This post is part of The PR Channel’s “Guest Blogger Series” featuring insights from Austin-area entrepreneurs and business leaders in areas complementary to PR (including marketing, sales, graphic design, web development and more).
In today’s online driven world, everyone in the marketing profession should understand search engine optimization (SEO) basics. Public Relations is no different. I would argue that only website strategists have more at stake before the mighty sword of Google.
Why SEO for PR?
There are many reasons to apply SEO best practices for PR. The top three benefits are:
- Support content strategy for your website in a keyword-rich fashion
- Drive additional “free” traffic back to your website
- Optimize your approach to link-building via PR efforts
All of these can help support overall SEO objectives, if managed properly.
How to Apply SEO to PR
Many PR practitioners shudder at the thought of reading about search engine optimization in depth, but there are a few techniques you can quickly and easily apply to help your content spread more online.
Know your Keywords
Whatever industry you are in, be sure you have a good starting list of relevant keywords to use. If keyword research is out of your realm of skills (or interest areas), get your SEO or Web Manager involved early. Be sure to get a good list of general industry terms and specific or long-tail keywords.
Use Keywords Judiciously
If you have been in the marketing game for more than a half-decade, you have likely heard the term keyword density, which is a loose measure of how many times a word appears on a web page in relation to the total word count. There is no golden ratio you should pursue, but there are good rules of thumb.
1. Be sure a keyword appears in the body content enough to indicate that it is a prime keyword for the page.
2. Never use it so many times that the content becomes less natural sounding.
So use the keyword, but don’t overdo it. Believe it or not, the algorithm is sophisticated enough to know when you are stuffing the content with keywords to manipulate rankings.
Put Keywords in the Right Places
This is the most important part of all. It is not enough to use a keyword; you need to let Google know that it is a very important keyword without overusing it in the content. To best optimize for Google, the main keyword for each page / press release should appear:
- In the Title of the page or press release, located as early in the title as possible. Google only indexes 65 characters, so get the keywords on there before your company name appears.
- In the byline / description area just beneath the title. Include it in the first 100-120 characters if at all possible.
- At least once in a header (H1, H2, H3) other than the main title of the page. In the hierarchy of importance, Google’s formula makes note of what you put in the headers. You should be breaking up the content into sections with headers anyway for ease of reading.
- Bolded on first use in the body content. Google uses special text treatment such as bolding or italics next when deciding topic of relevance.
There are many other factors to keep in mind when placing keywords on the page, but don’t despair. When you are just getting started, these four tips will help you make a big difference quickly.
Dictate the Anchor Text
Every press release, media release, or other document you plan to send to external services or websites should include a minimum of one backlink to your website. Aside from helping you build backlinks from high quality news sites, which is a goal of all good SEO strategies, it allows you to control the anchor text.
Anchor text is the phrase that is actually hyperlinked to another website. All of the search engines also use anchor text as a guide to understand the topic of the page being linked to. Think of it as a “Vote” for what that page means from an unbiased third party website. That’s what it means to Google.
There are many facets to SEO, just as there are with PR and other marketing disciplines. But a few simple tips can make a big difference if implemented correctly. Take a little time to understand on-page SEO at a minimum. The more you use it, the better off your website and your business will be in the long run.
This guest post is by Tommy Landry of Return On Now. Operating out of Austin, TX, Return On Now offers consulting for and advanced analysis of online marketing topics such as SEO, Social Media, Content Strategy, PPC/SEM, Usability, Website Strategy, and Online Conversion / Landing Page Optimization.