(To ensure you have the latest content, this post was updated on Oct. 4, 2019).
[Psst...looking for some SEO tools? Scroll to the bottom to find our recommendations]
PR pros have been working for years on new PR trends that will propel their communications strategy forward. Today we're going to focus on one trend that works well with digital public relations, yet is often neglected -- SEO.
SEO, or search engine optimization, is the practice of improving traffic to your website content through such search engines as Google or Bing.
SEO leverages what we know of search engine algorithms to get content on the first page of search engines, and thus more likely to be seen and clicked on by audiences. SEO strategies include such tactics as keyword research and link building.
But what does SEO have to do with your PR strategy? Let's take a closer look.
Why SEO is an Important Part of Emerging PR Trends
As mentioned above, one of the major components of SEO is link building -- the practice of inserting links to other sites within your content and getting those other sites to link back to your site. This gives a head's up to search engines that such content is related and boosts the importance of your content when it comes to related search queries.
Would you be surprised to learn that a lot of PR best practices also put you in a prime position to boost SEO?
For example, every time an influencer mentions your brand, it most likely involves a link back to your site. Every time a media site mentions your brand in an article, you may get a new link to your site. All of these PR activities build links from high authority sites, which has the power to boost your SEO.
Why Should You Combine PR and SEO
It's simple: Learning more about the workings of SEO and consciously using SEO tactics will drive more traffic to your site and campaign, as well as boost your brand's visibility.
Keywords, which are terms or phrases that people enter into search engines, also help you to engage your audience more. Why? Because people who enter such keywords are looking specifically for that subject. When they find your article on Google that fits their needs, they are more likely to turn into a lead.
Consider the traffic that your site could get simply from using SEO. Research shows that sites who rank on the first page of Google get 91.5% of all organic search traffic. And 51% of all site traffic comes from search engines.
And first page is important. One study from Trendkite showed that 56% of people on Google click on one of the first three links on the first page. In addition, only 4% ever make it to the second page.
This shows just how high the stakes are. If businesses want to get some of that sweet traffic from search engines, they need to put in some serious time and effort.
The good thing is that PR pros have a leg up. Since you are already in the habit of working with other publications and getting backlinks from high authority sites, you're almost halfway there.
So what else do you need to do?
With just a little more forethought, PR pros can use highly targeted keywords and implement some SEO best practices that would take their strategy to the next level.
Adding SEO to your PR tool kit is not simply another task for your workload. It enhances your efforts and boosts your results.
What SEO tactics can empower your PR strategy? Let's look at 5 specific tactics that you should consider.
6 SEO Tactics That Will Boost Your Digital Public Relations
1. Audience Research
Knowing your audience is important on several levels. As PR pros, you need to know your audience to direct your storytelling. When it comes to SEO, audience research tells you what keywords to use and what kind of content is the best.
As you conduct audience research, it's your job to piece together information such as the pain points and questions that your target audience has.
You can glean this information from various sources, including:
- Google Analytics or another analytics software on your site.
- Social media analytics (i.e., Instagram Insights, Facebook Audience Insights, LinkedIn Insights, Twitter Analytics).
- Interviews with current clients.
- Surveys of your current audience.
2. Keyword Research
Your research should also include keywords. This research isn't just about what keywords people search for -- modern keyword research has to involve the intent behind the words.
When people use that search term, what do they want to get? Are they doing basic research or are they in the middle of the funnel looking for a solution to their problem? A lot of this can be deciphered through the search terms that they use.
For instance, if someone searches for "what is big data," we would assume that this is research. They heard the term and they just want to know the basics about what it is. On the other hand, if they search for "how can big data help my business," this is a more personal question. They are curious about how this affects them.
On the bottom of the funnel, if someone searches for "best big data companies," they already know about big data and its advantages. Now that they are on the hunt for a company that meets their needs.
When choosing keywords, it's important to keep this kind of intent in mind. Choose a variety of keywords that fit every stage of your buyer's journey and will help to move people through your funnel.
3. Link Building
Google takes links very seriously. Backlinks to your site are like votes in popularity -- they tell Google that other sites recognize your value and that Google should too. To use an analogy, it's the web version of when cool kids on the playground vouch for you.
This is where PR and SEO really work well together. While you may have passively contributed to link building as part of your public relations strategy, it's now time to actively build links.
This involves looking for potential places to attain backlinks. When you do this, remember that quality counts. What makes a link high quality? First, it should be from a reputable site. Second, it should be from a site that is relevant to your brand -- if you're a B2B software company, a link from a cosmetics company isn't going to carry as much weight as a link from an influencer in your industry.
Outside of the ordinary link building strategies used by PR pros, what other tactics can you use to get links?Here are a few you might consider
- Guest posting
- Content promotion
Don't forget that a lot of link building depends on how your content resonates with your audience. When pitching a guest post, for example, demonstrate that you know the audience and that the content is will interest them. Or when you create an infographic that others can embed on their site, craft something that your audience has shown some interest in -- and that people will be eager to embed on their sites.
4. Social Media
First of all, we should say that just posting and engaging on social media does not directly impact SEO, since the majority of links on social media are nofollow ones. That being said, there are a few ways that social media can have a positive influence on your SEO.
For starters, social media is an undeniable powerhouse of influence. As you grow your social media presence and engage with your audience, it creates excitement around your brand. This excitement, in turn, has the power to create positive brand mentions on and off social media. Such brand mentions are a component of a good SEO score.
Second, social media is a great place to interact with influencers -- those in your industry who have a large social pull and who, by default, usually have sites with a high SEO ranking. Social media gives you the opportunity to engage with such influencers, and if done right, can lead to an eventual partnership.
5. Content Strategy
Content is an essential part of both SEO and PR. Google's algorithm is tuned to take note of how long a person stays on your site after clicking on a search result. If someone clicks the search result and within seconds leaves, Google assumes that that content did not fit their search query. If that happens enough times, that content and your site will get penalized.
How do you prevent this from happening? A lot of it comes down to the keywords you use and overall quality of your content.
Of course, the keyword research that we mentioned above plays into your content and SEO strategy. But search engine optimized content involves more than simply choosing the right keyword -- although, granted, that is a big part of it.
The quality of your content also plays a major role in SEO. Evidence shows that long form content is valued highly by search engine algorithms. This means that longer content, such as in-depth guides and longer blog posts help to boost your ranking in search engines. But this doesn't mean that you should ramble on and on in order to get that length. Always make sure that your content carries real value for your audience.
Finally, make sure that your content resonates with your audience. To do so, be as current and relevant as possible. Use such tools as Google Trends or the Related Search section of Google to find out what questions and subjects are most popular at the moment. Check out what your competitors are doing, both on their site and social media to discover what's working for them and improve on it.
Your site's authority isn't just measured by what you do on your site. It also about how your site is viewed by others. That means the links that point to your site, as well as what people say about your site.
Just as PR pros pitch stories to media outlets, a key tactic in SEO is outreach to influential sites. Although these two have different goals, the practice is similar. When you get a link back to your site, what does this do for your SEO? When search engines see links from other sites to your site, it shows that your content is respected -- boosting your overall authority.
As you plan which sites to pitch or reach out to, a site's domain authority should definitely be a factor. You can check this with a free tool like this one from Ahrefs. Simply enter the site's URL and you'll receive a score for that site. When a high authority site links to you, some of that authority rubs off on your site.
5 PR and SEO Tools That Will Amp Up Your Next Campaign
Formerly known as Google Webmaster Tools, this set of tools helps to put your website on the map.
Among the features of this versatile tool, you'll be able to check your website's index status, optimize your website to increase visibility, and see for yourself what factors Google is using to rank your site. In addition, you'll get a clear look at what keywords people are using to reach your site and the impressions that each keyword gets.
This tool gives you a veritable gold mine of information to help with your PR campaign, and all for free. Whether you just need a few pieces of data to measure success or a more detailed analysis, this tool can serve your needs.
Moz has been around since the beginning of SEO -- and its expert features provide a nuanced approach to search engine strategy.
But Moz is not just about tools. This brand also aims to educate its users on the ins and outs of SEO. From its comprehensive online community to such materials as its Beginner's Guide to SEO, it encourages anybody and everybody to take charge of their SEO strategy.
Moz also provides all the resources you need to boost your website's traffic. Identify the best keywords, perform site audits, see how your site ranks against others, and get key metrics -- all from Moz's dashboard.
Not only does Moz tell you what you need to do, but they also explain the reasons behind everything. And all of the tools to do it -- both paid and free -- are right at your fingertips.
SEMRush is an all-in-one tool that helps you in every aspect of search engine optimization. Its features include competitive analysis, keyword research, backlinking, site audits, and site positioning.
With this tool, you can get a clear visual of your brand and your competitors to see exactly where you stand. This includes what backlinks exist in your competitors' strategy, which enables you to carve out your own fierce backlink strategy and shows which links are follow and nofollow.
This user-friendly tool focuses on improving your SEO. The features of this tool include backlink research and tracking, competitor research, as well as trust and authority measurement.
While this tool can be used for SEO in general, its features are mainly targeted toward link building. It will identify which links on your site are the strongest and help you to monitor these and keep them strong. On the other side of the spectrum, it will also identify which pages need the most help and give you the chance to strengthen your content and get more backlinks.
Ahrefs is a premium tool that helps you keep up with your SEO needs. From competitor analysis to keyword research and backlink research, this tool covers your SEO needs.
Get a good look at your SEO strategy and see what weaknesses exist. Once you have a good overall view of your strategy, this tool will also help you to improve it.
SEO tactics are not just for content marketing -- they've proven themselves to be an essential tool for PR strategies and a viable PR trend. It's time for PR pros to utilize more of these tactics as part of their PR arsenal if they want to empower their public relations strategy.
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