At the beginning of this year, I wrote a piece about the opportunities for PR companies to embrace SEO and deliver their clients better results. Since then, very few PR companies have changed the way they operate, however there is a new incentive to change – brands are waking up.
CEO’s and Marketing directors are starting to ask why competitors are above them on Google and Bing. Big brands who have competition from upstart businesses like price comparison websites are starting to notice that sales are down – and it’s not just because of the economy – it’s because someone else is stealing ‘their traffic’.
I still find people who call themselves digital marketing experts who don’t really understand the importance of SEO. As I wrote in the original article:
“SEO is not as sexy as witty creative. It’s not as trendy as social media or as cutting edge as an iPhone app, but my informed guess is that Google and Bing send more customers to your client’s sites than any of these marketing methods, and a lot more than mentions in printed press.”
PR Agencies and digital marketing agencies still have SEO on their menu of services, but in most cases it is a bit of an afterthought – if someone actually asked for it, they would scramble around and find an ‘expert’ who could help them out. SEO is not part of the everyday thinking of communications professionals and it really should be.
PR professionals are in the best place to deliver SEO for clients. Search Engine Optimisation best practise is all about content, which is something that PR people should be good at. If you know who your intended audience is, and you know what content is relevant to them and create it in such a way that they might want to reference it in their social media activity, then you are on the way to delivering SEO value.
A core PR agency competency is to be able to pitch a story to a newspaper or magazine. If you can do that, then you know how to pitch for a link from an authoritative website. Building relationships with influencers is a key part of SEO, so all your work building a following on Twitter and acquiring Facebook fans can add value too.
However, if you are still sending your press releases as PDF attachments, then you aren’t helping your client.
The same principles apply whether you are doing PR for a start-up in London, a sports team in Melbourne or a nursery in Mt Eliza.
If you are not using the right SEO keywords in your press releases, then you are missing an opportunity.
If you are not taking advantage of lazy cut-and-paste bloggers who are so desperate for content that they will publish your story with links already embedded verbatim, then you should be.
SEO, Content, Communications and Marketing are colliding, and to make the most of the resulting media landscape requires cultural change.