If you work in digital PR and you didn’t mention the word SEO in your last client deck, it’s time to get practicing. Google’s latest algorithm update, Penguin 2.0, has made it even clearer that the future of SEO lies in an integrated content marketing approach with great digital PR tactics at its’ heart.
It also provides an opportunity to begin to quantify at least some of the value that digital PR provides. Want to tell your client how many new e-commerce conversions your coverage gained them? That’s closer than you think.
SEO is in effect, manipulation of the search results. If cheapcars.com is above Ford in Google, it’ll get a lot more traffic. But if I type in “new cars Sydney” is cheapcars.com really the first result I want?
Google needs to ensure that those results are exactly what I need. If they aren’t, user experience drops and over time, all those lovely advertising dollars go to Bing instead.
So historically SEO has often been fighting against Google rather than with them. In the 90’s it was spamming keywords, in the 2000’s it was buying links, but very few people bothered to just “be the result that users want”. That was idealism right? Easier to throw $500 at link farmers than make a great product, a great website, or be a great company?
It’s this attitude that Google has done everything it can to discourage. Over the years there have been high profile scalps (JC Penney and Interflora both spent time kicked out of Google’s index) and mass algorithm updates (Penguin, Panda) that have forced the issue. Today, Penguin 2.0 was released, and a number of major brands have lost their rankings. They even got a two-week warning from Google’s Matt Cutts.
So if you can’t cheat the algorithm, how do you do great SEO? You find out what people want, you create content that answers that need, provide a great service and shout about it. You ensure your content is being talked about, shared and linked to, that your brand name is being mentioned on authoritative sites, on influencer blogs and on social media. That’s good SEO.
Sound Familiar? It certainly should if you do digital PR. Which is why now, more than ever it’s important that all digital PR strategy understands and is informed by SEO.
Ben Bale is director, digital, at CMG Australia