Since time immemorial, PR pros have been knocking out press releases and other written communications with the hope that their flair for language could win the attention of reporters and customers.
Writing well is still the coin of the realm for communicators. But, in a digital age, PR pros who want to enhance their value must master search engine optimization tactics as well as writing ability.
That not only means writing killer copy, but having a sense for how to use keywords that play into search engines’ algorithms and get your message to the top of search rankings.
For example, if you want Google's search algorithm to favor your PR content, “attorneys” should be referred to as “lawyers,” and if you think about using the term “custodial engineer,” go with “janitor” instead, according to Mike Samec, director of digital strategy at Gibbs & Soell, who specializes in SEO and making your content findable online.
To capitalize on SEO, your copy has to flow naturally. However, you also need to know how to turn a phrase, write in paragraphs and use synonyms (rather than rely on using the same descriptive terms repeatedly).
Samec shared three tips to guide your SEO strategy:
Organize your content by topic/theme (semantics and variants). To truly optimize for search, apply the learnings from keyword discovery into your website architecture and navigation. For example, a site about automobile collectibles might organize cars by type, by year and include phrases like “vintage” and “classic,” which are closely correlated according to search engines.
Build your community by using the keywords that resonate with your audience. Top ranking requires more than just a few keywords on a page and meta tags. Sometimes the language we use isn’t what our audience uses. If you refer to yourself as an attorney but the majority of people searching are looking for “lawyer” you might miss out. Note that you can use them interchangeably—“lawyer” and “attorney” are correlated—but in today’s hyper-competitive market, the more specific you can be with the terms you use, the better.
Focus-check your final draft (check content so search engines will "get it"). You’ve completed your keyword research and carefully drafted your content. By the time the content routes through internal channels, the SEO focus may be lost. Check to make sure that the keywords remain within the content and that the overall theme or message hasn’t lost focus by the inclusion of other unrelated topics.
What would you add to the list?
Follow Mike Samec on Twitter: @msamec
Follow Matthew Schwartz on Twitter: @mpsjourno1