SEO and PR: The Great Divide

It was recently found that 94% of blog posts published gets 0 external links. That is an astronomically high number of blog posts losing external link opportunities, especially in a world where digital content is (or should be) created to help equip everyday people with the content they need at the moment they need it most.

Why is this?

We might start by saying that most content is not worthy of a link and just head back to reconsider what was created and what need it was serving. But perhaps more time could have been put into giving it a starting boost through links; and perhaps more time could have been spent on making sure the content covered topics that people want to engage with and link to.

This is where SEO and PR come in.

The key to your clients’ successes here is not to complicate the process or detract from one team’s time and efforts. SEO and PR have their specialities and need to work together to ensure both teams’ efforts are more visible and more valuable, both in the long and the short game.

This is more pertinent than ever in our ever-evolving digital content landscape.

SEO has changed

The battle to try and explain what you do in your SEO job to your non-SEO family remains rife. Because SEO is not just SEO anymore. It’s outreach and it’s site speed. It’s YouTube optimisation and it’s understanding the search landscape. And, increasingly, it’s content marketing – creating that valuable content which caters to every aspect of a user’s journey when they need it most.

The crux is that PR teams are experts at storytelling. And SEO teams are experts at discoverability. SEO teams don’t need to become PR experts and PR teams don’t need to become SEO experts, but there are elements to each discipline that can and should be shared by the teams that know them best.

Working together works best when SEO and PR align throughout the entire planning process. SEO teams can help PR campaigns be optimised after the creative process, but it works best when it is present from inception.

The following three steps explain how:

1. Insights

Because of an ever more cluttered content landscape, SEO content brings a layer of data to the planning process to help unearth insights into what people want to see and read, not what we think they want to see and read.

When it comes to PR planning, SEO teams can add that layer of search insight into the mix. When considering events throughout the year, SEO content experts can bring relevant evergreen content ideas to the table – search queries that can generate volume throughout the year, not just depending on seasonality. Layer this with PR news releases, updates, product releases, and big events, and you’ve got a more robust strategy that considers every facet of the client/brand in question and what their consumers want to know throughout the year.

SEO content teams can use tools to unearth what these searches are (long-tail queries to inform FAQs or long-form blog pieces which can feature brand ambassadors already established with the PR team) to create fresh and insightful content. But they can also help prioritise what and when this content should be created. If it’s a debate between one piece over another – search data can help inform the longevity of a piece (say one piece gets 10 avg. monthly searches, and another has 12,100) – that’s a big difference in terms of interested people.

2. Better links

You can’t go a week without seeing someone in the marketing industry discussing the role of “traditional” versus “digital” PR. The principle is the same, but the format and channel is different. And when we think of digital PR we think about an evolving discipline that branches out into website coverage, instead of print. Working with influencers on Instagram campaigns instead of using celebrities as the default.

So, with all this digital coverage occurring, what’s the benefit for SEO? Well, there’s more opportunity for benefiting web performance when there are links involved. And when we talk about links, we talk about one high quality website linking through to another (be it our client or a piece of branded content).

Links are very much still an influential ranking factor in Google, but where SEO teams come in is guiding PR teams on what a good website link is versus what isn’t. Visually, PR teams know what a good website is and what one isn’t but equipping them with the insight of knowing what Google deems a good website or not is another.

Encouraging them to ask their contacts for a link in the coverage to the website of the client in question (where feasible and won’t risk damaging the relationship) is the first step. Being able to detect links through SEO tools is the next. This way SEOs can ensure any coverage we are getting with a link is good enough for our clients. Finally, being able to detect, again through tools, websites and publications voluntarily mentioning clients and our brands, and/or linking – opening up potential new relationships for PR teams if none are already in place.

3. Distribution

The collaboration between SEO and PR is not limited to insight planning. SEO content teams sit on a great deal of data and marrying this up with creativity is an idea solution to creating content that answers a particular need, in an interesting way. If SEO content teams have content worthy of press coverage, sharing with the PR team who have relationships in place and might need data-led content can help amplify opportunities of being picked up by press. Especially if the content in mind has a very real purpose and data-need behind it. More coverage and traffic for us, more content for them – win/win.

SEO teams can also help guide on UTM tracking when it comes to PR teams generating digital coverage or working with bloggers, to help quantify the value of the traffic generated – after all, if someone gets to your content and bounces after 10 seconds, what are the learnings as to why that is happening?

Essentially, it’s about working with the teams and tools we have to help content planning and creation to be more holistic and less channel-bound.

Because as the old saying goes, “If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?”

And it’s a similar principle for what we do as content creators. Because if SEO and PR teams are creating content but no one is seeing it because it isn’t visible or valuable, what’s the point? Why bother?

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