It used to be that PR and SEO were two very different marketing tactics with virtually zero overlap.
With roots going all the way back to the founding of the colonies in the New World in the 16th century, PR is like a grizzled old vet, while SEO is more of a young whippersnapper with a history that reaches back a mere 25 years at best.
Traditional PR is based on old-school, offline techniques, while SEO has been completely digital from the start.
But in the late twenty-teens, it’s apparent there’s now a high degree of overlap between the two.
Just think about it on the most basic level.
One of the top ranking factors of SEO is links from high-quality, relevant websites.
A sound PR strategy can be the catalyst for gaining these links and thus improving search rankings.
When you think of it like this, it’s clear that PR and SEO are two marketing strategies you should focus on simultaneously.
When you’re able to get them working in tandem, you can accomplish several important things.
- improve your reputation
- build trust and authority
- increase your brand equity
- expand your reach to a larger percentage of your target market
- improve search rankings
- drive a higher volume of organic traffic to your website
- crank up sales
In this post, I’m going to highlight some strategies that will allow you to effectively combine PR with SEO for maximum success.
I will also mention some specific outlets I’ve had success with.
Let’s get right down to it.
Create an overarching persona
I’m sure you’ve heard me talking about personas before.
You know the vibe.
Personas are a fundamental element of customer segmentation and key for getting the right marketing materials in front of the right leads.
SEO is big on using audience research to unearth information about your customer base and segmenting them accordingly.
PR involves doing media research to determine which outlets are best for reaching your target audience.
For instance, a tech startup might be interested in media outlets such as Wired and TechCrunch.
A vital first step of the process involves combining SEO audience research and PR media research to create an overarching persona.
This will encompass your audience as a whole and will help guide you throughout the rest of the steps.
Develop a list of keywords
I think we can all agree keywords play a significant role in SEO.
Back in the day, simply using the right keyword density could often propel your content to the first page of the SERPs (or even the number one spot).
Although they may not have the same level of impact they did several years ago, recent research from Backlinko explains that keywords are still important.
Among Google’s 200 ranking factors, the following factors involve keywords:
- keyword appears in top level domain
- keyword as first word in domain
- latent semantic indexing keywords in content (LSI)
- LSI keywords in title and description tags
- Quantity of other keywords page ranks for
Here’s a pie chart from Moz that shows the different ways keywords impact SEO:
So, yeah, they’re still a big deal.
Although you may use a wide variety of keywords, depending on the topics you’re covering in your content, I suggest condensing them into a handful of keywords for PR purposes.
You can think of it as a master list.
Why is this important?
To combine PR with SEO effectively, you need to have a finite number of keywords to target.
You’ll use variations of these keywords in a variety of settings:
- in press releases
- during interviews
- in guest posts on industry publications
- in executive bios
- in social media bios
- for brand mentions
As a result, those keywords will become synonymous with your brand.
Reporters will use them when mentioning your company; your demographic will associate them with your brand; and so on.
When it’s all said and done, when people enter these keywords in their searches, your brand should appear in the SERPs.
The bottom line is you want to choose your keywords carefully and make sure they fully describe your brand.
Align your message
Just like you’ll want to achieve consistency with your keywords, you’ll want consistency with your overall brand message.
You want to make sure whoever is representing your company understands your brand’s core message and relays it to the outlet they’re using.
Whether it’s an executive having an interview with a news outlet or your content team writing a guest post for an industry publication, there needs to be a sense of cohesion.
I recommend creating a formal document that outlines your target keywords and brand message you’re looking to get out there.
Providing this to your team should minimize any confusion and ensure everyone is on the same page.
Identify optimal channels
Let me recap what I’ve discussed so far.
You’ve created an overarching persona, established a list of keywords to target and developed a unified message for your PR and SEO teams to use.
At this point, you’ll want to research potential channels (online and offline) you can use for your combined PR/SEO campaign.
Ideally, you’ll target a variety of different channels so you can achieve a nice balance and reach the largest possible portion of your demographic.
Here’s an illustration to give you some ideas:
This shows the multitude of ways you can go about it.
But for maximum effectiveness, I recommend narrowing it down to a manageable list of just a few channels initially.
You don’t want to spread yourself too thin or risk diluting your brand message by trying to be featured on a million outlets.
Keep in mind you can always expand later, once you’ve got things popping.
With that being said, there are five specific outlets I suggest focusing on right off the bat.
I’ve had tremendous success with all of these, and I know you can benefit from them as well.
If you can land some real estate in a major publication in your industry, the world instantly becomes your oyster.
Like I mentioned before, getting featured in Wired would be huge for a tech startup’s PR.
And the link could take its SEO to the next level.
Not to mention the surge in referral traffic it could generate.
I suggest identifying a handful of leading publications and pitching them your ideas.
Social media influencers
Did you know that “71% of consumers are more likely to make a purchase based on a social media reference?”
Getting key influencers to endorse your brand can send your brand equity soaring through the roof.
Check out this post I wrote to learn the fundamentals of getting promoted by social media influencers.
It’s amazing the influence today’s top bloggers have and how much money is generated from their blogs.
For instance, Brian Clark’s CopyBlogger earns around $1 million each month!
I’ve always been a sucker for guest-posting and recommend reaching out to major bloggers as an initial first step in your PR/SEO conquest.
Besides the valuable links and instant exposure you’ll get, this can have an impact on your branded search volume as well.
People will naturally be curious about your brand, and many will search for you.
Interviews are a huge reason why I’ve gotten to where I’m today.
For instance, this interview on Groove HQ was a tremendous help.
It’s well worth the time to seek out interview opportunities.
If you’re not sure how to go about this, check out HARO.
Believe it or not, I’ve spoken at hundreds of conferences.
I’ve spoken at Tech Cocktail Celebrate, Conversion Conference and Affiliate World Bangkok Asia, just to name a few.
And you know what?
It’s had a profound impact on my brand.
While not every conference will be worth your time, the PR boost can be dramatic.
Check out this resource from Famous in Your Field for information on finding speaking opportunities.
It’s interesting how PR and SEO have evolved over the years.
Though they were once disparate marketing tactics, they now overlap in a big way.
When you get right down to it, PR often impacts SEO.
As your link profile grows and expands, your rankings climb and improve.
But this doesn’t just happen on its own.
In order to combine PR with SEO, you need to have a solid strategy and know which direction you want to take.
You need to know which underlying persona you’re looking to reach, which keywords you need to target and which outlets enable you to gain the publicity you’re looking for.
But once you break it down, the formula is fairly straightforward.
This infographic from Moz sums up the process of integrating PR and SEO quite nicely:
With proper planning and execution, you can rev up your PR while stepping up your SEO.
Which areas of PR do you think have the biggest impact on SEO?