Thanks to Google’s Penguin and Panda algorithmic updates—two changes that have boosted the importance of editorial quality and referral sites, and have nixed the spammier forms of search engine optimization—PR (public relations) and SEO (search engine optimization) have emerged as similar practices. Today PR and SEO have nearly identical goals: to obtain earned media. Both PR and SEO need a backbone of relevant, informative, and newsworthy content.
Indeed, the most successful SEO tactics are now primarily focused on producing quality content that is targeted to specific niche audiences, as well as highly engaged followers and supporters. That’s because content is king in the world of search. However, while most SEO firms are great at infusing content into the digital space, most SEO firms lack the expertise to develop and place content with media outlets.
Likewise, given today’s hyper media-rich digital world, the best PR tactics are also focused on producing rich content that is targeted to specific niche audiences and faithful fans. However, while most PR firms specialize in the development and placement of content, they don’t have a great handle on the technical aspects of how to ensure that content gets maximum digital exposure and penetration.
Indeed, while both SEO and PR efforts focus on the same goal, individually they often fall short of maximum effectiveness. Perhaps that is why more and more companies are beginning to merge their SEO and PR efforts into one. Just like the mix of chocolate and peanut butter were “two great tastes that taste great together”, so are SEO and PR two great strategies that work great together. So what are the best ways to marry PR and SEO efforts?
Here are some practical, internal ways to help marry PR and SEO efforts for maximum exposure and market positioning.
1. Build A Vast Network!
Some business owners think that it is enough to produce content. They believe that “if we write it, they will read it.” Unfortunately, that is not true. There is no point in writing a press release and deploying it to media sites using PRNewswire or some other such resource. It is wasted effort. Likewise, there is no point in writing a regular blog and praying for readers. Without a robust network, there is no distribution channel to get the news to interested readers.
Instead of generating releases, articles and blog posts in the hopes that the story will resonate and go viral, a company should focus on building an active network of influencers, followers and supporters interested in its industry or area of expertise. SEO efforts should target contacts at credible, high authority sites, media professionals, and social followers engaged with the business. These contacts act like the “little black book” of connections to leverage when there is exciting news to share.
When content is released to a fervent network of followers, an influx of new links and social signals will emerge (Twitter tweets, Facebook likes, LinkedIn posts, etc.) This is gold for both PR and SEO efforts.
2. Target Power Influencers
When it comes to contacts, quality trumps quantity. While it is important to build a big network of contacts, there are times when a single powerful influencer can accomplish more than all the work of many small influencers. Target power influencers and stay connected to them.
3. Infuse SEO into Content
Writing a great press release, article or blog post is an art. Expertise is key. Details are essential. That is all well and good. But often what is forgotten are the SEO elements.
With more news being published online, every piece of content that is disseminated must have SEO elements. Blog posts should have a meta description and meta keywords. Photos should have alt tags. And every release should include one or two links to different pages of the company’s website in the press release. Make sure the links and anchor text included in the article work to your business’s advantage. Journalists who pick up the release may modify the content, but they are likely to keep links intact. This is key for PR efforts to work part and parcel with the company’s SEO link building strategy. Also, having good links back to relevant sections of the company website helps drive referral traffic by drawing in those interested in the company’s products or services.
4. Leverage In-house Expertise
Use the opinions of in-house industry experts to add weight and credibility to any news or content. The greater the credibility of the quoted source(s), the more impact the press release, article or blog post will have. Quotes from industry heavyweights that contain strong opinions or key viewpoints can help content go viral. These are more likely to be shared socially, quoted by others and linked to by journalists. And quoting an influential expert who has a strong online following (their own network) is more likely to be shared by others. This is especially true if the ‘expert’ has strong connections on social media. Recent Google updates lend a stronger share of the pie to social signals, so establishing relationships with key influencers on those social networks has both SEO and PR value.
5. Tip the Media
Alert top bloggers and media connections before any major announcement. Giving journalists the scoop can better prepare them to spread the word. It also makes them feel special that they received the information first, before the general public. Giving reporters a headstart can substantially increase the chance of being published. Preparing media contacts also helps ensure a story gets published across many outlets at the same time, making the story look bigger and get more momentum.
Ultimately, though, the underlying focus should be on creating high-quality content (for websites, press releases, blog posts, etc.) that have these basic pillars:
1. Gives a unique angle to a told story;
2. Shares new information;
3. Has a backbone of a strong intro, body, and conclusion;
4. Is newsworthy: creates a stir, is tied to a current event, and doesn’t cover stale news;
5. Is backed up by research;
6. Doesn’t identify a problem without offering a solution;
7. Has a clear audience in mind;
8. Demonstrates why the topic is important
9. Indicates clearly whom the topic affects;
10. Passes the “So what?” test.
Around 15 percent of the Google algorithm focuses on on-page content: its relevance, usefulness, social sharability, and meta data. Therefore, all content should be a joint concern for SEO and PR. All content needs to be search-engine friendly, informative, and unique to rank highly and gain attention. Only then can SEO and PR work together to disseminate that content in a way that reaches, engages and is meaningful to an organization’s key audience.
Quote of the Week
“The days of SEO being a game of outsmarting algorithms are over. Today content strategy and valuable, sustainable strategies are essential, not just tricks and links.”
Adam Audette, Chief Knowledge Officer, RKG
© 2013, Written by Keren Peters-Atkinson, CMO, Madison Commercial Real Estate Services. All rights reserved.