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What is SEO PR it and why should we care?

Elemental Communications (Social Media Portal) - 13 March 2006

What is SEO PR it and why should we care?

With the growth of search engine optimisation comes the rise of SEO PR. Rachel Hawkes, account director, Elemental Communications explains

Search engine optimisation, commonly known as SEO, is widely known for optimising content in order to get the best placement possible in search engines. However, we all know that SEO is about more than that, and that there several are skill sets that need to be harmonised to employ successful SEO including copywriting, research, business acumen, user-centred design and Web analytics to name a few.

People are most familiar with the ideas of SEO when it comes to building or re-evaluating a website, inserting relevant keywords and key phrases into the content of the site that will be picked up by search engines (and doing the same for the meta tags).Photograph, Rachel Hawkes, account director, Elemental

Why is this important? Because it drives qualified traffic to your site to engage with you (either by reading more about you, engaging and interacting with the brand by completing an enquiry form, picking up the phone or purchasing goods and/or services).  If for example your business is selling discount long-haul airfares then the key phrase "cheap flights" is, or should be, important to you.  If your website, or related press release, e-zine, RSS feed or Blog is found under that phrase, then any traffic that is directed back to your site already has an interest in what your business does.

So, what then is SEO PR?

SEO PR combines skill sets from public relations (PR) and search engine marketing, and is really a cross over between search, marketing and public relations.  SEO PR involves ethically communicating online material to news sites.  The point of this is to raise the brand and profile of brands in the digital realm (let’s face it, that’s where everything’s moving) by making them more easily found in search engines and driving more relevant traffic to the site (as discussed above).

Thanks to resources such as News Alerts (such as Google and Yahoo! News Alerts) and Web analytics products SEO PR is more accountable, something which PR has not been widely known for in the past.  By regularly monitoring Web statistics, PR professionals can see what results their SEO PR is delivering, what is working and what is not.  Marketers can ascertain what keywords and phrases are being used to locate their brands – from which they can build a solid strategy for the next campaign.  Invaluable and accountable information.

Standard issue SEO PR primarily involves (but by no means is limited to) optimising a press release and posting it to relevant online resources, from where it will be spidered by search engines and depending on the resource, can be found under the search engines news section.  Using the example above of a long haul flight provider, as a communications professional one of my main goals with their press release is to have them listed in Google, Lycos and Yahoo! News etc., under “online travel” and “cheap flights”.  Why is this important?  Recent studies report that over 90% of journalists use the Internet as their first point of research and information.  Therefore, being found in Google News by a travel journalist is prime.

By using your chosen keywords and phrases (which you have sourced from thorough research and the tools that are available) and inserting them thoughtfully into your press release, particularly within your titles and sub headings, you are optimising your release to be found under those keywords and phrases.  An example of a title that was optimised would be “Discount online travel agency LongHaul sign new airline” you can then elaborate on this in your subtitle “Discount online travel agency LongHaul sign AirUK airline to cheap flight offerings”.  Do not stuff your release full of these phrases, which will result in a press release that not only alienates the very people you are trying to connect with, but may get banned by search engines who keep a keen eye on such things.

So, is SEO PR a new tool and who is best equipped to execute it?  In short, no, SEO PR is not new – it just has a new name and new interest as some agencies are beginning to acknowledge and harness the power of the Internet and the use of content.  It’s formerly known as Internet PR, digital PR, Online PR and such, but it has evolved along with new mediums to boost, enhance and/or support brands.  Although Online PR is more expansive than optimising releases for search engines, for the experienced and Internet savvy communication and PR professionals, SEO has always been a discipline that was employed. 

SEO PR comes down to communication as does everything in PR, and who better to do that to its best ability than those that specialise in communication?  Having said that with the knowledge and copywriting skills that SEOs possess, we’ll see more of these agencies taking the medium onboard.  One thing is sure and that is we’ll see more cross over with marketing and PR as it will be both which will vie to adopt this medium.

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