Before jumping into the experiment, a few words on the big picture.
After beating the SEO drum since 2010, it baffles us that the PR industry hasn’t embraced this discipline.
Our push to marry SEO and PR picked up steam seven years ago when Google overhauled its search algorithm.
Google used the Hummingbird update to put the hammer down on those trying to game organic search. Those backlinks sold in Bangalore alleys and keyword stuffing weren’t going to work anymore. Instead, Google wanted to level the field to increase the probability that the best content would win. This is what PR agencies do best. We know content.
Which brings me to the corporate blog, the ideal thought leadership platform. Rather than solely depend on third-party journalists to catapult the story, a blog underpinned by SEO offers another channel for the company to tell its story.
Some naysayers have claimed that the tenets of SEO are in decline.
That hasn’t been our experience.
Last year we conducted an experiment that proved on-page SEO can absolutely extend the reach of a blog post by increasing traffic from organic search (when the individual plugs a search term into Google). In fact, 14 months later the post performs even better.
As you can see above, the post now delivers a Google “Featured Snippet” for the term [GDPR media relations] as well as better keyword performance. As a result, the post continues to pull in traffic. We’re not talking massive traffic numbers. No TMZ glamour.
Still, after stockpiling content for years, if each post generates a little extra traffic and you have hundreds of posts, that incremental traffic starts to add up into a meaningful number. As the late senator Everett Dirksen observed, “A billion here, a billion there, and pretty soon you’re talking real money.”
As for the “how,” please read on about the actual experiment.
The SEO Experiment in Our PR Agency Lab
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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