Many public relations professionals pay little heed to search engine optimization. That’s a mistake. Good SEO pushes websites higher in web searches, ensuring that websites attract more visitors who learn more about the company and its products or services.
PR pros may view SEO as too technical for their liking, but some digital marketing gurus say PR pros have all the skills to be superb at SEO. Legitimate backlinks from authoritative sources confer the greatest SEO power, and acquiring those links usually requires first-class writing, research and relationship building skills – the main strengths of PR.
Public relations professionals work hard get their companies or their clients mentioned in the press. Media outlets will often provide links in these mentions. Those links are much more valuable than links from other websites. “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,” says PR and digital marketing veteran Tony Wright, CEO of WrightIMC, in Search Engine Journal.
Here’s how PR pros can apply their special skills to improve SEO. The links in this article illustrate how to use backlinks in PR placements and content marketing.
Add backlinks to brand mentions. Make sure your brand mentions include backlinks. Backlinks are the actual URL or address of the page. “Backlinks — not mentions — are the currency of the internet, acting as votes in your favor,” writes digital marketing expert Neil Patel. “Getting mentions but not links mean you’re only driving a fraction of the traffic or sales you should be.” A corporate mention, such as Glean.info, should be a link to its home page, as done here for our own brand.
A media monitoring tool can locate brand mentions that lack backlinks. Send a polite request and link to the journalist, blogger or webmaster, asking them to link to your site. Provide them with the exact link address. If possible, say that they’re shortchanging readers by not providing a helpful link.
Eliminate bad links. Check that backlinks remain in working order. Bad backlinks are remarkably common, with their annoying 404 errors — or ‘Page Not Found’ messages. Websites change. Companies redesign websites, move or eliminate pages over time. They update landing pages to match the latest campaign.
Restore the page with content that resembles what was originally there, or create a 301 (or permanent) redirect from that page URL to a new page that replaces it, Patel advises. “That way, you’re able to salvage links that you did successfully drive, even if the site’s objectives have changed or evolved in the last few months,” he says.
SEO for reputation management. Good SEO can counter negative publicity and unfavorable mentions by pushing favorable articles about the brand to the top of search results. Create similar content about the controversial subject. Publish positive content about your organization on your website or perhaps another website through content marketing efforts. Then take advantage of your owned media and relationships influencers and website owners to link that content. That strategy call help you control the message with high-ranking search engine results.
“One of the problems that we see is that a lot of brands think, “‘All my links about my brand should always go to my homepage.’” That’s not actually the case,” says Rand Fishkin, co-founder of Moz. Information about specific products or services, such as Glean.info’s Omnibus Newsfeed, should be linked to a specific page that provides detailed information.
Include links in content. It’s critical to include backlinks in guest posts and other types of content PR contributes to other websites. While links to your home page and product pages are most valuable from a marketing standpoint, PR can also add links in other text to link to background information and other educational resources. Remember to include a link to the corporate home page in the author’s bio.
Google’s Keyword Planner can provide insight into ideal anchor text. It’s important to add links naturally and to avoid keyword stuffing. Experts warn to include no more than two or three backlinks in press releases to avoid SEO penalties.
Learn about backlink policies? 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 to ask the editor. If they limit backlinks to your website, you could consider linking to articles you’ve contributed to other sites.
Bottom Line: Backlinks not brand mentions are the currency of the internet. By consistently following a few recommendations, PR pros can play an instrumental role in winning quality backlinks that boost their company’s search results.
William J. Comcowich founded and served as CEO of CyberAlert LLC, the predecessor of Glean.info. He is currently serving as Interim CEO and member of the Board of Directors. Glean.info provides customized media monitoring, media measurement and analytics solutions across all types of traditional and social media.