Though Google algorithm updates in the past, from Panda to Penguin to Pigeon (yes, really), have impacted on SEO tactics, the ultimate prize remains high-value inbound links from authoritative websites.
Previously, buying links, guest blogging, keyword stuffing and embedding links in plug-ins and downloads have all worked to varying degrees. But now there’s only one game in town to earn the links you want.
Traditional PR. (PR here stands for public relations, not page rank.)
The sensationalist headlines that scream of machines and robots rendering humans useless are not accurate. However, there’s no doubt that as Google’s artificial intelligence tools have progressed, the search engine has been able to focus ranking on user experience and quality, and vastly decrease, or eliminate, ranking based on link volume. This is an area where machines do have the edge.
But us humans still have a card or two up our sleeves as well.
As SEO has increasingly become about serving valuable content that answers your (potential) customer’s problem, getting your brand’s stories into relevant and highly regarded publications is the smart way to build links.
Best of all, these publications, both online and print (no, print is far from dead) are staffed by real, live humans who have an ear for a great story and a direct line to your audience.
So how do you incorporate traditional PR into your SEO strategy?
If you’re a SEO specialist, don’t despair. Your job description hasn’t just changed beyond recognition and your skills are still as valuable as ever.
In fact, once you land an article in an authoritative publication, your amplification skills will be much needed. That’s when traditional PR can take a leaf out of SEO’s book.
For now, the following plan will help you incorporate PR into your SEO strategy.
• Create a media target list for yourself.
You can buy access to media databases, Cision and MuckRack are two examples (not affiliate links), but editor and journalist details can also be found through Twitter and some internet sleuthing. Get really focused on the media that covers the type of stories that have some relevance to your brand. While newsrooms have cut their staff complement to the bone, there are still specific people for specific beats. If you’re a tech company, don’t simply pitch the tech editor, look for the person who covers stories most closely aligned with your type of tech company.
To be successful at PR, you must have a good idea of what’s going on in your “space”. Of course you can’t spend 10 hours a day reading, but you should earmark some time to catch up on the day’s news. Identify the publishers that carry the stories at the cutting edge of your brand’s field and read them regularly. Setting up Google Alerts will keep you up-to-date on news you must know. Google Alerts will also give you an idea of which journalists and editors you should be targeting.
• Identify stories for your brand.
This is key. Press releases have their place but unless they’re of an earth shattering announcement, they don’t go far. Stories, on the other hand, do go far and attract the attention of the media. You’ll find your brand’s stories when you look at your organisation as an outsider. Get into the habit of thinking like a journalist. Interrogate any idea for why it is important to people who don’t know about you and quite frankly, couldn’t care less. Let’s say you’re a fintech company. The fact that you are a fintech company, established in whenever, is of no interest to the media. However, way too many people pitch the media (more on pitches below) with these lacklustre details. But if you share details of how your money transfer fees eats into students living allowances from their parents, and the way your fintech company cuts these fees in half, you have a story.
• Invest time in learning how to pitch the media.
There’s no secret to working successfully with the media, but there is a skill. Journalists and editors are inundated with emails, and a poorly worded pitches waste their time. There are many online resources to help you refine your pitching skills. Lexi Mills, PR/SEO supremo and a frequent speaker at the LearnInbound conferences in Ireland, shares brilliant PR tactics in this video on how to work with the media. Lead with what is newsworthy and convey your message succinctly.
Gaining coverage in top tier publications is a big deal. Make sure you amplify your coverage as much as you can by highlighting it on your website, sharing on your social media profiles and asking your colleagues to include links in email campaigns.
Best of all, SEOs that build relationships with the media are investing in an activity that can’t easily be duplicated by competitor brands.
We regularly recruit the best SEO professionals for our clients. If you’re a client with a requirement for an expert SEO individual, give us a call. We’ll work with you to find you your dream candidate.
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Author: Ellie Doyle
Ellie brings a pragmatic approach to clients hiring challenges, and believes in the power of asking the right questions. She has a phenomenal network of industry contacts – if anyone knows the person for the job, its Ellie. She is famous for her ability to retain even the smallest detail.