SEO PR: the future for online visibility
For a number of years, PR and SEO have operated in different worlds. However, the tide has very rapidly turned in light of frequent Google algorithm changes, so it’s now essential that the two strands join forces.
Google has turned on what it now sees as rogue SEO tactics, and as a result now favours quality content that people want to share in exchange for improved and sustained search engine rankings. For PR agencies worth their salt, providing this on behalf of their clients should already be a given. PR and SEO agencies should be focusing on ‘credible’ places for businesses to be found online.
There are two key changes Google has made that tactically could trip up a PR agency; distributed press releases with overly optimised link text and large-scale guest-posting campaigns (i.e. guest blogging) with keyword-rich anchor text links.
What the search engine seems to be at least partly favouring [there are always exceptions] in search results – creating useful, interesting content that people will want to share – is what many brands are already doing.
What’s more, high Domain Authority sites tend to be the same reputable news sites that clients have always wanted to appear in anyway. So encouraging links within the copy of a piece of coverage is becoming more than an added bonus for our clients, it’s an integral part of securing coverage.
However, these links [which only make up a modest part of the SEO puzzle] are hard won and there is no short cut, as Interflora found out to their peril earlier this year after being put in the mother of all Google sin bins. More than 150 links on regional news sites all in the form of adverts caused a rankings slide.
Content is most definitely king, and by combining search and PR strategies, greater and more sustained online visibility can be created via helpful, interesting and even entertaining content. It’s the way that all brands are beginning to shape what they say, and how they say it online.
Combining SEO and PR can also benefit the online reputation of brands through engagement with users. The ease with which online content can be shared via social media now means that users have a real voice. In the past, if someone had read a print magazine article and not liked it, they would be very unlikely to write a letter of complaint, instead just moving on.
However, now that Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+ and online comment boxes are so readily accessible from all devices, user feedback is generated quickly and in massive numbers.
Listening to this feedback and making sensible changes, in line with great quality content generation, is a vital part of sustaining a long-term relationship between a brand and existing and potential customers. Far too frequently, companies display indifference towards this vital communication channel. In doing this, the chance to connect directly with the buying public, that would do much to spread the word about the online presence of a brand, is lost. This is an opportunity that can no longer be ignored.
In 2011, Smarts devised a print and online campaign for office supplies provider Viking, surrounding the hidden bacteria that exists on office desks throughout the UK. This was facilitated by triggering a wide range of participants to swab their desks and have the results analysed by a certified hygiene expert. Once the results were collated and publicised, the online coverage and genuine consumer engagement this triggered via social media platforms were instrumental in improving organic SEO rankings for the brand.
SEO PR allows the identification of methods and content types that generate the greatest engagement and the most credible places online for a company to be featured, raising both profile and online presence. Is that something your business can afford to be without in 2013?
Rebecca Scully is managing director at Smarts PR