A successful SEO campaign is PR

Published in Link No 3 2014

PR has added a new goal to its remit: SEO, or “search engine optimisation”. That is, making sure that a brand can be found online. The trick is to do this autonomously, without buying online advertising. And that is the domain of SEO specialists and content marketers. Since the introduction of Google Hummingbird, though, they cannot achieve this “just” with unique content, refined search terms, the correct coding and a good navigation structure. A successful SEO campaign today is also about PR, because it requires dialogue, context, engagement and linkbuilding. 

Hummingbird

Google’s aim is to provide the searcher with useful results, and to avoid information overload. So it is only logical that its algorithm is being updated all the time. Last year it introduced Google Hummingbird, which better understands the meaning of a search instruction by thinking in terms of themes or messages rather than search terms alone. That has made the net more intelligent, and more sensitive to semantics. Now, by combining smart SEO with PR, you can be sure that your media messages circulate in the way you want them to in the online world. On the other hand, irrelevant messages and pointless links that do not help the consumer only confuse the search engines and are punished by Google with a lower ranking.

Beyond the content marketing hype

Because they think it will help them score highly, a lot of brands still publish content “en masse” through multiple channels. But because Google now interprets that content, quantity no longer matters. What counts is quality, with a focus upon engagement. That is, generating organic links and encouraging activity on your social media channels. Engagement only happens when a brand is relevant to its target group. For insights, follow that group’s conversations on social media platforms. Appealing to the consumer’s imagination and triggering action demand a creative approach. Be really broad-thinking, and integrate online and offline. After all, the basis may lie in the offline world. For instance, key moments during a store opening or a launch event may deliver visual content. You can also record your interaction with consumers. In a video interview, say. Next, optimise all the content you have produced and intend to disseminate for the search engines. Add links to your landing pages and social media channels, and also search terms, anchor texts, hashtags, icons and visual elements. That is how you achieve interactivity. Just make sure you stay in control, with the brand story as your central theme.

PR through influentials

But how do you distribute the right texts and links on the relevant platforms? That is the role of PR. What is key is that you build an honest personal relationship with your aspirational target group, including the press and brand ambassadors. Invest the necessary time in that and you will reap the rewards. Properly understand what your influentials need, so that you can supply them with engaging tailored content at exactly the right time for them. When a site is worth it, be prepared to offer exclusivity from time to time. By building a relationship in this way, you become as valuable to them as they are to you. Making them willing to add the right hashtags and links when, for example, they share their selfies and reviews with their followers. Remember, it is about quality rather than quantity. If your concept and content are original, then no push is needed: you deserve the attention you receive. So what does SEO PR deliver? The great thing about online activities is that they are easy to measure. To start with, you can gain a lot of information from Google Analytics. For effective polling of everything your SEO PR delivers, however, it is essential that you collect the right data and that you interpret it correctly. Vital to this is a benchmark measurement combined with the drafting of an SEO PR strategy clearing describing your online targets and KPIs.

Good PR is all about personality and people. A network for your brand is not something you can build overnight. It takes time. But you can shorten the process by ensuring that different departments work together. A lot of brands miss opportunities because they still treat their online and other activities as separate domains. The alternative: break down the silo structures in your organisation. Let your PR and SEO specialists draw up a plan together. Do that and you deserve the top spot.