The world of SEO and online PR has changed dramatically over the last seven years. Back in 2009, the world of search engine optimization could be split into two distinct categories. On the one hand was SEO itself, a budget way to improve your site’s online visibility. And on the other was PR, used mostly for reaching out to customers in the online space. SEO was focused on generating more inbound marketing, whereas PR was all about generating better outreach.
But things began to change. Google went to war with the SEO experts and the link builders with a variety of algorithm updates. These updates were designed to reduce spam and enhance the user experience. But they also made the work of SEOs and legitimate businesses much harder. All of a sudden it wasn’t possible to cram your website full of keywords or build artificial backlinks from disreputable sites. Instead, Google’s ranking algorithms had gotten smart. Panda, Penguin, and Hummingbird all removed the ability of SEO marketers to boost a site’s ranking artificially. Try any of those old-school SEO methods today, and you’ll likely be punished by Google and get a bad rap in your industry.
All this means that there’s change afoot in the online marketing space. Google wants businesses to avoid using shady SEO tactics like directory submissions. Instead, it wants them to build great sites that focus on the customer experience. Google now values user engagement signals more highly than ever. It collects information on how long a customer spends on your site, the quality of your site’s content and semantics. That’s not to say that link building is no longer necessary – it is, it’s just that it’s something that is now much harder to do.
So what can companies do, now that Google has closed the door to so many staple SEO tactics?
Use PR Alongside SEO Strategy For Best Results
Back in 2014, Google filed a patent. The patent pertained to a way of ranking websites based not on backlinks, but the number of mentions that website had across the internet. The thinking was that the more mentions a site got, the more relevant and interesting for people it must be. Companies, therefore, shouldn’t underestimate the importance of getting non-linked mentions on other sites. In fact, they should be very interested in finding ways to get themselves more mentions online through a variety of channels.
This is where PR suddenly becomes so important. If you can get people talking about you on forums, blogs, and social media, Google will take that into account. It’ll start thinking to itself, “Gee sure does seem like this site is important – people are talking about it!” And when that happens, suddenly your site is given a higher priority in the web rankings and more domain authority.
So the big marketing push in 2016 is to get others talking about you. Your business needs to do all it can to make sure that it is inspiring people in its niche. It needs to find ways to break the ice and get the conversation going.
If you’ve ever tried to create a buzz, however, you’ll know that this is easier said than done. But there are things that marketers can do to reach out to their communities. First, start by doing your research. Find opportunities in your niche to gain maximum exposure. Approach influencers and publishers in your niche who could talk about you. Then narrow down your focus. You want to build relationships with people who are both relevant to your product and have good SEO value.
Next, make sure that you have a dedicated person assigned to deal with each influencer relationship. Individual relationships are important for building trust. They help to establish a rapport with those who can get your message out.
Once relationships are established, ensure that your articles are constructed for maximum SERP performance. Always include your target keywords within your articles, including variations. And ensure that every piece that you write has a link that refers directly back to your website.
Think carefully about what link-building strategy you should follow. It might be the case that it’s not your homepage that needs a boost, but certain poorly performing landing pages. And also make sure that your link building strategy is in line with Google’s link-building guidelines. The ratio of do-follow to no-follow links should be around two to one.
Finally, take steps to evaluate your results. Measure any improvements in article views, new branded searches from PR action, and bounce rates. Investigate whether conversions are up and whether you have any new referral traffic.