SEO & PR – How to use SEO and PR together for maximum effect
Table of Contents
- What is SEO or Search Engine Optimisation?
- Is SEO worth it?
- SEO for relevance, credibility and visibility
- Synergies between SEO and PR
- SEO vs PR. How are they different?
- How should you integrate SEO and PR?
- Target search query research – aka Keyword Research
- Integrated PR & SEO – themed output
- The beautiful SEO benefits of PR backlinks
- A note on Artificial Intelligence in SEO and PR
- Checklist for your website SEO
What is SEO or Search Engine Optimisation?
Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is how you make your website content findable. It is a continuous practice of enhancing your website pages and performance so that your content achieves top organic rankings on search engines. SEO is both a technical and a creative process and to succeed it needs time and ongoing effort.
Yes! If your business publishes ANY material online, such as advice, information or guidance, it is ALWAYS worth ensuring that content works as hard as possible. At the most basic level, this involves fulfilling a number of best-practice checks that Google, Bing and other search engines look for as a measure of quality.
SEO for relevance, credibility and visibility
At first glance, SEO may seem dull and stripped of creativity, but it offers the enticing prospect of making your website highly visible at the exact moment your potential client is looking for specific information about your product/service.
Being top in the rankings at the relevant time bestows a substantial measure of credibility. Making sure your content is beautifully crafted, full of value and well-visualised is where creativity comes to the fore.
In addition, working on SEO becomes a virtuous circle. The more you publish quality content and take care of your website performance, the quicker newly published material will be ranked, and the higher it will go. You will strengthen your domain authority, tap into the potential of gaining large volumes of visitors, and win a tremendous competitive advantage.
Synergies between SEO and PR
Business leaders must consider whether SEO is the best use of their resources, as with any marketing effort. However, if you are already investing in public relations, then you will be able to leverage existing PR resources to great effect.
PR is the proactive management of your reputation, by creating compelling stories about your brand.
SEO is the proactive management of your organic search presence, by creating compelling answers to search queries.
If you are already producing compelling stories about your brand, then it is not a giant leap to start generating compelling answers to your clients’ questions.
In fact, we have found that the two naturally support each other.
A goal of PR is to achieve third party endorsement as an authoritative expert in your target media. Similarly, SEO involves publishing high quality, valuable content for your target audience and in doing so convinces Google, Bing and other search engines that your website is an authoritative resource. Or in other words, you can consider Google as another media contact that you’d like to impress!
SEO vs PR. How are they different?
We should also recognise that there are significant variations in the ways SEO and PR work. They have different strengths, which should guide your expectations, and how you choose to apply each marketing tactic.
– SEO aligns with user intent. The goal is to help an audience genuinely interested in your offering today.
– PR, on the other hand, cultivates stories that engage your target audience emotionally and intellectually with your brand. PR is about building strategic partnerships, creating memorable connections and nurturing long-term loyalty.
– Building your SEO rankings takes persistent effort over time to see results, but the impact on your audience is to provide instant answers to their questions.
– In comparison, PR thrives on seizing timely opportunities, pivoting at crucial moments. PR enables you to manage narratives effectively through media coverage and strategic interactions.
– SEO is quantifiable with concrete metrics, such as tracking your website rankings, searches, clicks, and engagement.
– PR is notoriously tougher to measure, as its goal is to cultivate emotional resonance and authentic relationships. However, you can measure PR outcomes by outputs, and tracking engagement online and with your client relationships and staff.
– SEO establishes credibility by ensuring your brand ranks high in search results. By answering the questions common to your target audience, you position yourself to speak to them.
– PR builds likability by triggering the ‘mere exposure effect’; intimacy through empathetic, relevant and compelling communication, campaigns and content and as a result a trust bond is formed – because the majority of material will be via independent, respected, third parties – the media,
How should you integrate SEO and PR?
To achieve impactful results, you must produce content for SEO purposes, which will sometimes, but only sometimes, overlap with PR intent. When looking to integrate your marketing efforts, you need to assess where there is a crossover between your SEO deliverables and your PR outputs.
Target search query research – or in old money, Keyword Research
So, do you know what your potential clients are asking? You’d better find out 😊
What are they interested in? What are their frequently asked questions about your product or service? What are the trending topics that they need to form an opinion about?
Any marketing team worth its salt will have a good start on these questions. The EC-PR team have also waxed long about clear crafted messaging as part of a communication strategy. So, you’ll be pleased to know that SEO keyword research will both add detail and explore new ideas.
Understanding the search queries that are common to your target audience, should inform the direction of your marketing. The result should be a large bank of content ideas, which can be ordered by relevance to your target audience, search volume, and strength of competition.
Integrated PR & SEO – themed output
This bank of ideas can populate both your PR schedule and SEO content creation schedule. This is where you can get creative! Look for themes or topics which have potential to resonate strongly with your target audience and cover them from a variety of angles in owned media and earned media, with the aim of consolidating your position as an authoritative expert.
The SEO output will likely be articles, insights, guides, or plain old blog content on your own website, and you can also explore opportunities for writing guest articles for customer or supplier websites.
These are just two elements of a fully integrated PR & Marketing approach; your themed content can also be shared on social and via email.
Integrating your PR and SEO efforts will maximise the chances that your target audience will find you as an authority on your chosen theme. And each piece of content you generate should be optimised for search. The Golden Rule – You should routinely follow the same SEO best practices no matter what.
N.B. Sometimes your PR output will not have a natural SEO home, e.g. it wasn’t written to answer any particular search query, and that is fine, but even so, the same good SEO practices should be adopted. (See our checklist below).
The beautiful SEO benefits of PR backlinks
What are backlinks?
Backlinks are simply hyperlinks between web pages. To help build your authority it’s good to work on both internal backlinks – links between related content on your own website – and external backlinks – links from 3rd party websites back to yours. The more authoritative the website you gain links from, the higher value. So, if you win a link from a national newspaper for example, that’s a PR and SEO coup (as long as it’s not an occasion for crisis management!)
PR can help SEO a lot here. If your CEO has written a great thought leadership piece in an industry journal online, then ask for a backlink to your company website from that publication. Or even better, ask for a link to a directly related article or guide on your website.
Link descriptive text
Ideally you want to include the important descriptive keywords in the hyperlink text. So, no more ‘click here’s or ‘read more’s if you can help it, please.
Think of imaginative ways to sweat your PR successes too! By this I mean add new content to your own website that features a placement you have won in a magazine or journal. Reinforcing the backlink to your 3rd party article is a strong move – always making sure you add some more value to your reader.
What about nofollow or sponsorship links?
Backlinks are a ranking factor for Google, but in years past there was a whole industry of link building and link farming that tried to scam the ranking algorithms, so now Google has policing measures to stop unfair play.
You may ask for a backlink in a press release, but the publication may insist that it is a ‘nofollow’ link. This essentially tells Google, “We’re linking but we’re not endorsing this site”. Thus, nofollow links don’t help your rankings. They are still good though because you might get referral traffic from your fabulously written piece.
Similarly, advertorial links should be marked as ‘sponsorship’ backlinks, which won’t be a ranking factor as you have paid for the publication.
A note on Artificial Intelligence in SEO and PR
Over the last few months, it’s become popular to use ChatGPT or Bard to generate content for blogs – and I’m sure this counts for AI Tools in PR copywriting as well. I have a few observations about it – pros and cons:
- AI chat bots are useful to getting a blog started
- They can feed in decent ideas to your article for you to take on and research
- However, EVERYTHING must be validated. You cannot rely on chatbots for accuracy, any more than you can rely on Google for your medical diagnosis. I’ve experienced many examples of bias, incorrect information or different information to the same question when asked in a slightly different way.
- Once you’ve been using AI for a while, chatbot generated blog content stands out a mile off. Look out for corny metaphors, lists of three or four bullet points, and (for our UK readers…) Americanisms that don’t translate well.
- You won’t get anything truly original there! Your tone of voice, sense of humour and viewpoint count for a lot. It tells your reader that you are a real person with ideas!
- Leave your ego at the door: everyone needs an editor. Even if you think you’ve cleared the aroma of AI content generation from your finished article, it’s best to get it checked by a human.
The future of SEO is bound to change with AI. I hope that the response of search engines is not just to swallow our well-researched and hard-won ideas as their own to be spewed out in AI search engine answers. I hope they continue to credit the websites that they train the AI bots on in the first place with backlinks. (I talk a bit about how we feed AI bots in my Midjourney AI images article). Overall, I hope we can still use SEO into the future to build business reputation, brand and website traffic.
Checklist for your website SEO
Our quick checklist of what you should be doing for every article
An essential part of SEO is creating content regularly for your website. We find that a weekly output at least is necessary to achieve a significant impact over a matter of months. Most important are written articles or blog posts, which should be at least 400 words and ideally longer than 800 words. We find the longer the better: the key is to help your reader find the information they’re looking for, so a table of contents helps a lot.
You should also consider video to support each blog, and images in creative ways to illustrate your articles, e.g. infographics, charts etc. Decorative images are great to attract interest, but should be used sparingly. Our full checklist is below.
Decide on your target keywords (search queries) and write your content to answer that.
Ensure your important keywords are included in the title / heading 1.
The meta title and description are your preferred snippet that appears in the search results.
Ensure your meta title is short, self-explanatory, on topic (uses keyword) and compelling.
Ensure your meta description is the right length 156 characters (at time of writing).
Make sure there’s only one H1 heading.
Use subheadings H2, H3 in order.
Use anchor links to help people jump to the content they’re interested in quickly.
Ensure your images are all sized sensibly (max 1080px width) and named according to your topic with a title and alt tag that reflects the content.
Ensure that you have set a featured image / meta image for the snippet that is used on search results and in social media when you paste the website URL.
Add internal links to related content.
Add external links to authoritative content that supports your article.
Use authors and author archives if your site supports that.
Use categories and tags if your site supports them, but don’t overegg the pudding – fewer tags that are more relevant are better than loads of tags that only related to one article.
Do a check on Google’s Page Speed test. This will tell you if you have any performance issues on the page.