When you envision a perfect combination, I’d guess that search engine optimization (SEO) and public relations (PR) might not seem like an obvious one. These two disciplines fall under the umbrella of marketing. Yes, they differ in their tactics and many respective practitioners likely feel there is little overlap, but I’m here to illuminate their shared goal of attracting attention to a good or service. More importantly, the article below advocates for integrating SEO and PR into a broader marketing strategy and shows how each can help the other.
SEO and PR: What Distinguishes Each
In the not-so-distant past, SEO and public relations professionals viewed one another’s work as being worlds apart. Each practice involved distinct tactics for generating engagement with an audience. Success also got measured in various ways. Some of these differences are summarized here from the perspective of someone who has worked in both roles:
- Focused primarily on strengthening an entity’s digital presence and gaining website traffic through activities like optimizing website content for industry-relevant keywords and online search queries, backlink building, and developing content like blog posts or videos.
- Tasks, with the exception of backlink building, center on “owned” digital properties, including a website, a blog, or a social media profile.
- Focused primarily on strengthening general awareness around an entity or encouraging an audience to take a particular action, such as buying a product or service, donating money, or something else.
- Contrasting with SEO, PR achieves its goals by leveraging “earned” media, which can take multiple forms. Some of the most common examples are press releases, features in publications, media interviews, or influencer marketing.
How PR and SEO Help One Another
The evolution of the digital ecosystem and its denizens’ growing appetite for content in the past decade necessitated closer collaboration between digital marketers across disciplines. In the case of PR and SEO, these two practice areas have shifted towards a symbiotic relationship where their respective strategies work in tandem. The following section outlines four ways professionals in each field can support one another and achieve bigger successes.
For the PR Pros
- Integrate a Digital Component to Your Work: Anytime you’re developing a public relations campaign, make sure there is a digital component. PR campaigns historically relied on press releases that get shared on news wires and among journalist contacts, but I’d encourage readers to think beyond this method. Developing companion content, such as an explainer video or social media posts (copy and visuals), can help to engage online audiences aside from traditional media outlets. Additionally, these pieces provide an opportunity to pitch relevant websites for inclusion in either existing articles or new ones.
- Inspire New Website Content: Given individuals working on PR often have a good pulse on current events and local news, they can provide inspiration to their team members. Their insights should be part of a wider brainstorming effort around new content for a business or organization’s website. After all, great content is all about relevancy in both a short and long-term sense.
For the SEO Pros
- Help Identify Relevant, High-Authority Websites to Pitch: SEO professionals, especially those working on backlink building, possess a wealth of knowledge around what websites rank well and could be open to content pitches. Leverage this information by developing an outreach list and messages that match a PR campaign’s focus and get conversations started with site owners. While many emails may go unanswered, pursuing a number of opportunities will eventually produce some links and in turn, a boost to your website’s organic search rankings.
- Ensure PR Campaign Materials Are Optimized for SEO: Whenever a PR campaign is being developed, SEOs, get yourself involved from the beginning and ensure content is optimized to rank well on search engines. An example would be ensuring that a press release contains keywords, key phrases, and topics that are most relevant to a business. You’ll also want to tailor your copywriting to how your target audience talks about them for optimal performance.