SEO for PR: Dispelling the myths around search

We’ve got the answers for common excuses people use to argue against the need for a search engine optimization (SEO) program.

Google and search are integral elements for brands connecting with the world, so it’s hard to believe some companies still fail to incorporate some basic search engine optimization (SEO) principles when releasing content, building websites, uploading videos, or pushing assets online.

Some easy and low-time-commitment SEO efforts can make a big difference in the number of views, shares or impressions a piece of content can get.

If SEO is being overlooked in your organization and you’re in search of a way to help combat common opposition, here is some information to help. It can be frustrating to hear excuses, so be prepared with information to help focus time and resources on this important effort.

“It’s not important.”

There are still people who believe SEO isn’t important, even some with words like “digital” in their job titles. In many cases, these folks’ primary focus is getting content out the door without much regard for performance metrics.

When there is lack of accountability for measurement or assigning value to a piece of content in the way of views, site referrals, downloads or even shares, it’s easy to see SEO slip through the cracks. We’ve found that when clients release content that’s accountable to results, they’ll see the value that SEO brings and the need to incorporate it throughout the process. Be sure to include a content performance audit in your next campaign, and show the powers that be how much impact SEO has on those metrics.

“It’s too technical.”

Many PR pros have at least basic knowledge of good SEO practices and have access to all kinds of resources to help fill in knowledge gaps. Many website management systems now have basic SEO-friendly features built in as defaults. Many also provide system plugins that automate SEO elements based on the content created.

All of this makes for a less technical focus on SEO and puts the onus on producing relevant content that’s valuable and in-demand. For many systems, it can be as easy as making sure your article has a relevant title and includes search-friendly phrases or links.

“It takes too much time.”

Not too long ago, SEO was primarily a matter of building a technical website environment that’s friendly for search engine crawlers. This took a lot of time. Now that so many content management systems come with SEO add-ons, there is less need for lengthy technical programming and development. If time commitment to SEO is viewed as a hurdle, focus efforts on developing high quantity, in-demand content that includes the right keyword phrases.

“It doesn’t always work.”

SEO does work. Some tactics work better than others, but even a basic amount of effort will make a positive difference over ignoring it completely. I’ve seen sites receive 300 percent more visitors after implementing SEO practices. I’ve seen YouTube videos triple their view counts and press releases double the impressions. If optimization didn’t work, it probably weren’t done correctly. If your organization has had poor SEO performance in the past, be sure to research proper SEO techniques or seek counsel on how to implement your efforts properly.

SEO is an evolving science, and its goal is to take advantage of ever-changing search engine guidelines to bring more traffic to owned media. As with any science, there will always be naysayers and confusion. That’s why it’s best to make a point of having a dedicated SEO team and integrating SEO checkpoints throughout the production process.

SEO analysts should work closely with project managers, copywriters, and designers to define SEO requirements. They should also collaborate with teams to bring traffic-generating ideas to the table. They should discuss with IT the need for a search-friendly technical environment. If a website redesign is taking place, analysts should work to preserve the search equity and rankings of legacy sites and ensure the new version seamlessly inherits or improves upon them.

When done properly, SEO enhances content and connects brands with a broader audience.

Nick Papagiannis is director of interactive/search for independent marketing and communications firm Cramer-Krasselt.

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