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SEO, when compared to PR, is relatively young. However, it has evolved rapidly over the last few years, mainly due to search engine algorithm changes and the introduction of Google’s Panda, Penguin and Hummingbird.
The two disciplines started out as separate entities, but companies are increasingly achieving great results from their PR campaigns when they combine these efforts with the digital side of things.
Now the two are inextricable; PR should be used, not just on its own, but as a way of supporting your SEO efforts.
What is SEO?
As most of you know, SEO is essentially how to make your website more attractive to search engines. Good SEO is increases the likelihood of someone searching for a solution to a problem that you solve – and of them finding your website.
There are huge benefits to getting SEO right – the top three organic results get the majority of clicks – but getting into the top three isn’t easy, especially if you’re going up against your competitors.
The best SEO strategy is not necessarily to be the best, but to stay one step ahead of the peloton. This is an ongoing challenge, and failure to keep your head above water will see you slipping down the search results page.
How does this tie in with PR?
Back in 2016 Andrey Lipattsev, a Search Quality Senior Strategist at Google, responded to a query about what the most important keyword ranking factors were. His response was:
“I can tell you what they are. It is content. And it’s links pointing to your site.”
Typically, companies that achieve the best results from their PR campaigns are those that integrate them with their digital marketing, whether it be a downloadable piece of content, a dedicated landing page, a hashtag, or an email campaign.
When you tie this in with SEO, one of the most important things you can do is to use your PR campaigns to build links.
Link building is a crucial part of SEO – it is the process of generating followed links to your website from others.
The more links from reputable websites linking to your website, the higher the value Google (and other search engines) will place on your website, because it shows that other websites trust yours.
How to build great links using PR
Any media release you send out should always contain a hyperlink back to your company’s website, and if they don’t use it, your PR team should be reaching out and asking for it.
This is just basic good practice and will ensure that any publication that uses your media release and posts it online will also add the link back to your website.
One way which Access Self Storage has done this in the past was during our charity campaigns. Every media release we sent out contained a link back to one of our local store pages, meaning we gained a large number of inbound links from lots of different local publications.
We also reached out to the charities we were raising money for and asked if they would feature the media release on their blogs, which many of them did. Charity links are great as they typically have quite high Domain Authorities (DA).
A website’s DA is a measurement of how authoritative it is, as measured by Moz, and links from websites with high DAs to yours, pass down some of that authority.
The quality of your inbound links is important, as search engines can and do assess them: a link from the BBC website is much better than one from your grandma’s knitting blog.
Building high quality links is not always easy, but with a great piece of content or a great asset on your website, it can be done – especially when building a successful PR campaign around it.
If you want people to link to your website, they’ll typically only do it if there is a particularly good piece of content that they think people should visit.
One good example of this is when a travel website used a “Game of Thrones Filming Locations” map to build inbound links.
This map, combined with some basic PR work and heavy promotion, gained a lot of attention and generated more than 100 links from high authority websites.
PR is vital for SEO, and if you’re not asking for links with every bit of PR you do, you’ll be missing out. PR is no longer just about gaining coverage.
Make it work towards your business goals by leveraging it to create inbound links to your website and boost your organic traffic.
About the Author
Stavros Vichos is Head of Marketing at Access Self Storage, a British self-storage and office space provider with over 50 stores nationwide. Stavros speaks English, French and Greek, has an MSc in Marketing from the University of Oxford and prior to joining Access, was a Global Marketing and Communications Manager for G4S.
Image source: author-owned