I’ve been to a ton of conferences where so-called experts discuss the relationship between SEO and PR.
Inevitably, they say things like “when you issue a press release, put it on your site first before you put it on the wire — that way you’ll avoid a duplicate content penalty” or “when you issue a press release, make sure that it’s laden with important key phrases and link to your site using those key phrases as anchor text.” Then there’s follow-on advice to make the most of social marketing and link to your press releases via your Twitter account, your Facebook page, etc.
OK, this isn’t bad advice. It’s actually good advice, but it’s definitely not the most important thing to know about SEO and PR.
Here is what you really need to know about SEO and PR.
When a journalist is looking for an expert to quote in a story where do they look?
Like you and me, they go to Google, Bing or their favorite search engine. In the old days, they had a source file or a Rolodex. Those days are long, long gone. Bar none, searches on Google are the number one source for journalists finding sources and story ideas these days.
So if you want more calls from journalists, your exercise is pretty simple.
First, create a long list of phrases that a journalist might search for if they wanted to do a story on either you, your company, the things you know a lot about, your products or services, or your industry. For example, if you’re in healthcare, maybe “healthcare reform expert” is on the list. If you are a business broker, maybe “industry expert on selling a business” is on your list.
Second, add a ton of search-engine optimized content on your website that will get you to the top of the search engine results for those pages. You don’t need to write press releases. Just create content. It can be an article, it can be your bio page, whatever. Just create content and optimize it for those key phrases. Like any good landing page, the content has to effectively sell the product – in this case, that’s YOU.
Third, sit back and let the phone ring as journalists call you up and interview you for their stories. Then, reap the rewards of that great publicity.
You won’t get from here to there just by issuing press releases. Press releases are about as important to getting good publicity as having business cards are to launching a successful business. To get publicity, you have to be visible. To my mind, there are few better ways to be visible to the world than good search engine optimization, and certainly it’s the most affordable way to be highly visible.
So does this mean you can go without a good PR firm? Not really. While SEO is very important to getting media placements these days, it’s best to use a hybrid approach of hiring a PR firm and focusing on SEO. In this way, you’ll get access to reporters in multiple ways.
To toot our own horn a bit, Walker Sands has a very active SEO group and we have a very active PR practice. The two frequently work hand in hand to get our clients phenomenal results on both fronts. Most PR firms know little about SEO. Most SEO firms know next to nothing about PR. By having deep expertise in both areas, we’ve got a great leg up on the competition (as do our clients).
The bottomline? If you embrace good SEO as a key driver of great PR results, you’ll find that you too will start to blaze a trail on the PR front.