Pandas and Penguins, Oh My: Keeping Pace With Google Search

Sally Falkow

Google's engineers never stand still. On May 16, Amit Singhal, SVP of engineering at Google, announced in a blog post Google's new Knowledge Graph, which makes the company's search engine more intelligent in the way it displays search results. Which means that if you're responsible for optimizing content for search, you can't stand still either.

Being at the top of search results is the Holy Grail for many brands as it can generate new customers, raise brand awareness and drive the bottom line. As Sally Falkow, social media strategist for Meritus Media, says in the following Q&A, search engine optimization is a vital skill for PR pros to keep their organization's news at the top of the charts. Falkow will elaborate on SEO strategies and optimizing content at PR News’ June 21-22 Social Media Summit/Taste of Tech event in New York City.

PR News: What factors influence search engine rankings the most?

Sally Falkow: With the recent Panda and Penguin updates, original, quality content and freshness seem to be getting the most attention. Panda penalizes low-quality content and duplicate content, so you can maintain the quality of content by writing original content and not posting the same content in many places. At this stage of Penguin, Google is concentrating on what it refers to as "unnatural inbound links." By that they mean buying links or writing low-quality content that is just a vehicle for links. PR pros should avoid using the same keywords and phrases in releases and news content, and use variations of a phrase that sound more natural.

PR News: How is search and social media connected?

Falkow: Social media citations, by which Google means a social mention, have been added to the Google ranking algorithm. So the more social content and engagement you have, the more it influences your search visibility. And then there is the fact that Google is displaying Google+ content on the right-hand side of search results pages above the ads.

PR News: How much time should PR pros dedicate to SEO?

Every piece of PR content should be optimized for search. So as much time as you spend writing or posting, you need to also spend on SEO.

PR News: What's one piece of tactical SEO advice you’ll offer to attendees at the Social Media Summit/Taste of Tech event?

Falkow: I will tell the attendees exactly how to optimize text, images and video.

Attend PR News' June 21-22 Social Media Summit/Taste of Tech event on June 21-22 in New York City and learn more from digital PR leaders like Sally Falkow.

Follow Regina D'Alesio, @reginadalesio