An SEO Expert’s View of Public Relations

The pyramid of media influence.

The pyramid of media influence.

We spend a lot of time in the PR space thinking about how to optimize our press releases for maximum search engine visibility, and I’m one of the purveyors of that sort of information.  Ask me about  press release headline writing best practices, and be prepared to strap in for at least thirty minutes while I babble happily about keyword placement, headline length, reader drop off rates and how these factors can ultimately impact the results your message generates.

But let’s face it: fine-tuning press releases and other  content individually, piece by piece, for max visibility is a bit shortsighted, because it ignores some bigger opportunities – specifically, the opportunity to help the brand’s web site (which has a lot more gravitational pull than the odd press release, blog post, backgrounder or tweet) build rank and visibility.

How PR can positively impact SEO

In reality, a good PR campaign that results in media pick up, relevant industry blog posts and social buzz can have a profoundly positive effect on crucial web site rankings.  And those web site rankings play an important part in lead generation — and ultimately sales.

“A few years ago, I launched a website called FindHow, and we gave it a full-court press from a PR standpoint. In the first month of FindHow’s existence, it surpassed 15,000 unique visitors and eventually grew to around the 100,000 uniques (editor’s note: unique web site visitors) mark. After about five months, the Public Relations effort had resulted in a total of around 18,000 links to the site, primarily because of prominent media mentions that boosted the site’s credibility and aided word of mouth.” – Ted Ives,Public Relations for SEO.”

The quote above is an SEO expert’s take on PR results.   In my many years of experience with PR Newswire (eighteen, to be exact), I know that plugging PR into the brand’s SEO strategy is something many – heck, most – public relations departments overlook.    In most cases I’ve seen thinking about SEO starts and ends with the optimization of a particular message, with the goal of getting the press release itself to rank in search engines.  In reality, we should be thinking about how to help our brands’ web sites rank, not individual messages.    PR sells itself short when the focus on results is too narrow.

Integrating PR & SEO

To get a good look at how the results a good PR campaign can integrate (and improve) a brand’s SEO program, you can’t do better than to read the first of the series on PR and SEO just published on Search Engine Land.  Author Ted Ives (@tedives) (the aforementioned SEO expert) lays out a new view of PR in the series,  offering perspective on how brands can more fully capitalize upon media pick up and other public relations outcomes to effect business outcomes.

Results & effectiveness – the benefits of integrating PR & SEO programs

Understanding the follow on benefits of press release distribution and media mentions in the context of a brand’s web site and SEO initiatives can do a couple things for the PR department.  First, as you can see from the paragraph above, the SEO guys have measurement down.   They know where traffic comes from; they know which keywords have the best conversion rates.  If measuring results is a bugaboo for your PR department, cozy up your SEO team.   Chances are good they already know a surprising amount about the results your PR campaigns generated.

Secondly, integrating with the brand’s SEO program can lend real power to the messaging the PR department creates.  Keyword research is another facet of audience behavior that can (and should) inform the content strategy.  In addition to simply using the language of your audience, paying attention to larger keyword trends and usage patterns reveals what your marketplace actually cares about.  For a content creator, this information is golden.

The other two parts of the series focus on targeting and pitching journalists, offering good, solid media relations advice, tuned for today’s newsroom realities, and are also worth reading.

So next time you’re drafting a PR campaign, don’t limit your goals to simply generating reads for a press release or media placements. Working with the SEO team can increase the measurable results the PR team generates, and the business impact it delivers.

sarah avatarAuthor Sarah Skerik is PR Newswire’s vice president of content marketing, and is the author of the e-book “Unlocking Social Media for PR.”  Follow her on Twitter at @sarahskerik .

14 responses to “An SEO Expert’s View of Public Relations

  1. Hi Sarah, thanks for writing about this! Press releases can be such a great way to boost SEO, and it’s time that people realize it! Great post :)

  2. Great post.
    I definitely think more PR and SEO teams should work together. Not only to help with the initial plan but also with the analysis. Like you said, any SEO worth their salt would have a good idea of results of any PR campaign.
    Cheers

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  5. This is a great view on SEO. We recently discussed search engine optimization in my “Social Media for Public Relations” class and I found the idea very hard to follow. The general process behind SEO is easy to understand but integrating it into a public relations process is the thing that I had the most trouble with, especially with regards to a blog. This is a great summery on the issue, Thanks!

  6. Adel Mirshahi

    Dear Sarah Skerik,
    it was very useful article and I translate it into Persian. I hope Iranian and Afgan People can use it.
    Regards

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