A year of consulting last year has been fascinating, fun, inspiring and alarming in equal measures! I’ve seen great work culture, enlightened thinking and occasionally some really old fashioned working styles too. I also hope I’ve met some of the new generation communications leaders who will shape the future of our industry.
But the area I am most often surprised by is how few agencies are integrating SEO into their PR strategies or service offers. I just don’t get it. Everybody in our industry talks about how PR and SEO should work together and then…..there’s an awkward pause because they’re not.
A whole batch of new generation agency owners who are integrating the two are winning through. Admittedly some of the challenges are about educating clients that PR and SEO are now intrinsic. In my view, they should be handled by the same provider….but that’s another debate…..
In a nutshell, great copy writing and strategic SEO will increase the propensity for your target audience to find and engage with your brand. A win win for all!
So in my plea to help encourage integrated thinking for 2019, here’s a quick and easy SEO X PR guide with 5 top tips that I’ve curated with Saija Mahon from Mahon Digital https://mahondigital.co.uk/ – one of Europe’s best SEO experts
5 tips to increase the reach and engagement of your content…
- What’s the word?
It starts with some research but it is worth the effort to help maximize the reach of your brand online.
Whether you are representing a client brand at an agency or running your own brand, you’ll already have the best understanding of your business category and customers. So understanding key words that describe your industry sector or associated with it will be instinctive to you.
Come up with a short list of key words you think are relevant to your business, and then enter these into a keyword research tool such as Google Keyword Planner. You will see lots of related keywords, along with monthly search volumes. These will help you craft a list of most popular key words and phrases used when people search for related information. The descriptive words or phrases are often obvious but its sometimes surprising what you find.
- Quality and Quantity
Whether you are writing a blog, online journal, website copy or a piece of thought leadership, you now know the words to use that will help engage, connect and intrigue your customers. Be mindful and natural when you integrate these words into your copy. Cramming key words into copy to optimise search results will be penalised by Mama Google!
Also the highest searched terms are also the most competitive, so it’s often better to look at the ‘long-tail’ of keyword research – the terms with lower search volume that are easier to rank for. These are also most likely to be the more specific keywords to your business.
Remember that when writing online content, quality and quantity go hand in hand. The current industry view is that an average 2,000 words will rank well on Google search but the content has to be quality and that’s really the goal.
- Who are you talking to?
Just like any standard PR plan, you need to think about who your target audience is. Naturally this helps you correctly tailor the article/story, blog or words you use in a way they’ll find interesting, relevant and understandable.
4.Make friends and share nicely
The Google search engine likes to see that your online article or blog is being shared and referenced by other credible sources. To help make this happen, you will need to generate some valuable backlinks.
SEO experts often look at industry directories to generate backlinks but this is an area where PR expertise can really come into play. For example, I have found that an organic (non paid) post from a credible Instagram Influencer can drive more visitors to a clients website than a paid Google Adword strategy.
Either way, it’s a no brainer to make sure your target publications include your or your clients website details in their online copy. You may also want to add trackable codes so you can see how effective that article is in driving people to your website.
Once you’ve written your article or release, your aim is now to get it in front of as many relevant people as possible. This can happen in a number of ways. Offer to write the article yourself (many tech/IT media want interesting copy and are happy to take from PR or brand experts) or share the article across your social media channels and ask your friends/network to share.
If you have posted the article on your blog or owned social channels, ask business contacts to link to the article on your site or even reach out to journalists who may be interested in using the article, or making a reference to it.
- Topicality and timeliness
As with any good PR, its important that your article content is useful and informative to the reader. Search engines like to see written content that is tailored towards a human audience and also potentially topical too ie linking to a forthcoming live event or moment. By doing this you’ll please your target customers too
Suffice to say, PR and SEO should work as a perfect marriage in any story telling strategy. Just keep focused on quality content, topicality and share-ability.