The Synergies Between SEO And PR


Nov 08, 2022

Read Time

min read




Nov 08, 2022

Read Time

min read



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Defining PR Defining SEO SEO and PR Today Where PR Supports SEO Best Where SEO Supports PR Best

Natasha Ellard, Managing Director at Energy PR’s Strategic Partner Urban Element, a leading social media and search agency, talks to us about the symbiotic relationship SEO and PR have, and the benefits that come with encouraging them to work alongside each other.

To those outside of their respective industries, PR and SEO look very different disciplines. PR can be considered a blanket term covering the methods by which brands communicate with customers and potential customers whilst SEO tends to be seen as the way in which they communicate with search engines. Those search engines then deliver customers to your website which in an ideal world would feature messaging consistent with your PR campaign.

The reality is that there’s a far greater level of synergy between SEO and PR than you may realise. Increasingly PR plays a vital role in successful SEO efforts just as effective SEO will complement your PR activity. So how do we maximise synergy between SEO and PR?

To understand this, it is important to break down what each discipline encompasses today.

Defining PR

Traditionally PR involved maintaining relationships with journalists in order to be able to push positive stories about a company’s agenda into the press. Whether trade journals or national dailies like The Times and The Guardian, having the right journalists on your side was key to any good PR professional’s effectiveness.

An in-house PR team or agency would typically manage a company’s reputation and how it is perceived (hopefully positively). This could be simply through curating a consistent brand message across appropriate advertising channels or via a more involved strategy of fully managing all content distributed on behalf of the brand, whether via print media, display advertising, TV and radio or other channels.

Whilst relationships with relevant journalists still plays a key part in managing PR effectively, the role of PR professionals, agencies and its teams has evolved today. Customers can be reached through more channels than ever before. Where once getting featured in an article in a paper or running a much talked about advert on TV might have been the biggest wins for a PR campaign, the reach of these once mighty channels is now reduced to the point they’re rarely enough by themselves.

With a wider mix of channels and platforms through which to reach your target audience it can be daunting knowing where to start. But with more channels comes more audience profiling, and good PR agencies will be able to identify the most effective channels for your brand. Engagement levels will vary dramatically between platforms depending on the nature of your industry. An energy company trying to reach Gen Z via TikTok? Probably not ideal. But trying to reach investors via LinkedIn or more traditional media may be more suitable. Or to reach the general public, it could be that a campaign run across TV, radio, online and in print will have the best impact.

Conversely if you’re an online ecommerce brand, your audience may be better reached by social platforms and targeted online advertising. Social channels, such as Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram allow for incredibly granular levels of targeting, allowing brands to hone in on the precise audience they want to create a positive impression with.

PR today is about building and maintaining the most positive level of perceived reputation across as many channels as are appropriate to a brand’s audience. Some PR agencies and professionals may have specialisms such as being able to support businesses in a specific niche whilst others may be more focused on being able to run effective campaigns on specific channels.

Defining SEO

Ever since the early search engines of the 90s influenced traffic levels to different sites, SEO has been a major consideration for website owners. Then, when Google came along and revolutionised search to such a degree that it blew all competition out of the water (it still has over 90 percent market share) the practice of SEO ballooned into an entire multibillion dollar industry, estimated to be worth over $60 billion.

At its most basic level, SEO refers to the way in which websites are built and later tweaked in order to better appeal to search engines and their users. It’s a reactive industry whereby SEO practitioners tend to adapt their tactics depending on what best achieves the desired results. This can be through trial and error or taking learnings from other sites enjoying search success.

There are best practices shared by Google and other search engines as well as a wealth of case studies and resources provided by other players within the sector that help define SEO dos and don’ts. However, the constantly shifting landscape makes it imperative to keep up to date rather than rest on your laurels, trusting that what has worked until now will keep on working (spoiler alert: it won’t).

There are three main pillars to SEO: technical optimisation of your website, content optimisation of your website and offsite promotion of your website. Nail all three and you can expect to benefit from competitive visibility netting you plenty of valuable traffic referred from Google and its lesser used rivals.

All three of these pillars have seen different methods by which to game the system come and go. Failing to follow the trends is where sites can start to struggle, and this is why SEO practitioners and agencies earn their money. Keeping abreast of the industry is paramount to achieving consistent results and outsourcing the effort involved in following all of the latest guidelines and best practices is common precisely because of how much dedication to the cause is required.

SEO and PR Today

Where SEO once was rooted in appealing to search engine algorithms first and foremost, today we see far more desire to appeal to users first, with the aim being to offer a great user experience which will ultimately send positive signals to the search engines. Gone are the days where trying to game the system with keyword stuffing or mass manipulation of backlinks would yield positive results. Today’s SEO landscape is far more focused on delivering what users want.

Meanwhile PR has remained an audience first discipline, but diversification in the reach of different channels in a constantly evolving landscape of new tech has necessitated a greater reliance on embracing digital. There is now more data available with which to plan and refine campaigns, so return on investment can be better judged. This can be great for selling PR because such depth in terms of measuring success helps justify spend to clients, but at the same time it can lead to the more intangible benefits of successful PR being overlooked.

Where PR Supports SEO Best

One of the most challenging aspects of SEO is bolstering the authority of a website through offsite promotion. Essentially when sites are pitted against one another, determining who comes out on top can often boil down to which site has the best backlink profile. If site A and site B have similarly well optimised content and have both given due consideration to technical SEO elements then it is going to boil down to the relative strength of each site in terms of their inherent authority.

Though Google no longer shares how it attributes a site’s measure of authority, it is essentially based on the volume and quality of links pointing to a site and their thematic relevance to it. Links send signals to Google acting as references as to a site’s calibre. Contextual links from authoritative sources, such as respected online publications or trusted brands, act as green flags. It’s generally considered that the likes of, say, the BBC or a renowned university would only link out to sources they themselves trusted and this makes Google’s job of determining who ranks where much easier.

But attracting those links from appropriate and authoritative sources represents a considerable challenge to those in the SEO industry. This is precisely where PR has had such an overlap with SEO in recent years. PR specialists can lean on their skills of identifying opportunities to feature a client in a relevant respected media outlet and negotiating to make it happen.

Promoting a brand through another related brand’s website, whether directly or obliquely (e.g. by being mentioned as a source for a quoted statistic) helps lend credibility to the client. That credibility is picked up by Google and other search engines who respond to the positive coverage (and valuable link) by adjusting the site’s hidden authority score (this was traditionally known as PageRank and it is still used by Google today although as part of a far wider set of contributing factors).

Where SEO Supports PR Best

The role of SEO in providing value to the PR team essentially boils down to the way in which the client site is built and optimised allowing it to be discovered by relevant search users. If the PR team is focused on helping prospective customers form a positive opinion of a brand then it is the job of the SEO team to ensure that when those same customers seek out further information they can find it quickly and efficiently, arriving at the same consistent brand message when landing on the appropriate content of the optimised site. To find out more about our expertise in generating positive coverage through PR and how we work in tandem with SEO specialists to earn maximum leverage from a campaign, get in touch with us today.

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