If you want to get the most out of public relations, there’s a thing or two (or 20, really) about SEO to consider. Did you know that search engines are the most trusted source for finding and validating news, according to the 2015 Edelman Trust Barometer?
Translated: If your brand’s news isn’t showing up in Google search results, then influential journalists, bloggers, and especially your audience are all missing out! Match that with recent reports by PRESSfeed, which point to dismal scores of Fortune 100, Fortune 500, and Inc. 500 company newsrooms, and you’ve got a formula for success or failure depending on which side of the online marketing savviness your PR efforts stand on.
What’s wrong with this PR picture? A company newsroom is the place where press releases, company news coverage, social media updates, videos, executive bios, and media contact information are hosted. The company newsroom is the perfect opportunity to infuse a brand’s website with fresh and newsworthy content. Yet, without the conscious effort of optimization, Google won’t even know to index that content.
Social PR Secrets author Lisa Buyer recently joined PRESSfeed’s SallyFalkow in the webinar “ target=”_blank”>Why SEO is a Vital PR Strategy” to offer insights on the true benefits of how PR can stand to benefit from SEO training, no code required.
Buyer shared these 7 fast facts for PR practitioners (and even entrepreneurs considering start-ups) to take into consideration:
- SEO is no longer a technical skill. It’s a marketing and PR must.
- Collaborate or die! SEO and PR should no longer be on separate teams.
- Google is the largest search engine that dictates the SEO “rules” and it’s critical to stay educated and informed on the latest best practices related to SEO writing.
- Google’s algorithm changes favors quality content over gaming the system with technical “black hat” tactics.
- PR can be the most valuable SEO weapon.
- SEO is the most underutilized skill and strategy in the PR industry.
- SEO has more to do with relevant and quality content that what matters most to your audience.
Content is the common denominator between SEO and PR, and the reality is that SEO is no longer a technical skill. In a world where dependence on technology is rapidly growing, PR and SEO can no longer exist on separate teams. Instead, it’s time for them to collaborate.
When PR practitioners use SEO appropriately, they’re more likely to draw their target audiences to their relevant and quality content. SEO is the most underutilized skill and strategy by the PR industry. This is actually a huge opportunity because, today, PR pros aren’t using SEO the way they could be, so there’s really less competition out there, even from Fortune 100 and 500 companies who haven’t really jumped on board yet. This is a huge advantage, even for small businesses.
SEO and PR need to work hand-in-hand to take on the largest search engine that dictates the SEO rules: Google. A brand’s PR team should be aware of these trends and work with the media outlets they want coverage from so that they can help fill in the gaps and make reporters’ lives easier. 98% of journalists today start a story by doing a Google search. Where do you rank?
Make Your Newsroom Journalist-Friendly
Start by optimizing your newsroom as a whole, then be sure to optimize every article for the keywords necessary, instead of just your company’s name. With today’s journalists stretched so thin, they don’t have time to find your newsroom to use a source. If your newsroom isn’t optimized and easy to find, they’ll move on to the next source and you can say goodbye to brand exposure.
Other frustrations journalists have shared about online newsrooms is that articles often don’t provide point-of-contact information. You need to put the contact information on every article so journalists won’t have to waste time searching for it. Make things easy for them!
It’s also important to include a database of expert sources (or at least one) in every article. Now the journalist will want to contact you because you’ve done a lot of the legwork for them and made his or her job that much easier. In addition to listing experts in each press release, you can go above and beyond by adding a page of experts in your newsroom. Include a full bio, headshot, and a video of each source talking about their area of expertise and list their contact information so that they can be quickly reached to comment on a story.
Mobile-Friendly Newsrooms and Press Releases Rank Better with Google
Google doesn’t like to go long without dropping some game-changing news. Recently, they threw a curveball at the SEO and PR community with an announcement that they were “making a change to its search algorithms which would begin to factor in a website’s ‘mobile-friendliness’ as a ranking signal – meaning that those sites which weren’t optimized for smartphones’ smaller screens would see their ranks downgraded as a result.”
The move for Google to force companies to be better optimized for mobile isn’t just about the immense shift in the popularity and dependence on smartphones, but also about Google retaining its position as a useful service in the age of mobile.
Make Your Newsroom Content Mobile-Friendly
Before you panic about your company’s website not being mobile-friendly, check out this short checklist we put together to make sure your audience gets the most out of your company news on mobile:
- Check your main newsroom’s landing page and each press release page on a mobile device, so you can be aware of what your site looks like and what needs improvement.
- This Google article will tell you all you need to know about optimizing for mobile!
- Make sure your press release pages are found by mobile users and that your audience knows you’re accessible! You might even promote an update that your company’s news can now be accessed through mobile, if it hadn’t been before.
Here’s an example of a recent #fail by Apple (of all companies). Apparently, the company’s recent press wasn’t mobile-friendly and influential technologist Danny Sullivan didn’t hesitate to call them out on Twitter:
— Danny Sullivan (@dannysullivan) June 8, 2015
Social Media and SEO
Drive more traffic to your website from social media by simply using links to your newsroom instead of your homepage in your social media profile bios. Also, make sure your social media profile bio is filled with good keywords and appropriate hashtags. Another tip to get more views is to make sure your news has easy-to-find share buttons. Those quick fixes are great, though two of the most critical ways to drive traffic to your site are the appropriate use of keywords and links:
- Think about how journalists search for news stories and optimize your content with those keywords in mind.
- Choose one primary keyword phrase per press release or article.
- Keep in mind that your brand isn’t always the keyword!
- Title/headline length should be no more than 70 characters with the keyword or phrase close to the front.
- If you outsource your meta tags to the IT department to post, that’s great, but always make sure you write the title and description to show the keywords you want to display.
Social PR Secret: Use tools like Scribe SEO to test your content for keywords and double-check that you’re on the right track for optimization.
Google Favors Links
- Attracting news that talks about your company or products or services is what PR pros have been doing for years.
- Links in online stories or blog posts are what Google favors and what SEO teams are trying to get.
- SEO brings more publicity, visibility, and exposure, and that’s exactly what PR is trying to achieve.
Visual SEO’s Got Back
The demand for visual content hasn’t just become huge for your fans on social media. It’s also become essential for getting the attention of media outlets. Visuals can be the differentiating factor between a press release being used or not, especially if you organize it well for the media. In fact, 86% of all media is using outside-produced visuals and videos, so the better yours are, the more likely they’ll pick them up!
Another thing we learned from the webinar is that all of the keywords and links mean nothing if you don’t have meta details for your visual content to back it up. Things like image file names for press releases, newsroom, and blog posts should have keywords versus random numbers. Check out the example below:
Social PR Secret: Optimizing your visuals’ file names can give you a competitive edge, not just in the standard search, but also in an image search!
Remember: Optimizing unattractive or boring images can help you turn up in search results, but good, original visuals can extend and enhance your story by attracting viewers and keeping them more engaged and on the website longer.
Social PR Secret: An interesting infographic is a great way to display information in a way that will entice viewers to linger on the website longer.
In addition to creating great visuals for your article, consider adding more images or even just different sizes of the same image so the journalist has easy access to download.
Your newsroom features should consist of an image gallery with the original image (especially if the one used in the article has a text overlay), both hi- and low-res versions, infographics, and charts. You might also wish to include a video gallery with the embed codes. Videos can include an interview, a slideshow, or “explainer” animated videos. Really anything to help your story get more momentum works!
Lisa Buyer’s 4 Favorite SEO Tools
When you’re ready to write PR content, these free tools and resources can help you with the process.
- SEOToolSet: provides information on search activity (e.g., how popular search terms are) and the demographics of people doing the query
- Ubersuggest: gives suggestions of keywords you might want to add to your keyword list or article content
- Google Trends: shows topics trending on Google, which can help you as you brainstorm topics to write about
- Scribe: shares the content marketing process with an integrated, holistic approach that maximizes your return on investment.
Also, check out 10 of @LisaBuyer’s favorite and trusted SEO resources and books (click to subscribe or follow on Twitter):
- Bruce Clay Blog
- How to Get PR for Your Start-up by Murray Newlands
- SocialPRSecrets by Lisa Buyer
- Search Engine Watch
- Search Engine Land
- Smart Press Releases by Sally Falkow
If your job is to get media coverage for a brand and SEO isn’t part of the writing process, I can promise you this: your PR efforts will be (far) less than optimal.
Watch the entire interview with Lisa Buyer and Sally Falkow for even more insights and action items you you can start doing today!
Want more? Read Social PR Secrets by Lisa Buyer.
Reported by Sydney Thompson and Jennine Miller
Image Source: Lisa Buyer and PRESSfeed