We’ve been touting the virtues of SEO in PR strategies since 2010.
Our push to integrate SEO and PR accelerated in 2013 when Google revamped its search algorithm with the Hummingbird update.
It was at this point that Google squeezed most of the gamesmanship out of organic search. Those backlinks sold out of trunks in Bangalore and the brute force of keyword stuffing weren’t going to work anymore. Instead, Google strived to level the playing field so the best content would win, a quest that plays to the strength of PR agencies.
In such a scenario, the corporate blog delivers an ideal thought leadership platform. Rather than solely depend on third-party journalists to catapult the story, a blog underpinned by SEO establishes another channel for the company to reach its target audiences.
Here’s also where the synergy from PR programs come to the surface. If the blog delivers on the premise of thought leadership — long-form storytelling with a fresh bent — slices of that content will find their way into other media and forums with pointers or backlinks to the original content. And in Google’s world order, those backlinks are gold, essentially votes from the outside world for high-quality content.
Even without a robust set of backlinks, if you create quality blog posts — partly defined by visitors who arrive at the content and actually stay to read it — and implement the fundamentals of on-page SEO, you can still siphon off relevant traffic through organic search (plugging keywords into the Google search engine).
We’ve been hearing lately from some that the tenets of SEO are in decline. Others have gone further proclaiming, “SEO is dead.”
That hasn’t been our experience.
The SEO Experiment in Our PR Agency Lab
With the doomsayers as the backdrop, we decided to conduct an experiment using this blog as the laboratory.
Mark Pinsent, managing director of our European operation, crafted a post on a high-profile topic and one that falls under the thought leadership banner, the impact of GDPR on the PR industry.
Yes, we added a touch of levity to the visual storytelling.
Mark wrote the post without the benefit of a keyword taxonomy, and our SEO team did not touch the meta data.
Next, we benchmarked the performance of the post as you can see below:
For those not familiar with the Search Engine Results Page (SERP), the number depicts where the post shows up in the listing when the given keyword is plugged into Google.
We also identified competing PR agency blog posts that performed best for these keywords.
- Springboard PR: https://springboardpr.com/why-gdpr-is-good-for-tech-public-relations/
- Finn PR: https://www.finnpr.com/blogs/gdpr-pr-and-corporate-communication-checklist
- PR Agency One: https://www.pragencyone.co.uk/blog/gdpr-is-here-and-the-pr-industry-is-still-going-strong/
- Shift: https://www.shiftcomm.com/blog/gdpr-primer-marketing-public-relations/
- Speaker Box: https://www.speakerboxpr.com/time-get-busy-gdpr-affect-us-pr-people/
- Vitis: https://www.vitispr.com/blog/gdpr-and-pr-agencies/
With this information, we benchmarked our blog post against the competing posts.
Needless to say, this post didn’t generate much in the way of incremental traffic to the site.
With the benchmark in place, we recast the post, this time with a keyword taxonomy and performed on-page SEO.
Roughly one month later, check out the keyword performance numbers as well as how we ranked against competing posts.
The data does not lie.
In one month, the post went from buried in the wilderness to Page 1. If anyone doubted the usefulness of SEO, this should put those doubts to rest.
Organic search would seem like a natural extension of what PR agencies do best.
So why has the profession stayed on the sidelines?
SEO intimidates PR professionals. Yet, content trumps technical acuity today in appeasing the Google algorithm.
We’ve been arguing for some time that PR agencies sit in a better position than SEO consultancies and digital shops to marry content and the tenets of SEO.
Don’t be scared!
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