With customers’ digital buyer journey often begins with an online search, SEO has become integral to business success. But in a world where content and building relationships have also become so valuable, incorporatingpublicrelationsto SEO can prove to be a practice beneficial to most brands.
The article discusses how you can marry PR and SEO to boost your brand.
What is PR for SEO?
With businesses looking to get any advantage they can get, PR for SEO has become integral to modern marketing programs. As you might have surmised, it’s basically the practice of making public relations and SEO work hand in hand.
A PR campaign is built upon a combination of content – either generated by the brand and its PR firm, or by contributors and op-eds. Particularly in the case of the latter, these are excellent at demonstrating expertise and establishing thought leadership. PR for SEO, therefore, ensures that standard SEO practicesare incorporated into PR-related content, which includes accumulating credible links, integrating relevant keywords, while still maintaining on-brand focus.
Before we get deeper into the subject, take a gander at these SEO numbers:
- 67,000 searches are performed on Google every second.
- 93% of all online experiences begin with a search engine.
- 39% of all global eCommerce traffic comes from search.
- Nearly 80% of users ignore paid ads in search results.
The above establishes theimportance of SEO. But while that goes without saying, here’s how inverse relationship of SEO is with PR professionals according to a survey:
- Of the respondents, only 35.5% said that their agency / employer had adequate in-house expertise on SEO.
- Only 5.4% said they had advanced knowledge of SEO, with the majority of the respondents (22%) saying they had intermediate knowledge of keywords and how to use them.
- Unsurprisingly, 74% said expanding SEO skills was a priority for them.
Why PR and SEO is Better Together
Both professions share the common objective of wanting to put the right content in front of the right audience at the right time. And both PR and SEO need each other to optimize what each does. PR needs SEO analytics data to improve outreach efforts, while SEO practitioners can be greatly aided by PR professionals’ media networks to improve their chances of getting on authoritative blogs and websites.
As obvious as this marriage should have been from the get-go, its concept has taken a while to get the proper traction it deserves. Below are 10 strategies on how to optimize the integration of public relations and SEO.
How to Marry PR and SEO
#1. Education Collaboration
This is a crucial first step. Educating PR specialistsabout general SEO and the benefits it can yield can and vice-versa can elicit the type of appreciation for each other that would encourage learning. It’s also a great way to get both sides to want to be on the same page.
PR teams would benefit a lot from learning about various SEO hacks like keyword rankings, on-page and off-page optimization, backlink building, and even how to disavow backlinks. A good start would be by spending time working on the SEO side of the campaign, performing basickeyword researchand other elementary tasks while being supervised by an expert. This will give PR a heightened appreciation for what the other does.
Inversely, because SEO professionals are so concerned with the technical side of things, they may not have the required appreciation for the value of media outreach and developing those relationships, branding, and other aspects of public relations. As SEO people watch PR pros interact with media members, they can even suggest which media outlets would work well with SEO.
This sort of practical exchanges can greatly boost one’s understanding of the other, making them more conscious of potential shared goals.
#2. Set up a Mentions Alert
During the age of print, PR firms constantly scoured through various publications to monitor the type and number of media mileage they get. This has become much easier in the digital age. You can set up aGoogle Alertto notify you whenever a website mentions your brand/product. A lot of these websites are more than willing to link to your website as this also adds value to their own.
Apart from building more links to your website, this also allows you to build relationships with those websites.
#3. Content Creation
PR deliverables likeguest blogs, op-eds, and other bylined articles can be amplified when combined with SEO. These types of relevant, high-quality content can be crafted to combine tight keyword focus with the authority of top domains. This is particularly effective when content is developed for known B2B media targets, as established trades tend to have reasonable domain authority.
As well, PR professionals have honed their content creation skills, which means SEO can have access to a stream of content. And because Google will index a website the more frequently new content is created, having a consistent stream of content gives you more chances to be indexed and optimized. Frequent updates also equate to authority on a given subject.
This is the reason why B2B programs place great importance on blogging, as well as posting on platforms like Quora. It’s important to note, though, that content is best built around niche topics represented by narrow keywords. For example, “b2b tech pr agency” is much better than “tech pr.”
#4. Branding Alignment
Consistency in branding and on-brand focus is key to public relations. So while SEO professionals may be experts in what it is they do, they still need to keep in mind a few things when working with PR and vice-versa. These include:
#5. Brand Understanding
The SEO side should have a good grasp of how a brand’s products are uniquely positioned in the market and the audience that they’re trying to sell those to. A good way to achieve this is by identifying the problems that the brand’s products solve, and understanding the types of people with those pain points.
Both PR and SEO should have the same goals when creating brand-related content. These could include:
- Making people feel smarter.
- Enhancing the audience’s social experience by providing a subject they can talk about with their peers.
- Easily accessible.
- Build trust by making the audience feel the content was created for them.
#7. Constant Communication
When placing content during a branding campaign, it would be wise to have regularly scheduled meetings between PR and SEO. This would keep you abreast with what the other’s efforts. For example, you can find that there are similar content being developed. This would allow you to collaborate and improve both the content and its outreach, or simply go in another content direction to increase scope.
#7. Optimize Links
As we’ve established, PR is great at getting earned media with the distribution of press releases and non-paid stories. SEO should help PR choose links that have keywords that need ranking boost, while also ensuring that PR is pulling the right URL to link to.
Search Engine Land has a great example. If someone needed a link to “backpacking tents,” that person could easily pull a URL from an internal search query (i.e. https://www.rei.com/search.html?q=backpacking+tents&ir=q%3Abackpacking+tents&page=1) instead of the landing page in the main navigation (https://www.rei.com/c/backpacking-tents). Because the internal search page isn’t indexed, it won’t provide any lift for that particular keyword. This is applicable for any PR person that’s looking to produce content that includes links.
Additionally, there should also be a coordination between PR and SEO to ensure any links from paid sponsorships are nofollowed to avoid potential penalties.
#8. Cultivating Strategic Media Relationships
Public relations is what the name implies—building healthy relationships. When done right, these media relationships often result in high-quality content placement, and a good chance of more future opportunities. This is why constantly and strategically nurturing these types of relationships with journalists, bloggers, influencers, and publishers are crucial for both PR and SEO.
It’s important to keep in mind that when it comes to placements, quality trumps quantity. You’re always going to take one link from The Verge over 10 links from small blogs with very little following as the former is much harder to get and is by far more trustworthy.
This means that you need to keep your target small (10-15), instead of casting a large net and take whoever gets caught. And because it’s a relatively small number, take the time to conduct due diligence on your targets. Once you have an understanding of what they’re about, start engaging with them by paying attention to what they’re saying, commenting on it, and adding value to it via personalization.
It’s always about value exchange. So apart from referencing them in your own content, don’t hesitate to buy that influencer a drink when you get the chance.
#9. Evolved Press Releases
Just like marketing as a whole, press releases have evolved during the course of this digital age. Straight text with a few images won’t suffice anymore. Instead, multimedia components need to be integrated into them to attract and maintain viewer attention. This could include bite-sized videos for the story format, longer form videos, mobile app-focused content, and even gifs. These would be perfect for social media consumption. As well, by incorporating trending keywords to these types of content, you increase the chances of driving the desired traffic to your site.
#10. Manage Reviews
We’ve all done it, consuming reviews to help our purchasing decision. With nearly all online shoppers reading reviews before making a decision, a few negative reviews can greatly impact a business, particularly smaller ones. This is where a part of a PR team can come in, focusing on responding to reviews – both positive and negative. While there’s often nothing you can do to erase a customer’s bad experience, responding to their concerns makes them feel valued, just by their opinion being heard. Reviews are also great at managing expectations. So as long as you respond to negative reviews, you don’t have to fret over it too much.
As well, when consumers search for “______ near me,” sites like TripAdvisor and Yelp are frequently top ranking pages, which can in turn boost SEO.
#11. Tap the Power of Social Media
Despite the decline of organic reach, social media can still be a good source of traffic, particularly when you’re able to create content that trends. These drive valuable traffic to your site, which ultimately improves search rankings. One way to amplify this is by making SEO work with the keywords featured on social media.
Additionally, social media is the perfect space to interact with influencers you’re looking to work with. So apart from building relationships with your audience, make doing the same with prospective partners part of your social media strategy.
#12. Measuring Results
Traditionally, PR was not as well-versed inmeasuring resultsapart from media value. In this digital field, this is where SEO can help out. SEO practitioners who work with PR use a combination of KPIs to determine both short and long-term return of PR for SEO. These include UVMs, URL link, new site quality, social shares, total link quantity, and search engine position rankings for specific online searches.
Best PR for SEO Practices
Don’t Focus on Search
This may sound counterintuitive, but it’s something important to keep in mind when marrying PR and SEO.PR contentcan only be useful for search if a user is specifically looking for that piece of content. This means that PR people need to rethink their approach by answering, “What phrase would someone looking for this story use to search?” In most instances, you’ll realize that what you’re working on isn’t search worthy. That shouldn’t discourage you, though.
For example, if a client was given recognition and you need to issue a press release, do so. While it’s unlikely people will search for that announcement, there are still benefits to dropping the news. Just keep in mind that when it comes to creating content for search, people are searching for answers to questions and problems. This will only be amplified once voice search truly takes off.
Be Creative with Content
This should go without saying, but nonetheless should always be emphasized. And it’s not just with the content itself, but also with the approach. For example, Orbit Media’sannual survey of bloggersis an ingenious idea. Bloggers love being referenced, so most of those included in the survey turn it into a post that garners many links.
Of course, if you have the time and resources, coming up with original research will almost certainly allow you to rank higher.
You may not be a fan of this hot take trend, but it’s a trend because it works. As such, you can try to develop content based on strong opinions – preferably one that isn’t shared by most in the industry. Just try not to be controversial for the sake of being controversial.
It may be referred to as modern marketing, but the mutual benefits PR and SEO offer to each other is as natural as can be. If you’re just starting out, you don’t have to be an expert in either field to reach a modicum of success – all you need to do is keep the above lessons in mind, and get started applying them.
Have you tried to merge your PR and SEO efforts? What results have you seen so far? Let us know in the comments below.