Earlier this year I was invited to give a talk at the PR Congress 2013 which took place in Boracay. It was an opportunity worth taking, not only for the free ride to Boracay (aha!), but mostly because I've always believed that PR and SEO can work together to achieve massive results.
My main message to the PR community in the Philippines is this:
PR reps are doing a whole lot more SEO than they think they are.
Aside from that, I talked about how they should reach out more often to the SEO team to deliver holistic campaigns that not only deliver brand awareness and social media activity, but also links to websites to support SEO efforts.
Most of us see PR and SEO as two different facets of marketing that are almost like competing with each other. But the truth is, these two intersect more than we realize.
At the highest level, an SEO's main Key Performance Indicator is to increase the desired outcome of your website from organic search traffic. The outcome might be sales or newsletter signups on an e-commerce site, leads or signups generated from a business site, or an increase of organic traffic and engagement to a publisher.
To achieve this KPI, an SEO needs to know the following skills from technical to creative:
- Technical: Website Optimization, Crawlability, Speed, Link Structure, Content/Tag Duplication, Website and Analytics Data Extraction and Analysis.
- Middle Ground: Search Strategy, Keyword Research and On-Page setup (and automation)
- Creative: Content Marketing Strategy, Creative Ideas, Storytelling.
The main job of PR, on the other hand, is to provide awareness of a brand and its products. Online, the usual KPI for PR are number of social shares, comments, discussions, and page views.
Where PR & SEO intersect
Building links to your company website from high-authority sites (or what we call “influencers”) is one of the main goals of SEO. Higher authority ultimately brings higher rankings in the search engines, and therefore results to higher traffic. Try checking your domain authority at www.opensiteexplorer.com
If you look at all of the backlinks on the website, sorted by authority, typically the most powerful links come from editorial content from news sites. Normally, SEO doesn't have access to journalists and high authority news sites. (But we're getting better at it, starting with hiring journalists to be part of our content marketing team!) However, this is one of PR's specialties.
As an example, here is a quick look at Ava.ph’s domain assessment using Moz’s Open Site Explorer.
Notice that, 5 out of the top 7 links to Ava.ph are from PR/news sites: Philstar.com, e27.co, Malaya, Manila Standard, and Sunstar. This only says one thing: PR has a huge impact on SEO!
With PR and SEO working together, they’re not only able to reach their common goals (customer acquisition, sales, among others), they also complement each other as they achieve their specific goals. (I.e. rankings for SEO, social shares for PR)
For example, PR’s KPI of brand awareness is easier achieved when your page is optimized for the search engines, and high traffic keywords are strategically placed in your press release. SEO’s KPI of higher search rankings is best achieved when high authority news sites are linking back to your webpages.
Here are 5 areas where SEO and PR can together to achieve even greater results:
1. Campaign Ideas - SEO's have numerous tools to research social reach and success of similar campaigns that have been run in the past. We can help make decisions on various campaign options based on potential impact.
2. Media Targets - PR maintains and builds their own list... but that list can be expanded based on SEO research of high authority sites and influencers that discuss, promote and link to similar campaigns.
3. Link Reclamation - PR agencies are usually not mindful that they've been publishing press releases online without links pointing back to the site. Give your database of old press releases to your SEO team, and for sure they will be able to reclaim a couple of links or correct broken ones.
4. Unified Story and Branding - In other words, merge your editorial calendars! Have a consistent voice or tone, and launch a content strategy that has a unified message that shines through your blog content, social media postings, and even offline marketing collateral. Both PR and SEO can surely benefit from a good story.
5. Offline Events. While this is PR's specialty, SEO can contribute in increasing social reach and spreading the word about events. In the end, both PR and SEO can benefit from these efforts--increasing brand awareness, building relationships, and potentially earning high quality and relevant links in the process.
For further reading here are interesting reads on PR and SEO: