SEO (search engine optimization) is so much more than just a marketing buzzword. Achieving premium Google search results for specific search terms can have a massive impact on your brand’s bottom line. This is what SEO aims to do! There are many different levers that can be pulled to influence search engine algorithms and the way that your webpages rank in relevant internet searches.
And it’s not only marketing and web teams who are responsible for optimizing digital assets for search engines; PR and comms pros can also help influence their brand’s digital standing with the work they already do. In fact, PR professionals play an integral role in contributing to one of the most important search engine algorithm factors: links.
For a basic understanding, SEO-related activities fall under 3 pillars (that often overlap!), and apply to web/digital, marketing, and PR teams:
Content: Do your webpages provide high quality answers to questions that people pose via search engines? Related tasks: strategic keyword research, content writing, meta data, page naming, URL structure, strategic titles and headlines
Technical: Is your site set up in a way that allows its pages to be crawled and indexed by search engines? Related tasks: website structure, proper page hierarchy, sitemap, preventing orphaned pages, site breadcrumbs, meta data, URL structure, strategic headlines, avoiding duplicate content, page load time
Off (Your Own) Site Trust Signals: Do other sites link to your pages, which must mean that you provide valuable content that is so good they are willing to direct traffic away from their own page? Related tasks: link building, review management, public relations, social media outreach, auditing of referral traffic.
Now that you have a baseline understanding of what factors contribute to SEO, here are 5 tasks you can start doing today to help optimize your PR coverage for search engines:
1. Always ask for a link
This might seem like a no brainer (and probably something you’re already doing) but it’s incredibly important. In your pitches, be sure to include the link that you’d want featured in the articles written about your brand. We also suggest auditing old coverage, and if the backlink is omitted, ask the publication if they are willing to provide one. While they might not always agree to this, it’s worth the effort. At the very least, you’ve now re-engaged with an outlet that previously covered you.
2. Structure your links the right way when pitching
Not all links are created equal – how the backlink is structured can have an impact too. For example, say you are the PR person for an organic dog treat company called Doggums. You’ve just released a new product called “Organic Doggos” and you’re starting to gain some press coverage. You’ll receive more SEO “power” in links where the anchor text (which is the clickable text in a hyperlink) reads “Organic Doggos” and links to that product’s page, rather than the anchor text reading “click here” and linking to your homepage.
3. Seek out high domain authority coverage
Specifically target journalists from outlets with high domain authority (meaning a link from them will carry more SEO weight). For example, if you’re pitching a story for your tech company, a link from TechCrunch or a niche tech publication will (most likely) have more SEO value than a link from a smaller, non-tech publication. PR software like Cision partners with Moz so that you can see a publication’s “Domain Authority Score,” making knowing who to target more obvious.
4. Align with marketing to increase rank
If your marketing team already has an SEO strategy and is hoping to increase their rankings for certain pages or keywords, quality backlinks in your earned media coverage will help them get there. Collaborate more strategically with SEO in mind (see #2!) to double down on your team’s efforts.
5. Consider video
Are keywords for your brand very competitive in Google searches? YouTube is the 2nd most popular search engine and you’ll likely have a better shot of ranking for specific keywords there. Consider creating video media and post it on YouTube in addition to your website. Pro tip: Using video in press releases is also one of the best ways to separate your press releases from the crowd.