A PR’s guide to SEO

We work with a lot of PR agency partners who start off with similar concerns, thinking SEO is too technical and worrying that their beautifully crafted copy will be somehow ruined with the addition of keywords by search experts.

Worry not. The chances are, if you’re writing content that is relevant and engaging to your clients’ target audiences, that you’re probably already helping to support your clients’ SEO strategy without even realising.

In the third instalment of our #SearchSecret7 blog series, we look at how the relationship between PR and SEO can be mutually beneficial. We also lift the lid on a few basic tools that can provide insights into PR strategy, as well as improving the impact of PR content on an SEO strategy.

 

cycling team

PR and SEO experts make the perfect team

 

The media landscape

According to UK government statistics, newspaper circulation and advertising revenues have dropped by more than half over the last decade from nearly £7bn to just over £3bn. Over the same period, the number of frontline print journalists dropped by over 25% – from around 23,000 in 2007 to 17,000 in 2017. And since 2005, more than 200 local papers have closed and the number of regional journalists has halved.

Meanwhile, according to the latest Ofcom report, the internet is used by 64% as a platform for news. Facebook, Twitter and Google are all in the top ten list of most popular news sources, while no national newspaper makes it past number 11. 

Traditional media is an industry in crisis. While clients may still hanker after trophy coverage in national newspapers, the chances are that more people will see their messaging if it appears online. That much you know.

What is more, if you’re SEO-savvy, that coverage can help clients to reach greater audiences by elevating their website through the Google ranks.

SEO is for the techies though, isn’t it?

Not necessarily. Search engine optimisation (SEO) is broken down into two areas: on-site and off-site. On-site is indeed relatively technical as it involves fully optimising a website, not just the copy on it, but also the technical elements behind the scenes.

However, off-site SEO is largely focused on improving a website’s trust and authority signals with Google. This is done by generating links back to the website from other – trusted and authoritative – sites. That’s why PR is such a natural fit: an article published online that generates a link back to the client’s site will benefit the client’s SEO efforts.

The chances are, you’re doing this every day for your clients, without knowing the true value of your work from an SEO point of view.

SEO tools

It isn’t just a one way street. SEO tools can also help to inform PR strategy, ensuring that the content you produce is aligned to the needs of your clients’ target audiences. Knowing what they’re searching for is the first step to meeting those needs.

  • Google Keyword Planner

A freely available tool within Google Ads, the Keyword Planner allows you to enter search queries to find out their monthly search volume and seasonal trends for whatever region you specify. It will also recommend related terms, giving you insight into other potential terms you could incorporate into your page copy or articles. This will help you stand an improved chance of ranking for the search query and therefore attracting more traffic to the client’s site.

  • Internal site search

If a website has internal site search functionality then you can configure Google Analytics to record what search terms people are entering to reach the site. From a technical perspective, there may be an issue with site navigation if people have to resort to searching to find what they are looking for, and that may be something you have to pass onto the client. But more importantly for PRs, people may be searching for content that your client doesn’t have. Your job is then simply to create the content to address that need.

  • Link Analysis tools

There are a number on the market, but we recommend Moz’s Link Explorer, which is a paid-for option. This allows you to enter a website URL (such as a competitor’s) to see which website are linking to them. That may give you insights on content to write and sites to target for coverage.

At pitch stage, Link Explorer can also be used to highlight gaps in an existing PR strategy – which, of course, you would be able to fulfill.

  • AnswerThePublic

Long-tail search terms consist of three or more words – instead of searching for “PR agency”, someone might search for “best tech PR agency brighton”. Due to the targeted nature of these search queries, they may not generate large search volumes and therefore go unreported by Google’s Keyword Planner. But they often have a high conversion rate so are worth looking into. Many of these terms are conversational in nature and, with the rise of voice search, they can help provide insight into content that’s relevant for your clients’ audiences. Answerthepublic helps you find those long-tail terms, and offers a few free searches per day alongside a Pro plan for agencies.

What’s coming next?

I hope this piece was a useful guide to the mutually beneficial relationship between PR and SEO. In the next in our #SearchSecret7 blog series, we’ll be tackling the fundamentals of on-site SEO. Website designers, this one’s for you.

Meanwhile, check out our other posts in the  #SearchSecret7 series:

If you’re interested in finding out more about becoming a Search Seven partner, give me a call on 01273 329 122 or request a partner pack by filling in this form.

 

Photo by James Thomas on Unsplash

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