PR professionals have traditionally focused on earning favorable media mentions. They seek more ink rather than a link. But some SEO experts say PR pros have excellent SEO opportunities. Some even say PR has become the new SEO due to Google’s continual algorithm updates to combat black hat SEO tactics.
Google now assigns greater value to legitimate backlinks from authoritative sources. The search engine has devalued links from free press release sites, article directories and other the types of sites that accept low-quality, redundant copy from SEO players. The most valuable links require top-notch writing, research and relationship building skills – the main strengths of PR.
The time has come for PR to recognize the importance of backlinks and to accept the essential link-building role of PR. Backlinks are one of the most important, if not the most important, factors in obtaining high search engine ranking.
Why PR People can be the Best at SEO
“Public relations professionals work every day to get their clients mentioned in the press,” says PR and digital marketing veteran Tony Wright, CEO of WrightIMC, in Search Engine Journal. “In most cases, the press will provide links in these mentions. These links are far more valuable than any links you can get from other sources. Building links is the hardest part of search engine optimization. So if public relations professionals can do the hardest part of SEO, they should be the best SEOs.”
They can also drive substantial website traffic as people click on the links
Include links in content. Clearly, the key SEO requirement is for PR to get a link to their corporate or brand website in the article. Links from company and product names back to the home or product page on the website are most important. Content creators can also link from other text. Google’s Keyword Planner Google’s Keyword Planner can provide insight into ideal anchor text. Consider linking to articles your company has published in other publications and other company resources. Links between pieces of quality content help improve search engine rankings and build incoming traffic. However, it’s important to add links naturally and to avoid keyword stuffing.
Request backlinks in published content. A media monitoring service can reveal online mentions of your company that lack a link. Send a polite request and link to the journalist (or webmaster), asking them to link to your site, advises Beki Winchel at PR Daily. Most typically comply. You can also request a link in an article’s byline if a website published a guest post from your company.
“Do not ask for links just because you’d like to have them,” Winchel warns. Editors and website managers need a reason to add a link. Requesting links just because a story covers your niche or mentions a competitor will only annoy journalists.
What’s their backlink policy? Learn about the website’s policy on backlinks before submitting content or requesting backlinks. Some prohibit almost all backlinks; others are remarkably generous. Knowing the publication’s limits on backlinks is now as important as knowing its editorial calendar. Publishers may include their policy in their writer’s guidelines or news submission guidelines. If they don’t post a policy, feel free ask the editor.
Include backlinks as a metric to evaluate PR success. Journalists may link to your company website without mentioning the company by name. Those links without brand mentions can be considered a form of brand mentions. A PR measurement service can report the number and quality of backlinks. [Note how we’ve unobtrusively included a link to our Glean.info home page in this paragraph.]
Work with your SEO experts. Keep lines of communication open to avoid confusion and duplication. A shared calendar or content-sharing tool like Google Docs can track content in the works and link-building campaigns and other PR marketing endeavors to keep both sides informed. Some recommend Google docs as a calendar-sharing tool. SEO experts can help guide PR on advanced link-building strategies. For instance, SEO professionals can offer information about the best keywords or authoritative websites to target.
Focus on PR’s expertise. That means creating quality content and placing it in respected publications. SEO benefits will naturally follow. “Stop worrying so much about getting links and backlinks and focus on getting publicity and coverage. That’s what will get your product or service noticed and purchased,” advises Ronn Torossian, founder and CEO of 5WPR. If the article includes a link back to your corporate or brand website, that’s even better.
Bottom Line: PR pros can be superb at SEO. Their skills in content creation and storytelling can win substantial SEO benefits for their brands. But many PR practitioners just don’t realize how much they can do to optimize search results. Combining PR’s traditional content creation and communications skills with SEO knowledge can produce stellar link-building campaigns. And that’s the most important yet most challenging aspect of SEO.