A lot has changed in SEO world since 2009 or even before that. For example, online PR and SEO existed as silos, completely independent from one another. In the agency world, online PR was mostly used as an outbound marketing service whereas SEO was the main “value for money” inbound marketing service for both small and large companies.
And then along came Penguin, Panda, Hummingbird and the struggle for most SEO professionals began… Google’s Ranking Algorithm became more and more sophisticated, to the point of currently applying machine learning technology, making it the third most important ranking signal, according to Google. Back in the days, it was quite plain & simple to rank a website at top positions. All you needed to do was a firm on page SEO strategy and the exploitation of available, free or very affordable link building resources such as directory submissions, social bookmarks, post commenting, tier link building and other shady techniques. Try that in 2016 and you will end up with the perfect recipe for disaster…and a bad name in the industry. Google may be focusing more and more in user engagement signals, customer experience, content quality and semantics but inbound links are still very valuable.
(Image Credits: nichehacks.com)
So, what now? As a SEO professional I am sure you wonder “How am I supposed to perform link building within a tight to zero budget?” Well, the answer is quite straightforward.
Include & leverage online PR in your SEO strategy & efforts. SEO & Online PR should work hand in hand.
If you are not so convinced about that, I suggest you go read the patent Google filed in 2014. In a nutshell, what the patent is saying is that citations & mentions to a target resource are seen as “implied links” in the eyes of Google, therefore affecting authority & rankings of a website. If you are surprised, don’t be. Google does nothing more than simulating the real world to the digital environment and applying (or at least trying to apply) human “common sense” while evaluating & presenting results. If lots of entities “talk” about you, then you probably must be popular and carry some value. If no one knows your name, well, you are quite invisible to others…
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For 2016 and for the years that follow you must be an extrovert. You must talk about yourself. People should get to know your name & value propositions. And of course you must “inspire” them to talk about you. Content marketing is the “tool”. Online PR is one of the means to do so.
If you work on the client side make sure to cooperate with the PR department. This is easier said than done of course, especially for large corporations. The cornerstone should be the direct & frequent communication between the SEO & PR department.
First things first. Align your goals. Both PR & SEO are trying to gain exposure, so the end goal is actually the same, even if the techniques used may differ.
After goals have been defined, it’s time for finding opportunities for exposure through research. Again, the end goal is the same – finding publishers and influencers to talk about you. Combine your data, filter your prospects per theme relevancy as well as SEO value and build relationships with the help of the PR department. The list of contacts should be shared among both departments with a clear distinction in terms of roles, so that only one contact person communicates with the target-publisher.
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Content production should follow specific guidelines provided by the SEO department after conducting a regular keyword research. All articles should include specific keywords with variations in order to increase the likelihood of appearing on the top of the SERPs and thus, increasing reach of those publications to the business’s target audience.
Every piece of content should include a link to the website. This will not only provide referral traffic to the website but also send SEO equity to the target page. The whole linking strategy should be crafted by the SEO department after evaluating:
- Landing pages that need to be boosted (target page selection)
- Keywords that need to be boosted and are targeted by the landing page (anchor text selection)
- Compliance between link acquisition method & Google guidelines (follow vs no follow tag selection).
(Image Credits: wdc.ng)
After actions have been performed, it is time for the evaluation of the results. Each publication must be evaluated in terms of:
- Referral traffic generated
- Conversions generated
- Bounce rate
- Generation of branded searches following the PR actions
- Article views.
Always have in mind that the best “off-page SEO” methods are simply online PR actions. Those two usually use very different methods and professionals share very different mindsets, but the two have more things in common than most people imagine. Leverage online PR into SEO and vice versa in order to stay up to date with the continuous sophisticated Google algorithm.