Why PR for SEO Is The Best Strategy For Your Business

As the digital economy innovates and changes – on what can feel like a daily basis – the movements of PR, marketing and digital disciplines inside companies and outside them, are not only moving forward but also moving ever-closer together. And when you look at the similarities in skill set, it’s easy to see why.

Just two of the essential elements for successful SEO (asset/content production and outreach) also happen to be two of the skills that the Public Relations industry has been fine tuning for decades. Understandably, PR and SEO remain separate disciplines. People immerse themselves in one solely to become experts in it.

But that often leads to us missing a trick in combing the two.

The earned media coverage PR gains now comes primarily in the form of online articles. However, without the technical input of SEO, awareness raising and reputation management is achieved, yet link-building opportunities are missed. If leveraged better, we know that PR activity can aid SEO efforts while at the same time, reducing costs and resource drain and actually yielding better links.

And these links create a reliable source of consistent leads for the business.

So how can you take steps to ensure you are building your brand at the same time as building your search engine rankings?

Link Building Vs Coverage

Once upon a time, SEO was all about working the algorithms. Whilst technical SEO has always been a corner stone, link have always driven SEO success and it was possible be mathematical and calculated in your approach to link acquisition.

Google became more sophisticated at stopping SEO’s gaming their ranks, forcing SEO’s to adopt new methods of link building. These methods have evolved into a PR-like approach – basically, one that focused on people rather than machines. Modern SEO planning now involves more creative, less tangible concepts, such as “messaging” and “intent”.

Link Building (AKA Outreach) and PR require a similar skill set. Again, this revolves around a deep understanding of what makes people tick, how to communicate to a wide variety of people, how to negotiate and how to manage longer term relationships. Working on this PR element will serve your link building well, while ensuring any content produced or relationships formed are garnering trust in your brand at the same time.

Aligned Content Marketing

Ideally, PR and SEO will combine in the very beginning of campaign planning or general content planning. Finding as much common ground as possible in this outreach planning stage means a more cost and time efficient effort all round.

The type of content created is another area where opportunities to build brand and ranks simultaneously is often missed. SEO people are experienced in crafting online assets that are shareable. PR people are experienced in story telling. The most successful agencies now combine both – innovating in ways like replacing media pitches with landing pages or replacing sales materials with keyword rich content designed to generate incremental website traffic.

Leverage PR for Links

Although there is a growing understanding of search engine optimisation among the PR community, the fact remains that their work isn’t driven by link building. Their primary aim remains achieving relevant publicity and creating conversations among the target audience. SEO expertise will ensure that any coverage achieved is maximised to its full potential, like checking the best keywords are being hyperlinked, or that the URL and landing page is optimised. They will also look for link reclamation opportunities from older PR coverage that’s already appeared online.

Even when links can’t be achieved, there is always value in getting people talking about your business. This is the brand building that PR has traditionally excelled at. PR also tends to be more effective at getting mentions on some of the internet’s most qualified and high ranking sites – like media outlets, government or charity websites, and the biggest blogs. Mentions on these websites are still a useful supplement to generic SEO efforts and will absolutely benefit your brand reputation.

Avoid Penalties

A lot of modern PR and SEO activity revolves around outreach to influencers and while PR’s focus will be on earning media coverage free of charge, there will be times when their campaigns involve paid sponsorship, product review and endorsements. These practice actually go against Google’s guidelines and have the potential to get your website penalized if too many back links are generated via these tactics. This happened to Interflora in 2013.

SEO tends to be ahead in its understanding of the technical issues with this and so it can keep you on the right side of search engines by ensuring the right links are used in the right places (namely nofollow links on promoted content), thus avoiding any penalties. Therefore your links and brand awareness increase, but your reputation remains intact.

Operate Efficiently 

Another issue stemming from this rise in influencer marketing is when separate SEO and PR efforts cross over and bloggers or influencers find themselves being contacted by different people on behalf of the same company. This is avoided completely when brand building and rank building are a combined effort, because there is a more holistic approach to the media planning and therefore the outreach activity.

It’s also, again, a pretty helpful way of maximising resources (both staff time and budget).

Evaluate Fully

Evaluation is something SEO and PR both take seriously, although PR would argue that SEO has “an easier time” of it given their ability to produce concrete data and track campaign activity. Streamlining PR and SEO activity together is the easiest solution to this problem. In this way, your brand building and awareness raising activity can go from simple readership figures or “website hits” to more detailed traffic rankings data, conversions and actual sales results.

Ultimately link building is mathematical, and a follow link from a high authority domain will be beneficial on its own. However, PR is about connecting with possible customers, building relationships and growing brand trust. If these elements are incorporated into the content within which the link exists, then the opportunities to convert links to leads increases drastically. Because the people behind those link clicks are your target audience, who may now be motivated to buy from a brand they now know better, and trust more.

In the end, building your brand and your search engine rankings simultaneously will succeed when you achieve “editorially valid” links – that means credible PR coverage that builds links at the same time. Why does it work? Put simply, PR is predominantly about emotion, whereas SEO is predominantly about science.

Combing the two results in work that has twice the impact – technical and emotive – for half the costs, be they human or monetary.

Glaze Digital is a Belfast-based digital marketing consultancy that can support your business growth through digital marketing, expertly combining PR, SEO, website development, asset production and social media marketing.