Public Relations & SEO
SEO is no longer an afterthought in public relations; it is now a necessary component. Here’s how to use your public relations efforts to boost your brand’s search engine visibility.
SEO and public relations go hand in hand. As a public relations professional, you must understand how to use search engine friendliness to maximise the ROI of your campaigns.
Here’s everything you need to know to optimise your brand’s exposure and reputation by making your PR initiatives SEO-friendly.
What exactly is SEO?
SEO, or search engine optimization, is the process of increasing the organic (unpaid) visibility of your brand’s website (or other websites mentioning your brand) in search engines.
SEO is carried out by creating and modifying content on your own website (on-page SEO) as well as creating and optimising content on other people’s websites (off-page SEO).
Off-page SEO is your primary concern as a public relations professional. In fact, one of the most effective off-page SEO methods for increasing organic search engine visibility is digital PR. This is why….
Why is SEO important for public relations?
A strong search engine presence is no longer optional for managing public perception of a brand; it is required. This is due to the fact that 93% of online experiences begin with a search engine, with the top 5 organic results accounting for 67.6% of that traffic, while less than 1% of searchers click on a second-page result.
Previously, the roles of public relations and SEO were clearly defined. PR concentrated on relationship building on the front end, whereas SEO concentrated on technical optimizations on the back end. This line has become increasingly blurred over the last decade, owing primarily to the evolution of search engine ranking algorithms.
Search engines have shifted away from heavily weighting technical elements in their ranking equations and toward looking for human signals. In particular, Search engines look for a website’s and its authors’ Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness (EAT).
PR is the most effective way to increase a website’s EAT. Brand mentions and backlinks from third-party publications demonstrate to search engines that these websites can be trusted (and ranked).PR is an extremely effective off-page SEO tactic for increasing a brand’s expertise, authority, and trustworthiness.
As a public relations professional, you can leverage your authoritative network with some minor SEO tweaks and tasks to have a significant positive impact on search engines. Here’s how it’s done:
How to Use SEO in Public Relations Campaigns
Recognize Your Target Keywords
Use keywords in the titles of press releases.
Obtaining Backlinks via Networking
Take Advantage of EAT
SEO Team Work
1. Recognize Your Target Keywords
When most people think of SEO, they picture optimising for transactional intent keywords like “Best Shoes,” “Apartments for Rent,” “Plumbers Near Me,” and so on.
Yes, transactional keywords are important in SEO, but as a public relations professional, you are probably more concerned with brand-related keywords. Branded keywords play an important role in SEO and a company’s public image.
Understanding what people are searching for and ensuring that the right content is served first in search engine results is a significant advantage of PR SEO.
A keyword research tool is required to identify keyword opportunities and assess their volume and competition levels. The free “Keyword Planner” tool from Google Ads is a good place to start.
A paid tool, such as Ahrefs’ “Keywords Explorer,” can provide more detailed information.
Understanding what keywords people in your niche are using allows you to create optimised PR content that has a positive impact on your audience.
2. Include keywords in the titles of press releases.
Now that you have a good understanding of the keywords you want to target, you must use them correctly.
The title of a press release is a great place to use a keyword. If possible, start your title with your target keyword.
You should also include that keyword at least once near the start of the body copy, as well as variations/synonyms of that keyword throughout the copy.
Assume I’m submitting a press release to Apple announcing the Apple Car’s release date.
I check my keyword research tools and see that “Apple car release date” is a popular search term. That is my target keyword, so when people type that phrase into a search engine, they will see my article first.
In my press release, I use the keyword phrase “Apple car release date” at the beginning of the title, something like: “Apple car release date announced.”
I would also include “Apple car release date” in my body copy, as well as variations of that search term.
When using keywords in your copy, it is critical not to overuse them. The practise of overusing keywords in an attempt to manipulate search engine rankings is known as “keyword stuffing.” Keyword stuffing used to work, but Google’s Panda Update in 2011 rendered this spammy tactic obsolete.
In the post-Panda era, the best way to use keywords is to make them read naturally to your audience. Writing the same keyword over and over again in an attempt to rank is bad for your audience and bad for SEO.
Choosing the right target keywords and creating high quality, engaging content centred on these search terms is a big part of SEO.
3. Use Your Network to Get Backlinks
A backlink is created when one website links to your website. Search engines consider inbound backlinks to be votes of confidence and use them to determine which websites to rank.
Because inbound backlinks help a website rank higher in search engines, they are a major focus of search engine optimization.
Which types of backlinks are the most valuable? Those from reputable, authoritative publications.
Who has connections with these publications? Public relations professionals.
Simply put, those in the PR industry have a huge advantage when it comes to building high authority backlinks.
Keep inbound backlinks to your website in mind when collaborating with companies and publications.
Are you preparing a press release? Include a link to your website from that release.
Is there a website that features you but does not link to it? Simply contact them and ask them to link to you.
Looking for new PR collaborations? Make certain to inquire about their backlinking policy.
Obtaining inbound backlinks from authoritative websites is an important aspect of SEO. As a public relations professional with existing relationships with those publications, you can take advantage of this.
4. Use Expertise, Authority, and Trustworthiness to Your Advantage (EAT)
As previously stated, a search engine’s interpretation of a website’s expertise, authority, and dependability (EAT).
In some ways, public relations is the same as doing the same thing with humans – creating a positive and trustworthy brand perception for the public. As search engine algorithms improve, the distinction between what a search engine likes and what a human likes becomes increasingly blurred.
A brand feature in an influential and well-respected publication, such as USA Today or The Wall Street Journal, is a huge PR win, but it’s also a huge SEO win. So, in essence, good PR equals good SEO, and vice versa.
5. Collaborate with Your SEO Department
While there is some overlap between PR and SEO, they are fundamentally different. PR is more concerned with people, whereas SEO is more concerned with technology and how websites are built.
If you work for a larger agency with its own SEO division, enlist their assistance with some of the optimizations. If you don’t have an SEO department, consider hiring a consultant or agency to help you fine-tune the SEO aspect of your public relations campaigns.
By working closely with SEO experts, you can achieve a synergistic effect on both your PR and your SEO.
How PR and SEO Are Related
It is becoming increasingly important in a web-dominated world to ensure that your public relations coverage is easily accessible to search engines.
Gain a strong understanding of your keywords, use those keywords in the right places within your media, and network with your contacts to impact your brand’s visibility on 3rd party websites to leverage your PR efforts into SEO.
Take those simple steps, in collaboration with your SEO department or a consultant, and your PR and SEO efforts will have a compounding effect, increasing brand visibility.