The PR and SEO Relationship Status

by Emma Donnelly Red Hot Penny

PR and SEO teams share a common goal – to increase a brand’s presence in the marketplace – but they take completely different approaches. Originally, these two services existed as separate entities and offered different digital marketing features. David Schulhof, Digital Marketing Director at Red Hot Penny, explains how the relationship has evolved

Search engine optimisation is the practice of making your content findable in the right internet search context. It hasn’t been a huge focus for the public relations industry, until now. In our opinion, it is a much-needed and welcome shift that will benefit our clients immensely.

Our PR and SEO teams have taken advantage of this change and are working more closely together within a new integrated and evolved digital landscape for our clients.

What triggered this change?

It’s all down to Google. They started to place more importance on the quality and relevance of the content generated and now focus on how premium the sites are that link to your site. Therefore, to appear high in Google’s results pages, you have to take the time to write and share insightful and appealing content and get links from popular sites.

However, if you work in public relations, this will already be something you are familiar with and aim for in your day-to-day role. These days, quality links and desirable content have become the glue which binds search engine optimisation and public relations together.

Traditional PR is old news. Digital PR has taken over.

What are PR and SEO joint goals?

Anyone in the digital industry knows that engaging content which is targeted at the proper audience won’t just boost brand awareness – it will also inspire people to share what they have read with their friends. These are the two main goals of any PR and SEO professional. The connections that PR experts make with impactful publishers and bloggers are a massive benefit for anybody working within SEO. That’s why today you will see many PR and SEO professionals working more closely with one another on a project. Put plainly, joint PR and SEO goals may develop stronger digital marketing plans which assist in ultimately spearheading brand visibility.

One such task which is shared by both departments includes content management, and especially, content calendars. Content calendars, previously, would solely be utilised by public relations experts for scheduling and creating topics for stories. SEO professionals are now integrating content calendars in their strategies for content marketing.

Case study example

Before our PR team creates or pitches a story, members of both PR and SEO teams discuss key messages, targeted keywords, distribution tactics and overall goals for each team. Also, both teams explore the content landscape, then brainstorm, and develop content that sets us apart from the competition.

An example of this technique is for our client Polistas, a heritage lifestyle brand born out of the sport of polo. Our PR team planned to take full advantage of polo season which is June through to September, this guaranteed that the content was topical. We created exclusive content with the Polistas team detailing information on polo etiquette and what to wear to the polo, from people to attend the events all year round.

We use specific keywords within the copy and pitch the content to relevant publications who were highlighted by our SEO team. The spokespeople communicating with the press are made aware of the keywords so that they are reflected in the resulting coverage. The websites in question have excellent followings and are well respected by Google, therefore any gained coverage will give Polistas authority on results pages.

What to do going forward

Since PR and SEO are now linked, utilising that knowledge to locate better links to your site will help dramatically. Social media channels such as Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and a multitude of others are extremely important ways to gain traffic and eventually links which are based upon organic interest of your website. Links from prominent publications, of course, still are gold; however, it is a lot simpler to grow relationships with bloggers and additional social media users who have engaged, substantial readerships which make them a precious link to go after. Which is another way our PR team are responding to this change.

Thoughts from our team

Sara Barrett, Senior PR Account Manager:

“PR and SEO strategies have evolved considerably over the last few years. Creating a buzz online so high authority websites are talking about your brand requires a PR approach. The age old saying of ‘content is king’ really comes into play here. High quality content helps you earn links.
Due to the vast number of pitches media contacts receive every day, you need to be sending in an attention grabbing piece that is well thought out and relevant to the outlet you are targeting. If you can position yourself as a reliable source of great content, you will build relationships with media contacts that SEO’s crave. These relationships can earn you links from high authority sites that search engines love. Remember that a few links from authoritative websites offer far more impact than lots of low quality links with the sole intention of trying to manipulate search rankings. Social media channels are also a great way of amplifying your social reach which can result in not only earning links from online influencers but also earning your brand new customers. By combining PR and SEO you can develop an effective online marketing campaign where the results will be reflected in your page ranking.”

Carl Brooks, Senior SEO Manager:

“Traditional SEO techniques and strategies simply do not have the impact that they used to, link building has been a contentious subject for years and especially with Google algorithm updates in the past two years. Therefore, it is imperative for any SEO that we gain links in a natural way through the use of unique and creative content and that the outreach is also done in the right way. This is where the synergy between PR and SEO is crucial, making sure that you have high quality content that is unique, engaging and shareable is the only way to build an effective linking strategy that is natural, ethical and will not make you fall foul of search engine penalties. The relationship between PR and SEO is simple, your SEO campaign will not be successful without the expertise of PR.”


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