ComPRehension

Professional development and training blog of the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA)
July 23, 2009

SEO Tips for Public Relations: Top 10 Tactics to Improve Content Search Performance


The convergence of what constitutes sources of influence online has put industries like advertising, marketing and public relations in a situation that calls for innovation that keeps pace with discovery, consumption and sharing of content.

As time and resources in newsrooms diminish, journalists, analysts and industry influentials increasingly use technology such as search engines to find subject matter experts, research companies, locate past media coverage and track topical trends. In fact, a recent survey on journalists’ use of search by TopRank reports that 91 percent of those journalists, reporters and editors surveyed use search engines to do their jobs.

Traditionally, search engine optimization efforts have been managed by corporate marketing departments in support of direct revenue generation. However, with the many opportunities to create value in the form of increased online brand visibility, reputation management and Internet-based media coverage, public relations departments are at risk of a missed opportunity to provide value unless they can master search in a meaningful way.

Know the SEO Tactics that Have the Biggest Impact

To leverage search for online media relations and building brand influence, it’s important that public relations professionals understand the foundation of SEO tactics and their business benefits. This involves understanding which SEO and public relations tactics have the most impact, how to choose the best keywords, on-page SEO and link building best practices, as well as measuring the value of SEO to public relations efforts. It also means knowing when PPC is a better fit than SEO, how to combine SEO and social media promotions and the finer points of selling the benefits of SEO to public relations decision makers.

Corporate Web site optimization projects require an equal measure of search engine knowledge, understanding of corporate messaging and ability to appreciate and acquire links from credible sources. By learning the fundamentals of SEO and the possible impact on public relations effectiveness, public relations departments can demonstrate their competitive advantage.

To that end, here is a series of 10 tips that present specific tactics that will help public relations practitioners implement content optimization tactics and improve online public relations performance through search:

  1. SEO tactics, if I could only do one thing: Make sure content is discoverable by search engines. No matter how well Web pages or other digital assets are optimized, if search engine bots cannot find your content, or if there is a deficiency in the quantity and/or quality of inbound links from other relevant Web sites, there’s a very good chance the pages will not be competitive in search results.
  2. Public Relations Tactics That Affect SEO:  Public relations departments create many types of content, including text, image, video and audio. If content can be searched on, then it can be optimized for better performance in search. This includes everything from press releases to online newsrooms to video and images.
  3. When Is PPC Better Than SEO for Public Relations?:  Paid search can be very effective for time-sensitive promotions such as providing alternative content for negative listings in search results. PPC ads can also be used to attract attention to news stories and then turned off.
  4. How to Choose the Best Keywords: There are many free and paid tools to research the keyword phrases that searchers are actually using. Optimizing relevant content with phrases that are high in demand can increase search traffic to news content substantially. Start with a free tool like Google’s AdWords Keyword Tool.
  5. Dos & Don’ts of On-page SEO for News Content:  Do use keywords in title tags and links between pages. Don’t delete old content; rather, archive it. Don’t archive press releases by date alone; create keyword rich categories that will be helpful to readers as well as search engines. Don’t stuff keywords into Web pages. Focus on optimizing each page for one to two primary phrases.
  6. Essential Press Release Optimization Tips: Focus press release SEO on one to two phrases using keywords in the title, subhead and three to four times in a 500 word release.
  7. Pull Public Relations and Newsroom Optimization Tactics: Newsrooms are Web pages and digital assets. Use keywords in the organization of content, file names and links to content. Definitely use focused keywords in the titles and naming of online newsroom content.
  8. Link Building Fundamentals For News Content: Create content worth linking to and leverage social channels such as Twitter and RSS to promote it.
  9. Making News Content SEO and Social Media Friendly: Make it easy for readers of content to save and share via social news and bookmarking services. Encourage conversation by enabling comments or forwarding of content.
  10. Measuring the Value of Optimized Public Relations: Set goals, take benchmarks and implement tactics that can be measured accordingly. When selling the value of optimizing news content, few efforts work better than showing competitors that are doing the job better.

Keep in mind that while these tips are centered on public relations and news content, many of the SEO and social media marketing tactics can be applied to any kind of content whether it be job listings, FAQ/Knowledge Base info or products/services.

If content can be searched, it can be optimized. Inventory your digital assets, research keywords and put together a plan that makes it easy for content creators to optimize content first and foremost for people, then for search engines. Benchmark and measure progress to show results.

Lee OddenBy Lee Odden, CEO of TopRank Online Marketing, a digital marketing agency providing search marketing and social media consulting services to organizations ranging from McKesson to PRSA. Odden has been cited by The Economist and Fortune for expertise on search, social and digital public relaltions and publishes Online Marketing Blog, recognized by Advertising Age as a top marketing/public relations blog on the Web.  He speaks at numerous industry conferences including PRSA International and Media Relations Summit in addition to serving as chair of the DMA Social Media Council and board of advisors for Search Engine Strategies.  

Join Lee Odden for his teleseminar, “Top 10 Search Engine Optimization Tactics for Public Relations Pros: Help Google Find Your Releases,” for specific advice on leveraging search marketing for public relations.