With insights from Abby Beyrau, Performance Content Director
While public relations (PR) provides brands with essential media coverage and public awareness, SEO enhances those opportunities by increasing visibility in the search engine results page (SERP). Brands should be leveraging the integration of SEO and public relations for maximum brand awareness and website/social traffic.
To do this, brands should focus on the following strategies:
- Reputation Management
- Opportunities for Links
- Optimizing Press Releases
- Optimization for Google News
INTEGRATING SEO & PR
A significant aspect of PR is reputation management, which can be controlled and monitored by leveraging SEO. By implementing specific strategies, brands can increase the presence, prominence and rankings of positive Web pages, while pushing negative listings further down in the SERP. This can be achieved by utilizing (1) social media and (2) news:
(1) Social Media Presence
Brands should ensure that they have substantial social connections and social presence. There are multiple ways to promote social signals within the SERP:
- Optimize and build inbound links to existing and newly created social profiles
- As senior executives are directly associated with the organization, brands should focus on optimizing their existing media pages as well as creating branded social profiles that may be missing. This will help increase their presence in the SERP while lowering less relevant results. To illustrate, our Performance Content team leveraged this tactic and was able to push down a client’s negative listing from ranking at #3 in the Google SERP to #8 (below the fold). Another first-page negative listing for the same client was pushed down to the third page.
- Optimize YouTube videos that are posted on social channels. Specifically, brands should focus on a single video and drive additional links and views towards it. As videos are typically ranked high in the SERP, driving traffic to one particular page can help push negative content down.
(2) Increasing News & Speaking Appearances
Search engines are constantly seeking fresh, relevant content. Typically, the “news” section within the traditional SERP can push down other search rankings. Similarly, speaking engagements and conferences often host Web pages dedicated to the speakers and presenters. These pages tend to rank high in the SERP, especially if the event/engagement has a significant amount of media coverage.
By cross-linking news content to social, brands can also build link authority. And as this content is shared, exposure is increased, therefore strengthening the brand association and creating greater visibility within the SERP.
Opportunities for Website Links
Through promotion of content, there is a high value placed on the importance of links to the brand website. Linking to relevant pages can help boost that topic.
Aside from relevant and informative content creation, Google also relies on the relevancy of links within an article to determine rankings in the SERP. If an article has too many links and/or links that aren’t relevant, Google marks this as suspicious, leading to a lower ranking. But if an article contains sufficient links with relevant content and authority, Google looks highly upon this.
A widely used tool to check the authority of links is Open Site Explorer. This tool can help brands learn more about the page domain, page authority, spam score and other metrics. By diving further into the report and analysis, brands can uncover more information about their site and ways to improve links. Inbound links, which are links that point to a brand’s website from another outlet, have a significant impact on SERP rankings.
Brands should begin by identifying promising link opportunities from legitimate sources. To do this, brands should look at different channels:
- Owned Assets: Find out which partners are not currently linking (microsites, sponsorships, etc.)
- Unlinked Mentions: Discover any positive mentions of your business (news, blogs, business listings, reviews, etc.)
- Related Content: Find any content related to the brand’s vertical/marketplace
- Link Audit & Removal: If applicable, brands should clean up their link profile
Once these channels are reviewed, brands can uncover the quality and content of the sites found and determine whether or not they would be a good fit for building links to the brand’s pages.
Optimizing Press Releases
When creating press releases, brands should: (1) conduct keyword research (2) implement outbound links, where appropriate, and (3) keep the content short and to the point.
Keyword research can be conducted through several outlets. For example, by using tools like Google AdWords Keyword Planner, brands can learn what keywords are relevant to the content produced, their average monthly search volume, if the keyword faces high competition and more. As part of SEO best practices, brands should try and focus in on two keywords that can be used throughout the copy. But, brands should ensure that the keywords are not used overwhelmingly, as Google frowns upon this and deems it as “keyword stuffing.” Brands should also ensure that the keywords chosen are relevant to a user’s search query; brands should think: “if the consumer searched for this keyword, is this the type of content they would want to see?”
And aside from leveraging keywords within the copy, brands should also ensure that at least the primary keyword is mentioned in the headline.
Brands should only leverage outbound links if they’re of value to the reader. And if outbound links to the brand’s website are implemented within the press release, this will drive natural traffic to the site. For keywords that are linked back to the website, brands should make sure that the keyword containing a hyperlink leads to a page with content relevant to that search term. For example, if a brand hyperlinks the word “cookware” within their press release, the link should take the consumer to a Web page with cookware, not a Web page on kitchen appliances.
Aside from sparking visibility and increased awareness, outbound links will also create a better user experience. They provide relevant links that lead to blog posts, whitepapers or generalized Web pages, brands are feeding into the consumer’s curiosity and willingness to learn more. This, in turn, can lead to increased social sharing, which will then lead to an increased amount of exposure and visibility.
Brands should also ensure that their press releases are short and sweet—and right to the point. Google recognizes content length, and best practices show that a press release should be between 300–500 words. Anything more than that may be docked for SEO value.
Optimization for Google News
Google News gives priority to content that’s new, fresh and innovative—content that’s relevant to industry trends and topics. But Google tends to group stories together that have a similar narrative and tell a similar story. Because of this, brands should focus on reeling in consumers based on intent. By narrowing in on what content the consumer wants based on the article’s keyword implementations and the context of the copy, brands can target their audience with appropriate content that matches their search motivation.
Brands should also make sure they are following Google’s guidelines for ranking in Google News:
- Content: The content created should be fresh and interesting, sparking the general audience’s interest. The content should also be relevant to current events and should meet journalistic standards, providing clear and concise information.
- Quality: Per the webmaster quality guidelines, brands should ensure that they are providing news—solely news—and not using Google News as a platform to promote their products/services.
To conclude, brands should ensure they’re leveraging both SEO and PR in coordination. Utilizing both tactics together, brands have the opportunity increase brand awareness and traffic.
To learn more about integrating SEO and public relations, contact Performics today.