Why combine PR strategy with SEO?

Why combine PR strategy with SEO?

When you think of PR strategy, the first thing that comes to mind wouldn’t be search engine optimisation. But, from an SEO and PR perspective, understanding SEO and how it can be folded into public relations can be the key to mutual success for both.

But how?

More often than not, businesses and business leaders tend to separate and compartmentalise these two practices. Focusing on traditional PR, as a brand and promotional tool, and SEO as a ranking, traffic and keyword research tool.

But what if we told you that you can do both?

SEO PR strategy

Why should you fold your digital PR and SEO efforts into one unified strategy?

Firstly, John Mueller, Google’s Search Relations team lead and one of the leading voices on SEO and SERP thinks you should. Back in 2021, Mueller tweeted strongly in favour of this strategy, while bemoaning the practice of spam link-building.

 

John Muller's tweet about digital PR

When one of the world’s leading authorities on SEO strategy and SERP says that digital, PR strategy and SEO is as critical as outright SEO, it’s probably time to listen.

PR and brand: its older than you think

The PR profession is older than you might think.

Alexander the Great travelled with ‘personal historians’ the most famous being Callisthenes. The term historian is a deceptive one, Alexander’s historians were publicists in everything but name.

In 1509, we see the Coronation of Henry VIII, and it was said of Henry in a letter to the philosopher Erasmus: ‘Our King is not after gold, or gems, or precious metals, but virtue, glory immortality.’

These are just two examples of how brand, fame, celebrity culture, or whatever you want to call it are not the modern phenomenons they’re often proclaimed to be.

Nearly 4,500 years ago, the dynastic Pharaos Khufu, Khafre and Menakure constructed the Pyramids of Giza. Vast, mysterious and elaborate monuments which, in their time, were statements and symbols of absolute strength and power.

For thousands of years, leaders have sought to build and protect their personal image and brand. As long as we’ve had society, we have had those seeking to promote themselves within and throughout it.

Over the last few years, the digital PR profession has grown hand-in-hand with tech and digital marketing. SERP, link building and keywords are the modern day stone and canvas.

The means of building brand awareness, promoting and protecting reputations and engaging with existing and potential audiences are now firmly intertwined with a technical remit. Whether that’s influencer and analyst engagement, content marketing, social media, or media relations.

Now SEO needs to be part of this.

Why create a PR and SEO strategy?

SEO boosts traffic to websites, and it does this by ranking quality website content in search engine results pages (SERPs). The more the content is considered high quality and relevant to the search term, the higher up the search engines it will be.

The holy grail for modern businesses is the number one spot on page one of the search engine results pages on Google. Google is currently the most popular search engine in the world. This kind of positioning doesn’t come easy.

To work your way up to the highest echelons of the SERPs requires a massive and concentrated effort. It’s important to be in the SERPs, because search engines, like Google, are now the first port of call for potential clients and customers, and people rarely look beyond the second page.

You can build your brand, your profile and your SEO through owned content.

Gaining media coverage can increase your online performance significantly. Securing online coverage in reputable titles with strong domain authorities, and getting high authority links back to your own website with really make a difference in how search engines rank your content.

Online visibility is king. This is why the PR team is important in SEO strategy, and why the best PR team professionals are the ones who both practice and preach these principles.

PR and SEO: more than just link building?

What lies at the heart of SEO and PR? Keyword rankings? Link building? SEO ranking factors? Technical SEO?

These, and many more, are all tools and tactics to achieve the ultimate goal of this complementary approach: brand awareness. Heightened brand awareness is the ultimate goal. Because higher brand awareness invariably leads to higher visibility, greater trust and greater brand loyalty. This then leads to more customers, clients, and staff, and a healthier bottom line.

But what does it look like in practice?

PR: PR professionals want to tell a meaningful and engaging story. Their remit is to persuade journalists and media outlets to cover their clients and use their content. Fundamentally, the most relevant links engaging and newsworthy stories are the ones which will make the grade.

SEO: SEO experts want to leverage quality content to create those all-important high-quality backlinks to other websites. This will in turn increase traffic direct to their site. Ensure that content provided to key relevant sites resonates with their core audience.

The parallels and complementary crossover are abundantly clear. High-quality content, which is newsworthy and relevant, has the potential to benefit a brand’s reputation through quality social media influencers’ coverage and third-party endorsement and its SEO purposes collectively.

Implementing PR and SEO

These strategies are symbiotic in more ways than you may know.

  1. PR professionals understand what makes a story newsworthy. They know what content makes an impact and they won’t, or certainly shouldn’t, be afraid to tell you otherwise.
  2. Your SEO team knows what Google wants and needs. They understand how to create content that will rank higher. They understand keyword research and the specific elements behind technical SEO.

If you can combine these two elements, you can create a system where your PR function feeds your SEO and vice versa. You are creating a healthy content organism that feeds itself and feeds your own success.

But it goes a step further.

Journalists and media outlets care a great deal about the performance of their content. They need content that is relevant and engaging to their core audiences. In many cases, they’ve even got click and reach targets to hit, so it’s not only in your favour to produce and provide engaging media content. It’s in the best interests of the media outlets as well.

Where the relationship between PR and SEO gets even more critical is in the creation of this website.

PRs can analyse work and engage with media, to sell-in stories and ideas that will connect with that particular title. SEO professionals can do search engine optimisation for content gaps on that media outlets’ websites, and look for opportunities for creating content that perhaps no one knew was even there.

If you can work collaboratively to provide media outlets with content that benefits them… then everyone wins.

Data

In the world of SEO data is everything. If you’re not measuring data, you’re not understanding your effectiveness or the influence your efforts are having on your audience.

But rather than pouring through pages of irrelevant data, it’s helpful to decide on the measures and factors that are right for you and focus on them.

This could be anything from landing page visits, bounce rate, mailer sign-ups, time spent on a page, download tracking or even social media engagement.

Using Google Analytics to understand how referral traffic is coming to your site will help you get a handle on the effects of your SEO PR strategy. But don’t get bogged down in the details.

Decide on the factors and parameters that matter most to you, then test and learn.

Quality over quantity

You may be fooled into thinking that link building and SEO is a case of quantity over quality, that the more backlinks and referring domains you have to a news site or blog posts, the better.

This is not the case. You may hear the term link-farming, which you should avoid at all costs. Link farms offer the service of distributing as many backlinks as they possibly can. This can often end up causing more harm than good.

Google can penalise you for this kind of activity, as these farms will use a variety of unethical back hat SEO strategies to gain ranking increases. In the long term, this has no SEO benefit and could cause your site to be penalised.

Or in the worst case, Google gives you a manual penalty, and you end up having to build an entirely new online domain and presence from scratch. Don’t be tempted by the quick and easy way. Take your time and focus on quality over quantity.

The next steps?

The digital marketing landscape is one you simply cannot avoid, and influencing the SERP is far more nuanced and technical than meets the eye. Aligning both the SEO and pr efforts can take you where you need to be. But this isn’t something that can be done overnight.

4,500 thousand years ago, dynastic famines built stone monuments as a testament to their power. Were these same individuals alive today, they would be taking the same steps to ensure their brand using the tools of the time…. digital PR! Quality links take time to build, too much too soon will be recognised as spam. This will just be counterproductive to your efforts, as it will appear your farming links, which could cause major setbacks.

Search results are now a crucial aspect of business, this is your window to the world. So creating a comms strategy which takes PR techniques and an SEO PR strategy and folds them together into both SEO PR activity is a strategy you can’t afford to not be doing.

If you’re interested in how you can combine PR services and SEO for the benefit of your business, then drop us a line and see what we can do for you: [email protected].