‘SEO’: Most have heard of it, unwillingly attended company workshops on it, or are perhaps even acquainted with the rudiments of it. But few are well versed with the process. SEO is also rapidly becoming an important business goal in its own right. Additionally, with the undeniably growing significance of Google, SEO is becoming increasingly decisive. The time has come for us to acknowledge its importance in PR and Marketing at an elemental level and not merely as a niche and technological topic.
What is SEO?
Search Engine Optimisation is the art and science of enhancing your content to increase visibility in search engine rankings and consequently the quality and quantity of website traffic. Most websites solely depend on ‘search’ to be discovered. Therefore, a higher rank on a page ensues an increase in website traffic. A recent study showed that the first website on a Google page has an avg 33% of traffic share and is half as likely to click on the second one. More interestingly, only 8% of the traffic even bothers going to the second page.
“Sounds great, but how does SEO work?”
An algorithm used by google elects the pages to be shown for any given query. This increasingly complex algorithm factors in many elements to decide the display order of websites according to relevance. However, three core metrics determine a page ranking, namely content, links, and page structure.
- Content: Search engines decide the relevance of a website to a search query based mainly on content. The primary step to optimise your content is to centre it around keywords with the maximum search volume, i.e. keywords most users are searching for.
- Links: They help pages gain ‘authority’. What does this mean? Search engines aim at providing quality content to their users. Links displayed on other websites play a vital role in deciding the rankings as these are testimony to the good quality content on these sites. No website owner would willingly put links to substandard content on their own sites as this would jeopardise their quality and authority.
“Interesting, but what’s in it for us PR pros?”
When it comes to marketing, SEO and PR go together like bread and butter. In a dynamic and persistently evolving digital landscape, where communication and marketing channels are increasingly working jointly, the perfect alliance of SEO, good content, and outreach can help increase the efficiency of two different teams towards achieving their aligned business goals.
1. Owned Media and Earned Coverage:
SEO can help optimize the content on an organization’s owned media. A PR Agency always works alongside content marketing to use keywords strategically and earn backlinks. SEO can also help optimize links in earned coverage, like press releases, customer reviews or testimonials, etc. SEO aids in choosing links having keywords that need a ranking boost, and they can also make sure PR is pulling the right URL to link to.
2. Brand Reputation Management:
PR professionals spend all their time composing carefully crafted messages and other kinds of communication to propagate the brand’s message and create a positive image. If the company’s brand SERPs have a negative connotation, PR campaigns and SEO strategies can help in adding veritably positive information to the SERPs. This strategy is called online reputation management, and it is used to move the harmful content related to the company down the search engine page.
In this process, the PR team is generally in charge of creating the brand message, and the SEO team- of framing it such that these messages are at the forefront of the customer’s view.
3. Social Proof:
Social proof is essential because consumers rely heavily on different trust signals while making purchases and proclaiming their loyalty towards a particular brand. Trust signals include- being in trusted locations for a specific product, reviews from trusted sources, guarantees, and associations with trusted brands. PR activities help strengthen these trust signals- a celebrity mentioning the brand, a positive review in a revered blog, a joint marketing campaign with another trusted brand, or the brand being mentioned in a social event in a social event with a positive undertone. Off-page mentions and shares are SEO signals that the Google algorithm looks for while determining a brand’s trustworthiness.
Evidently, SEO and PR ventures have a massive impact on social proof and the brand’s signals.
4. Bulleted Text:
Structuring content using bullets and numbers makes it appear uncluttered, concise, and hence more inviting to a reader. More time spent by your audience consuming your content points to a better user experience and will thus garner better search engine rankings.
It’s easy, right? Start by ensuring your online presence, newsroom, and websites are SEO-friendly, and before you know it, the two departments will be seamlessly working together, amplifying the results.