PR Basics - PR, Visibility and SEO: Linked at the Hip

Posted on Jan 19, 2012 in CHI University
Tags: baseline pr, pr tips, pr basics, public relations, search engine optimization, seo, website development, integrated marketing communications, internet marketing, social media marketing

Part of ensuring your visibility to the critical masses, a major part at that, is online visibility. Ensuring your company is visible on the internet is invaluable, especially considering than 80% of people (and that number is growing every day) now turn to the internet as their first source for information, products and services. How do you ensure you’re visible online? By ensuring you’re found on the search engines. How do you ensure you’re found on the search engines? With search engine optimization, or SEO.


SEO: I’ve Heard About It. Now What Is It?

As a successful business, you’ve assuredly heard of SEO, whether it’s from companies calling to sell you SEO services or you’ve heard the buzzword thrown around in conversation. For those of you who may not be as familiar with SEO, search engine optimization is the process of improving the visibility of your website to search engines that include Google, Yahoo! and Bing in the organic, or unpaid, search listings.

Ideally, you want your website to be appearing on the first page of Google search results, near the top, so that more users become visitors to your website. If you look at a heat map of a Google search page, we can see that most click-throughs into websites come from the organic listings, towards the top of the page. This is because the higher you’re ranked on Google and other search engines, the more credible and valuable your business will appear to be for the searcher and what they’re seeking. However, you can still rank within the first couple pages of the search engines and be equally as successful, depending on how your website converts.

SEO is a widely abused term nowadays, with nearly everyone claiming to “know” SEO and the key tricks to propel you to the top. The fact of the matter is, there is no exact science to SEO. But there are white hat techniques and best practices to ensure your website is optimized for your services and products, in your geographical area, in the most effective manner possible. This is accomplished through the SEO basics, or the principles of search that will serve as the foundation for a ranking website.


SEO Basics – Building Your Foundation for Visibility

There are countless aspects to optimization, but there are definite actions you can take to ensure you cover the basic SEO techniques:

• Keyword Research – Conduct keyword research to see what your customers are searching for in your market. Remember, just because it’s a term you use in your industry doesn’t mean it’s the same term your customers are looking for, so be sure to do your research to target the correct keyword phrases for your business.
• Optimized Content – Your website content needs to be composed utilizing those key phrases discussed above. Website copy should contain these phrases weaved within relevant, quality content about your services, products and company. However, keyword implementation should not sacrifice readability or make your content less compelling for your audience.
• Website Design – Your website must be designed for the search. Google crawls your website in a certain manner, and most people read a page in an “F” shape, from left to right, starting at the top. Be sure to work with a company who is familiar with website design that complements SEO efforts.
• Website Development – SEO goes beyond just having website copy with keywords implemented the pages. Your meta data must also contain the keywords you are targeting. This includes your URL, title tags, meta descriptions, headers and subheads (H1s and H2s), image tags and video tags. Also, your developer will be able to work with you on implementing the proper call-to-action to ensure once a visitor gets there, they know how to act (by filling out a quote form, clicking to call, requesting a consultation, etc).
• Off-Site SEO – Optimizing your website is great, but off-site SEO efforts will ensure optimum visibility. This includes directory listings, reviews and backlinks (links on other credible websites that link back to your own) and social media marketing efforts.

With some expert consultation from an SEO specialist, a talented copywriter, web designer and developer, having the SEO basics for your website is well within reach (and budget). Once you have this foundation, the critical move is connecting the two pieces to make your visibility puzzle complete – SEO and PR.


SEO and PR = BFF

Your web content, albeit optimized with keywords, still needs to be in line with your PR efforts. Your branding, marketing message and overall tone should be paralleled between your website and any brochures, direct mail, news releases and other PR efforts you may have. Remember, it’s not only important that your visibility is increased, but that you’re various SEO and PR efforts complement each other – for example, a prospect who receives your brochure then logs onto your website and is greeted with the same look, feel and tone that he already saw, garnering brand recognition.

How can ensure your PR and SEO go hand-in-hand for optimum visibility? Here are a few ways to ensure SEO is a part of your PR and integrated marketing communications mix.

• Make them work for each other. Link to your news releases online, and make sure your news releases include your website URL in your boilerplate.
• Any PR content you create – tips, Q and As, news – can have maximized visibility by posting it to your website as well.
• Implement links with associated keywords within your news releases that link back to your website.
• Promote your news releases on your blog, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and other social media.

Social media? What’s that you say? Stay tuned for our next blog series on social media and all it can do for your PR efforts.

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