SEO and PR have for a long time been separate disciplines, or at least separate teams who view each other with some suspicion. The two disciplines of SEO and PR aren’t so far apart in reality and in fact by working together, you can turbo boost those elusive rankings. Here are our five key pieces of advice.
1. Use keyword research & Google Trends in your content creation
This one seems pretty basic, but it is incredibly important.
SEO practitioners broadly split keyword research into three separate phases:
- Content Ideation
- Content Validation
- Content Planning
The broad idea is that in the ideation phase you need to look for exactly that, ideas. You need to understand what users actually want. This means trawling through competitor sites, specific subreddits to look for popular threads, the “people also searched for” section of Google and of course everyone’s favourite website: answerthepublic.com.
With a list of keywords to hand, start to validate them using Google Keyword Planner and SEMrush in order to finalise your list.
Finally, you need to know whether there are any keywords you have found that peak at certain times of the year. Historical metrics from Keyword Planner and Google Trends come into play here.
All content should be written to fulfil at least two of the following purposes:
- It should be written to engage with an audience.
- It should be written to attract backlinks.
- It should be written to rank.
Press releases are no different.
No matter what you are writing, it should be optimised so you’re creating content that is timely and searchable, as well as being a damn good piece of content or news.
2. Introduce SEO checks into your workflow
There are three “SEO checks” that could be implemented into your workflow, to help with PR.
- Know the publications that give out a followed link within a story, note them down and ensure that the whole team asks for a nofollow tag from journalists at that title when pitching.
- It’s also good practice to look into how target publications’ websites are performing. Even without Google Analytics or Search Console access, SEMrush can give a great top-down view. You can get a rough overview of how much organic traffic a site is getting and how this is split out towards brand/non-brand and different sections of the website. If a potential publication wants to put your piece on a sub-folder of their site, you can check to see whether that subfolder can actually be found. Additionally, SEMrush can give you both country and competitor data for any website – information which will help you target your content more accurately.
- Finally, it’s always good practice to use Ahrefs or Majestic to scan a publication’s backlink profile, just to see whether they are attracting positive websites to link to them or are doing something a bit nefarious. We don’t want our clients featured on sites that are associated with questionable content!
3. Look for gaps using link intersect tools
An old favourite for SEOs, but something that can be very beneficial for clients who are looking for as much coverage as possible – link intersect tools.
Clients should be able to tell you who their competitors are, which can then be checked using SEMrush.
Simply plug the competitors into Ahrefs, and you’ll have a quick and easy list of sites that link to your client’s competitors but not yours! Of course, this is unlikely to give you the competitive advantage you need to outrank them, but it’s a great way to find websites that should be relatively simple to feature on that already have a history of linking out.
It will also give you a fantastic idea of the type of coverage your competitors are getting and where you can improve.
4. Get followed links
This one may seem obvious, but it isn’t always as easy as ‘hey can I get a followed link?’ Most websites have rules of what they will and won’t allow and on the whole, they are reluctant to change them, usually for their own commercial reasons.
That said, there are always negotiations that can be made.
A great example from a few years ago was with a major news publication in the UK. A client of ours was promoting a selection of deals on a news publication site with a host of nofollowed backlinks to their site. We knew that removing them was going to be impossible due to the nofollowed nature of the links in question and the affiliate revenue they brought in. So we asked whether after two weeks (once the promotion had ended) they could remove the nofollow and affiliate tracking code from those links. It was a wild swing, and it hit.
Two weeks later we forced Google to recrawl that page, and within a short while, the links were picked up.
This, of course, will not work for every single link out there, but it is an example of seeing what else you can do or offer within your wheelhouse to coax a link out of a journalist.
5. Report back
Finally, and we cannot stress this enough, you can use SEO-led metrics to report and uncover how well PR campaigns are doing. Not from a typical PR perspective (i.e. readership and reach) but in terms of backlink effectiveness.
You can start to highlight where followed links are achieved, and then outline how those followed links affect typical SEO performance. You can start to paint a vivid picture as to how garnering perhaps only 4-6 links a month has had an impact on your non-brand traffic over time.
There are a few things you can do here:
- First, ensure that if you are using your homepage as the link target, that you link through to the page that you want to grow organically from it. Not just in the main navigation, but from within the body of the homepage. This will ensure that maximum link equity is passed through to it.
- Every time Ahrefs or Majestic ‘discovers’ a link that has been built, report it to your client.
- Send monthly reports to your client highlighting organic visibility for the target page in question, don’t just report on the progress of one keyword.
In closing, remember that getting links is hard. The hit rate of asking for links vs. actually achieving them is low. However, don’t get discouraged. The rewards can be great. It just takes time, a clear plan, and a heck of a lot of patience. Whenever you get discouraged with link development, just think that you’d rather have one really good link highlighting something excellent you’ve done than 50 poor links from freelinksnowdirectory.tk.