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As a PR professional, you have a lot on your plate. You have responsibility for nothing less than your brand’s public image. You’ve got to maintain relationships with media contacts, craft engaging content, monitor your organization’s reputation, and respond to crisis situations. We can’t really blame you if you wonder if you really need to worry about SEO as well.
The fact is that you do, but it doesn’t need to be a separate chore. In fact, SEO is more effective when it is woven in as part of the fabric of what you do and how you tell the story of your brand.
Here’s why you should care.
SEO is a Team Sport
In the digital world, PR, marketing, and advertising all have to work together. Your press releases and media pitches should support the messages that marketing is using to attract potential buyers and vice versa. Paid advertisements, particularly search advertising, should be in harmony as well. If the messages and key search phrases are aligned, your chances of winning for important terms is vastly improved.
If You Write It, Will they Come?
You could craft the best piece of content ever produced, but if people can’t find it, it’s like the proverbial tree falling in the forest with no one around. Silent. Should SEO be the driving force behind your content? No. Providing something interesting, useful, or entertaining for your audience should be the prime objective, but it makes sense to consider how it will be found as well. SEO should not be the only plan to distribute your content, for sure, but organic search absolutely deserves consideration as one important channel.
Media Contacts Use Google Too
If you send a pitch to a reporter they are very likely to search on your company, your industry, your products, and probably even you. What will they find when they do? It is in your best interest to think about the organic search results your media contacts are likely to see. It may be worth a concentrated effort to help move content with positive sentiment to the top of the list.
Reputation Management Requires It
Google loves user generated content, particularly reviews. This is great if all reviews of your product are glowing, but these days it is almost impossible to do business without getting a bad one once in a while. As a person with responsibility for reputation management, the last thing you want is for content on “Pissed Consumer” to make it to the first page of the Google results for your brand name. What can you do about it? You can’t demand that they are removed, but you can create and promote properly optimized content that will earn a higher rank than any negative reviews or articles, pushing them lower and lower into obscurity.
SEO Data is Instructive
Aside from efforts to control search results, it is very useful to dig into the data. Which search terms or phrases generate the most traffic to your site? Is this in line with your messaging or out of sync? Do you talk about your brand in the same language that your audience does? SEO data can help you find out.
We’re not at all suggesting that you turn to keyword stuffing, smarmy link building, or any other outdated and ineffective SEO tactics. Instead, just keep SEO in mind as you develop content and pay close attention to what shows up on the most relevant searches for your brand. Everything you do will be a lot easier if you are doing well in organic search.