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Learning SEO For PR? Master These Top 3 Best Practices

Ken McGaffin - SEO For PR Best Practices(No time to read? Listen to the podcast here.)

If helping our clients be more visible is the heartbeat of public relations, then learning to integrate basic SEO skills into the work we are doing is key in keeping that heartbeat strong. SEO for PR is a “must know” skill.

Every senior-level PR and content marketing professional should have a solid understanding of how SEO works and how it applies to their own work.

For the overall agency or company, SEO should be part of the standard writing and proofing processes as content is filtering through production, and included as a basic skill integrated into the continued learning culture of the organization. It should also START the content creation process, not be wrapped in at the end.

If the organization is large enough to have SEO staff, partnering with them can identify a surprising similarity in goals and effort. Starting cross-departmental conversations and working together on joint goals can also make BOTH departments extremely successful.

During the May #PRprochat on Twitter, we were lucky enough to have Ken McGaffin as our guest – former CMO of WordTracker and an expert in SEO.

“The TOP 3 SEO SKILLS that PR pros should have are keyword research, link building and blogger outreach.” ~ Ken McGaffin

Learning SEO for PR doesn’t have to be time consuming or intimidating; it can simply be the addition of a few new skills and tweaks to your normal processes.

Here are some fabulous “sound bites” that came out of the chat with Ken:

  • It’s hard to do everything – so understand first, then use SEOs to do the technical stuff.
  • Good content is essential for SEO, but good content on its own is not enough to rank well.
  • To get your message heard online, you have to have a blend of content marketing, SEO and social media.
  • PR Pros should recognize the skills you already have are very important for SEO.


It pays to invest time in researching keywords, rather than basing it on assumptions. Something as simple as a tense can mean a search volume difference of literally thousands of searches. It also identifies language choices that you may not think of. One example Ken shared is that airlines insist on using “low-cost fares” when customers are actually searching “cheap flights.” This is one that I come across frequently; clients refuse to use the word “cheap” because they feel it denigrates their product or service, when the reality is that customers LOOK for cheap!

There is a disconnect between the language that has an expensive price in lost organic search opportunities.  One of our roles as a professional is walking that delicate balance of what they want versus what drives results. Sometimes it’s just not easy.

Where can you do keyword research? Head over to Google, log in, then go to their AdWords Keyword Popularity Tool. There are other tools available, but they all essentially pull from this as the original resource.


“The biggest contribution that PR pros can make to SEO is encouraging editorial links. It not only allows people to click through but also boosts SEO, ” adds Ken. “Sometimes an editorial piece contains a link, sometimes it doesn’t. Often that’s just because no one ASKED for a link!!”

What does this mean? When you write a guest blog or a byline article that is being placed online, make sure that you put links back to your brand’s website. For added value, make the hyperlink relevant to the story and/or the bio. For example, the author’s name can easily be a link back to their “About Us” page bio, or his/her title can link back to the company home page. Links at the end of the article can loop back to a post on the company blog that expands on the same topic.  The more relevant the link, the better.

10 Ways to Increase the Odds of Getting Editorial Links – via @McGaffin on @SearchEngineWatch (tweet this)


Securing guest posts for your client or employer is an essential component of digital PR. It allows you to join the conversation without waiting for media to publish something about you. (See the PRprochat May 2013 transcript with guest @MackCollier for great stuff on this very topic.)

They are a powerful way to help your client be visible, find a targeted audience and show expertise. It also builds social proof of that expertise, since most blog posts are shared across Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and Google Plus.  With a little luck, each share tags your brand or the author.

Want a Top Trending article on LinkedIn? Look at what is trending for your category, and what publication it came from. Then go secure an article for your client or brand with that same publication. If it is compelling, the shares will help it trend.

According to Ken, finding lots of relevant blogs is an SEO skill, but building relationships and winning links are PR skills. Don’t worry about Penguin, Panda and all of the other SEO changes. Simply create great content and get it linked.

“The pillars of good SEO are great content, link building, social and PR…. getting all of them right creates fantastic results.”



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