PR & SEO sitting in a tree…

SEO and PR have recently made their relationship official, so this knowledge bomb I’m about to drop is for the people wondering exactly how SEO and PR are related, and how they can work together to give you a much smarter approach to digital marketing.

Public Relations.  The term is vague. Often when I explain I completed a degree in Public Relations, the response I’ll get is, “what do you actually do with that degree?” When I then go on to explain I’m an SEO Consultant in a digital marketing agency, their face becomes even more perplexed. Most will just nod and only a few will ask how these two professions relate.

The term PR can mean a lot of things; internal communication, reputation management, media relations and crisis and issues management just to name a few, but for the sake of this article I’m going to focus on the publicity and reputation management function of PR.

As for SEO, Google updates its search algorithm in excess of 500-600 times a year with some algorithms significantly changing how we approach SEO such as the Panda, Penguin and more recently the Pigeon update.  These algorithm updates have shifted the focus of SEO in the last decade from machine gun link building tactics to adding more relevant content on the site and building much higher quality and industry relevant links. As time goes on, the more businesses that recognise the relationship between SEO and PR and use it to their advantage, the more they will successfully hit two birds with one stone. That is, generating publicity while engaging good SEO practice.

So what does considering SEO in your PR efforts involve?

When we have a client we need to generate publicity for, we refer to the integrated approach as outreach. We recognise that on every occasion, the PR and SEO team need to work very closely. So here is a look into the outreach process while immaturely narrating it like a Mills and Boon novel:

SEO and PR see each other from across the room, they can feel the mutual attraction:

As per traditional PR, identify your news angle. Whether you’re trying to leverage an upcoming event or just have an awesome infographic to share, there has to be something in it for the target market. If you’re leveraging an infographic that’s been specifically created for the purpose of generating publicity then it’d be smart to have researched what your target market needs or will get out of this piece. At this early stage, PR and SEO are still acting quite coy towards each other. It’s still business as usual for PR.

SEO is approaching PR. She can see him walking over and she’s got butterflies:

Similar to traditional PR, you’ll need to write a press release, but hold up there, SEO has just grabbed PR’s hand. We’re officially at first base. Before you start writing, ask yourself, “what are the keywords we are trying to target?” I don’t mean go through and stuff the press release full of keywords. You need to strategically and naturally mention the terms you are hoping to rank on the first page of Google. If you’re only trying to rank for keywords specifically related to your service offering then this should probably occur quite naturally anyway. Be smart about it though; if your upcoming event is about a particular area of your business, try to narrow your focus on these specific keywords.

For example, if you’re a local coffee shop and you’re holding an event to specifically promote your new line of organic roasted beans, you will need to focus on these themed keywords in your press release such as ‘organic roasted beans,’ ‘organic coffee,’ ‘local organic coffee beans or ‘organic coffee beans Brisbane.’

TIP: If you don’t have an SEO team at your disposal and are wondering what your target keywords would best be, then jump onto the Google Keyword Planner tool. You can start with typing in a few ideas and see if there is much search volume around these. From there, it will suggest more ideas and allow you to be more specific. Don’t just go for keywords with the most amount of search volume. You want to be as specific as possible. Ask yourself, “If a user searched for my company with this keyword, would they definitely be a relevant visitor if they landed on my website, and would they be likely to make an enquiry or purchase?”

SEO is about to make a move. PR’s hands are clammy:

Once you’ve written your press release and naturally optimised it with keywords throughout, go through and link back to your website, ONLY where it makes absolute sense to do so. This does not mean there should be a link every sentence or even every paragraph. One or two per press release will be enough. Linking keywords used to hold value but Google is now smarter than that.  We suggest linking your brand if there is an option, otherwise, just link where it makes sense. If the target website or blog runs this press release as it is, then the link juices will start flowing right back to your site. At this point SEO has made his move, he’s grabbed PR’s hand. She’s blushing.  This has all happened so fast but it feels so right.

In our example of the local coffee shop, say you have a page on your website promoting the upcoming event that offers more information, you’d link to that. Your press release goes into saying what flavours will be on showcase so you’ve linked through to the appropriate product pages on your website. When the article runs, not only will these links provide traffic but depending on the authority of the source, each link will be seen as a vote of confidence in Google’s eyes.

SEO and PR are approaching second base:

It’s time to cover the kid’s eyes; SEO’s leaned in for the kiss. Where PR would usually approach news publications on and offline, SEO is more concerned about getting high quality and relevant links from industry leaders and influencers online.  To determine who these are, we analyse their website domain authority, (anything above 50 linking to your site would be a huge success) and their back link profiles.

TIP: To determine the domain authority and view a back link profile of a website, download the free SEO toolbar from Moz by Googling “Moz Toolbar.”

Most news sites will have high domain authority and a great back link profile that has links from other highly trusted sources so a link from these guys would still be a huge win.

Let’s bring in our coffee shop owner to illustrate how their outreach worked perfectly to fulfil both SEO and PR’s objectives. The upcoming event received a bit of traction in smaller, local publications offline. However, when you identified that the larger news corps online would be less interested and decided to reach out to highly relevant and trusted industry websites like the blog “Dear Coffee I Love You,” it paid off. They hypothetically happened to see the value in promoting the event and decided to feature it in their next blog post. Even better, the content writer was strapped for time and has copied and pasted your article and left the links in! By broadening your reach, you were able to:

  • Pass more authority onto your website long term through the links in the article which effectively helps secure your position in the organic search engine results
  • Generate referral traffic to the website
  • Promote your upcoming event to a relevant audience

Geez PR and SEO, get a room!

Karis Howard

Karis is a SEO Consultant at Reload Media. Karis has a background in public relations and brand marketing which gives her clients the added benefit of an integrated approach to SEO.