16 August 2015 Guest Contributor

In modern marketing, the value of being seen in the Google search results cannot be underestimated. Savvy marketers have spotted the link between search engine optimisation (SEO) and PR and are making the most of it.

PR has always been about telling a story in a way which appeals to the target audience and encourages others to feature it, typically in newspapers, magazines, television and radio.

In SEO too, the need for placement of a brand in places of authority across the web has always been an integral part of improving search engine rankings. When a brand has been featured on a website which is itself authoritative and relevant to the brand, it counts as a ‘vote’ for the credibility of the brand and, broadly speaking, the brands with more votes will outrank those with fewer.

In both PR and SEO, we know that not all ‘votes’ are equal and a placement in a publication, whether online or offline, that is highly relevant to the brand and seen by its target audience has far more value than a column in a magazine which has no relevance to the brand.

In each discipline, the aim is to build brand awareness and credibility through relevant, quality placements, features, editorial and so on.

How PR and SEO work together

With this shared goal, it’s not surprising that the gap between SEO and PR is decreasing. Whilst there are undoubtedly still those who strive to retain PR in its most traditional sense, arguably the savvier of the PR and SEO communities are bringing the two together to form digital PR.

Digital PR is the process of building a brand’s online authority through PR techniques that aim to achieve placement online. The techniques of traditional PR are used; building relationships, seeding press releases, crafting stories that capture the attention of journalists are all important methods to use and can be extremely powerful online too.

The main difference between traditional PR and digital PR is that, like SEO, digital PR success is measured primarily in the links achieved for the brand, as well as the mentions of the brand around the web. This means digital PRs should seek to include a hyperlink to the brand’s website in press releases and within editorial.

The reason for this is that, though Google can recognise when a brand name is mentioned without being linked to, it’s much easier to attribute that mention to the brand when it includes a link to the brand’s website. Again, very broadly speaking, much of SEO success is rooted in achieving a range of high quality, relevant links from websites around the web and digital PR can contribute to this.

The future for digital PR

Tools such as SourceBottle provide SEOs and PRs with a plethora of opportunities to have their brands featured, and other similar services, both paid and free, aim to provide the same. This means that access to journalist requests is easier than ever before, and as PRs and SEOs, we are able to respond to those requests quickly and effectively.

The future of digital PR will continue along this route, with savvy marketers investing time into identifying these PR opportunities online and ensuring those placements include links to the brand’s website.

Further to this, as the PR and SEO communities become even closer, more of the traditional PR techniques will start to feed into online channels. Sponsorship of events or teams, PR ‘stunts’ and curation of opinions will all become mainstays of digital PR practice.

For PRs and SEOs, the opportunity is there to integrate our practices for greater success both online and off.

Laura Hampton is the digital marketing manager at digital marketing agency Impression. Visit their digital PR page to find out more about their services or find them on LinkedIn or Twitter for more marketing tips and advice.
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