SEO and PR: A match made in heaven?

SEO and PR A match made in heaven.jpg newIt’s hard out there for a digital marketer in 2015. With so many theories around what Google pays attention to and what works best, it’s difficult to know where to turn to find out what’s going to take your ad campaign to the next level.
While high quality content and ethical on-page practice have been the foundation of most strategies for quite some time now, I believe that SEO and PR teams increasingly need to work together as their respective projects start to crossover into new territory. Here’s why these two industries can (and ought to) work in blissful harmony.

Building relationships
Both content marketers and PR executives need excellent communication skills, but the style and targets may differ greatly. It’s only natural that PRs will tend to need longer term, collaborative relationships that involve a different range of projects (egproduct placement, advertorials), while content marketers will probably have been working with content placement, building ideas from scratch and selling them in to bloggers and journalists to obtain coverage in a much different way.
The key here is to understand how SEO and PR practices can be joined safely to create brand campaign ideas to benefit the company. Each method will be lacking in some area, whether it’s advertorials being placed on (unintentionally) spammy websites, or content that could benefit from PR expertise.
When it comes to the actual relationships being built, SEO-focused content marketers often have a much better understanding of which bloggers and writers to work with online, and how to work with them effectively while avoiding the wrath of Google.
Likewise, PR professionals can offer knowledge of how different publications and journalists prefer to work, as well as celebrity or influencer endorsements that could otherwise have been near impossible to obtain.

Improve your content
Content will naturally improve for both teams as fresh ideas are brought to the table. A deeper understanding of the brand story and current partnerships will give a greater insight into the type of content and audiences that should be targeted, while technical expertise and an understanding of different platforms online will give content more reach and impact for SEO purposes.
The key is to create shareable content so people do part of the work for you, instead of trying to spread content yourself through inefficient, potentially spammy outreach methods.
Being able to spot new angles or avenues for a piece of content is vital, especially in the case that a project isn’t doing as well as expected. Bringing together two teams with traditionally different goals will allow for new perspectives that could give a project the boost it needs.
Don’t forget to be social
It might seem a little obvious to point out that social media is important, but often companies simply get the social team to share out the content and leave them to it. A mistake many people seem to make is forgetting that social media is your direct connection to the audiences you are targeting.
Use social tools to discover the kind of content and information your target audience needs, and don’t just create it without involvement from the social team. Look at their content calendar, find out what they’re focusing on over the next few months and use their insight to build your own content.

What about my targets?
Of course the idea of merging SEO and PR sounds lovely in theory, but will it give the desired results?
The signals used by Google seem to be ever-changing and subject to much speculation, but it can be generally agreed that viewing SEO, social and PR as one multifaceted brand awareness campaign will provide the necessary audience engagement, social signals and links needed to cover all bases and create a well-rounded brand experience (that Google will love).
Focus on raising brand awareness with quality content and user engagement as your primary goal, and trust that links, shares and ultimately ROI will follow closely. Focusing too heavily on hitting KPIs often leads teams to panic and forget that a heavier focus on what they are selling (in this case, their content and information) will give a better quality product and better results.
Ian HarrisIn the past, SEO has been all about using technical expertise and tricks to manipulate positions – and it’s still a hard mentality to shake – but now, search is predominately about ideas and content that create a brand experience worthy of higher positions.
Digital marketers, SEO and PR teams can come together to create a visible and relevant brand that is an authority in the industry, reaping the rewards in online visibility.

Ian Harris is chief executive of Search Laboratory

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