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Why public relations and SEO tactics can work hand in hand.

This article was originally published on Forbes.com

As someone who is immersed in both client management and business development, I frequently hear from companies about the roles that online search and SEO play in their business.

For some of the more B2B and niche companies, especially those selling an expensive product or service, it’s important to own the first page of Google for searches around your name or the industry you serve. For B2C companies of all sizes, especially those exclusively selling products online, it’s not that online reputation isn’t important — it is — but hyperlinks pointing to your corporate URL and product pages are critical to driving revenue.

PR for SEO is now a focal point for many modern marketing programs, serving as the ultimate intersection of public relations and SEO/digital marketing. Over the years, I’ve seen many PR firms offer SEO and SEO firms offer PR, both without truly understanding how the functions can work hand in hand. Now, PR for SEO is more important than ever as a long-term investment that should not be ignored by CMOs and marketing execs. As the founder and CEO of an agency that offers this type of service, I’d like to provide more insight on how you can effectively leverage PR for SEO.

What Is PR For SEO?

For media relations and communications folks, the PR aspect of an SEO campaign is likely quite similar to what you’re hopefully already doing with clients today. We’re all familiar with how contributed content in the form of bylines and op-eds are an effective communication tool. They demonstrate expertise and thought leadership, and the published pieces often make for good sales material and social media fodder.

However, many companies either fail to understand or simply don’t prioritize the benefits of SEO that come with contributed content. These pieces are generally accompanied by a short byline of the author, typically a corporate executive, that includes a hyperlink to the website. This hyperlink is extremely valuable. When a credible website publishes your corporate name URL, Google and other search engines recognize this through algorithms as a supporting reason for why your site (and brand) is credible and should rank higher.

Further driving the SEO function, your contributed piece should incorporate keywords relevant to your product and business. The ability to secure the piece with keywords and on-brand focus, coupled with the corporate mention and URL inclusion, should now play a prominent role in most any organization’s marketing program.

How To Do It With Credibility

Now that you know how PR for SEO works, make sure you understand the ins and outs of how to do it with credibility. Before creating content, identify a list of online news sites that are open to receiving contributed insights/op-eds. Use SimilarWeb or SEMRush to get an understanding of a site’s digital audience or unique visitors per month (UVMs), a number that supports the quality of the news site and thus its published hyperlink.

Alex Deckard, an SEO Manager for Aeroflow Healthcare, reviews the total number of backlinks for a website, and also its most popular pages to better determine what that site’s audience is really looking for. He pays close attention to topics covered by the publication, knowing that content that’s relevant for his company will thus improve its ranking on Google and other search engines.

It’s important to understand the value of content writing and thought leadership. If you choose to hire a PR firm to lead your program, make sure you find one that understands this. It’s not as simple as just drafting an article and changing words around to repurpose it for other publications. Most quality news sites seek completely original and company/product-agnostic articles. After all, credible news publications have dedicated readers that deserve creative and insightful content. This means your organization cannot write an op-ed about the company itself, but more about the industry or various trends experienced as an expert within the sector.

By publishing a good article, you will likely experience more article-sharing and general buzz on social channels like Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. A good public relations professional should understand these nuances, and have the capability to produce solid content to power the PR-for-SEO program.

Once a few articles have been successfully placed, the process should get easier to repeat. Frequent brainstorming with corporate executives helps keep content fresh, which cannot be understated. By identifying timely topics and providing value to the publication, a high-volume PR-for-SEO strategy is very achievable.

How To Measure Results

There are a number of resources for digital marketers to measure more technical as well as traditional KPIs. Speaking traditionally, bylined articles are great sales and marketing tools and are commonly featured on corporate websites and social media platforms.

Many digital marketers and SEO specialists who manage and work with PR teams use a combination of KPIs to ultimately determine both short- and long-term return on a PR-for-SEO program, including but not limited to UVMs, URL link, quality of the news site, social shares, total link quantity, and long-term search engine position and rankings for specific online searches.

Thinking Long-Term

PR for SEO is very different than more technical onsite SEO upgrades and link-building, and must be viewed as a long-term project with significant upside. It can take days or even weeks to develop an article and identify the right news website for submission, and sometimes even longer for it to publish. These articles often stay online forever, meaning the content reflecting your current brand and values may become a permanent search result for your company and for the name of its author.

An op-ed submitted today may one day result in site traffic and sales of next year, meaning the long-term value of a PR-for-SEO campaign is something that must be featured in any marketing and communications program.

Eric Fischgrund is an entrepreneur, writer, sports fan, music-lover, and founder and CEO of FischTank Marketing and PR, a marketing and communications firm based in NYC.

Like many marketing and communications firms, the FischTank team often hears from current and prospective clients “How do I drive web traffic?”

Many times, we can help by strategically placing articles that drive potential customers, clients or investors, or by securing articles and bylines laden with backlinks that support and drive SEO.

There is an abundance of information to read on the Internet (duh!) on this subject matter, and this is what we’re reading this week:

Marketing Technology Tactics To Increase Engagement and Attract Attention

“Change happens at the speed of technology for marketing professionals, but your agency can adapt to this rapid pace by leveraging these changes.”

Influencer Marketing Done Right Can Drive All The Traffic To Your Newly-Launched Wesbite

“Unless you already have a bursting-at-the-seams Rolodex and a stable of superfans who are waiting impatiently for anything and everything you give birth to in the world, you might be cutting the ribbon of your new business, blog, site, app, community, or nonprofit to a fever-pitch crowd of bumpkiss.”

Inbound Marketing Not Bringing You Results? Try This.

“According to HubSpot’s State of Inbound Report, businesses that focus primarily on inbound marketing save more than $14 on acquiring each new customer. Further, 80% of B2B decision makers prefer consuming brand related content over advertising while making a purchase decision.”

SEO Game Changers Influencing Business Growth in the Year 2018

“SEO is the best way to gain a significant presence on the world wide web. SEO trends are constantly evolving with the changing landscapes. To stay competitive, you’ll have to be constantly aware and update your strategy as needed.”

How SEO And Content Marketing Work Together To Fuel Your Online Success

“SEO without content marketing is like a body without a soul. In particular, SEO is actually strategized around content marketing since every website needs words, articles, substance, keywords, etc. In order to be successful, both must go hand in hand.”

Eric Fischgrund is an entrepreneur, writer, sports fan, music-lover, and founder and CEO of FischTank Marketing and PR, a marketing and communications firm based in NYC.

Public relations and marketing

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is defined by Webopedia as the methodology of strategies, techniques, and tactics used to increase the amount of visitors to a website by obtaining a high-ranking placement in the search results page of a search engine (SERP) — including Google, Bing, Yahoo and others.

Many early SEO tactics are often referred to as the Wild West of internet marketing. Those of us in the business ten years ago recall black text on black backgrounds, duplicate websites, a barrage of low quality press releases, keyword stuffing, and many other tactics that quite honestly, worked.

That is, until Google the sheriffs of internet search decided to change their algorithms and penalize websites (and the companies, organizations, and individuals who built them) for executing “black hat SEO” tactics designed to manipulate search engine results.

As such, many SEO firms and internet marketing professionals have disappeared, and a new crop of digital marketing professionals and firms have emerged.

FischTank has received an influx of requests from B2C and B2B companies, non-profits, individuals, and other organizations that are looking for the right way to increase not only their position in online search within their respective industries, but to also find ways to strengthen their online reputation (ORM). These companies are slowly moving away from “quick fixes” and old SEO/ORM tactics, and seeking efforts that generate long-term, high quality results for their brand. A few effective strategies to review include:

  • Media relations, the practice of engaging editorial, third-party media entities, represents an effective tactic for driving SEO results. The reason is simple — media sites generally receive significant online traffic. A business themselves, media platforms via publishers, advertisers, and journalists do their best to publish strong content (with even stronger headlines) that drive users to their website. By sharing announcements and providing expert commentary, companies are able to gain inclusion in these stories, often with a hyperlink, which builds their respective positions with search engines.
  • Content marketing appears in many forms. The easiest first step is to develop a content calendar for self-published content such as press releases, blog posts, white papers, and case studies. Sharing these pieces on social media and within networks relevant to one’s industry often results in click-throughs to the website, increasing site traffic and rankings for the URL of which it’s hosted.

A more advanced form of content marketing is creating content to be published elsewhere, generally by third-party media or affiliated websites. For example, a company could draft a 500-700 article on something relevant to their sector, then share it with a trade publication within that industry. 99% of the time, that third-party media platform (or affiliated organization) will publish the article as a byline and attribute it with a URL to the individual and company that created it.

  • Social media. Perhaps the easiest of these three ideas to execute, creating social platforms and posting on a regular basis are almost guarantees to rank on the first page of search engine results. Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Instagram are all high quality platforms that, when content is published to and receives even minimal engagement, easily outrank mundane online results for a search for a company, organization, or individual.

Yes, these ideas may be easier said than done. In order to execute, companies seeking improvements to their online search results must identify marketing/PR firms or individuals that understand quality content. It is wise to seek firms that possess existing relationships with journalists, are strong writers themselves, and can execute social media tactics on a regular basis, not some “set it and forget it” approach.

Avoid anyone who promises a quick fix, and create a long-term strategy that ensures online searches for you and/or your brand reflect and present the best of what you do.

To learn more about how FischTank may be able to help your brand, please contact the team at info@fischtankpr.com 

Eric Fischgrund is an entrepreneur, writer, sports fan, music-lover, and founder and CEO of FischTank Marketing and PR, a marketing and communications firm based in NYC.