10 or so years ago, you could work in Public Relations and go about your daily business without knowing what Search Engine Optimisation (otherwise known as SEO) even was. 20 odd years ago, you wouldn’t have even needed a good knowledge of the internet. In simpler times, press releases were sent by hand or faxed across, phone calls were much more common and social media barely came into play at all. BUT, we live in an ever-evolving world, and now, good knowledge of SEO can come in a lot of use in PR, and I would know that of course – working in both areas in my job as a Digital PR executive.
How I ended up in PR… And SEO
I think university is really great for the academics, but you don’t – and can’t – really learn the nitty-gritty of PR until you’re fully immersed in it. Working, whether that be in an agency, in-house or even freelance – in the industry and learning it day by day. In fact, when I first started my internship at Tecmark (many moons ago now) I walked in on my first day not having a clue what to expect, to be honest. I just about knew how to write a press release, if that. Yet now, a year and a half on, I’m at the forefront of most of the campaigns, taking an idea right through to a successful story that reaches multiple national newspapers – but that learning only comes through diving in at the deep end and getting truly stuck into your work. And embracing this hands-on approach to education in my career helped me to unearth the importance of SEO and PR, and how they compliment each other. In fact, I’d even go so far as to say that in another 10 years, all PRs are going to need an understanding of SEO and digital – as ultimately, this is the kind of comms that is accelerating and they say that knowledge is power in this world, right?
May I steal your attention for a moment…
I’ve been nominated for a UK Blog Award for best PR blogger, and would love it if you could vote for me (that is if you like my blog and think I’m worthy of course!). Here’s how if you’d like to.
- Click here.
- Click on the categories (Public Relations, Marketing and Communications is mine) and view the entries.
- To find my website, click on the globe.
- To see my entry information, click on the “i”.
- And to vote for my entry (please please please), click on the red heart.
- OR, you could go straight to my entry page here.
Thank you so very much. Now back to the blog…
So what is ‘SEO’?
Here we go, my first attempt at being truly techy on the internet. I’ve worked at an SEO agency for a year and a half now, learning about this practice pretty much every single day, so I feel as though I’m somewhat equipped to expand on what SEO means, and surely what it can do.
SEO stands for search engine optimisation, and it’s largely the practice of optimising something, be it a blog post, a landing page or a WHOLE website through various tactics to help it to rank well on a SERP, which stands for search engine results page. To have the #1 ranking on Google is often the top aim – and more often than not it’s extremely hard to achieve this, especially when your clients’ page is battling with longstanding domains such as government and nationally recognised sites. Nevertheless, it can be done – and it has been done multiple times in my agency. And 2 years ago I’d never have thought I’d have found excitement in watching a web page jump up spaces on Google, yet here I am – searching every morning top keywords for my clients to check how they’re ranking today (and feeling super happy when I see them jump to impressive positions).
I won’t go into the logistics of it all, but using keywords sensibly, generating earned (NOT paid-for) links and implementing onsite technical changes all help to generate a good domain authority. Along with some other ‘tricks of the trade’ that I wont reveal. And basically, the higher your domain authority, the more Google recognises you as a trusty site and pushes you to the top of their results pages. Interesting, right? (Maybe not to you, okay I get it, but to me – this stuff has largely become my life now and I’m heavily invested in watching our SEO campaigns grow and blossom into something spectacular – that’s the effect it has on ya’).
But, is SEO even important?
Now, this is something I could argue for days, and I hate the saying ‘SEO is dead’ because it so isn’t. And let me paint you a picture as to why…
You’re a well known high street clothing retailer, you specialise in selling cheap clothing for students on a night out. However, this market is heavily saturated (and you’re aware of it) yet you don’t see the value in SEO and frankly, don’t pay any attention to it.
Then comes along one of your top competitors, who understands the value of a great ranking on Google, and who is willing to invest in a sturdy SEO campaign. Then, somebody with a good knowledge of SEO and lead generation (somebody like my agency) can work with them to help boost their site on Google and target the exact demographic they want to reach. They’d be wanting to target long-tail keywords (like a word you want to aim to rank for, but… more of a sentence) such as ‘cheap night out clothing’ ‘student clothing’ and ‘party dresses’, for example. And therefore, those are the exact kind of search terms that would be implemented into our strategy. Then, given a bit of time (and just a little bit of magic) this very brand would surely see their website jump places, if not to the top, of the page when a user searches for ‘party dresses’. Which, by the way, 31,000 people search for a month (FACTS).
So then, you have tens of thousands of searches, and namely your target audience searching for this term too – and then seeing this site as the answer to their woes and prayers. It doesn’t take a mastermind to put together the repercussions of this. Sales, sales, sales.
And how does SEO come into PR?
This is something that took me longer to grasp, as throughout my studies, to me PR was all dealing with crisis’s, throwing events and writing press releases. Little did I know I’d come to learn that PR isn’t really definitive of an act, but rather managing reputation of a brand as a whole. And in my job that mostly involves gathering brand mentions and, because I work in digital, getting link-backs to my clients’ site to improve their SERP for keywords (don’t say I aint’ learned anything in SEO these past few months). So the two are very closely interlinked. After all, the endgame for both is to generate exposure and sales for a brand – and sometimes, the methods of doing so border closer to similar than different.
This article by Search Engine Land depicts the importance of PR and SEO working together and explains 5 ways how it should be doing so. I’d recommend reading it (but not before you finish this post, of course 😉).
So can you work in SEO and PR simultaneously? Absolutely, I do – and I love it. It means a day in the life of Jessica Pardoe is seldom boring and that I’m always learning something – which is just how I like it to be. Ultimately, digital is a growing trend and regrettably, print and traditional media isn’t. Therefore, I think to some degree, a knowledge of SEO is going to be essential in Public Relations in years to come. And I fully welcome that. The future lies in digital and us PR execs can’t go far wrong with a little – or a lot – of knowledge into it. Ultimately, results in more leads and sales for our clients, and that’s at the forefront of everything we do anyway.
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