When I started working at The Media Image my job title was ‘PR Executive’, but I was in the ‘Outreach team’ in the ‘SEO Department’. Our team used various job titles in our email signatures, from ‘Media Liaison’ to ‘Content Marketer’. I used to think the choices were rather arbitrary, but they actually offer a clear picture of the blurred line that exists between PR and SEO. Toward the end of 2014, Samuel Scott, who was then the Senior Director of SEO & Digital Marketing at The Cline Group, wrote about the coming integration of PR and SEO. With so much happening online now it makes sense to integrate PR and SEO into any marketing strategy. If you find yourself working in an SEO department, it is useful to learn how to integrate PR into your SEO strategy.
Much of what SEO strategy aims to achieve is PR already. An off-page SEO strategy is about earning links, which can be equated to acquiring publicity. Scott insists that the best links are earned where the focus is on getting coverage. So we know that authoritative content earns links but, if we were to write down a PR goal, it would be to build brand awareness and a wider audience through authoritative content. Once the goal is identified, the PR process follows:
1. Create media lists
Have a database of various subject experts, who could contribute their original insights to your content. And have a database of owners of high quality sites that are relevant to various subjects, who could link to your content from their blogs. Label the writers, social media influencers, bloggers, media outlets and publications with the specific subjects they could contribute or link to. Note each site’s domain authority, traffic metrics, which countries the traffic is from, and social media followings.
2. Create content
Create content for a target audience whom you have identified. Use surveys or other ways of gathering audience data to have an idea of who you are creating the content for and why they would be interested in your content. They should be interested in your content because of what it offers in itself, but also because of what it offers that competitor content does not offer. Do keyword research and include your targeted terms in your content. Whether it is newsworthy or just a good story, what makes content authoritative is when it tackles a topic with in-depth research and expert insights. Equally important is how the content is presented, so choose copy and images that will provide a positive user experience for the target audience.
3. Contact people
Choose from your media lists the writers who know about your subject, and choose the media publications that are relevant to your subject and read by your target audience. Email these people, or contact them via social media, but remember that you are addressing people. One-on-one and personalised communication builds relationships and, over time, you begin to nurture a community of people who have been brought together for mutual benefit. You are not scrambling for links; you are offering authoritative content and gaining coverage.
My job title is now ‘Outreach Team Lead’ and I am in the Content Marketing Department. In the department we have people who do technical and on-page SEO, people who do off-page SEO and publicity, people who write, people who do outreach, people who do PR, and it’s all dictated by SEO strategy, of course. Scott makes the point that, in the same way that we stopped making the distinction between ‘television marketing’ and other kinds of traditional marketing, with so much of our lives happening online now we will see the line between traditional and digital marketing blur, and perhaps will stop distinguishing ‘digital marketing’, and just talk about marketing.