The Intersection Between PR and SEO

We know PR coverage can positively impact SEO. From securing coverage for contributed content with target keyword phrases to earning natural editorial backlinks in media outlets with a high domain authority, SEO is an important part of our PR strategy. But you don’t have to take our word for it. 

I got together with Cyrus Shepard, an SEO strategist from Moz, to pick his brain about how PR affects SEO. We talk about the intersection between PR and SEO, keywords, search engine result page (SERP) rankings and links. 

MEGHAN: Does PR help with SEO?

CYRUS: Ultimately, SEO is about popularity, relevancy and trust. In that regard, strong PR can definitely help with SEO, albeit sometimes indirectly.

MEGHAN: Are there specific SEO metrics PR can help impact?

CYRUS: There are actually several metrics PR can help impact. The first—and likely most important to SEOs—are web links. Links are a significant SEO ranking factor and is measured by metrics such as Domain Authority and Page Rank.

When PR is successful, it can impact the volume of Branded Searches (when someone searches Google for something in a way that uses your brand name). Branded search volume is another important metric that is often correlated with SEO success.

Finally, though not directly connected, good PR can help a business win search traffic Share of Voice (SOV). This simply refers to the amount of visibility a website has across a large range of search results relative to the competition.

MEGHAN: How does coverage that mentions your brand name (but doesn’t link back to your website) impact your brand’s overall SEO?

CYRUS: In SEO, we refer to “unlinked mentions” — i.e. mentions of your brand that don’t link to your website. While these don’t carry the weight or influence of actual links, they can still be important. Google has the ability to extract “entities” from web copy. Your website/brand could be an entity, as well as your employees or products. When Google identifies an entity, it can often make a connection with other entities—including your website—even when there isn’t a direct link. It’s also possible Google can learn other things from these unlinked mentions, such as when they perform sentiment analysis. So an article that has positive things to say about your brand, even if that article doesn’t link to you, may produce a small positive signal about the entity that is your website.

MEGHAN: How does the domain authority of publications for which coverage is secured impact a brand’s domain authority?

CYRUS: Roughly speaking, the more authoritative and trustworthy a site is, the more powerful authority it passes to other sites (generally through links.)

That said, a site’s authority isn’t the only factor at play. Relevance is another huge factor. In this way, it can sometimes be more beneficial to get coverage on a smaller but highly relevant site/page than less-relevant coverage on a higher authority site.

MEGHAN: How can PR coverage help impact SERP rankings for branded and non-branded keywords?

CYRUS: In general, PR coverage can help a site rank for branded and non-branded terms based to varying degrees on the following factors:

  1. How relevant the coverage is to the site’s target topics/keywords. E.g. Does the coverage use the same terms/topics in its headline and body copy?
  2. Does the coverage include links to the site? Followed links are typically stronger than nofollow links (though Google may now take nofollow links into consideration). And nofollow links are typically stronger than unlinked mentions, but all of these could be valuable.
  3. The authority and trust of the publication where coverage is obtained.
  4. The sentiment of the coverage. While this is only rumored to be a ranking factor, positive coverage may help rankings, while negative coverage could actually hurt.

MEGHAN: When developing a marketing strategy for companies you’ve worked with in the past, did PR align with any SEO efforts?

CYRUS: Some of the best SEO campaigns I’ve seen were actually led by great PR people. I’d love to see more PR guiding SEO strategy itself. This is because PR folks on the ground often have a good sense of what journalists are looking for and the topics they want to cover. The “PR-First” approach can often lead to more significant SEO gains.

MEGHAN: Are there best practices PR professionals should adhere to in order to be SEO-friendly?

CYRUS: Based on the above question:

  • Try to get coverage from the most relevant sites/pages possible
  • Work to get links/mentions direct to the client website, in the following order of importance: Follow Links > Nofollow Links (including those with “ugc” and “sponsored” attributes) > Unlinked mentions.

For more information on how PR can support SEO, check out our PR for SEO blog series!

Thought Leadership: Tips to Lay the Foundation of Expertise

So, you want to be a thought leader. Great! You likely have untapped expertise or industry insights due to your position as a leader within your company. While the media landscape may seem saturated with thought leaders, it’s because people are hungry for information. In our current always-on, information-seeking state, your ideas and unique perspective could reach prospects in the right place at the right time.

6 Tips to Become a Thought Leader

Below are a few tips to get you started as a thought leader, as well as the background behind each tactic. 

1. Take a Stance
Form 3-5 marquee opinions you can expound on in interviews or contributed content. Doing so will also help you identify conversations to join and keep you from appearing to not have an actual platform. 

We help our clients get their beliefs, expertise and thought leadership placed in media outlets to assist other practitioners or peers in their space, share insights and further industry conversations. A few examples that added a bold, unique or contrarian point of view include:

  • The CEO of a company we helped drive to IPO says AI shouldn’t be seen as a “job stealer” and the conversation should focus on the good it could do
  • One CMO believes ABM is just good marketing and it takes AI and orchestration to elevate marketing tactics. 
  • Another CEO believes SEO is a tactic that should be elevated to the C-suite since it’s a bottom-line driver. 

2. Cultivate a Consistent Social Media Presence
You might be rolling your eyes, but you would be shocked at how many thought-leader audits we perform where we find company leaders are missing out on opportunities because they lack a social presence. If you’re not engaging on social, you’re not building a network or community. Not only can this staunch conversation, but it can also hurt your chances of being accepted as a thought leader in general.

Think of it this way: Media will look at your social presence to evaluate how successfully their articles might perform if they feature your commentary or if your article will attract eyeballs, should they allow you to contribute a whole piece. 

Thought leaders should start with Twitter. A good rule of thumb is to “like” 15 tweets per week, retweet three times a week and comment once. To increase exposure on LinkedIn, another important thought leadership platform, you should like and share articles at least once a week. 

3. Identify Personal Voice
Outline tone and personal brand — and stick to it in every instance, including in your writing and during an interview. Is your voice authoritative, yet punchy and playful? Do you offer trailblazing and innovative comments? Are you formal and educational? Professional yet relatable? Do you like to make comparisons, share personal anecdotes or offer metaphors to get your point across? 

Figure out your communication style and own it. Your PR team can then thread your message, voice and personal brand throughout all content and opportunities so media get to know you and readers/engagers know what to expect from your work. 

4. Provide Examples of Presentations
Share old presentations such as speaking engagements or company presentations on Slideshare or via LinkedIn using the projects or media features. Doing so gives your PR team a place to point people to when validating if you’re a skilled presenter. Even a link to an old webinar or office presentation can be the first brick in the foundation being laid for you.

5. Write Content
Author content on your company blog. I’ll agree, this one is easier said than done. We don’t often have extra time to put our thoughts to paper in a cohesive and beautiful way. Nonetheless, this step is important. Much like uploading old presentations, authoring blog content is an easy way for readers and media contacts to see the type of thought leadership you’re capable of sharing, your style of writing, overall voice and whether or not your content is captivating. 

If you just aren’t able to carve out time for writing, we have a few suggestions: 

  • Put some high-level thoughts together and let a colleague or marketing professional put your expertise into a polished format. 
  • Conduct story-mining sessions with your PR team who can write long-form contributed content pieces for you. Rework them so the actual wording is original, shorten and add to your company blog.  
  • Repurpose your social posts by transforming them into longer commentary pieces. 

6. Conduct a Media Training
BLASTmedia offers 30 minutes of dedicated training to discuss how our agency will closely align with the thought leader to ensure quality opportunities are secured, deliver real-life examples and scenarios, and provide tips and tricks to navigate sticky situations. 

Take time to conduct a media training session, whether with a professional or during your own time through research or YouTube examples, among other outlets. If you have a PR team, they can discuss how media opportunities are earned, what’s required from you and the media, the best way to prep and own the conversation, and tips to bring media back to focus if the conversation shifts away from what was originally discussed. Not only will you earn additional practice from training like this, but you’ll also be better aligned with your PR team and expectations from media contacts. 

Other Ways to Grow Your Presence as a Thought Leader 

You don’t have to speak at industry events to be a thought leader, but it is another avenue to bolster your profile. If you’re considering speaking opportunities, here are a few bonus tips: 

1. Join an Industry or Community Group
Connect with like-minded or similar-passioned people to learn from them and discuss how they position themselves as thought leaders. You may find there’s an event locally that needs an emcee or a regional industry conference where you could keynote. Networking with peers is a quick way to learn from other smart individuals and it can only shed light on more areas for you to pursue. 

2. Create an About.Me Page
This will display your personal brand and shouldn’t be tied to your company. You should list out your passions, areas of expertise, events where you’ve spoken, and content you want people to see. Include events where people can connect with you and information on how they should reach you if they’d like to use you as a source for media or to offer a speaking slot. A few examples include Ann Handley, Gene Marks and Patrick Schwerdtfeger.

Don’t let the above overwhelm you; many of these tactics are easy to execute and will further validate why you are a credible thought leader. For a snapshot of these tips, check out our checklist.

Domain Authority: Your New Coverage Metric

When announcing a new product or securing industry thought leadership placement in an online publication, most PR pros have criteria in mind that they use to determine the quality of the publication. For example, you might ask yourself, does the publication have a large social media following? Is the outlet a household name? Does it have an active and growing monthly readership?

While each of these metrics can be a valuable gut check, there is a relatively new metric to add to your assessment of an outlet’s quality: Domain Authority (DA).

Created by the experts at Moz, the leader in search engine optimization technology and a client of BLASTmedia, Domain Authority is a search engine ranking score to measure how likely a website is to rank in search. And even more than that, it’s an SEO metric that you should begin using today in your media strategy. Here’s what you need to know.

What is Domain Authority and How Do I Measure It? 

Publications like the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Forbes and TechCrunch generate a lot of engagement and traffic. And while we can quantify a portion of their value through potential readership, Domain Authority can help place these outlets on a spectrum.

Moz scores Domain Authority on a 100-point logarithmic scale. All websites, from large to small and new to old, have a DA. This number isn’t static; the DA of a given website can change over time, but it’s easier for a website with a DA of 20 to get to 30 than it is for a website 70 to grow to 80. 

DA is a comparative metric and we use it, compiled with and against other values, to determine outlet quality. In a previous post, “How Does PR Affect SEO?”, we shared that Domain Authority above 40 is considered “average,” while 50 and above is considered “good,” and higher than 60 is “excellent.” For some perspective, at the time of this blog the New York Times, Forbes, CNN all had a DA of 95. 

Applying Domain Authority to Your Coverage Goals 

Anything with a DA higher than your own website’s DA should help increase yours, but don’t agonize over coverage with a lower DA, either. Some niche trade publications may be very relevant to your own sales pipeline but have a similar or lower DA of your website.

Media coverage isn’t merely about placing a story on one publication. Many factors, like having the right coverage mix, are involved in making a story impactful. As DA is a measure of a website’s quality and its ability to rank in search, it should be one aspect of your media relations strategy and reporting process. You can check your company’s, or any website’s, DA here: Moz Domain Analysis.

Interested in learning more about improving your brand’s SEO with PR? The BLASTmedia blog is full of resources, including why PR is the best way to build natural editorial links (which Moz touts as the “holy grail for SEOs.”)

Frequently asked questions:

  • What is the highest Domain Authority?
    The highest Domain Authority (DA) score is 100. DA is a range of one to 100, with higher scores corresponding to a greater likelihood of ranking.
  • What is considered a good Domain Authority?
    Typically, Domain Authority above 50 is considered “good.” Anything over 60 is “excellent.”
  • How do I get a high Domain Authority?
    Attracting real links that drive traffic to your website is the best way to improve Domain Authority.

How Does PR Affect SEO?

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One of the most common questions we get from our clients, especially in the sales process, is “how can PR affect SEO?” Let’s get one thing straight: PR alone is not a comprehensive SEO or link-building strategy. That said, there are plenty of ways PR coverage can impact SEO in a positive way. And because we understand the importance of defining the ROI of PR (especially for you data-driven SaaS marketers out there), we now more than ever find our efforts tying into those of the SEO team on a regular basis.

From working to secure natural, editorial backlinks in publications with a high domain authority, to ensuring contributed content has at least one target keyword phrase, SEO is an important part of our PR strategy for any client. 

Now, let’s dive into the nitty-gritty of how the two intersect, shall we? 

Continue reading “How Does PR Affect SEO?”

Are Newswire Services Worth the Spend?

This isn’t the first time we’ve written a piece on newswire services, and I’m sure it won’t be the last. That’s because, like most things in PR, newswire services continue to adapt along with the changing media landscape. Where issuing a release via BusinessWire, PRNewswire or the like used to be a must, using newswire services to amplify company news is now most certainly optional. Continue reading “Are Newswire Services Worth the Spend?”