Chances are you’ve heard of public relations (PR) and you’ve heard of search engine optimisation (SEO). But have you heard of how these two often misunderstood marketing tools can work together to help your website and your brand stand out on both Google’s search rankings?
Call it what you want, but PR for SEO, online PR or digital PR has a ton of advantages for both your brand perception and business findability, and should be an important part of your marketing strategy.
Let’s start with the fundamentals…
According to the CIPR (Chartered Institute of Public Relations), PR is officially defined as the following:
“Public Relations is about reputation – the result of what you do, what you say and what others say about you.
“Public Relations is the discipline which looks after reputation, with the aim of earning understanding and support and influencing opinion and behaviour. It is the planned and sustained effort to establish and maintain goodwill and mutual understanding between an organisation and its publics.”
But in all honesty, PR is vague and flexible, and is often approached and used differently by different people and organisations.
It’s a tool that, if used effectively, can be hugely powerful. For some, PR might be sending a press release about a new product or service launch with the hopes of getting it included in a newspaper or magazine. For others, it could be used solely for crisis communications in the form of public or press statements; building loyalty and reaching new audiences through social media or events; or performing large-scale campaigns or PR stunts to get people talking about your business and brand.
To keep it simple, just think of PR as the communication and relationship building that takes place between your organisation and the public.
For much of PR’s history, the conversations we’ve been attempting to get involved in have appeared offline. Think a physical newspaper, magazine or chat with your mates down the pub. This has, and continues to be, a fantastic medium, and some solid coverage landing in a quality magazine or paper, or the holy grail of word-of-mouth, can have immense benefits to your business.
Now whilst print media is great (seriously, go buy a magazine, you’ll feel heaps cooler reading one than squinting and poking at your phone), it’s clear that online is the place to be to reach a high volume of people.
Digital PR uses the same skills and techniques as ‘traditional’ PR, which might include a pitch to a journalist, press release or press trip, with the goal of getting a brand mention and backlink in coverage that’s hosted online.
Effective digital PR still relies on having great journalist contacts, having a good understanding of what they write about and what makes a good story, and the ability to pitch those stories in an engaging, eye-catching way. All things that any PR agency worth their salt should be offering anyway.
So if PR is about making people aware of you, building trust and a sense of authority in your niche, then digital PR is exactly the same; the only difference is, we’re also trying to convince Google, Bing or any other search engines of the same thing.
And whilst not the whole story, the backlink is one of the key elements that links digital PR and SEO success, and is something we’ll explore in more detail in just a moment.
SEO or search engine optimisation is the process of making your website visible on, you guessed it, search engines. It’s how you get your website to show up as the first result when you do a Google search for Public relations agency in Cornwall.
Now if you’ve come this far I think it’s safe to assume you’re the owner of a website, or are at least thinking about owning one, and can imagine how valuable it is to be high ranking on search engines. Being on just the first page of a search engine results page (SERP) can expose your business to huge numbers of potential customers and result in more opportunities than you can shake a stick at.
Unfortunately, achieving these coveted top spots or featured snippets is really hard. To get there, there are a few general rules, algorithms and processes that the search engines put in place to ensure they’re showing people search results filled with the websites people actually want to visit. Google’s ultimate goal (aside from world domination probably) with Google Search is to show people the most relevant answers to their questions quickly.
This is done and measured through serval different, often changing, elements which make the basis of an SEO strategy.
These are broadly split between technical SEO and on-page SEO which you can see summarised below.
Technical includes the bits of the site you don’t see like:
On-page SEO includes the bits you put on your site and is impacted by:
Digital PR brings the benefits of PR and SEO together. By creating and sharing interesting stories, valuable content or things that get people talking, you’re generating conversations about your brand online – which comes with the fairly obvious benefits of increased brand awareness.
As we mentioned above, backlinks are another important element in this whole process. In SEO a link to your website is seen as a vote of confidence to search engines that your website is of good quality. The higher quality of the linking domain, the greater the value of the backlink.
A handy way to measure a domain’s value is with something called Domain Authority (DA). This number is a snapshot of how search engines rate domains, and is impacted by things like the amount of inbound and outbound links, traffic numbers and on-site engagement.
For example, getting a link to your site from The Times which has a DA of 93/100 gives search engines more confidence that your website will be valuable to someone, compared to a link from a blog that has a DA of 7/100.
An effective digital PR campaign will therefore be able to leverage the traditional benefits of a good PR strategy, which might be improved awareness, brand conversations, relationship building and coverage, with plenty of SEO-friendly backlinks which help your website climb up the results pages.
Some SEO services take a quantity over quality approach to link building, which should result in your site flying up the ranks, right?
Well, sort of, but not really.
Google is smart and can quite quickly figure out if people are clicking these links and gaining value from them. If you’ve managed to get a link from a random website that has nothing to do with your niche and isn’t clicked much (and when it is, has a high drop-off rate), it’s not going to be looked at too favourably by Google.
However, if you get a backlink from a reputable website with a high DA with visitors that are clicking it and engaging with your site, that’s a different story. These kinds of links are much more valuable and signal to search engines that your website must be interesting and worthy of being more visible in search rankings.
In digital PR we are attempting to place our clients on relevant, highly respected websites to increase brand awareness and give its readers actual value. The backlinks are a secondary goal.
As we’ve explored, digital PR is a pretty great way to get some online eyeballs on your brand, and thankfully an effective campaign will also carry some extra benefits.
Articles and features online tend to stick around for a lot longer than they might in print media. Getting a mention in a weekly newspaper gives you a short, sharp increase in potential reach, but will likely be lost to most people once next week’s edition comes out.
Magazines have slightly more staying power at around a month, but online coverage can stick around and realistically be found and read over a much longer time period. For example, getting your Cornish festival featured in an online round-up of the best wellness festivals in the UK means your mention is relevant for the whole year at least as people look to plan their events schedule over the next 12 months.
Digital PR can be much easier to measure and assess than traditional PR. Using analytical tools like Google Analytics means we can see how valuable links from certain domains are by measuring their traffic and bounce rates. Very helpful!
As we mentioned earlier, digital PR at Barefoot is not link building and our goal is to get our clients featured in relevant and authoritative publications. There’s a balance between quality and quantity here, but by targeting authoritative sources first, we can ensure any recommendations or brand mentions are coming from some of the larger well-trusted sources.
Reach larger audiences
I don’t think it’s too crazy to suggest that people spend more of their time online than ever right now. Reach figures for online publications continue to grow which means a feature online will expose you to a larger audience. You also have the added benefit of articles being shared on social media which can drive even more traffic to your website or social media accounts.
Digital PR, or whatever you decide to call it, is something that’s been a part of our service package for a long while now. Our hands are up in admitting it’s never been particularly well advertised; but hey, here we are doing something about it.
We’ve recently updated our PR services page to include digital PR as well as some of the other elements you’d have read scattered throughout this post. If you want to learn more about our services, that page might be a good place to start. And if you’d like to discuss how digital PR, or how any of our services can help your business then get in touch! We’re only an email or phone call away.