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Search engine optimisation (SEO) is part of your public relations (PR), not just some geeky addition to your website.

When I’m discussing SEO with a new client, understanding their wider PR campaign is essential to my planning. So why do so many firms see SEO as some website add-on, rather than a developing, often creative enhancement of their PR work?

I think it’s because SEO execs tend to be technology fiends, while PR staff tend to be arts graduates with a passion for creativity – there doesn’t seem to be much middle ground.
 
Yet it’s essential that PR works closely with an SEO team to make sure both budgets are working as hard as they possibly can and complementing each others’ work.
 
I've previously talked about how social media marketing should be looked at from both an SEO and PR perspective, but here are a few key ways in which PR and SEO working together can enhance a company’s online presence dramatically.

Online reputation management
 
SEO is essential for overcoming or mitigating high-ranking criticisms of the company.
 
There are a host of different ways an SEO expert can attempt to counter an online criticism. There are also plenty of ways for a PR team to combat censure.
 
If the two teams work closely – or if the outside SEO agency is able to regularly liaise with the PR team, the brand’s reputation can be defended from all angles, meaning it can be far more effectively protected.

Planning future campaigns
 
If a company has a particularly active PR team, then it will be planning campaigns and future marketing endeavours in order to gain maximum exposure for the brand.
 
Of course, if the person or team working on SEO is sufficiently in the loop, they can really go to work on readying the website for the launch.
 
New, relevant keywords can be bid for, relevant terms can be seeded throughout the site and there’s time to analyse which relevant keywords will be effective.
 
An SEO worker may even have some good ideas about campaign subjects that could target less competitive keywords – they have a host of relevant knowledge.
 
Working with content
 
When PR and SEO aren’t working hand in glove, it’s a real blow to the potential success of projects such as a blog.
 
SEO staff won’t necessarily have as much creative force as a PR team, while few press officers and marketers will possess an in depth understanding of optimising their content.
 
Once again, working together will hugely strengthen the performance of the blog. The SEO team can make sure PR’s writing doesn’t get lost in the crowded online marketplace, while PR can deliberately create content around underperforming keywords.
 
Blogging, press releases, any kind of content should be as much about SEO as it is about public relations, and vice versa.
 
Building links
 
Quite often, a PR team will work with other companies and agencies to spread brand awareness.
 
Whether it’s putting out a press release announcing a partnership, giving an interview to an industry publication, or donating some funds to a local charity – PR deal with lots of other organisations.
 
Now, if the SEO exec has at least spent some time with the PR team, they’ll have some understanding of the value of inbound links to their site.
 
PR can do a great deal of good for their firm’s SEO, but only if they understand it.
 
Final thoughts

 
Ultimately, PR and SEO have the same goal in mind – positive brand exposure to relevant potential customers.
 
With so many firms being squeezed by the economic situation, many PR teams could benefit by getting more involved with SEO – it will give them measurable examples of success, which will help them justify their budgets.
 
If each can move beyond dismissing the other as geeks and creative airheads, the whole company will benefit.

Kevin Gibbons

Published 19 November, 2009 by Kevin Gibbons

Kevin Gibbons is UK Managing Director at digital marketing agency BlueGlass. He is also known as an SEO speaker and can be found on Twitter and Google+.

102 more posts from this author

Comments (23)

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Vincent Roman

SEO is about nuts an bolts, anyone who disregards it, frankly speaking needs their head seeing to.  Would you send out a press release without a title, or contact details? Would you send marketing metrial with no company name, slogan, tagline or pictures? no. So, as you say why do people feel compelled to ignore it.

It isn't just about being found, its about making the other work you do more efficient, why make life harder for yourself? really!

almost 7 years ago

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crazy blogger

i got a pagerank recently. now i am getting more traffic than before

almost 7 years ago

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Hazar Umutay

Actually I don't see any relation, any bound between SEO and Public Relations. The only common thing between two terms should be the description and title meta tags :)

almost 7 years ago

Alice Morgan

Alice Morgan, Freelance digital marketing consultant at Freelance

Couldn't agree less with the previous comment. In my experience, you can only do the basics of SEO without the involvement of PR. As soon as you get into the realms of social media or serious link building you need to work together :)

almost 7 years ago

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dave

while this topic is certainly very helpful, this is also highly situational. public relations, as in building or maintaining a favorable image with the public, is based (almost solely) on the truth - so, mitigating an unfavorable truth (like a customer complaint or poor popular opinion on the web/social networks) with SEO tactics might have a questionable level of ethics. i'd agree that a strong PR campaign would stand to benefit with SEO collaboration, given that the objective is positive awareness.

almost 7 years ago

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Krista Holloway

I think you make some excellent points.  As PR professionals, how can we ignore the importance of working with our friends to enhance SEO?  In addition, it can only help add to our measurement and success for our initiatives.  We need to get away from our siloed approach to many things...and the last time I checked, when something's online, it's there pretty much indefinitely, won't that complement or harm reputations?

Again, nice post.  Thanks!

almost 7 years ago

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Mark van Loon

Well... i guess the truth is somewhere in the middle. SEO depends on two factors: 

1) Linkbuilding

2) A decent source. 

Part 1 is mostly working on you linkbuilding, while the second point is more a technical kind of work. Or do some people disagree?

almost 7 years ago

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Liz Pope

I work in a corporate environment and basically run a one-woman show in the marketing/communications/PR department. The owner of the company, who is 75 years old, might be a bit out of the loop when it comes to blogging and Twitter, but in terms of Google rankings and SEO, it's at the top of his list.

I wouldn't have thought to associate SEO with PR prior to this position, but now that I'm integrating marketing campaigns, I can definitely see the value.

almost 7 years ago

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Malcolm Coles, Director at Digital Sparkle

How SEO complements your PR? Pah. Wrong way round.

More like how PR complements your SEO - your SEO strategy should, if possible, involve asking what PR opportunities there are that will drive links to your site. Can you run a survey, PR a new tool, create some news out of your company stats (EG top 10 items sold, Xmas spikes in sales, whatever ...).

This usually involves repointing the PR goals. Sacrifice coverage in all the nationals or all the trade press if one publication's site will give you a link in exchange for an exclusive.

almost 7 years ago

Umutay Ozturkler

Umutay Ozturkler, CEO at 911 SEOSEM

How can a SEO process be a part of Public Relations? I don't understand why you guys always writing writing writing millions of things about SEO and connecting SEO to different things. At last you will connect this SEO thing to the black hole in the space!

Arg.. this is just too much. This is obsessive, this is excessive.

Everything, every complex thing is actually simple. I really dont understand why many people writing many numerous novel like articles about SEO.

almost 7 years ago

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Mt Pinos Ski

To modify an old slogan - "There is no such thing as bad publicity, unless it ignores SEO"

almost 7 years ago

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Local Internet Marketing

Websites targeting multiple GEO regions may have a few versions of the site. And each version targets one particular language. For the same version, the page may be configured according to the location automatically. It’s a common practice to use IP address to identify the geo region of a visitor. For design of each version, make sure to work closely with the designers who really know about that market. The design of the website should suit the style and taste of the local users. A website targeting US market has much better chance of success if a Boston web design company is involved, instead of a web design firm from India. Geo-targeting depends on the user's settings. As an example, an English web site may display different versions according to the user's location, whether Canada, Australia or the United Kingdom, since Geo-targeting identifies the user's keyword settings, language and location.

almost 7 years ago

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Mogesi

Isn't funny that traditioanl creatives and PR empire feel threatened by SEO wave. People who used to sit on higher grounds are now being driven out of town by teenagers and moms armed with high street camcorders. The truth is SEO is the new kid on the block and as far as I know search engine marketing is a new/emerging technology (the heart of marketing) and SEO is like the the blood. You can choose to stick with traditional thinking and defend you positions but until the twigs can not hold any longer.

SEO growh is being held back by of of these traditionalists heading PR departments in the coorporate world because the lot can not accept the new realities.

almost 7 years ago

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mogesi

Isn't it funny that traditioanl creatives and PR empire feel threatened by SEO wave. People who used to sit on higher grounds are now being driven out of town by teenagers and moms armed with high street camcorders. The truth is SEO is the new kid on the block and as far as I know search engine marketing is a new/emerging technology (the heart of marketing) and SEO is like blood. You can choose to stick with traditional thinking and defend you positions but until the last twig can not hold any longer.
SEO growth is being held back by these traditionalists heading PR departments in the coorporate world because the lot can not accept the new realities. PR and SEO are inexplicably intertwined.

almost 7 years ago

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clavoie

As a former PR exec working with large corporate accounts, now turned SEO consultant working with small-to-midsize clients, I'd agree that PR and SEO should complement each other.  I have found that in small companies, SEO tends to take the lead, as link-building can be done well as long as you have good, strong content, while PR is tough to do well when the company has no public image or market clout.   For Fortune 500 companies, however, I think PR typically takes the lead, as the brand has an established following that needs to be both protected and promoted, and SEO tends to take a more supporting role.

over 6 years ago

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seo web design

Properly optimizing your pages to make them “search engine friendly” can greatly increase your search engine rankings, traffic levels, and potential earnings from your website.

over 6 years ago

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abass

Often we forget the little guy, the SMB, in our discussions of the comings and goings of the Internet marketing industry. Sure there are times like this when a report surfaces talking about their issues and concerns but, for the most part, we like to talk about big brands and how they do the Internet marketing thing well or not so well. www.onlineuniversalwork.com

over 6 years ago

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Medyum

Often we forget the little guy, the SMB, in our discussions of the comings and goings of the Internet marketing industry. Sure there are times like this when a report surfaces talking about their issues and concerns but, for the most part, we like to talk about big brands and how they do the Internet marketing thing well or not so well.

over 6 years ago

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Noraseo

To modify an old slogan - "There is no such thing as bad publicity, unless it ignores SEO"

about 6 years ago

Avatar-blank-50x50

seo

Often we forget the little guy, the SMB, in our discussions of the comings and goings of the Internet marketing industry. Sure there are times like this when a report surfaces talking about their issues and concerns but, for the most part, we like to talk about big brands and how they do the Internet marketing thing well or not so well..

over 5 years ago

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tadilat

To modify an old slogan - "There is no such thing as bad publicity, unless it ignores SEO"

almost 5 years ago

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dekorasyon

Ben kurumsal bir ortamda çalışmak ve temelde pazarlama / iletişim / halkla ilişkiler bölümünde bir tek kadın şovu yürütüyoruz. Bu blog ve Twitter geldiğinde 75 yaşında, şirket, sahibi döngü biraz dışında olabilir, ancak Google sıralaması ve SEO açısından, onun listenin en üstünde bulunuyor.
Ben önce bu pozisyona PR ile SEO ilişkilendirmek düşünce olmazdı, ama şimdi pazarlama kampanyaları entegre ediyorum, ben kesinlikle değerini görebilirsiniz.

over 4 years ago

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boyaci

Properly optimizing your pages to make them “search engine friendly” can greatly increase your search engine rankings, traffic levels, and potential earnings from your website.

about 4 years ago

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