Ever since Google's Penguin and Panda algorithm updates rocked the SEO world, digital marketers have been forced to lay down their black hat tactics and focus on marketing efforts that have been in place for years. Link building was especially hit hard by the algorithm updates, and as a result, content marketing has emerged as a lead means to facilitating SEO campaigns. SEO is essentially the practice of making your website and your content easy for both the visitor and Google to navigate and consume. Content is a huge part of this. In order for content marketing to work, you have to create genuinely interesting stories, infographics, videos and interactives that educate, entertain and keep the user's attention.
Public relations efforts, specifically the media relations arm of PR, align very well with a well-oiled content marketing strategy because you're creating quality content with tactics like influencer marketing, expert interviews and outreach with visual content. You're organically setting yourself up for some easy SEO wins, and if you know how to capitalize on it, PR and SEO can become BFFs. Here are the three things you need to do in order to capitalize on the PR and SEO friendship.
1. Use the Tools of the Trade
There are an overwhelming amount of tools out there that claim to be the perfect answer to your outreach/PR/media relations problems. However, there are a handful that we swear by at Digital Third Coast.
This tool has many functions, all of which I implore you to check out, but the main functionality of the software revolves around finding the content that gets the most shares within a certain topic. You simply enter a keyword into the search bar and the tool finds the most shared articles, interviews, videos, infographics, guest posts and giveaways. This is incredibly valuable for marketers and PR professionals alike that are looking to create content that resonates with readers. It's a great tool to help you create better content, which will garner great placements and hopefully links.
So now you've created some awesome content (or so you think), and it's time to amplify it. Muck Rack is an ideal tool for amplifying content because it basically marries PR and marketing professionals with journalists. They bill themselves as "the easiest way to find & contact journalists," and I would wholeheartedly agree with that statement. They have an expansive list of journalists in their system that you can find and contact directly in the software itself, or copy and paste into an email client. It's not an easy task to manually find a journalist through Googling their name, but Muck Rack has made a platform that is simple to use and provides a lot of great information. Along with their contact info you can see their recent articles on the topic you search for. This is a must have tool for marketers and PR professionals.
HARO is essentially a way of making yourself or your clients available to journalist requests. The program sends out an email three times a day with requests from journalists for interviews or information organized by topic. What's great is that you can email the reporter directly to setup a connection and provide quotes for his or her story that he or she is going to write. This has a low barrier of entry because you already know the journalist is interested in getting information for his or her article, so the pitch doesn't have to be overly salesy. Often the writers will provide a link for contributors, which is how you can maximize the SEO value, and it only takes a few minutes to check out all of the requests. One great feature is that you can customize what verticals are sent to you during the signup process. Oh, and it's FREE.
2. Build Relationships
No one likes a cold sell. They invented the "do not call" list for a reason, and I'm definitely on that list. When you reach out to journalists to entice them amplify your content, you shouldn't really even be focused on pitching, but rather building a relationship with a person that can become an ambassador for your content. When you're initially reaching out, avoid even asking for anything off the bat. Journalists get pitched stories hundreds of times a day, so they can sniff out when someone is desperately looking to use their name to get publicity. Instead, show that you follow their work by getting into a conversation about their latest article. Follow them on Twitter (you can find them through the aforementioned Buzzsumo), comment on their articles in the comments section of the publication, and most importantly, never use the word "link." These relationships can last for a long time if you have a calculated approach to building a quality relationship. Remember, journalists are often judged on their ability to attract views, social shares and engagement. They are constantly on the lookout for opportunities to create an article that resonates with their audience. If you build a strong relationship, it can be a gift that keeps on giving and make your job as a media relations guru a breeze.
3. Get the Link
Yes, you'll want to make sure you get source attribution if a journalist shares your content. A lot of PR professionals don't focus or even care about getting a link back to their client's site, which is a huge wasted opportunity to provide SEO value to the work they're doing. A link is a vessel that carries equity from one site to another. If you're getting content placed on a high authority site like Forbes, passing equity from Forbes to your client site can have a huge impact. If you're not getting the link, then you're not providing maximum value to your client. If you're sending out press releases, make sure the links are "nofollow" links, as per Google's guidelines. If you get a placement on a high authority site and the link wasn't added, reach back out to the writer and politely ask if they could provide source attribution for the quote, infographic, video etc. Journalists will most likely oblige, especially if you have a long-standing relationship, but never demand that they provide a link. It's typically good form from the journalist side to provide a link in case their readers want to explore the providing company's website and learn more, so don't sweat it too much.