Are PR and SEO secretly having an affair? Is there something going on behind closed doors between one of the newest marketing tactics and one of the oldest? If there isn’t there should be because these two are made for each other.
Let’s look at two PR techniques from a SEO perspective: Press releases and thought-leadership articles.
Part One: Optimizing Press Releases
Press releases were once a primary means of acquiring publicity in the media- you sent a bunch out and hoped a reporter fished yours out of the pile for an article or other coverage. Then the Internet came along and with a few clicks and a credit card you could send millions of people your release instantly. And you could link back to your website so they could get all the goods they needed to write a glowing piece about your new widget. Cool, right?
Well, for a few Internet minutes maybe. Unfortunately everyone else can also send out those millions of releases and they do, every day, every hour and every minute. If you’re a reporter you’re buried in this stuff and after a while you don’t see them anymore (just like we’ve learned to tune out banner ads while surfing- but that’s another subject…). So press releases lost a lot of their value.
Now along comes SEO, the fine art of driving relevant search traffic to your web site. SEO is based on two things: Keywords and authoritative inbound links. You build good site content around a set of commonly searched phrases related to your business (keywords) and you try to get great sites in your subject matter area to link to your site. These two things, in combination, tell the search engines that your site is a leading authority in your subject matter. As a result you move up the coveted organic rankings, hopefully to a top three position. Lots of people find your site, like what they find there and buy, subscribe, call, etc.
So what does this have to do with press releases? Actually it changes the way you write and utilize them because when you post a release these days it is indexed by the search engines. That means it is instantly available directly to anyone searching in your subject matter area. So you need to optimize it. Write a juicy keyword-laden headline. Start your paragraphs off with keywords where possible. Answer the kinds of questions people might search for in your subject area. This doesn’t mean repeating the same keywords over and over- that’s a no-no. You still need to tell a compelling story. But now the goal of that story is to get the readers (not the media) to want to visit your site. You also embed links to relevant site pages (landing pages) in the release using your keyword phrases as anchor text (ask your web guy what this means- it is important). Now your ubiquitous and newly indexed release is a driver of qualified traffic to the exact areas of your site you want them to visit.
Part Deux: Thought Leadership Articles and Inbound Link (bait)
It used to be that PR pros sought to place articles primarily to establish expertise, market leadership and authority. These are still worthy goals but I’m going to add an additional one: Enhancing the authority of your site from a SEO perspective. The search engines rank your site in part (a big part) by how many sites link to you and how relevant they are to your subject matter area. If you are able to place an article in a major trade site, for example, and embed keyword anchored links in that article, you have hit link gold. You will see your site rise in the ranks and that is a good thing.
It’s my opinion, and one we’re exporing here at Martino Flynn, that we have to optimize everything we do including broadcast, video, print, PR and the web. We’re going on the assumption that everything will be indexed. After all Google’s mission is to organize the world’s information. So make sure you’re helping them with your PR.