Adjustments to Google’s algorithm have completely changed the game for SEO. Earned media coverage – and earning links within that coverage – is now recognised as one of google's top considerations when ranking company websites on search. But many PR and content agencies don’t understand the quantitative, data-driven nature of SEO and how their work can impact search visibility. This is particularly true when it comes to measurement.
While building links through high domain authority websites is essential for any SEO PR strategy, building them in isolation simply won't work. Before starting a campaign you should carry out a full SEO review of your website to ensure it is set up to benefit from PR activity and links. A simple first task is to check and improve your site’s H1s and page titles to ensure they rank. This initial SEO review can also give you a more accurate idea of whether your company’s marketing messages are relevant for search, or if they are purely for marketing purposes.
You should review:
Branded search results: Simply type your company’s name into Google and see which branded search results come up
Pay special attention to the following:
- Is key company information missing?
- Did the search bring up any irrelevant results?
- Is there a local listing?
- Is any knowledge graph information being pulled through in the results?
Has your website been built with SEO in mind: For example, do you need to add any new, relevant page titles? Optimising your website for SEO will help to ensure that links from PRcoverage will also drive non-branded search terms.
Competitors: Your initial SEO review should gauge how you currently compare to competitors. Doing this can also help you identify where to get links from.
The initial SEO review of your website serves another vital purpose: it exposes problems that could negatively impact your backlinking strategy. These issues must be fixed — and your website performing optimally — before you can even consider implementing an ongoing backlinking strategy
Journalists don’t give away links for free. They have their reputations to consider and are not about to give you a link just because you’ve asked for it — especially if you’re requesting a link to a ‘contact us’ page, which serves no other purpose than to benefit your own marketing. Instead, you need to devise a campaign that gives them an incentive to link back to your website. This could be with a creative piece of content that adds value to their own story and offers something of interest to their audience. We’ve found that thought leadership pieces – such as research reports – tend to be particularly successful at earning links from journalists. By using the stats from the report to create strong news articles, you are more likely to convince a journalist to not only cover the story but to add a link back to the report.
Market research also helps solve another challenge with building links: securing links to high domain authority websites on a regular basis. When it comes to links, Google values quality over quantity, so getting links from high domain authority websites will be more beneficial to your business.
Once you have established what you want to achieve with your website redesign, you need to address the kinds of people that will be visiting your website — your buyer personas. This part of the process is absolutely fundamental, as your buyer personas will permeate all your business’s marketing activities. Think about what problem your business is trying to solve and the pain points that your buyer personas might have, as well as their demographic, occupation, industry, job title — all of these variables will enable you to make a more granular, forensically accurate buyer persona, which in turn will enable you to create a website that’s tailored to a specific audience. Also, for the contacts, you have generated already, take some time trying to understand who they are, what they do, why they do what they do and the general day-to-day business problems they face. Your existing contacts database is a valuable and incredibly lucrative source of information, as it will provide you with standardisation of the types of individuals that interact with your business — something which you can use in developing and validating your buyer personas.
The importance of quality links over quantity cannot be overstated. Because many of the high domain authority sites that help you earn links are news and media websites, an SEO-focused PR campaign should form the crux of your digital strategy. Earning a smaller number of quality links from these sites will be more beneficial than earning a higher number of links from obscure, irrelevant blogs. There are a number of things to consider when researching where to focus your outreach:
Domain ranking or authority: Make sure that the link will bring SEO value to your site, because low DA and spammy links may do the opposite
Link-type: There is ample discussion about the value of ‘follow’ links over ‘no-follow' links in SEO, but as a general guide you can measure the value of a link as:
The backlink (no-follow): While offering no direct SEO value, a no-follow link still offers a direct route to your website from the news story. This means it does provide indirect value and can still impact overall web traffic. The backlink (follow): You should be aiming for these links. By providing a link to your website, a follow link is indexed by Google so that it recognises your site as a useful source of information, which adds SEO value. Relevant anchor text: This is the ideal SEO result for your campaign, which includes a link to your website using relevant anchor text for a term you want to rank for.
Relevancy of the site: This will not impact SEO value as much as domain authority and follow links, but it will improve the quality of traffic from the referring site. The goal is not to just get more traffic, but to increase the total revenue generated from the SEO value, so relevancy is certainly an important part of the puzzle. Link position on the page and anchor text: Ensuring that your link appears at the beginning of the article, and not somewhere at the bottom, tells Google that this is a valuable piece of information to the reader. The same goes with anchor text. Just placing your URL is not enough in most cases. Anchor text helps search engines understand what the website is about and when to show your site on searches.
With Google placing such high value on links to prove SEO value, some agencies and businesses have tried to trick the system with a range of “black hat” tactics, while others have innocently fallen victim to common pitfalls. If you’re using PR to drive your SEO, avoid buying into a package that promises guaranteed rankings or unnatural links. These packages are often based on buying links rather than earning them – which can get your website penalised. In addition to avoiding paid-for links, you should stay clear of ‘link farms’ or blog networks that use a large number of sites to influence search rankings (and keep clear of any agencies that use them).
Using public relations to drive your SEO activity can be a powerful and effective strategy to increase online brand awareness and promote growth. Providing content that journalists are interested in gives them a reason to link back to your website, which can be hugely beneficial to your business goals. By utilising the best aspects of PR (content creation and media relations) and combining them with the data-driven analysis of SEO, your business stands a better chance of earning those all-important links from high domain authority websites that promote online visibility.ACCESS GUIDE
From boosting brand awareness and creating thought leadership to engaging the media with PR technology, Huble Digital has the transformative tools in place to help you take charge of your own narrative. We can:
- Develop creative PR campaigns using thought and market leadership that demands journalists’ attention.
- Achieve demonstrable ROI campaigns and show a clear connection between your PR and content marketing.
- Engage the media with resonant messaging and content, including press releases, case studies, opinion articles and market research.