How to Build Links and Win Authority With PR

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How to use public relations, content marketing, and related channels to improve website authority, rankings, and overall branding.

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  • “I hate PR.” I will open with that statement and pause for a few seconds to get peoples’ attention. I will be referring in slides 4 and 5 to what people THINK public relations is based on my prior career in journalism.
  • A summary of the topics I will present. Due to time constraints, I will give the “big picture” in strategic terms.I’ll upload the presentation to Slideshare and as a blog post on my company’s website later, and the final slide contains my contact information for anyone who wants to receive the slides directly. SMX may also send speakers’ slides to attendees – I’m not sure.
  • A marketing strategy must align to a company’s business goals. If a B2B company wants more clients, for example, then the market strategy would focus on how to obtain more business leads. The strategy could consist of specific tactics such as PR, SEO, and conversion optimization. Since online marketing is increasingly holistic, those three tactics are integrated and bolster each other. Social media is one channel that supports PR and SEO efforts.
  • Here’s the strategic process that I will explain more in-depth: 1.) DO something newsworthy.2.) CREATE something newsworthy about what you’ve done. It’s great to produce quality content for all the reasons we know – but create content that media outlets will find newsworthy as well3.) PROMOTE the company via traditional PR and the content via social media and related methods.4.) GAIN traffic, backlinks, conversions, customers, social-media followings, and more.5.) Repeat this process as often as possible.
  • Now, why did I say that I hate PR? When I was a Boston journalist, spokespersons were always nice and friendly – and even a bit flirtatious (when they were female). But the moment a caught the city government making a big mistake, they resorted to spinning and outright BS. I hated it. And that’s why I initially went into SEO years ago after my journalism career – I thought that it was an honest form of marketing that didn’t need PR.
  • But what I had experienced as a journalist was “media relations” – just ONE type of PR. “PR” is a vague term that consists of many subcategories such as those you see above.
  • Public relations can be defined as any interaction with another human being. As such, PR is crucial to SEO today because it is simply a collection of ways to “build relationships,” which is crucial in any business endeavor – especially any type of marketing.
  • PR is a set of channels to deliver a specific message to a specific audience. For our purposes, social media is a type of PR that can be used to build relationships that lead to quality backlinks.
  • Like many people, I thought at the beginning of my new career years ago that SEO was just writing keyword-optimized content, inserting keywords into tags, optimizing a website on a technical level, and building links (ideally with exact-match anchor text). But true SEO is – and always has been – a collection of best practices including web development, content creation, conversion optimization, social media, and more – including PR. It is BUILDING A BRAND.
  • iOnRoad app uses computer vision algorithms to measure the to the car in front and instantly pop up with audio-visual alerts whenever the risk of an impending collision is detected. But we positioned it as an app that is “at the forefront of a movement to leverage the smartphone in the car for safe driving applications and redefines the smartphone-based navigation experience creating an almost magical merger of existing technologies. Its launch is a beginning of an entirely new user experience being enabled with smartphone technology, sensors and accelerometers.”
  • From using PR and analyst relations in the right way, here were just some of the results for iOnRoad.
  • Messaging is typically the text that PR companies use in press releases and when pitching to reporters orally. Think about it like the “About Us” language that will appear at the bottom of a press release. This is a great way to use co-occurrence or co-citation (depending who you ask). It’s a complicated topic, and I’d look at the links in the slide for more information. Basically, it’s the prediction that websites will rank highly as a result of mentions – with or without links – on pages that are associated with common terms and themes.
  • So, how can you use the idea? Simply put: reporters are pressed for time today. Online-advertising revenue depends on constant new content and visitors, so online journalists and bloggers don’t have a lot of time to do extensive research. So, they will often describe companies based on the supplied text like what is above. If both your pitching to writers over the phone and your press releases all repeat the same text – including your targeted keywords – then it will likely be used on many of the sites that cover you. Your brand will be associated with your desired search terms – even if there is not exact-match anchor text (which you do not want) or any link at all. If you repeat any idea often enough, people will start to believe it.
  • Obviously, you do not want to get too many – if any – exact-match anchor text links. Write press releases for and distribute them to humans and not random online-distribution services. Your direct goal is to get coverage – not links, which will come later in an indirect way.
  • PR firms create specific, targeted media lists to gain coverage in outlets whose readers will be most likely to fulfill a client’s business goals. A PR goal: If a B2B software company wants users, then coverage should focus on outlets whose readers will be most likely to want to use the software. However, a media list from an SEO goal should contain other types of outlets as well (that may or may not compliment the PR goal – more on that later).Common sense. What are the most-authoritative sites in your sector, theme, or niche? Sometimes it takes only common sense.Tools such as Moz and others can tell you numbers for “Domain Authority” and “Page Authority,” but it’s not always useful. Some pages may not have high “authority” in general compared to major news sites, but they are highly relevant for my niche and the aforementioned co-occurrence or co-citation.In a PR context, the goal is to “build relationships” and “spread the word.” A blogger might not be objectively authoritative as far as what a program might say, but if he or she has large, relevant, social-media followings, then it’s worthwhile to include that target. Researching the keyword themes of various sites is also important for co-occurrence or co-citation. Here’s what I mean.
  • Google Webmaster Tools tells us what themes and words are associated with our sites. Hopefully, they match your keyword targets! But we cannot use GWT if we do not have access to a site’s account.
  • So, when researching SEO targets for PR outreach, I’d use a tool like Tag Crowd to generate a word cloud for a given site or URL. Here’s what I found for Search Engine Land. Any sites that want to rank highly for the largest terms above would likely want to get links from SEL.
  • Take a moment to read this quote – it’s important.I opened this presentation by saying that “I hate PR” because I had not understood what PR actually is. In an SEO context, it’s a lot more than just media relations and BSing reporters. It involves social media and everything else that I have mentioned. Today, even as an SEO, I now LOVE PR.
  • Although it’s easy to say that PR and SEO should be integrated, it can be difficult in practice. I do not have all the answers to these questions because each company, client, or situation is different – but I think these are issues that will increasingly need to be addressed by the industry.Say SEO wants certain keywords in the messaging but PR wants other language. Who decides?Should the PR or SEO/online staff handle social media? In the end, social media is a just a channel, like e-mail or the telephone, that anyone should be able to use for a given purpose. But too many traditional PR people still do not understand social-media best-practices as SEOs and others do.Say a company has a list of PR-priority and SEO-priority target websites and outlets to pitch. How should a company or agency allocate resources towards each set?It’s often hard to track what work exactly resulted in a given link or other SEO success. But for internal reporting or client reporting, one “department” or another will often have to be deemed as getting the “credit.” How do you decide?Clients or executives who are unfamiliar with modern online marketing often still place practices in silos. So, a firm may have no choice but to propose X dollars for “SEO,” Y dollars for “PR,” and Z dollars for “social media.” If a client wants to pay only for “SEO,” how will the agency succeed in light of what “SEO” needs today? The same issue arises when an unaware CEO wants to allocate budgets and practices to individual, isolated “SEO,” “social media,” and “PR” departments. Our firm integrates such activity, but not everyone does.
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