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How the Marriage of PR and SEO Can Help Your Brand

How the Marriage of PR and SEO Can Help Your Brand
Image credit: Courtesy of Stankevicius MGM
By Stankevicius MGM

Some marriages are made in heaven; others, like public relations (PR) and search engine optimization (SEO), are made online. While many marketers understand that there is some sort of connection between the two disciplines, most are unsure about the best way go about successful implementation.

Here are insights to start putting into practice today to capitalize on this powerful combination.

Not Your Father’s (or Mother’s) Media Relations    

While relationships still are vital for success in today’s media relations, there’s a technological aspect to be leveraged as well. Just as the average consumer understands that news stories go through an editorial process, Google recognizes the third-party credibility provided by a media placement and accordingly places a higher value on a link from a media website.

Even if the media outlet doesn’t link to your website, the fact that your organization is mentioned in the story could boost your ranking in relevant searches because of the context it provides to Google.

“We all know the old adage, ‘It doesn’t hurt to ask,’ and the same goes for requesting links from media outlets,” says Brant Skogrand, vice president of public relations at Rocket55, an Inc 5000 digital marketing agency with clients like Häagen-Dazs and Sigma Beauty. “If a media outlet writes about your organization, feel free to contact the reporter to request a link to your website from the media’s website. Don’t expect everyone to link to you, though; media outlets have varying guidelines regarding links.”

As the audiences for news releases have expanded, wire services such as Business Wire, PR Newswire and PRWeb have played a new role in issuing company news.

By publishing news releases on a wire service, you are able to connect with more audiences, which could mean more interest in your brand and more traffic to your organization’s website.

While the links included in news releases on wire services are nofollow (more on that here), it still is worthwhile to include links in your news releases. Unlike the previous best practice of linking non-branded keywords such as “Minneapolis PR firm” or “Minneapolis SEO company,” today’s SEO experts realize and account for the fact that Google now looks at context. For instance, if Moz issued a news release online that linked to its website with the phrase “SEO resources” next to it, Google might consider Moz an SEO resource even if that keyword isn’t directly linked in the news release.

Going back to the intersection of relationships and technology, it’s also a best practice for organizations to have newsrooms on their websites. This collection of information — which can include everything from news releases to fact sheets to media coverage — helps out reporters and other audiences interested in an organization while also facilitating Google’s understanding of a brand. Google wants relevant results for its users, and an online newsroom can boil down a brand’s essence for the search engine.

In the Palm of Your Hand

The latest changes in SEO, an ever-evolving discipline, relate to mobile and voice-enabled devices.

You may notice a small lightning bolt in the search results on your phone. That signifies AMP, or Accelerated Mobile Pages, a recent initiative that “enables the creation of websites and ads that are consistently fast, beautiful and high-performing across devices and distribution platforms.”

“One thing to consider with AMP is that, even if you don’t have the resources to convert your website to take full advantage of it, PR can help get your news to websites that are marked up with AMP. This could help you get into Google’s carousel, drastically improving the overall clickthrough rate and visibility of your site,” says Josh Volk, VP of SEO for Rocket55.

In regard to optimizing results for voice-enabled devices such as Amazon Echo and Google Home, Volk recommends writing content like a news article by following the “Inverted Pyramid” structure. Keep the most important content first and write as naturally as possible.

“Voice-enabled devices focus their answers on relevance, and by emphasizing the most important information concisely you just may be the answer when someone says, ‘Hey Alexa’,” says Volk.

Making the Most of Images and Videos

Another way that PR and SEO intertwine is multimedia content.

“Whenever possible, include a relevant image and video with your news release online,” says Skogrand. “Your accompanying photo may be found in a Google image search, and your video could be discovered on the second largest search engine -- YouTube.”

To fully capitalize on images and videos, remember to mark up photos with alt text and ensure that videos are transcribed and include accurate closed captioning.

By harnessing the opportunities available, you can take advantage of the intersection of PR and SEO -- potentially increasing your brand’s visibility online and with its target audiences.

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