How to Integrate SEO and PR Without Losing Your Mind (Or Your Rankings)

By Jim Foreman| 13 Min Read | October 11, 2023
SEO Services | Integrating SEO Graphic

Table of Contents

SEO and PR are two initialisms that go together like peas and carrots, like chocolate and peanut butter, like milk and honey, like a knife and fork. They’re not the same thing, obviously, but they are pretty similar. The first thing they have in common is this: if you’re doing one, you should probably be doing the other. 

In our experience, a business that does well at SEO has the built-in capacity to do great at SEO. If you can understand the basics of public relations, then you have the fundamentally important part of SEO down pretty well already: you need to have something worth reading (or telling, or publishing, etc.). 

SEO is basically public relations, except you have a middleman: the search engine.

How SEO and PR Goals Overlap

First off, let’s talk goals. Both SEO and PR aim to increase visibility, but they do it in slightly different ways. SEO focuses on getting your website to show up in search engine results for specific keywords. PR, on the other hand, is all about managing your brand’s reputation and getting the word out through various media channels. But here’s the kicker: getting a media mention with a backlink is a win-win. You’re spreading brand awareness and improving your site’s SEO.

Benefits of Using SEO for PR

So, why should you care about integrating SEO into your PR strategy? For starters, SEO can amplify your PR. Imagine landing a feature in a top-tier publication (or even just a big industry publication). Now, imagine that feature also includes a backlink to your website. That’s like hitting a home run and then finding out you also won the lottery. The backlink boosts your SEO, and the media coverage boosts your brand reputation. It’s a match made in digital marketing heaven.

Understanding the Types of Links: PR vs. SEO

Navigating the world of links can feel like walking through a maze. But don’t worry, it’s not as complicated as it seems once you get the hang of it.

Differences Between PR Links and SEO Links

The end goal of building links is always the same – creating connections to your website from other websites. That said, the goals, strategies, and metrics for success between link building as part of a PR effort and link building as part of your SEO campaign are often different. 

For starters, links built through PR efforts are often found in press releases, news articles, or in media mentions. These links are more about sending traffic to pages that enhance a brand’s image, reputation management, and deliver specific messages to target audiences. SEO value can be gained through these links, but that value is of little concern. 

SEO link building, however, is strategically done to improve your site’s search engine rankings. These links are placed to improve the trust and authority of pages on your site that will drive highly-targeted traffic that can turn into new business opportunities. In contrast to links built through PR efforts, these links are built with less emphasis on brand awareness and a greater focus on improving keyword rankings. Value to a brand’s image and reputation is of little to no concern. 

Both forms of link building can complement each other, but the strategies behind doing them are very different. The most successful growth-focused brands need to incorporate both approaches into their plans for the best results.

Intention Behind Obtaining Each Type of Link

The intention behind these links is what sets them apart. For PR links, the goal is to increase brand awareness and credibility. You want people to see your brand in reputable publications and think, “Hey, these guys know what they’re talking about.” For SEO links, the aim is to boost your site’s authority in the eyes of search engines. The more high-quality links pointing to your site, the better your chances of ranking higher in search results.

Best Practices for SEO in PR

Relevance is Key

If crafting a pitch for journalists or meticulously selecting keywords for your on-page SEO, relevance should be at the forefront of your decision-making process. You’re not just ticking a box for search engine algorithms when you link to sites closely aligned with your brand, industry, or topic. You’re also enhancing the credibility of your content. It’s like getting a nod of approval from the bigshots in your field, which can significantly boost your brand’s reputation.

SEO and User Benefits

Relevant links are not just algorithm-pleasers. They offer tangible value to your audience. These links can serve as additional resources that provide more in-depth information, helping to enrich the user’s experience. When a user finds consistent value in your content, they’re more likely to return, share your content, or even become a loyal customer. That is what we call a PR win dressed in SEO clothing.

Minimal Linking Approach

While it might be tempting to pack your content with as many links as possible, this strategy can–and probably will–backfire. An overload of links can make your content appear spammy or disingenuous, a major turn-off for search engines and your human audience alike. 

Be selective and intentional with the links you include. Focus on their quality and relevance rather than the sheer number. This way, each link serves a purpose, either to substantiate your claims, provide additional information, or guide the reader to the next logical step in their journey.

Hot Topics and Keywords

Let’s shift gears and talk about the pulse of any good SEO and PR strategy: hot topics and keywords. Understanding what’s trending in your industry is more important than ever.

Importance of Identifying Trending Topics

Trending topics are like the North Star for your SEO and PR efforts. They guide you toward what your audience is currently interested in. By aligning your content and PR pitches with these hot topics, you increase the chances of capturing attention, both from search engines and your target audience.

Benefits for PR Campaigns

But the perks don’t stop there. Trending topics can supercharge your PR campaigns. If you pitch a story that’s aligned with a current hot topic, journalists are more likely to pick it up. If it’s timely and relevant, it gives you much-needed media exposure. And remember, media exposure with a backlink is like the cherry on top of your digital marketing sundae.

Using Multimedia

Text is great, but multimedia elements like images, videos, and social content can make your content more engaging.

Break Text with SEO Optimized Images, Videos, Social Content

Why break up text with multimedia? For starters, it makes your content more digestible. Large blocks of text can be intimidating, but images and videos act as visual breaks, making it easier for the reader to consume your content. Plus, multimedia elements can enhance your SEO. Search engines appreciate a multimedia approach because it improves user engagement, keeping visitors on your page longer.

Adding multimedia elements like images and videos can be beneficial for SEO as well. To optimize these elements, consider using relevant keywords in the file names. Additionally, make use of alt tags to describe the media. Alt tags not only make your site accessible to visually impaired users but also give search engines more context about the media. This can contribute to better search engine rankings.

SEO and User Engagement Benefits

Multimedia not only enriches the user experience but also encourages interaction. Whether it’s sharing an image on social media or commenting on a thought-provoking video, multimedia can turn passive readers into active participants. And active participants are more likely to become loyal followers or customers, amplifying your PR efforts.

Challenges in Integrating SEO into PR

It sounds like a dream, doesn’t it? Merging SEO and PR seems like a no-brainer. But hold your horses for a minute, there are going to be challenges. 

Understanding SEO Health

One of the first hurdles you have to jump is understanding the current health of your SEO. It’s crucial to know where you stand before diving into integration. SEO audits can be your best friend here. These audits will give you a comprehensive view of your site’s performance, from keyword rankings to backlink profiles. Knowing your existing SEO health can guide your PR efforts more effectively, ensuring you’re not just shooting in the dark. For example, if your page doesn’t pass technical muster, or if your rankings are in the gutter, you know where you should be focusing your efforts. If you have a keyword-stuffed site filled with broken links, no amount of SEO is going to help you. 

Tools for Tracking Rankings

But how do you keep track of all this? Thankfully, there are numerous tools available that can help you monitor your SEO performance. These tools can track keyword rankings, analyze backlink quality, and even provide insights into competitor strategies. The one we use the most is Semrush, but there are a few providers out there that can help. 

Providing Value Through Links

Another challenge is ensuring that the links you acquire through PR efforts are valuable from an SEO perspective. It’s not just about getting a link from any media mention. The link should be of high quality and relevant to your content. 

For instance, a modern digital PR campaign likely includes targeting influencers with large follower counts for podcasts on Spotify or YouTube. While coverage on those platforms is great for brand exposure, links from the show notes on those massive sites provide minimal benefit to your SEO efforts.

To get maximum SEO value through these efforts, a PR team should prioritize influencers that also have a dedicated website for their shows where they publish episode archives with transcripts, guest bios, and other show notes.  

Incorporating SEO benefits into your PR efforts will require a more strategic approach, because  the publications you  target may have to change based on domain authority, not just industry relevance and follower counts.

Quality Over Quantity in Backlinks

In SEO and PR, the primary objective for links may be different, but quality always trumps quantity. A single backlink from a reputable source can do wonders for your SEO, far more than numerous low-quality links. The benefits of that link can also be felt over a long period of time, providing a site with referral traffic and rankings gains for years if the page it was acquired on remains relevant and authoritative.

The same “quality over quantity” message is true for media coverage. One feature in a top-tier publication can significantly elevate your brand’s reputation, making all your PR efforts worthwhile. In contrast, the tangible benefits – more traffic and exposure – are often realized in a very short amount of time.

The most effective link building campaigns use tactics to bring both quantity and quality together for the highest impact. Three ways we find successful companies balancing both quantity and quality include: 

  1. Submitting company news release through PR distribution networks
  2. Allowing company logos to be linked to and shared on vendor websites  
  3. Placing links in the footers of all web properties operated by a corporation to subsidiaries

Real Value to Users

Last but not least, always aim to provide real value to your users. Whether it’s through informative content or valuable backlinks, the end goal should always be user satisfaction. Satisfied users are more likely to share your content, recommend your brand, and become repeat customers, which is the ultimate win for any SEO and PR strategy. This also leads naturally into the final and most important challenge:

High-Quality Content

The cornerstone of overcoming these challenges is high-quality content. Content that is well-researched, engaging, and valuable not only ranks well in search engines but also attracts positive media attention. The impact of high-quality content on both your PR and SEO efforts cannot be overstated. It’s important that the information you’re putting in front of people is going to improve their lives and not add more bad writing to the internet. Isn’t there enough of that already?

Speaking of bad writing, remember to use your keywords but don’t stuff them in wherever and whenever you can. Search engines will actually reduce your rankings if they think you’re trying to pull a fast one with what they call “keyword stuffing.” 

It’s not a walk in the park, but with the right strategies and a keen understanding of both disciplines, it’s more than doable. We believe in you! 

It’s Okay to Ask For SEO Help

We know how hard this stuff can be, which is why we love to help organizations with their SEO. We offer a free, no-obligation SEO audit that can help you understand a little about where you are, and some advice on what to do next. That’s just the beginning, though–we’re SEO experts and when you partner with DOM, you get top-notch SEO from a lot of experienced SEO nerds (we call ourselves that). 

Wait, You Have More Tips?

Oh yes, we have more tips. This week on our newsletter, we’ve got insights on PR and SEO straight from our SEO analysts. You won’t read those anywhere else. Sign up now so you don’t miss anything! (this will link to the sign up page obviously) 

Ready to dive even deeper into the world of SEO and PR integration? You’re in luck. Justin Seibert from DOM will be speaking about this very topic at the PRSA ICON 2023 event. This conference is a must-attend for anyone in the strategic communications community. As every year, the PRSA event promises a vibrant program packed with education, thought leadership, and networking opportunities.

About PRSA ICON 2023

The PRSA ICON 2023 conference is designed to enable attendees to learn the latest strategies and tactics in communications, public relations, and marketing. It offers a variety of sessions tailored to different career levels, sectors, and specializations. The event will be held at Nashville’s Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center and is co-located with other PRSA events, making it a comprehensive learning experience.

Key Takeaways

  • SEO and PR are Interconnected: Both aim to increase visibility and credibility, making them natural allies in a comprehensive digital marketing strategy.
  • Relevance is Crucial: Whether it’s linking or content creation, relevance to your audience and industry should guide your efforts.
  • Trending Topics Boost Campaigns: Aligning your PR and SEO strategies with current hot topics can significantly increase engagement and visibility.
  • Multimedia Enhances User Experience: Incorporating images, videos, and social content can make your content more engaging and SEO-friendly.
  • Quality Over Quantity: In both backlinks and content, aim for high quality to maximize the impact of your SEO and PR efforts.
  • Challenges Exist but are Overcomeable: From understanding your SEO health to tracking rankings, challenges can be addressed with the right tools and strategies.
  • High-Quality Content is King: Well-researched, valuable content benefits both SEO rankings and PR reputation.
  • Help is Available: If SEO and PR integration seems daunting, professional help, like that offered by DOM, can guide you through the complexities.

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