Search engine optimization (SEO) is a big focus for many marketers, and that includes those of us that specialize in public relations. Because much of what we do results in the written word – be it a bylined column, a quote in an article, a social media post, a blog or other materials – it’s important to think about what makes up that content. PR has always been focused on messaging, yes, but SEO is drilling down even further to focus on specific keywords.
There are many tools to help with SEO, some of which we’ve highlighted in a previous blog, and there are sound strategies to help you determine the right keywords to target. But many PR firms don’t see SEO as something they should offer, and indeed, many companies don’t see why it’s worth the additional cost. But we think SEO is valuable. Here’s why:
SEO brings people to your website
One main way to work SEO is to consistently write blogs for your website. Once you have your SEO strategy in place, craft blogs that are helpful to your audience and incorporate keywords. Additionally, use keywords in page titles and other copy throughout your site, which allows outside sources to link to those pages as resources on a specific topic.
Today’s PR includes items like website copy and blogs, but seen through an SEO lens, those items, in turn, lead back to traditional PR. When we secure a bylined article opportunity for a client, we incorporate keywords into the copy as it’s written. Or when we draft talking points for an interview, it will include keywords. If someone searching for those terms lands on the article, he sees this resource from our client and can go from there to the client’s website. That way, both the keywords and the links help further increase your search engine ranking.
SEO positions you as a thought leader
As you focus on specific keywords and create multiple pieces of content around those keywords, you will become known as a thought leader in that space. For example, you may use a long-tail keyword like “cybersecurity and risk management in Nashville” with different variations in website copy, articles, blogs, social media, videos and other places. That not only allows your ranking for that keyword to rise, you also will be known as someone who works in that space and has opinions that others want to hear.
That can open the door for future opportunities, such as broadcast interviews, speaking engagements, trade show opportunities, panel discussions and more. It can also allow you to forge new relationships that could turn into new revenue streams.
It’s crucial that any crafted content is well done. It needs to have a new opinion, provide valuable information and give interesting insight. It should be creative and well written, without industry jargon. It should also be voiced in the right tone for your brand and your audience.
SEO increases your competitive edge
As you work SEO, your ranking for targeted keywords will increase, which enables your content to rise above your competitors. Most people only look at the first page of a search engine for the information they’re seeking, and if you’re not there, they won’t visit your site. But when you land above your competitors, your company is naturally viewed as a stronger candidate to provide the information they seek. If the linked page can provide the expected information and meets their needs, you will generate qualified leads.
SEO drives sales
That is a bold statement, I know. But if you’re leading people to your site and providing them valuable resources and are viewed as a thought leader in your industry, it will indeed translate to sales. Prospects will not buy from you if they don’t know you, and most people do a lot of online research before buying – whether it is a business-to-consumer purchase or a business-to-business one. Use SEO to show them that you are credible, helpful and knowledgeable. Create relationships with your niche market and they won’t want to go anywhere else.
So, does SEO matter in PR?
You better believe it!
Of course, there are some things to be aware of before you dive in: SEO is not once and done. It must be constantly addressed, refined, tested, analyzed and modified. That’s why it must be an ongoing priority, so there is someone carrying out the strategy and enhancing the results.
Also, it’s crucial that any crafted content is well done. It needs to have a new opinion, provide valuable information and give interesting insight. It should be creative and well written, without industry jargon. It should also be voiced in the right tone for your brand and your audience.
There is a lot to think about with SEO and PR, which is why it can make sense to pull in an expert team to help or guide you. But the rewards are worth it.