The most powerful thing you can do is set your site up to attract links without lifting a finger.
The way to accomplish that is by creating content that ranks and drives views and links without needing to promote them through email outreach. That said, not every asset that ranks will attract links… there are certain “organic discovery” queries that are more likely to generate these than others.
On the other side, certain search results appear as though they may have high link intent, and make you think you can pitch them through outreach. However, their surface characteristics are actually misleading, as pitching them can be more difficult than it seems on the surface.
In today’s video, I break down the differences between these query types and how you may utilize them to build a link-rich content marketing campaign.
Hi. I’m Ross Hudgens, founder of Siege Media. And today, I want to tell you the difference between organic discovery search results and pitchable search results.
So a couple of weeks ago, I tweeted something about Ahrefs backlinks study that touched on the importance of using ranking as a link building strategy, which got a surprising amount of engagement.
I thought it was worth diving into the difference between these two things and why it matters and how to leverage it to your advantage. So what I mean by organic discovery is functionally the idea of if someone finds your result on a Google search, they will reference it and link to it just naturally without you having to pitch them.
Organic Discovery Search Results
And then pitchable query is obviously the reverse. You have to pitch sites in order to generate links for those topics or keywords. Why this matters is if you go to a search result, say it’s like “best infographics”, you’ll see the top five or so.
They have 20-plus links. This means in general, this is a high intent to link query. However, you don’t yet know if those links are generated through organic discovery, or through pitching sites one to one.
Why this matters is because if you set it up for one thing and you do the other, you won’t be able to generate a lot of links. So an example of this might be “drunk driving statistics”.
So if you go to the search result, you’ll see a ton of links to the top ranking assets, but the nature of this market, there aren’t that many people you can build an infographic or data visualization around these statistics for and actually pitch it successfully.
So if you look at that result and you just say, “Hey, someone wants to link to this stuff,” and then you go pitch it, you’re not going to succeed super well because of that.
And on the reverse side, there are some search results that won’t really generate that many links from just ranking. It’s actually because people have pitched them over time and generate those links to gain that momentum and get in the search results.
So if you misidentify one or the other, you can actually end up not ranking on either and having a lower success rate overall. So, I want to get into that and show you how to differentiate between the two and use it to your advantage.
So specific to a organic discovery query, what I recommend here, and also for the pitchable queries, is to just take it a step further in terms of evaluating the search result.
So you see they have 20-plus links, go into a few of those link backlink profiles and actually see the type of links that are being generated there. So if you open those links, you’ll take a look at them. You’ll notice one thing about organic discovery type link markets is we see the people that reference them, they’re rarely the primary part of that article.
Because if they’re… sometimes in the drunk driving statistics, it’s just some reporter that’s secondarily looking for a statistic to back up their study. They’re not specifically going to write about your article being so great because then it doesn’t make sense in the context of that situation. They’re instead going to reference it as a one-off, find supporting data, and link to you because of that. You’re not going to be the primary vehicle of that story.
And similarly, because… You’ll see this happen more and more often. On these kinds of results is the secondary reference rather than the primary reference. It’s those other markets, maybe it’s wedding planning timeline or some kind of printable that has top funnel search volume, where pitching makes more sense.
Pitchable Search Results
A lot of times, you’ll see those people that link to those sites on the top 5 or 10, they’ll sometimes be the primary story instead of the secondary one.
That means some blogger saw this or was pitched this as the entire story that they wrote about. You can see that difference because if you see they’re the primary story, that means it’s pitchable because they’re ready to link to it in a unique fashion. But if it’s a secondary vehicle, that reporter needs to wait for the exact moment to be able to reference that article and you can’t get in front of them via pitch in order to do that.
You have to find the perfect intersection of those two in order to stand out. So in the drunk driving statistics result example, what you actually want to do is just build something that allows you to rank for this organic discovery term in terms of SEO best practice, making it great, hopefully, you have the domain authority, you can put it higher on your hierarchy. It’s just less likely you can build an infographic or something to support that, pitch it, and generate links.
Primary Story But Not Pitchable
Another consideration here, when you’re thinking about organic discovery versus pitchable markets, sometimes you’ll actually notice people only reference that specific thing, but it takes them forever to write the article that they’re writing.
So an example of this would be in the recipe market. You’re doing a chocolate chip cookie recipe… so you’ll see bloggers will actually find some amazing recipe and then go write about it and do their own take on it, but it takes hours to make a recipe like that.
You think they’re just going to take your cold pitch chocolate chip cookie recipe and write a post that takes three hours? No, you have to rank in those markets in order to get there and that’s going to take time and effort and real skill and, obviously, a great recipe in order to get someone to make and link to that recipe over time. It’s technically a primary story, just not the kind of primary story you want.
So you can see those two variables being at play here. You want to find those sites and their link results that show people have linked to this as a primary story, but not taking forever in doing so, which means there’s likely something about that concept that makes it easily shareable.
Maybe it’s a shareable asset, infographic, data visualization in some way, or maybe it’s on a link list, which is relatively quick as well, or they’re linking to it as a secondary resource. That’s an organic discovery kind of market.
Or a three-plus-hour kind of resource, that’s also an organic discovery kind of market. You have to leverage these concepts and this idea that knowing whether it’s pitchable or organic discovery to know if you need to pitch this or if you can even rank for it up front.
And that can inform your prioritization efforts to say, “Can we rank for chocolate chip cookie recipe today as a year one website?” Almost certainly not. That’s a long-term strategic decision. And on the reverse side, if you’re building the drunk driving statistics posts and you know you can’t pitch that, you better have some firepower in terms of getting it higher in your site architecture in order to get it to rank.
No Topic is Exactly One Thing
So I think it’s also worth noting, as a final point on this, that it’s not always black and white. Sometimes these things coexist at different levels.
On some B2C statistics examples, some facts queries, and the best infographics example we mentioned earlier that are high organic discovery, they aren’t *just* discovery focused. If you build sharable assets into the concepts and are aware a linkable market exists, you can definitely generate links through pitching.
Organic discovery still happens in those markets, and in general, it’s always a good idea to start ranking and plan for that, but you should know the difference when considering the market and understanding the variables and also setting expectations.
Because simply because you rank number one for some query that maybe isn’t going to generate actual sales for you doesn’t mean you’re going to suddenly attract thousands of links.
So in general, when we’re defining strategy, we’re understanding this entire spectrum. Yes, trying to plan for things that generate brand awareness and organic links over time, but also setting up the high organic discovery vehicles as soon as possible in the campaign in order to get that benefit over time of those rankings because it takes a while to rank things and when you can’t pitch those, it’s going to take even longer as well.
So hopefully, this was a useful exercise to think about organic discovery versus pitchable queries as a method of prioritizing concepts you create and promote. If you have a specific query you’d like me to look at, I’d be happy to give you some feedback in the comments. So let me know what that search is and I’ll let you know my own insights or thoughts on that.