Why Public Relations is a Must for Your SEO Strategy

Business.com / Marketing Strategy / Last Modified: November 22, 2017
Photo credit: ibreakstock/Shutterstock

For those looking to revamp their marketing strategy to a more digital-forward landscape, it's important to understand how a traditional platform like public relations fits into the big picture of SEO.

When it comes to creating and implementing marketing strategy, SEO is a must-have in today's digital world. Long gone are the days of "one-off" marketing campaigns where a concept can be implemented through a single platform. A successful marketing strategy incorporates various digital tactics, including traditional platforms like public relations.  

For those looking to revamp their marketing strategy to a more digital-forward landscape, it's important to understand how a traditional platform like public relations fits into the big picture of SEO.

Link building

If you're doing a proper job with your SEO strategy, a portion of your efforts should encompass link-building tactics, which means linking external sites directly to your website. Since the Google Penguin update, Google has rendered previously used SEO tactics (such as commenting on forums, purchasing links or embedding links) virtually useless. Today, SEO strategists have to utilize larger and more complex methods of gathering SEO metrics. This is where PR comes into play as a critical component of a company's SEO strategy.

Did somebody say pie?

To understand how PR strategies are woven into SEO, you have to think of your website as a pie.

For a larger pie, you need to have more ingredients (i.e., site authority and traffic). The better the ingredients, the better your pie tastes. The more clout a direct link possesses, the more authority your site has. For example, a direct link to your site from a small ranking site, like a relevant, yet unpopular blog (low traffic and authority), will be far less effective than receiving a direct link from a large news site like CNN or USA Today.

If you get valuable external ingredients or links, your "pie" will grow in size and effect, while tasting better to Google and increasing your rankings and authority. Yum!

Newsworthiness

An ideal link-building outcome using public relations tactics looks like this:

Send the pitch to appropriate editor → Editor says "Yes" → Publication features your story and adds link, which leads users directly to your site.

But sometimes, it's not that simple.

When reaching out to an editor, you can't directly ask for a link. You have to remember that they receive dozens of these requests every day. The key to PR success is approaching the media with a newsworthy angle that is not only beneficial but relevant to their readership. If an editorial pitch comes across disingenuous or is not newsworthy, it will not be successful.

What not to do:

  • Ask for help "spreading the word" about your company, product, etc. They are not interested in spreading company announcements that do not apply to their readers. As a result, they will most likely recommend you reach out to their sales department to discuss advertorial options.
  • Ask if it would be possible to add a link to an existing article up front before presenting the newsworthy angle.
  • Get upset if the editor says, "no" without explanation. While this may seem discouraging, it does not mean they won't be interested in other pitches in the future. Move on to other publications and if nobody "bites," consider revisiting the angle of your original pitch.

A big "no-no" example

Hi, I am a new design studio in the Denver area and am hoping to get the word out about my new space. Would you be interested in helping spread the word about my company? If so, would it be possible to add a link to your article so your readership can learn more?

Instead, do this:

  • Read a recently published article that is relevant to the topic at hand. Mention it in their introductory email to the contact.
  • Propose an idea for an article or feature and do the heavy lifting for them. For example, if you are a design studio or showroom, an interesting feature could be "How New Design Studios are Directly Affecting Denver's Booming Economy."
  • Be sure to include specific, relevant and noteworthy facts. Statistics are always encouraged.
  • Provide a specific point of contact who is available for comment or interview. Let them know you're happy to coordinate.
  • Finally and most importantly … follow up! Persistence is sometimes key when it comes to wrestling with a busy editor's inbox.
    Short on time? Consider hiring a public relations team to handle all of the above so you can focus on your business. 

Public relations = legitimacy and trust

An important factor to understand: While external links on high-ranking sites provide a great return on investment (ROI) in regard to your SEO strategy, data and numbers should not overshadow the human element to PR success.

For example, a company mention in a high-traffic publication even without a link is still seen as a win. No, the hard data will not be as valuable in terms of tangible SEO ROI, but the fact that a publication trusted and loyally read by your target market featured your company offers what us PR pros like to call "third-party validation."

In today's digital era, we are constantly and involuntarily bombarded with advertisements, social media posts and newsletters all begging for our attention. As a public relations expert, I dedicate my time to effectively creating newsworthy angles that will ultimately tap into sought-after target markets and create newsworthy facts that not only benefit companies but curate company legitimacy that will have a much bigger long-term effect.

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