Did you take my 2019 survey to determine how SEO-savvy public relations professionals are, and if their professional priorities align with brand priorities? Keep reading. The results are in.
Are you in public relations? If so, please take a moment to help me explore how our PR industry feels about SEO and our ability to integrate SEO with the content we create.
SEO isn’t a silver bullet, but using it to identify buyer intent and bring in the right audience absolutely is.
(Nerd post alert. Endorsed and paid for by Carrie’s Inner Geek.)
Well, this is rather interesting!! I thought I’d take a quick look at Google Trends to come up with new keywords (blog inspiration!).
First, I searched trends on content marketing.
Looks promising, right? The growth is a bit obvious, since everyone is buzzing about content marketing like it’s Columbus arriving at the New World. Add in the projected explosion in content creation over the next five-plus years, it’s no surprise to see an upward trend.
But then I added in public relations, social media and search engine optimization (SEO) – the other three key components of digital PR – just for comparison purposes.
Which areas are generating the most online search activity? The results surprised me.
The trouble with reading blog posts about SEO is that everyone believes they know what they’re doing. Argumentative about it, even, as we all fiercely defend our little podium of truth.
But like many things in life – which we conveniently forget – everyone’s truth is different, especially when it comes to SEO. It’s deeply intertwined with levels of experience in an infinitely complicated field. It’s also a matter of semantics and context – something often lost in translation when we write.
“Truth” is actually opinion and perspective.
If you have two years of experience in SEO, your truths look very different from someone with ten years of experience. If you are a writer who wraps basic SEO into content, your SEO truths look very different from that of a programmer concerned with technical aspects.
Here are a few things that I know to be true, based on my own experience.
The Differences in Pitch Style & Purpose Are Helpful to Understand
I love PR, I love SEO and I really love how well they intersect to grow client reach and conversion.
So when pitch samples hit my desk for my bad pitch column, Rock The Pitch, or I get pitched myself as a blogger, I know instantly where it’s coming from: a PR professional, a business owner/entrepreneur or someone trying to get an SEO backlink.
How that pitch is written can be VERY revealing. Motives are similar – a chance to publish a guest post or article – but many tend to follow an all-too-common, copy and paste template that reveals their true purpose behind the pitch.
[Tweet “Sadly, it’s rare to get a pitch that is specific, interesting and relevant.”]
I believe this is less about PR pros and more about WHO ELSE sends pitches. It’s not a practice exclusive to public relations specialists like it used to be.
Why do I write about backlink pitches in a PR blog? Because journalists complain about the quality of a pitch and attribute it to lazy PR pros when it isn’t actually coming from a PR professional (not that we don’t screw up, too), and PR pros scorn pitches on their client blogs mentioning money or compensation.
Both criticize or laugh about how bad the pitch is, without realizing where it’s coming from or the motivator behind it.
New client relationships usually start off all rosy and pink-cheeked, like a new bride walking down the isle, full of joy and excitement about what lies ahead once she slips that ring on her finger.
Then, like a couple married in Vegas by an Elvis wanna-be, sometimes the ink isn’t even dry on the certificate before those emotions turn into something darker.
I fired a brand new client last night. Like most relationships that turn sour, the problem was rooted in communication issues. He either didn’t listen to what I was saying, didn’t believe it, or didn’t understand it – but failed to tell me any of those things and I didn’t notice it was happening.
DO A SITUATION AUTOPSY. Some client relationships are bound to go sour – it’s inevitable. Was it the client? The agency? Both? Was someone at fault and could it have been prevented?
Thinking through and understanding exactly what happened can give you the street-smarts to prevent it from happening again.
So what happened? He hired me to handle his online digital presence, starting with organic SEO for his website to boost visibility and website traffic.
It was a very small budget for what he wanted to accomplish, and my minimum retainer size, but enough to accommodate some very solid results, if given a little time. We had a good positive status meeting just that morning, but he called me later in the day practically foaming at the mouth. Someone searched for his business name on Google, and told him they couldn’t find him.
Yesterday, Google launched its newest Panda (4.0) update, along with an update to their Payday Loan Algorithm (hilarious name!). Two major updates in one week. Yikes. It may take a bit of time for the impact to fully hit, but it’s coming.
WHY SHOULD YOU CARE, if you’re a public relations professional, not a search engine optimization (SEO) specialist?
As content creators, knowing the technical side of SEO isn’t important, but understanding how it intersects with your content is. Clients and employers expect public relations to bolster their reputation and visibility, not hurt it. (click to tweet)
And in this case, what you don’t know CAN hurt you (and your client or employer).
— Matt Cutts (@mattcutts) May 20, 2014
Here are a few things you absolutely must know. None of them are difficult, but they help you stay on top of your game, impress your client/employer and earn that promotion.
1. Diligently watch for duplicate content.
It’s been almost a year since Google revamped its quality guidelines specific to press releases.
Misinformation is everywhere. Many people have taken the guidelines out of context or jumped to the wrong conclusions – even making assumptions based on headlines or partially read articles, then writing posts, updates and tweets that perpetuate the wrong information.
Yikes! Who wants to end up in the hot seat by doing it wrong?
Here’s what you need to know.
1. Can I include links in my press release?
Absolutely! Just keep them relevant to your press release and use them carefully.
Each hyperlink should add value to the end reader or media in some way. If they are placed with the intention of elaborating on the story you are telling in the release or they provide additional factual information, your links are probably beneficial.
Semantic search? What the h e double hockey stick is semantic search?
Okay, maybe Tuesday’s post (Is Semantic Search Enough To Help You Rank Well?) was a little too much geek-speak for some of you. Especially if you don’t really follow SEO trends.
But it matters, so here it is again, in plain English this time.
Google is learning to give people search results based on assumptions. “You asked for X, but you probably really meant Y. Plus, Z would really interest you, too… ” In the most simplified terms possible, this is semantic search.
It’s still in early stages, so why should you care? Because it should shift how you are creating content. Context now matters. A lot. Google is starting to rely on your existing content to add context to your new content.
Instead of ranking for one extremely literal keyword or phrase, which has been the focus of SEO in the past – Google wants to help you rank for variations of similar search terms. It impacts both search engine optimization and, especially, the blogging portion of content marketing.