SEO is a broad spectrum that involves lots of components coming together. Whether that’s link building, collecting reviews, or maintaining an active social media presence, Search Engine Optimisation is not just about what you do on your website.
One element of the SEO family that can be overlooked is PR. Though often hard to quantify, SEO PR can be a lucrative area for boosting your search engine rankings. Let’s take a look at why.
Note: While printed media can also, to some extent, indirectly improve your website’s SEO, much of the following content is most impactful when looking at the digital versions (i.e. websites) of these outlets.
What is PR?
PR stands for Public Relations. It’s part of how your company expresses itself to the world by releasing information such as news stories to the public. PR is controlled by your organisation and it aims to cultivate a public image for your business.
How can PR help SEO?
Good PR can achieve amazing things for your business and, fortunately, many of these amazing things translate well into SEO.
You could have a fantastic website and active social media pages, but if your audience is limited, there’s only so far your business can go. Newspapers and magazines, on the other hand, often have a much larger reach. Some even have a highly targeted audience and, if you select the right publication, you’ll be speaking directly to your own ideal clients.
Even if the audience isn’t so specific, PR is a major way of building brand recognition. And brand recognition leads to brand awareness, which means customers are more likely to think of you when they have a need that you can fill.
They then visit your website and, the more users that visit your website, the more positive signals get sent to Google, and the higher you climb up search rankings.
Remember, it’s thought to take around 5 to 7 impressions before people remember who you are, and PR can help you to achieve this.
You may have heard the phrase E-A-T mentioned in the SEO world. This stands for Expertise, Authoritativeness and Trustworthiness and, while it’s not one of Google’s ranking factors per se, it still plays a big part in how you show up in search.
E-A-T aims to ensure that listings on Google are of a good quality. Amongst other things, it looks at whether you, your staff or your business are considered experts in your industry. One way to do this is to be featured in articles and case studies in external publications, and you can gain these with good PR.
Having your name and – even better – a link included in a popular and established publication is a fantastic indication to Google that your website is a valuable resource.
Google aside, authority is also important to individual consumers. If your company is connected with insightful information in someone’s favourite magazine, then they are more likely to trust your brand and make a purchase in the future.
Read more about E-A-T and its importance.
Similar to authority, trust plays an indirect part in your SEO through E-A-T. Trust can be built through excellent customer service, quality products, and an ethos that resonates with your audience. Rightly or wrongly, it can also be built through familiarity. This effect, called the mere-exposure effect simply means that, the more familiar something is, the more likely you are to trust it.
You can probably think of plenty of examples of this in your own life. If you were offered two drinks and were told they tasted exactly the same, but one is Coca Cola and the other is an unknown brand, which one are you more likely to pick? Probably the Coca Cola, simply because you’re more familiar with it.
The same principle can be seen through effective PR campaigns. Though it won’t carry you all the way to success, exposure through PR can help you build familiarity and trust amongst potential customers.
Quality backlinks and mentions
Quality link building is arguably one of the most difficult areas of SEO. This is the process of encouraging external websites to include a link to your own site. The external sites need to be of a good quality and the links need to be relevant, otherwise Google may see them as spam.
Another thing to remember with backlinking is that there are two types of backlinks: NoFollow and Follow. Follow links tell Google to pass on some of the original website’s authority to your website. NoFollow links tell them not to.
While NoFollow links do still have lots of value if they’re sending traffic to your site, Follow links are the holy grail.
Why? Well, NoFollow links are usually sponsored or paid for in some way. That means there’s no real recommendation from the referring site and no indication to Google that your site is worthy.
Follow links, on the other hand, aren’t paid for, and are gained through your own credibility and authority. That indicates to Google that your website has quality information to share, and that helps your rankings.
Once upon a time, backlinks were the only way to get external credit for your website from articles. Google has advanced since then, though, and now a mention of your company, even without a link, can give you a boost.
Generating interesting and newsworthy content about your company is an excellent way of gaining backlinks and mentions through PR.
How to do SEO PR
PR is not the easiest of jobs, and it takes time and effort. If you’re serious about gaining results from this, consider hiring a freelance PR expert who will already have the contacts, skills, and industry understanding that can make all the difference between getting published and being ignored.
You can do it for yourself, though, too, and often you are the best person to talk about your business because you know all the ins and outs. Here are some ways to get your SEO PR rolling.
1. Build relationships
PR is a busy world and you’ll often make more headway if you know the right people. This doesn’t have to be reporters in the biggest national newspapers, either. Get to know your local reporters first (for most small businesses, these local publications are where most of your PR will end up). You can make yourself useful to them by providing high quality pieces that they can publish.
2. Write press releases
Have you achieved something amazing recently? Perhaps your staff have raised some money for a local charity, or perhaps your business is celebrating an important birthday. Small stories like this aren’t going to make national news, but your local papers will be interested, and the best way for them to find out is for you to write and send a press release.
If you have a more unique story that a bigger publication might be interested in, consider offering an exclusive to make it more appealing.
Or perhaps you’ve done something that’s very industry specific? You may have more chance of being published in a magazine or on a website that is targeted to your industry.
3. Share research
Publications love statistics, and if you’re in a position where you can provide some interesting insights through research or your own data, consider publishing that. Changes in trends, market research, guest statistics… all these have potential to create interesting content that can be shared for your PR.
4. Jump on news stories
Can you link your story to current affairs to make it highly relevant? Jumping onto trending topics – as long as they are relevant – is a great way to get traction. For example, a celebrity may have visited your venue and agreed to have a photo taken. Perhaps you’ve provided support following a natural disaster by gathering useful items or making a generous donation.
5. Include a press page on your website
Sometimes you don’t even have to find the publications, they’ll find you! Make it easier for them to get any information they need by including a press page on your website. This should include basic information about your company such as your story, principles, or important dates and figures. It may also include some examples of past press, and should have contact details if a journalist wants to find out more.
6. Provide amazing imagery
Does your company have an interesting visual profile? Unique and striking imagery is often picked up by journalists who want to share photos that are a bit different to the standard stock images. If they can use your photos, they’ll also include a credit.
7. Be quick off the mark
Journalists often have extremely tight deadlines and, if you can’t meet them, then you’re going to miss out. Sometimes you have no more than a few hours to gather information together, so make sure you have everything readily available to send over.
Though indirect, PR is an important part of your SEO activities. Creating engaging content, working quickly, and being helpful to journalists can improve your business visibility and consumer trust. More people begin to know your name, more visitors land on your website, and Google recognises you as a trustworthy brand. All these together work towards increasing your search engine rankings.