If helping our clients to be more visible is the heartbeat of public relations, then learning to integrate basic SEO skills into the work we do is essential to keeping that heartbeat strong. SEO is a must-know skill in PR.
Every senior-level PR and content marketing professional should have a solid understanding of how SEO works and how it applies to their own work.
For an agency or company, SEO should be part of the standard writing and proofing processes as content is filtering through production, and it should be integrated into the learning culture of the organization. It should also start
the content creation process, not be wrapped in at the end.
If the organization is large enough to have SEO staffers, partnering with them can identify a surprising similarity in goals and effort. Starting cross-departmental conversations and working together on joint goals can also make both
departments extremely successful.
Learning SEO for PR doesn’t have to be time consuming or intimidating; it can simply be the addition of a few new skills and tweaks to your normal processes.
For the May #PRprochat
on Twitter, we were lucky enough to have Ken McGaffin
as our guest; he is a former CMO of WordTracker and an expert in SEO.
Here are some fabulous takeaways that came out of the chat with Ken:
• It’s hard to do everything—so understand first, then use SEO to do the technical stuff.
Keyword research for PR
• Good content is essential for SEO, but good content on its own is not enough to rank well.
• To get your message heard online, you have to have a blend of content marketing, SEO, and social media.
• PR pros should recognize the skills you already have are important for SEO.
It pays to invest time in researching keywords
, rather than going on assumptions. Something as simple as a verb tense can mean a search volume difference of literally thousands of hits. It also identifies language choices that you may not think of. One example McGaffin shared is that airlines insist on using “low-cost fares” when customers are actually searching “cheap flights.”
This is one that I come across frequently: Clients refuse to use the word “cheap” because they feel it denigrates their product or service, when the reality is that customers look
for “cheap.” One of our roles as PR pros is walking that delicate balance between what the clients want versus what drives results. Sometimes it’s just not easy.
Link-building for PR
“The biggest contribution that PR pros can make to SEO is encouraging editorial links. It not only allows people to click through but also boosts SEO,” McGaffin adds. “Sometimes an editorial piece contains a link, sometimes it doesn’t. Often that’s just because no one asked
for a link.”
What does this mean? When you write a guest blog or a byline article that is being placed online, make sure that you include links back to your brand’s website. For added value, make the hyperlink relevant to the story and/or the bio.
For example, the author’s name can easily be a link back to the “About Us” page bio, or his/her title can link back to the company home page. Links at the end of the article can loop back to a post on the company blog that expands on the same topic. The more relevant the link, the better.
Securing guest posts for your client or employer is an essential component of digital PR. It helps you to join the conversation without waiting for media to publish something about you. (See the April #PRprochat transcript
with guest @MackCollier
for great stuff on this very topic.)
They are a powerful way to help your client be visible, find a targeted audience and show expertise. It also builds social proof of that expertise, since most blog posts are shared across Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and Google Plus. With a little luck, each share tags your brand or the author.
According to McGaffin, finding lots of relevant blogs is an SEO skill, but building relationships and winning links are PR skills. Don’t worry about Penguin, Panda, and all the other SEO changes. Simply create great content, and get it linked.
“The pillars of good SEO are great content, link building, social and PR…. Getting all of them right creates fantastic results.”
Carrie Morgan is a 20-plus year public relations veteran based in Phoenix, specializing in digital PR. A version of this story first appeared on the Rock The Status Quo blog.