There was a time when SEO and PR were two completely different beasts. SEO was all about optimizing your website to rank higher in search engine results pages, while PR was about building external relationships.
However, those days are long gone. Today, there is a huge overlap between the two disciplines. In this blog post, we will explore why PR and SEO go together like peanut butter and jelly in 2022.
Let's first start with the basics to make sure we're all on the same page. PR (Public Relations) is the process of creating and maintaining relationships with external stakeholders to boost brand awareness and trust. This can be done through various activities such as media relations, influencer relations, and event marketing.
In his upcoming book Trust Signals, our CEO Scott Baradell defines PR more simply: he calls it the art of securing trust at scale.
Meanwhile, SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is the process of optimizing a website for Google search with the goal of making the website rank higher in search results and improving the visibility of the site. This includes on-page SEO—factors such as website content, title tags, and metatags—as well as off-page SEO, also known as link-building.
Link-building is where many SEO practitioners earned a bad reputation in the past. They exploited the gaps in Google's algorithm through sketchy tactics such as link farms, link spam and keyword stuffing to trick Google into ranking content higher than it deserved.
As Google's algorithm improvements have gradually wiped out these black-hat techniques, link-building has become very similar to the media and influencer outreach done by PR firms.
In fact, in many ways they are two sides of the same coin.
And that's where Digital PR comes in. It's the term for that overlap in the worlds of PR and SEO.
Where traditional PR mostly focuses on promoting brand awareness through media coverage, Digital PR focuses on promoting linkable assets. This means that the goal of Digital PR is to get your website referenced by other websites, with the aim of getting tons of high-quality backlinks to your site.
These backlinks can come from a wide range of websites: from high-profile media sites (which you'd also get with traditional PR) to smaller blogs (which you might not reach out to in a traditional PR campaign), as well as a range of sites that find your linkable asset in search weeks, months or even years later and link to it then.
A successful Digital PR campaign around a linkable asset can therefore earn many more backlinks than a traditional PR campaign.
And no, Digital PR is not just a fad: Google's search advocate John Mueller has also validated its staying power. Not only does Mueller emphasize the importance of Digital PR for SEO, he also says that it can be more important than traditional technical SEO.
I love some of the things I see from digital pr, it's a shame it often gets bucketed with the spammy kind of link building. It's just as critical as tech SEO, probably more so in many cases.— 🐝 johnmu.csv (personal) - faxchecker 🐝 (@JohnMu) January 23, 2021
This is a huge statement and really goes to show how much Google values high-quality backlinks from external websites. So, if you're not doing Digital PR yet, now is the time to start!
Now that we've established that there is a very strong overlap between SEO and PR, let's take a look at three ways the two disciplines work together within Digital PR.
One of the most important aspects of Digital PR is creating high-quality content. This perfectly combines the two disciplines of PR and SEO, as high-quality content is essential for both gaining media coverage (and thus improving brand awareness) and improving your website's ranking in search engines.
Your content needs to be newsworthy, interesting, and informative if you want it to be picked up by journalists and bloggers. But it also needs to be keyword-optimized and properly structured if you want it to rank well in search engines. Creating great content that serves both purposes can be a challenge, but it's definitely possible with a little effort.
“Digital PR is all about creating content that tells stories that are so good that journalists actually want to cover and link to them.” (Semrush)
Another key way that PR and SEO work together is by building trust and authority for your website and brand. In order for your website to rank well in search engines, it needs to be seen as an authoritative and trustworthy source of information. Likewise, people are more likely to link to and share websites that they perceive to be credible.
Digital PR supports two pillars of Idea Grove's Grow With TRUST system: Third-Party Validation and Search Presence:
When building brand trust and authority, PR and SEO work together by building trust and authority for your website for both potential customers and search engines.
3. Building Relationships for High-quality backlinks
Lastly, SEO and PR work together by building relationships with journalists, bloggers, and other influencers that result in high-quality backlinks.
How? You can start by pitching your content and ideas to authoritative websites in your industry via email or social media. Make sure to put in the time to build relationships with these websites so that they're more likely to link to your website when you pitch them an idea.
Also, make sure to take a look at different PR tools, such as Cision, Buzzstream, HARO, Prowly, Ahrefs and Muck Rack, which can help you find journalists, influencers and websites to pitch your story to.
8 Digital PR Tactics to boost your SEO
So, now that you know how SEO and PR work together, let's take a look at some digital PR tactics that you can use to boost both your website's ranking in search engines and your brand awareness.
Here are 8 of these tactics:
Creating content that is so good that people will want to link to it. This can be done by creating infographics, blog posts, or even just well-written articles.
Creating content that is based on data-driven research studies is a great way to get high-quality backlinks. This type of content is also usually very shareable, which can help increase your website's visibility. For example, this blog post shares research findings on 912 million blog posts.
Creating content around current events or news stories helps keep your brand relevant and can help attract new visitors to your website.
For example, Microsoft Teams did a great job of newsjacking the stay-at-home orders during the COVID-19 pandemic with their "together mode". The together mode is a feature on Microsoft Teams that blurs out your background and puts everyone in the same virtual room, which helped make online meetings feel more personal.
Writing blog posts for other websites in your industry is a great way to get your name and your website out there, as well as to build relationships with other websites in your field. You can reach out to websites that you would like to guest blog for and pitch them your ideas.
Just make sure that the website you're guest blogging for is relevant to your industry and that they have a good reputation. You can also check their website's Domain Authority (DA) using Moz's Free Domain Analysis SEO tool to see how authoritative the website is in terms of SEO.
Next, you can start creating content that establishes you as a thought leader in your industry. If you're an authoritative thought leader, people will be more likely to link to your content. For example, Simon Sinek is a famous business and leadership thought leader. If he shares content around these topics, people are more likely to link to it because he is seen as an authoritative source.
While press releases are dismissed by some as an old-school PR tactic, they can actually be very effective for your overall search presence.
This is because press releases sent over wire services like Business Wire and PR Newswire gain high visibility in Google News, LinkedIn Mentioned in the News, and elsewhere. And if the press release is covered by a news site or blog that links to your website, those stories can improve your backlink profile as well.
Getting involved in online communities is a great way to build relationships with other industry professionals and get your website's name out there. For example, there are many online communities for marketing professionals, such as GrowthHackers, Swipe Files, and Demand Curve.
Encouraging your users to create content about your brand—such as testimonials, reviews, or even just social media posts—helps improve your brand's reputation, generate more backlinks, and result in higher SEO rankings.
Digital PR is the brilliant marriage between media relations and SEO. It's a process that helps you earn high-quality backlinks and media coverage, both of which are essential for improving your brand's visibility online.
Google has made clear that combining SEO and PR is the most effective— and least spammy—search strategy of all. And media coverage earns you more than backlinks; it helps you build relationships, credibility, and brand trust.
So if you're not already integrating PR into your SEO strategy (or vice versa), 2022 is the year to start. Trust us: your SEO results will thank you!