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The convergence of PR and SEO has been a hotly debated topic on the Econsultancy blog in recent months.

It began with a guest blog urging PRs to get a grip on SEO, followed by a post warning that SEOs will slaughter careless PR agencies.

Both articles stirred a great reaction in the comments section, with the general consensus being that SEO and PR need to work together to help achieve common goals.

Text 100’s digital and social lead Lance Concannon also addressed the topic at a PRCA event discussing the future of search and SEO.

Concannon stated that PRs should find out who owns SEO within their client’s business and build a relationship with them so they can better coordinate their efforts.

Here is a summary of his advice on what PRs should be doing to help their client’s SEO strategies...

1. On-page copy

Before publishing anything on the client’s website, PRs should speak to the SEOs to find out what the strategy is for each page.

For instance, find out which keywords the copy should be targeting, how images should be tagged and what internal links need to be added.

Concannon suggested that PRs should be doing this by default before adding or altering anything on the site to ensure it fits with the overall SEO goals. 

2. Off-page copy

PRs need to ensure they bear SEO in mind when publishing something on a third-party site, such as a press release or a guest blog.

Backlinks are obviously a key part of any SEO strategy, so make sure you ask the SEO team what anchor text should be used and what pages to link back to.

3. Social media channels 

A show of hands at the PRCA conference revealed that PRs are often given some control over their clients’ social media channels.

As social signals become more important to SEO, Concannon said that PRs need to ensure they are promoting and linking to the correct pages when posting to Facebook and Twitter.

Again, this should be done in in cooperation with the SEO team.

4. Make the most of your contact book

While SEOs should be adept at building up a good number of backlinks from other websites and blogs, securing the really valuable links from sites with high domain authority is a more difficult task.

But gaining coverage in the mainstream media and on industry blogs to earn these high quality links should really be bread and butter for a good PR.

In this way, the age-old sales skills of a PR are still just as relevant in the digital age.

5. Quality content 

While the technical side of SEO – such as site architecture, anchor text, backlinks, etc. – is vital, equally important is creating quality content. Even more so following Google’s recent algorithm updates.

This is another area that PRs can help the SEO strategy by coming up with ideas for good quality articles, videos or infographics that will also help generate shares and backlinks.

6. Analytics 

PR is essentially about generating awareness of a brand, which should ultimately lead to extra visits to their website as people go online to find out more about them.

Though quantifying PR activity through web analytics isn’t an exact science, Concannon said that it is important for PRs to have access to their clients’ analytics so they can track what impact their activities are having.

It is likely that the SEO team will have access to this information, so speak to them about getting access. If you can’t get access to the live analytics then request a weekly report of key metrics.

7. Balance is important 

While it is important for PRs to be alert to the importance of search, they shouldn’t simply place themselves at the beck and call of the SEOs.

There needs to be a balance between what works for improving search rankings and ensuring you are delivering a good user experience with entertaining or informative content. 

Optimising content for Google bots is a different art to creating content that people will actually want to read, so PRs should make sure they utilise their own skills in copywriting and generating brand exposure to complement the needs of the SEO strategy and drive traffic to the site.

David Moth

Published 26 September, 2012 by David Moth @ Econsultancy

David Moth is Editor and Head of Social at Econsultancy. You can follow him on Twitter or connect via Google+ and LinkedIn

1690 more posts from this author

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James Perrin

James Perrin, Digital Communications Specialist at Feefo

This is something we've known for a while now, and I can appreciate that it's hot-topic to cover, however I think the relationship between PRs and SEO should really be from a link building/ connection building perspective.

I'm slightly confused as to why PRs need to know what the strategy is for on-page website content. As mentioned, a PR enables SEO the access to better, more relevant publications, blogs and sites. From here, it's all down to the SEO. Unless of course your suggesting that PRs get more involved in the SEO process. But even then all they would need to know is the target keyword for that specific page.

I'm all for building stronger connections between SEO and PR, but I think roles and duties need to be clearly defined. Otherwise you could have a blurring of boundaries, with a number of SEOs, PRs and Content Marketers all doing similar jobs. This could have huge consequences on the performance of any campaign.

about 4 years ago

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James - Cheapfinder Games

Interesting article, and the two roles are closely linked. The major benefit that I can only see with a PR agency is they might just have better or more contacts than an SEO agency? The benefits for me that a PR agency could bring are their teams of copywriters in producing new content for the site. After all PR agencies need to evolve these days a standard press release does not cut the mustard!

about 4 years ago

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Nick Stamoulis

I think #4 is a great point. PR professionals might have a much more impressive Rolodex to work with than their SEO counterparts simply because the nature of their industry. Those connections can help your SEO! Reach out to bloggers, journalists, industry professionals and more and see what kind of link building opportunities are available.

about 4 years ago

Chris Lee

Chris Lee, Founder at Silvester & Finch Ltd.

Great to see my original post being followed up here and these are great points.

I ran a survey recently which found that, while some PR agencies were able to access their clients' analytics data, all too many clients were holding back.

Here's the post: http://www.planetcontent.co.uk/why-all-prs-need-to-understand-google-analytics

You CANNOT do PR to its full potential in 2012 if you don't see everything - PR, social, SEO, content etc. - in the round, and having access to analytics is ESSENTIAL to make the whole thing work.

Plus PRs can finally prove their worth in statistical form. It's a win-win.

about 4 years ago

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JR Oakes

Google Authorship should be included as a major point in this list.

about 4 years ago

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Ed Lamb

All good points to consider at the start of a client relationship to maximise SEO results. I'd add that PR agencies should also be keeping SEO agencies (and in fact all agencies) informed on future campaigns and current activity as good PR work can easily be amplified for SEO purposes to sites that are valuable for SEO but won't be on PR target lists.

Point 4 is the critical one for SEOs and PRs to get right. Only the best SEO agencies have good relationships with the mainstream media. When working with a top SEO agency, the big danger for a brand is that the PR agency say they will contact these sites for SEO campaigns and then either don't, or do a poor job as it's seen as secondary to their PR campaigns/KPIs. That would reduce revenue returns that come from high search positions.

One final note...there is one sentence in here which needs correcting before people believe it. "Optimising content for google bots is a different art to creating content that people will actually want to read". Erm, no it isn't. That's SEO from 10 years ago - a quick check of Google's content guidelines will help anyone who is writing content for Google bots rather than users under the misunderstanding that's better for SEO.

about 4 years ago

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Hugh Anderson, Co-Founder & Director at Forth Metrics Limited

Good points. Succinctly put. 2 of the biggest challenges in here are #4: developing relationships online with bloggers etc should be 'bread & butter', but there are so many stories of it being done in a lazy, spammy way which fails; and #6: using and sharing analytics is 'win-win', but there is still an education gap to get everyone utilising it.

about 4 years ago

Jeremy Spiller

Jeremy Spiller, MD at Econsultancy Guest Access TRAININGSmall Business Multi-user

This one is always going to be a hot topic. You could add ad agencies, more general marketing agencies and even web development agencies into the discussion as to where SEO sits, other than in specialist SEO agencies.

As with most things there are those who know their stuff and those who don't and I've met PR people who do and others who have no idea.

One thing though that tends to bother me about these sorts of discussions is that they tend to emphasise siloing when with the speed of change that goes on in digital, the general thinking is to move away from siloing into a more integrated and overlapping approach.

This doesn't take anything away from people within teams having specialisms which is of course is necessary but if a PR agency, ad agency or any other business has a skilled team who know their stuff which in SEO means much more than it used to, then good work will be done.

Another change I've noticed is that brands and businesses now know much more about SEO themselves often having internal teams, (not only because of the training Econsultancy does in this area), so it's much more difficult for an agency whether PR or web to pull the wool over a client's eyes and pretend it knows how to do stuff.

As often these days, many of the people within a business are 'marketing' in some way, often in social, the question of whether marketing can be departmentalised at all is a hot topic.

I'd also suggest that we need to re-think how we label agencies and/or try and label them less rigidly than 'PR agency', 'SEO agency' and so on.

Most good so called 'SEO agencies' I know now have many 'PR people', 'content people', designers doing stuff like infographics, writers and social media specialists.

With search becoming more personalised and more geo-located as well as the algorithms moving heavily towards good content this is inevitable and the term 'SEO' agency no longer means doing a bunch of on page work and some back links. And I'm sure what PR people did back in the day (I mean five or six years ago) is very different from what they do now.

So maybe we can have 'SEO Relations agencies' or 'PR SEO' or 'PR, social relations SEO agencies' or maybe let's just forget labels altogether like we often have to do these days with roles on business cards and ending up with daft titles like Ideation Creativity Guru :)

about 4 years ago

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