Public Relations And SEO

Friday, February 15, 2008 by Mistlee

Public Relations And SEO

By Lee Odden

During the PRSA International Conference I had the opportunity to talk with Eric Schwartzman about the interplay of search engine optimization and online public relations.

There's plenty of sage advice for PR professionals interested in leveraging SEO tactics for public and media relations in the interview (Eric interviews Lee), so if you have 25 minutes be sure to click the link above and listen. Otherwise, here is a paraphrased accounting of our talk:

How can SEO can help an organization raise awareness?

People are looking for information, they use a variety of types of search such as Google, Yahoo, Live and Ask as the predominant channels. There's also news search , blog search and search within social media sites. Any time something can be searched on, that's an optimization opportunity. Increasing awareness comes from making it easier for people to find you when they're looking for information.

What is the role of search engine optimization in media relations?

It's a strategic decision. The keyword insight that comes from keyword analysis that you might do with a SEO campaign, where you can tap in to tools that monitor what people are searching on can be very useful in optimizing news related content.

The result of the keyword research is to create a glossary of phrases with metrics like popularity, relevance and competitiveness. You can then leverage the glossary across corporate communications. Try to get any digital asset that's created whether its press releases, web pages, product pages or announcements to use phrases from the glossary. Get people responsible for creating the content to use the glossaries and find out what variations of phrases are in demand so that they're using language that's both relevant and popular.

Often times, people like to be creative in PR and direct marketing and that does not always bode well for search. Copywriters or content producers try to be clever or ironic or funny and those ways of communicating are not as meaningful to a machine or an algorithm as being literal in your word usage. That is a practical application of search for media relations. You optimize content according to what people are looking for.

Let's say you're conducting media relations for a client for an interview and the company web site and press releases are already optimized for certain keywords. You can coach the client to use those keywords in the interview. What happens a lot of times is that when that interview goes to print or even online, people remember the topics of the article but not necessarily the names of the companies involved. They'll go to Google and search for those topics and when the company web site is properly optimized, it ranks highly for search phrases gleaned from the article.

What about SEO just for press releases? One of the things you look for with press release optimization is keyword density, right?

When you stick to specific keyword density numbers, you put yourself at risk somewhat, of hanging your hat on a shingle that will fall down later. Search engines are constantly evolving and changing how they rank web pages.

What you want to do is use your keywords high and to the left of the document. Two or three times, four times maybe. Use general guidelines and focus on the user. It's a matter of not being too clever and ironic and being literal with the keywords you're using. Use them high in a document and in links as opposed to saying, "Let's shoot for a 6% keyword density every time."

How many times should you use keywords in a press release?

As a guideline, in a press release that's 500 words, we'll use the phrase 2-4 times. We'll also use variations of that keyword phrase. Search engines are smart enough that when documents are identified as being authoritative for a particular concept, the presence of an exact match keyword phrase will often be accompanied by related phrases. Keyword research will give insight not only on the phrases people are actually searching on but also related phrases.

Continue reading this article.

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