Brighton SEO isn’t an event you would expect PR practitioners to attend.
At the show last week, however, out of a total of 85 sessions, 10% were PR focused. Why? The evolution of search engine algorithms has made media relations a central part of search engine optimisation (SEO) success.
The entire day was filled with brilliant case studies and insights, but there were seven things that stood out to me.
1. Earned media coverage can be crucial to search engine optimisation success
The algorithms employed by search engines are now incredibly sophisticated and place a premium on editorial content.
When editorial content links to a website, search engines’ algorithms perceive this as an indication that the website’s content is relevant and authoritative to the topic being discussed.
When searchers then conduct queries relevant to that topic, that website is more likely to appear higher in organic results, increasing site visits and if the website is up to scratch, sales, and other business-relevant results.
2. SEO specialists are competing for journalist’s attention
Forward-thinking SEO specialists have been taking media outreach seriously since 2011, when Google made a huge change to its search algorithm, through the Panda update.
Go Compare is an excellent example of this. Last year it secured ninety-seven links through media articles for its Billionaires League campaign. Those links generated over eight-hundred and fifty thousand visits to Go Compare’s website.
Other SEOs have however struggled to adapt. In the past eighteen months alone, several journalists in the TechJPR community have complained about inappropriate requests for links from SEO consultants.
3. Keyword research isn’t only for SEO and content marketing
In my experience keyword research isn’t something PR teams traditionally prioritise. It is often regarded as a function of search or content marketing teams instead.
This is such a shame as keyword research can be so helpful for PR practitioners. At Brighton SEO, Sophie Colley summarised succinctly, noting “search behaviour insight is an in-the-moment, bias-free gift for marketers.”
Through keyword research, you can learn so much about your target audience’s interests, key influencers and outlets in your sector and what activities your competitors are undertaking.
Ahrefs’ published an excellent guide on keyword research earlier this year, which is a great starting point to learn more.
4. Use Answer the Public
Answer the Public was created by the team behind Coverage Book, a PR reporting tool. Using search data from Google and Bing, the tool presents questions, prepositions and alphabetical lists related to a keyword in an easy-to-digest visualisation.
It’s a tool we have been using with great success at Edelman for over two years.
At Brighton SEO, Sophie Colley highlighted its ability to identify and understand audiences, understand influence and benchmark your brand as valuable for any PR operation.
5. Ask digital marketing colleagues to share insights
Traditional silos between PR and marketing can be difficult to break down, but for those that do the rewards can be substantial.
Take audience personas for example. Most marketing teams base their work on them, but they are less common within PR teams.
Audience personas contain a wealth of relevant information, including your target audience’s favourite media publications. Optimising campaigns using the information alone will immediately help PR professionals show more value to the business.
6. PR will be important within voice search
The growing popularity of Amazon Alexa, Google Home alongside Siri, Cortana and Google Now have got people throughout the SEO industry excited.
Google says more than 20% of all searches are voice-based already and expect this to reach 50% by 2020.
The results of voice searches typically come from featured snippets. A featured snippet is a concise summary of an answer to a search query. It is displayed at the top of search results and is extracted directly from a web page.
Media articles are already regularly being used within featured snippets.
When searching for best rugby boots, for example, an article published by The Independent is included in the featured snippet. If searching by voice this is the only answer I would receive. So, if you are in the Adidas PR or marketing team, you need to be included in that article.
Simon Penson published an excellent introduction and playbook on voice search, which is great if you want to learn more.
7. Original, unique data isn’t essential
At Edelman, we are incredibly lucky to have the Trust Barometer. With seventeen years of data across the globe, it’s an incredible asset for our own communications and marketing purposes.
Throughout Brighton SEO, sessions emphasised that primary data, however, isn’t always essential to drive PR coverage.
Vouchercloud’s Ben Harrow gave an excellent talk on driving PR coverage and links without large global data sets. Using public data sources, internal company data and other sources he has been able to drive media coverage across national and specialist trade outlets.