PR and SEO are great bedfellows

Three reasons why digital PR and SEO can be great bedfellows

20/11/2015 15:32:27
Digital PR and search engine optimisation have always enjoyed an uneasy truce, treading on similar turf for different ends. But as traditional SEO tactics are shunned in favour of more natural techniques, the two strands of digital marketing are increasingly convergent – while both still separate disciplines, each can learn a great deal from the other.

Here we look at three reasons why digital PR and SEO can be great bedfellows, and discuss how careful planning can enable you to maximise the positive results of both.

Good quality content cuts both ways

Having a well-written website, with informative landing pages and a chatty, up-to-date blog, is beneficial to your business from the point of view both of positive brand perception and search engine ranking. We’ve blogged before about how to tell your brand’s story effectively through your content – it can take some time, planning and strategic thinking to apply these guidelines to your own website, but the rewards in terms of brand awareness and engagement of your target audience can be really impressive.

From an SEO perspective, quality content is growing ever more important. The introduction of Google’s ‘Panda’ algorithm in 2011 began a movement towards penalising sites with poor-quality, ’thin’ content or duplicate text, lowering their rankings in search results and prioritising well-written, original content instead. When you’re writing site content containing the keywords you’d like to rank for, make sure it reads naturally and elegantly rather than stuffing it full of over-optimised phrases – search engines are trying to read and evaluate your content just like a 'real person' would.

This is where defining some clear brand guidelines for your writing style and representation in the media can be helpful – these help to establish you as a consistent, trustworthy source of information in your field, and can be useful for PR agencies and media contacts so they know how you prefer your business to be represented in the press.

Links are important both to site visitors and search engines

LinkbuildingLinkbuilding – the process of encouraging other websites to publish links to your own site – has been used to increase sites’ visibility on the web for years now. But as dodgy old-fashioned bulk linkbuilding tactics are blacklisted by search engines, the emphasis has shifted from quantity to quality. It’s no longer about building a hundred shoddy links as quickly as possible, but instead creating good quality site content that consumers and influencers will naturally be keen to link to.

It’s no secret that links are a fundamental element of SEO, but they’re arguably just as valuable to your PR strategy, too. Links to your company’s website are a natural extension of brand awareness, leading your target audience from relevant, up-to-date coverage of your brand straight through to your website so they can learn more about you.

Conversely, a strong digital PR strategy can benefit you in SEO terms, too. A good PR campaign that successfully increases brand awareness and positive sentiment among your target audience will have consumers and influencers in your niche wanting to share your content and link to your website naturally – two birds with one stone.

It pays to know your target audience

Having a good understanding of who your product or service is aimed at is fundamental for success in both PR and SEO. At Partners, our strategies focus on maintaining your current audience, engaging new individuals in that demographic, and identifying new niches in which your product or service may be relevant. To do this, we first need to gain an extensive understanding of the backgrounds, needs and desires of these demographics – if we didn’t, we couldn’t do an effective job.

In SEO, as far as keywords and linkbuilding go, you might think it’s as simple as trying to rank for whatever you can, even if it isn’t relevant.  After all, as long as your site is getting traffic, it doesn’t matter that you’re a nail technician trying to rank for mortgage advice, right? This has actually been shown to be completely untrue – in fact, search engines take relevance into consideration when evaluating your backlinks, meaning that your site could be penalised if not enough of your links are relevant to what you do. However, if you’re being linked to by sites appropriate to your target audience’s interests, not only will your site be looked upon favourable by search engines, but you can expect a better clickthrough rate and improved brand awareness in a relevant niche – both markers of successful public relations.

It’s well worth dedicating some time to pulling some information together about your customer segments before anyone starts work on your marketing strategy. A lot of conclusions can be drawn from your existing customer data, but if you’d like a more detailed picture try conducting a customer survey, or even use a profiling tool like Mosaic to get a sense of your clients’ backgrounds.

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