that this can be one of the most effective and sustainable ways to bag yourself some high-quality links.

Unlike certain other link-building tactics, this technique is a completely legitimate and safe way to build links, as most of the time the sites that you’re contacting have already mentioned your brand, so you’re not so much bribing them as chancing your hand. The only real damage you could do is create a bad impression for your brand, but we’ll be providing some tips on how to avoid that.

Safe link-building tactics:

How do I Search For Brand Mentions?

When it comes down to the functionality of finding relevant brand mentions, techniques can vary depending on the size of your brand, your type of brand and how much coverage you typically get. Multiple tools allow you to monitor your brand mentions such as Moz’s Fresh Web Explorer and RankTank’s Unlinked Mentions Finder however, I find using Google’s search modifiers does the job just as well.

Using Google’s search term guidelines, I have asked to only show results with the exact term ‘SixSearch’, excluding the website itself to avoid any unnecessary results. This saves you from having to wade through thousands of useless brand mentions.

Setting a date range is also important when it comes down to filtering out redundant results. To do this, click the ‘Tools’ tab underneath the search bar and select ‘Custom Range’ from the drop-down menu. For small to medium-sized brands, doing a check every month should be enough, however depending on the nature of the brand it may be appropriate to check every couple of weeks. If you’re dealing with a larger brand that tends to get mentioned more often, performing weekly checks might be a good idea just to stay on top of things.

When beginning this technique, it isn’t recommended to go back looking for unlinked brand mentions any older than 3 months as the likelihood is that the author won’t be interested in editing an article that’s months/years old, so it’s best to concentrate on more recent articles if you’re looking for a higher success rate.

Deciding Who To Contact


As you’re trawling through new brand mentions, you can create a spreadsheet to record any new mentions, what type of mention it is (e.g. Blog, local press, regional press), the sentiment of the article, the action required and contact details. You should only really contact authors who have written a positive article about your brand, otherwise you risk negative publicity. Also, the chances of an angry author giving you a link are pretty low.

Over time you’ll begin to recognise and avoid contacting the kinds of publications that have strict linking policies. Most of the time these are national/regional publications, so it’s advised to target smaller publications and independent websites/blogs if you want to be efficient with your link-building. Lastly, before deciding on who to contact it’s always a good idea to double-check if the authors are already known to you. I always send the list of contacts across to the Digital PR team/client to ensure we haven’t previously contacted them – you won’t just lose a link opportunity, you also might damage your relationship with them!


Finally, the last step in implementing safe link-building tactics is to reach out and use some persuasive language to turn the brand mention into a link. When you recorded the brand mention and contact details, you should have evaluated whether the person you’re contacting has the authority to insert the link. If you can find details for the exact author then that’s great. If not, you need to look for the next in command i.e. the digital editor. If all else fails, a generic email will have to do.

Here are 3 tips to keep in mind when reaching out:

  • Keep it personal – It’s no good to use a cookie-cutter approach for each contact. Your chances of getting a link greatly increase when you address them by their proper name and tailor the email to them rather than mass copy and paste.
  • Provide some value – After all, what’s to stop them from completely ignoring your email? To get a good response you’ll want to show them that there’s something in it for them or their readers.
  • Follow-up – You’d be surprised at the amount of responses a simple follow-up email can generate! The truth is, most of the time people just forget to reply and a polite nudge or two is all it takes to get that link.
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