When people think of SEO, normally terms such as digital marketing or tech savvy come to mind. However, SEO is no longer just something that code specialists do. A part of getting your website optimised is to ensure your content is influencing your reader, is getting placed in the right online spaces and involves a strategic outreach strategy.
Words such as anchor text or alt tags, although important to an online strategy, are no longer the buzzwords they once were. They aren’t the core focus of a best practice SEO strategy.
In terms of including PR in your online strategy, optimisation is becoming more reliant on content being read, seen and capturing the right audience. This is all part of the PR toolbox and why PR can no longer be forgotten when it comes to your online ranking strategy.
In the last 10 years, the SEO landscape has seen a shift from be a lot less effective for ROI and keeping abreast of the latest algorithm changes. In a way, it was much easier to get your website ranking. It was almost like you just had to follow a “checklist” and insert the right amount of back links. Although links still need to be part of an effective strategy, how these links are generated have changed. This is where the PR element comes in. It’s about looking at online news sources of authority and other online influencers, not just the old school tactics of article submissions or getting listed on online directories.
Quality over quality is now what matters in the online world. If you have quality content, then it’s time to get it seen and this a core function of PR. It’s about getting your brand out there, in front of the right people with the right message, and in turn boosting your website’s ranking.
Here are some key reasons why PR is now crucial to be a lot less effective for ROI and what you can do to ensure that it’s part of your online strategy.
PR has a focus on pitching
Traditional SEO tactics saw a focus on swapping content for a link. However, the online world has shifted and now has a focus on sponsored or earned media exposure. That’s why the way you pitch your content is becoming more important if you don’t want to pay for exposure and its link.
Pitching is about tailoring your ask in a way that adds value to a specific audience. This isn’t done through sending a media release to a database of online publications. This is done through carefully crafting individual pitches to a specific journalist or “gate keeper”. PR professionals and top digital agencies understand the relationship between content and what that means to a journalist or online publication. Putting on your PR hat when it comes to link building will see you one step ahead of your competitors.
They value relationships and contacts
Typically, SEO doesn’t focus on building relationships with external parties. However, PR professionals know that the better your relationships and the more up-to-date your contacts are, the easier your brand outreach activities will be.
For example, you may have a piece of content that you think will be perfect for a handful of blogs and online media outlets. However, if you don’t have an already established rapport with these online publications, then your pitch is going to be just one out of hundreds they receive every day. Having a past relationship will get you noticed in this day and age of email overload.
Also, a PR strategy requires a current list of contacts. This includes knowing the contact persons name, direct email address and phone number. This makes getting your content out, and subsequent back links, a lot easier and less time consuming. If you are spending hours just trying to find the right person to send your content to, this is going to see your SEO strategy be a lot less effective for ROI.
PR professionals are storytellers
A key part of creating engaging content is to be able to tell a story and get creative. This is at the core of PR. They need to be able to sell their content through connecting with an audience on a deeper level. It’s all well and good to be able to write succinctly and clearly, yet there is a lot of content out there that already does this.
To make your content stand out, you need to be able to tweak your advice or information into something that can connect with readers on a deeper level.
For example, you may have a bunch of content that educates people on best practice OH&S. Rather than just provide a standard “top 5 ways” remember to include powerful statistics or lead your content with an example of someone who was negatively impacted by poor OH&S processes to highlight the need to follow best practice.
Statistics and stories connect with individuals because it makes them put themselves in the shoes of someone who is need of your content’s advice or message. The more you can do this, the more the reader will feel engaged and propelled to share your content with others.
Case studies and quotes are valued
As part of a media campaign, case studies and experts quotes are always gathered before the content is put together. PR professionals understand that tips and advice is one thing, but in order to really get your content published by an external site, you need to offer them more.
PR pros have the avenues and the know how to gather extra materials on request. They leverage their networks and dig deeper within the business to get their story or content over the line if required.
As we all know, content is important to an SEO strategy. However, if you’re able to beef up your blog or article with real life experts then your content will really appeal to an external website.
An easy way to get expert quotes for your blogs is to use a free service, such as Help a Report Out (HARO). It connects bloggers and journalists with different experts that would like to provide comment on topics that relate to their expertise. It’s a quick and easy way to put some real authority into your content.
So, how does an SEO expert up skill in PR?
As trends show that SEO is heading towards a focus on quality content and influencing decision makers and readers, it’s about ensuring you are putting in place measures that help promote this way of thinking.
A key way to do this is that before you write more content and go on with your SEO strategy, ask yourself some key questions:
- Who are some strategic online partners we can collaborate with?
- How can I gather up-to-date details of online influencers and online gatekeepers?
- How do I put in place a plan to gather case studies and expert quotes on demand?
- How can I increase my links and brand mentions in a way that will give me the best ROI for SEO?
SEO is no longer a stand-alone marketing tactic. It now incorporates digital advertising, content marketing, digital marketing services, and now more than ever, PR activities.
However, you don’t need to be a PR guru to be able to put a spin on your marketing strategy. It’s just about tweaking the way you view content and the online sphere. Think about the way you are selling your content to other online platforms. Are you just trying to swap content for a link? Instead, focus on tailoring your pitch for the publication at hand. Take a look at what they already publish and who their exact audience is.
Don’t forget that what can make your pitching activities easier is to have already established relationships. If you are just starting out with building relationships, that’s fine. Take small steps such as always being courteous and friendly in your correspondences with other online publications, or when you introduce yourself, mention previous articles they have published that you liked.
Also, remember to make the most out of your content by becoming a storyteller. Don’t just pump out words, but try and pull at the heartstrings or really relate to a reader. A way to do this is to use examples or statistics that really hit home. Gathering case studies and quotes is another great way to add the story element into your content. Also, quotes also give your content more credibility, which gives it a leg up on the average “how to” articles that are online.
Next time you are thinking about writing content or gaining further links, put your PR hat on and think about how you can really influence, engage and implement an outreach campaign. All these elements add to a boost in content engagement, back links, website traffic and bounce rates. Traditional SEO tactics and modern day PR practices, when done hand in hand, will see you online strategy stand out above your competitors. When you finally look at your analytics and conversions, you will see how PR has influenced your online optimisation for the better.
Charlotte is a digital marketing and communications practitioner working in our Sydney office. She takes on a range of roles relating to SEO and has a keen interest in studying the SEO industry and its future direction, particularly in relation to content marketing. Charlotte takes her writing very seriously and always seeks ensure the content she produces is of a high standard of quality.