Using public relations to boost search engine optimization (SEO) is a well-known discipline, but it’s far from simple. It’s a multi-pronged approach requiring careful analysis and execution. But the upside is the built-in quantification potential that comes with SEO. This initiative begins with press release optimization, but goes much deeper into content distribution, site architecture, competitive research and metrics.
This article is designed to help you refine your online media strategy by making the most out of PR to drive SEO. Combine these efforts and minimize dollars spent while maximizing ROI.
Press Release Keyword Optimization
Press releases are an important tactical and strategic part of the interactive PR process, particularly for B2B and B2G (business-to-government) companies. The step begins with a keyword optimization strategy. Some good tools include Wordtracker and BusinessWire’s EON. At the outset, be sure to use your Web analytics to benchmark current site traffic, keywords, popular pages and more. Once you’ve established keywords and phrases, they need to appear prominently in headline and copy of each release. But remember that each keyword and phrase should comprise no more than 2% of the content. Don’t force keywords into the release. Overuse them and you’ll be rejected by the search engines.
Keyword optimization is an ongoing program and should be modified based on changes within your organization, measurement, and competitive research. When fresh content is added, it should align with the keyword strategy, whether its news, additional products or services, executive bios, case studies, or anything else.
If you’ve been strategic and used good tools, the most important part of this campaign becomes execution, as many companies have dedicated time and energy to a keyword optimization initiative only to fall short on implementation in press releases, Web copy and bylined articles. Make sure to put the plan into practice throughout your organization’s content.
Position Releases with Trends
How does your news dovetail with a hot trend, emerging technology, an exciting client or big ticket partner? Position each release to generate as much attention as possible. This is as important as ever for optimized search rankings. The big hooks can’t be buried in the releases. Reporters and editors will miss them. So will search engines.
Here’s an example of how to maximize a story: A tech company wanted to develop and distribute a release based on opening a new office in Atlanta. While the size of the new office wasn’t noteworthy, it did point to growth. Our recommendation was that they position the release around this growth, making the new office a subhead. The release was distributed nationally. Pickup included many business outlets in Atlanta. But nationally, in addition to waves of coverage of the press release, the impact included such top-tier coverage as Newsweek and Inc. Requests for interviews followed this announcement, and executives were quoted in a cornucopia of high-visibility business and tech press.
This traction would never have been generated from a story focused on the opening of a small regional office. What’s more, this visibility is sticky. A year later, coverage of this story ranks high on Google when searching for the company.
Bylined Stories & Other Content Distribution
Many media and other sites will distribute good bylined content. To get your executives in print, start by building a story database of industry segments and/or solutions. Don’t stray too far from your core business, though. Contributing content for the sake of a byline that doesn’t reflect what you do isn’t a good use of corporate resources.
If you’re good and you’re lucky, you can land an opportunity to contribute on a regular basis. This can be had with a dedicated effort, or it can be an outgrowth of a PR program. An example is an executive who interviewed twice with an industry publication. Impressed with his subject matter expertise, the editor invited him to contribute regularly. If you have spokespeople who can contribute to important outlets, bylines go a long way toward establishing credibility and search engine visibility.
Think about it. Many of these media are among the smartest in search engine strategies. They fight every day to appear front and center in Google. Why not put their SEO efforts to work for you?
Site Architecture and Page Optimization
What value is a top Google position if you’re not converting visitors into buyers? This is where usability and site architecture become important. Your graphics, copy and multimedia files need to be positioned to let search engines (and site visitors) know what’s most important. While this is a technical discussion of the mechanics of SEO, the objective is to guide your prospect throughout each visit. Like a sales conversation, you want to direct it.
Keeping the online newsroom current is important for many reasons. The chief among them for the purpose of this article is SEO. When posting the release to your site, include important keywords in your URL.
PR’s impact on SEO is measurable. Top indicators are:
- Search engine rankings
- Online press release pickup
- RSS feeds
- Positioning against your competitors
- Spikes in Web traffic
- Requests to interview your spokespeople
Here’s an example: At the start of one PR program, a services company in the tech sector had abysmal Google juice in their most well-known and lucrative service category. But after the organic PR program was underway, they appeared as a top entry in that category. Moreover, 30+ pages were listed in Google, many related to this service. Many of these entries are just what we want: press releases, press release pickup and feature stories quoting the spokesperson.
With careful strategy and structured execution, you too can achieve these results and watch your company’s Web optimization skyrocket.
Becky Sheetz-Runkle is VP of Client Services for Q2 Marketing (www.q2marketing.com), specializing in the Washington, D.C. region’s B2B and B2G technology market. A journalism and PR veteran of nearly 20 years, she’s the Tech Marketing Examiner at examiner.com.