Many marketers have noted that PR, blogger relations, and social media engagement can have a positive impact on SEO.   Primarily they point out that links are a by-product of success.  Adam Singer at TopRank Blog writes, “Links earned from PR…can be a major boost in both rankings and referral traffic.”  But what if you have an online business and organic search is worth thousands (or millions) of dollars per month, and links are the most valuable output of a public relations campaign?

So I thought we’d turn the the PR-SEO question on its head and ask, “what would a PR, blogger relations, and social media engagement campaign look like if your  client or company perceived links and organic rankings as the primary benefit?”  How would that change our strategy and tactics?  How can we tweak our PR outreach campaigns to maximize links?  Here are six ways that increased link value would affect a PR outreach strategy:

  • Increased emphasis on link authority when creating a media list. When prioritizing your outreach efforts, you should consider online “authority” in addition to relevance and audience.  Factors like site age, inbound links, mozRank (a more precise measure of authority than PageRank), etc. are all signals (or proxies for signals) that matter to Google, and should matter to you too.  For example, GigaOm (331k uv/mo) may have 3x more traffic than InternetNews.com (139k uv/mo) according to Compete.com, but based on link building value, they are roughly similar:
    GigaOm.com InternetNews.com
    Traffic (uv/mo, Compete.com) 331,000 139,000
    Age (Archive.org) 8.7 years 12 years
    MozRank (SEOMoz) 5.9 6.6
    Inbound Links (Yahoo Site Explorer) 1.8M 2.0M
    Juice-passing Links (SEOMoz) 51000 77000
  • Think relevance in addition to audience.  Coverage (and a link) from an authoritative niche blog with medium authority can often be more valuable than a link from USA Today.  This is because Google pays attention to semantic relevance of the sites who link to you, and the stronger the semantic link, the more it reinforces the relevance of your site to a particular concept (read: keyword).  While it may be fun for your mom to see an article about your gnome decorating site  in USA Today, it doesn’t help Google understand that your site is relevant to gnomes as much as a blog post in AllGnomes.com.
  • Prioritize media that give links and who keep their content online.  Eric Ward (BuzzStream Advisor) and I were recently discussing whether Google is smart enough (yet) to identify a reference to a website in a news story, even if it’s unlinked (e.g. YourSite.com versus YourSite.com).  The sad fact is, many news organizations will mention a company without linking to them, and many archive their news within a few days of posting (both of these things happened to me at my last company with an A-1 story in the Wall Street Journal).  It’s important to consider how often a media property links to the companies they cover, and whether they keep their news online or move it to paid archives after a few weeks before expending the effort to include them in your media relations efforts.
  • Create linkable resources on your website that are easy for journalists to post.  This is something that’s often overlooked in a campaign– if you  build a relationship with a journalist interested in covering your story, then you want to make it easy for them to link to a resource on your website that were specifically created to support the news story.  The best way to do this is to create a page for each campaign that would provide a logical next step for readers.  You should design the target page to have a short URL like http://company.com/HolidayTips and include a prominent link to it on your homepage in case journalists want to link there and direct readers to your news.
  • Pitches should incorporate references to your company’s website within the body of the pitch.  Too often the website is mentioned only in the boilerplate of a pitch, as an afterthought to the story.  If your pitch doesn’t incorporate the website, the stories you do attract likely will not either.
  • In social media engagement, use SEO-friendly URL shorteners (like kl.am that employ 301 redirects) when posting links to your website.  The reason is that if someone uses the short link to link to your site, you will only get “credit” for the link (in the eyes of Google) if it triggers a 301 redirect to your site.

Jeremy Bencken

Jeremy Bencken co-founded BuzzStream and served as Chairman in our first few years. Before that, he co-founded ApartmentRatings.com, which he grew into the leading global source for ratings and reviews of apartments before selling it to Internet Brands. Currently, Jeremy runs Wordloop, a performance-based content marketing company in Austin, Texas. Jeremy also serves as an advisor to Sparefoot and inHabi, and is a mentor with Capital Factory. You can find Jeremy on Twitter or Google Plus.

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