PR + Google Vs SEO

The line where PR ends and SEO begins is hard to define as many of the skills required in both areas are interchangeable. As Joanna Jeske SEO manager from PR agency Threepipe, says: “PROs have always excelled at creating informative, valuable and enjoyable content, but as the world of business continues to become more and more digitally focused, it’s becoming even more important that brands are considering how their audience are finding and engaging with them online. That’s where SEO comes in.”

The problem is that SEO is not an exact science, especially as Google constantly changes and updates the rules on which techniques are acceptable for improving rankings. However, Jeske says: “The most important thing to remember is that Google is always striving to benefit the user. This is evident with the latest Hummingbird update, which allows Google to go one step further than just answering people’s questions with isolated search results and actually aims to understand the intent behind their search query and predict what they might search for next based on their previous behaviour.”

The key to optimising search rankings is always to produce excellent content. Jeske advises: “Your content strategy ultimately must focus on understanding your users’ behaviour and meeting their expectations. Rather than presenting your audience with superficial, one-off pieces of content that simply contain relevant keywords without actually providing anything valuable, you need to think about how you can create genuinely useful content that naturally links together and allows your audience to navigate through your website in a logical way.”

“Including natural keywords, building high-quality links to your website and developing effective social media campaigns all still play a necessary part in improving search engine rankings and brand visibility online, but it is vital that you now think of how these elements all combine and benefit the user overall rather than as individual strategies.”

To see a short film explaining the importance of optimising video content for SEO, see below:

Another SEO expert who emphasises the power of creative content is Danny Whatmough, associate director digital at PR firm Ketchum. He says: “The days when a press release adorned with links would get cut-through are gone. In many ways SEO is even more approachable now than it has ever been. If you create great content that is meaningful to your community, then you are more than halfway there.

“After various algorithm updates over the last few years, the world of SEO has turned in the favour of PROs (some would say it always was). Now SEO is all about quality over quantity and getting earned and shared reach for your content. As part of its mission to ‘organise the world’s information‘, Google is paying particular attention to social signals to help it rank content in search results.”

SEO top tips

Whatmough offers these three must-dos:

  • Create content (and I don’t just mean copy) that people will actually want to engage with. These days it is easy to track data on what people are searching for – and that’s a good place to start.
  • The next step is optimising content. And, rather than just spamming links all over the place, it’s important to be helpful to the reader and natural in the way you write. Keywords are still important, but to a much lesser extent.
  • The way you seed your content and encourage virality is a key consideration. Don’t neglect Google+ and, in particular, Google Authorship, but all social channels will contribute to your search boost.

Alex MacLaverty, UK Group MD at PR agency Hotwire, adds these three pieces of advice:

  • The more authoritative links there are to a website, the higher it will rank in search engines. Get in the habit of asking the journalist to link the client’s name when they mention them. Some publications have a blanket ban on linking, but most are usually receptive. Every link you get will help the client.
  • Don’t be tempted by blackhat. SEO has a bad name in many industry circles, which harks back to an older time of blackhat SEO. That means buying links, stuffing keywords into press releases and spam. Google has cracked down on this and you'll be penalised if you do.
  • Promote through social. Social links are one of a search engine’s signals in determining its authority. When you’ve got a piece of content on a client’s website encourage sharing as much as possible – both with readers and your own team.

Written by Daney Parker

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