Building authority: SEO and PR
Nowadays it is not enough to just say that public relations and search engine optimisation have blurred. The two disciplines have not only gotten married, they have gone on to have some amazing link-building babies!
Let’s take a step back though and give a Janet and John guide for those who are not sure what I am going on about.
You have a fantastically well-built site. Your on-page SEO is the best it can be, with optimised titles, amazing meta descriptions and a page load speed that would impress Usain Bolt. That’s it, you have built it and people will come… Sadly not. Getting people to link to your website is still pretty much key and this is where SEO and PR work best together.
First up, the two teams need to work together to think up campaign ideas that can attract links back to the site. PR land has a rich pedigree when it comes to getting high domain authority news and online sites to naturally link back to a site, and this is what can make the difference when it comes to search rankings. One of the fastest ways to build both links and also a company’s brand profile is to piggyback on the news agenda.
When a big story breaks that your company is well positioned to comment on, you can get links by being super quick in getting your reactive statement out to the media, and by super quick, I mean within minutes of a story breaking.
A few rules for this: you have to make your statement interesting and quirky, something that will stick in the minds of journalists and news editors. If you have related content on your site, make sure that you include this link with your statement to give journalists a reason to link to you.
Great link-building success for brands can also come from creating content that is hosted on their own site which is interesting to both consumers and media and very shareable. This can be anything from fun microsites, e.g. “What type of animal do you most sleep like”, through to on-site quizzes, widgets or interactive infographics.
There are thousands of online tutorials about how to create brilliant content that will get interest from the media and ultimately links, but the benchmark is simple: “Can you imagine your mates chatting about the content or story down the pub?”. When you are brainstorming ideas, this is the test you should apply to every idea. In addition, you need to think about how you can position the story or content in a way that makes the journalist or news site need to link to your on-site content in order to help the consumer, or better tell their story.
So far we have talked about how public relations people can get links to help the SEO team out, but one of the best examples of the two areas working hand in hand is strategic guidance with regard to the types of links to get.
Quite often a PR team will be given a list of websites that the SEO people want to get links from, based on a competitor’s backlink profile. Sometimes these sites are quite niche, so bespoke content or articles will need to be thought of, pitched to the relevant journalists, written and then submitted. This is not a quick and easy task and can be far more time-consuming than other types of public relations linkbuilding, but the pay-off makes it more than worthwhile.
The final area where I think a public relations approach can enhance SEO performance is link reclamation. This is where a big news or high-authority website has written a story about your website but not necessarily given a link back. This is a good example of where the two disciplines have very different approaches.
SEO has historically been a bit clumsy about this and a first date is probably a good analogy. When the SEO team approaches link reclamation (the first date) they just thunder in and try for a big old snog straight away (ask for the link). The PR approach is more about building the relationship, getting to know the person and then, when they think the moment is right, leaning in and going for a more delicate kiss, probably getting this job done quicker and more successfully in the long run.