13.10.2016 Want to do better SEO? Then you need better PR

Managing Director Sara Robinson explains why you need a PR consultant at your digital marketing table if you want to improve your organic search engine performance.


I meet business owners and marketing directors all the time, and I’m often surprised by how many of them see search engine optimisation as something “geeks” and “techies” look after. Or even worse, how many don’t have an SEO strategy at all. But let’s ignore those for now. In this post I’m going to focus on why a PR strategy is integral to successful SEO.

Assuming you see the value of a robust SEO strategy for your business, it’s time to call your PR people in for chat.

Don’t have a PR team or agency? Then it’s time to find one, because if you want a consistent, reliable source of website traffic, and ultimately leads, it’s no longer enough to rely on the techies alone.

To achieve better search engine rankings you need a PR strategy delivered by specialist practitioners to integrate into your SEO efforts.

Why? Well, let me explain.


Lesson One: SEO activity requires ongoing effort 

Search engine optimisation, or SEO, is the process of making your website more appealing to search engines and, ultimately, human beings. The holy grail is for your site to appear at the top of the search rankings when potential customers search for your product or service.


If your site tops the rankings when prospects search for the solution you provide (whether it’s a widget, a consultancy service, a training course or anything else), they are far more likely to go on to buy from you.

The stats speak for themselves. If you rank first for an important keyword, over 33 per cent of people who search for that phrase will end up on your site. In fact, the first five organic search results account for 67 per cent of clicks.

And because people trust organic results, they are 8.5 times more likely to click on them over a pay-per-click ad. With more clicks come more opportunities, so it’s smart to get as close to the top as you possibly can. And it’s not just widget retailers who can benefit. A whopping 94 per cent of B2B buyers search online before purchasing a product or service.

So ensuring you have an organic SEO strategy in place for your website is a win-win, right? It sure is.

But ranking first for a search term is not easy. Only one website can take the coveted top spot. And if you’re lucky enough to get there, you need to defend that position – and hard, because competitors will be going after the same keywords, desperate to get all of that juicy traffic for themselves.

Good SEO takes time and effort, but the potential rewards mean it’s worth investing in.


Lesson two: How to improve your search engine rankings

Search engines want to make sure users get the most relevant, accurate results when they type in a search query. They use “spiders” to look at the content of every webpage on the internet and, to decide which pages rank where, Google (by far the most popular search engine) uses an algorithm that considers over 200 ranking factors.


Google is notorious for giving away very little away about how its algorithm works, but it does give tips on how to optimise a site for higher rankings.

Good SEO begins with the process of choosing the best keywords, ensuring they are correctly used throughout your site, and then keeping the site relevant, active and updated.

This on-site optimisation activity is crucial, and should be handled by specialists who know what they are doing. But it is just a small part of what needs to happen to improve your search rankings.

That’s where SEO-focused PR activity comes in.


Lesson three: The most important part of SEO is generating links from other sites

Google considers links from other websites to be endorsements of your website. In fact, Google’s Andrey Lipattsev recently admitted that the number of links to a site is one of the company’s top two ranking factors – so you can’t afford to ignore this. Generating high-quality links to your site should be at the very heart of your SEO strategy.


Lesson four: Why link-building is a PR function

Quite simply, the best way to generate valuable links from external websites is through PR activity. The best links (that is, the ones Google consider to be the most valuable) come from the most reputable sites, and those tend to be media, government and education sites as well as well-established blog sites.


For example, let’s say you run a restaurant. A link to your site from a national news website will count for much more with Google than one from a newly-established food blog. Why? Because, simply, Google trusts the news website more.

‘Domain Authority’ is the standard measure of how trusted a website is by search engines. The higher the domain authority, the more valuable a link from that site is to you. For example, the BBC website has a domain authority of 100 from a possible 100 – or “the SEOly grail”. The more links you can accumulate, the more your site’s own authority and rankings will improve.

Even if you employ somebody to look after SEO, or use an SEO agency, it’s highly likely that their strengths won’t lie in generating these kind of quality links. They may be writing keyword-stuffed content, but as one owner of a leading SEO agency told me recently, most SEO people “suck” at being able to generate good quality links on a regular basis.

Yet your PR team or agency will be experts at getting you featured on the most sought-after websites, and that’s why they should be asking for backlinks in every piece of coverage they generate (of course, it’s down to the individual website whether they actually give you a link, but it’s always worth asking. You’ll be surprised at how many agree).

With a more SEO-focused mindset, your PR team should be able to turn the thought leadership articles and stories they’re already placing in the media into valuable links to your site.

PR professionals also have the skills and experience to build relationships and partnerships, whether with educational establishments or respected bloggers in your sector. Building these relationships – a core PR skill– will be crucial to generating valuable backlinks on an ongoing basis.

There are multiple benefits to this approach, not just better rankings. When you’re featured and linked to in relevant media this generates direct referral traffic to your site, which is of course good for business in its own right.

There’s even a benefit to being talked about in instances where you can’t secure a backlink. Because Google sees discussion of brands as an indicator of search relevance, “branded mentions” can help boost your rankings – but only in tandem with a robust SEO strategy. Random branded mentions alone might help build recognition, but they won’t improve your search rankings.


Lesson five: How you can finally measure ROI on PR activity

Measuring and quantifying the value of PR coverage has always been notoriously difficult. Traditionally, PR teams have measured volume of coverage, share of voice, or key message delivery. But it’s always been difficult to directly link PR activity to business results.

Now, for the first time, it’s possible to measure the direct impact of PR work on your website’s traffic and search engine performance. And if your website is doing its job, more traffic should mean more leads, and more conversions. Ultimately, your bottom line should be healthier as a result.


If your PR team isn’t planning campaigns with SEO in mind, and reporting against SEO metrics, then you’re not getting the best value from their skills.

But all it takes is a shift of mindset, and a different set of key performance indicators (KPIs), and you could be reaping a genuine return on your investment in PR.

SEO-smart PR work isn’t about one-off coverage hits. It’s about strategic, consistent PR outreach that keeps on generating a return, even when you’re tucked up in bed.

Or put another way, it’s time to recognise that if you want better SEO for your business, you need better PR.


For more information on our SEO-smart PR services, get in touch.