For many years, the worlds of public relations and search engine optimization (SEO) have existed on different “islands,” providing mutually exclusive benefits.
Through 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 SEO—public relations and SEO 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.
SEO is evolving into a PR and content-oriented practice. Those islands are converging with shared tasks, vision, and goals. Whether you are a PR pro looking to augment your digital practice or an SEO expert looking for time-tested relationship-building and media relations skills, here are ways you can integrate the two practices to create a maximum boost for your business:
Guest posts or blogs are a key component of most enterprise’s public relations plans, as they do a lot to establish expertise. When you write a bylined guest article for an online publication, be sure to work with an SEO expert to make sure the links and anchor text included in the article work to your business’s advantage.
An example: At iAcquire (the digital marketing agency where I work), I recently joined forces with the director of business solutions, who is responsible for the strategy behind our clients’ SEO and reputation management. The original copy in my byline article included branded keywords and linked to our home page.
After a keyword analysis, my colleague was able to tell me that there was far greater value in linking to a sub-page within our site on our offerings using the keyword “X”. The more relevant the link, the better, so leverage internal relationships with an SEO team to boost your overall efficacy.
SEO and PR should partner in influencer outreach efforts to boost a brand’s online reputation.
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. Work together to define, evaluate, and reach out to social influencers. Realize that this partnership can secure future media relationships and boost social signals for your business.
Shared media lists
PR pros have media lists. SEO experts have lists of external website and blog targets. SEO professionals might take a more complex look at an external site’s page rank, unique visitors, or Alexa rank, while a PR pro’s list is more likely to have information on the outlet’s editorial angle, beat, and individual reporters. Combine your lists and work together on an outreach strategy. SEO pros can learn a lot about the basics of relationship building; PR professionals can learn about site analytics.
Press release 2.0
Press releases are ancient. Optimized press releases aren’t.
Simply put, releases that are optimized to include multimedia assets and link to social channels are very effective. Use SEO tactics to find popular keywords, inject them into your press release, and then see the search engine traffic flood your brand’s website. Work with a digital marketing team to create unique assets such as video interviews to give the content of your release that extra boost of interactivity.
Whether you are in SEO or PR, the underlying necessity to create high-quality content remains the same. Create a shared editorial guideline document that has some of 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 not thin content (i.e., doesn’t simply identify a problem without really giving any solutions);
5. Is newsworthy: creates a stir, is tied to a current event, and doesn’t cover stale news;
6. Is backed up by research;
7. Offers a solution;
8. Has a clear audience in mind;
9. Demonstrates why the topic is important and whom it affects;
10. Passes the “So what?” test.
Also, strong on-page content, that is, the actual text on the static pages of your website, such as an “about” page, is important for all departments within a business. Around 15 percent of the Google algorithm focuses on on-page content: its relevance, usefulness, social sharability, and metadata. Therefore, it should be a joint concern for SEO and PR. Webpage copy needs to be search-engine friendly, informative, and unique to rank highly and gain attention.
Combining editorial calendars
Stay consistent. Create a combined editorial calendar for internal content, social updates, and external targets. Disjointed messaging can create confusion in the way consumers view your brand.
As a PR professional, you likely have a long list of media placements you’ve obtained. When was the last time you shared that list with your SEO team? You may be wondering why you would hash up placements from the past, but it actually can serve as a pretty effective form of link building for SEO pros.
Give the list of old placements to your SEO team and have them contact the outlets, especially if they didn’t link back to your site. This can diversify and grow the overall number of links you have pointing back to your organization’s domain.
PR stunts and events
Over-the-top media stunts, events, launches, and meet-ups can attract great coverage and more links for your business. SEO and PR pros can work together to spread the word about events through social influencer outreach, submitting events to community local listings, and generating hype prior to the event. Invite journalists, webmasters, bloggers, and brand advocates to the event, and they will cover the event.
Forbes, “The Death of SEO, The Rise of Social PR and Real Content”
PR Daily, “Three Best Practices of SEO for PR”
Top Rank Blog, “SEO/PR Fail”
The Independent, “SEO and PR To Work Together for Online Success”
Screaming Frog, “Why SEO and PR Are Closer Than You Think”