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How SEO and PR Can Coexist

To avoid confusion let me just clarify that by “PR” I’m referring to Public Relations and not Google’s Pagerank. Are we all on the same page? Okay, good.

Now let’s dive into why PR and SEO need to get along and play nicely…

In the past, SEO and PR were viewed as being two worlds far apart, offering different opportunities and solutions for their clients. Today, this is no longer the case. The two professions are currently far more intertwined than ever before. Mike Cherenson, former Chair and CEO of the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA), points out “The future of SEO is not in the technology, it’s in the ability to tell stories that readers and Google will find interesting…and that’s public relations.”

So how did it happen and why?

To put it simply, Google. The technology company updated its algorithms to emphasize the quality of the content and premium sites linking to your site. Thus, to appear high on Google’s result page you not only need to produce high quality content that people want to share, but also content that makes you stand out amongst the crowd. To SEOs this might have been a revelation, but for PR practitioners, this was like saying the sea is wet. For PRs, delivering high-quality content is the bread and butter of what they do, and it is something they have done long before Google was around.

Now you might be thinking, “Wait, does this mean that PR is slowly replacing SEO?” Well no. Whilst the two professions are heading towards the same direction, it is important to remember that SEO and PR are still two separate entities that will continue to co-exist. Instead, I would argue that both SEOs and PRs need to embrace the overlap between the two fields, rather than fight it, so that they can learn from each other about how their roles can evolve.

What PR can teach SEO

A PR’s job is to build relationships with all types of public – from employees to management to shareholders, media and the community. Unfortunately, this point tends to get lost a bit with SEO because the focus is on the search engine rather than the person. However, PRs know that not every battle can be won over a laptop. They know if you want to survive the current updates happening with Google you need to have strong relationships.

At the same time, strong relationships can help you earn high quality links. The bonds that are built through public relations are the relationships that SEOs drool over. These relationships with journalists,reporters, and editors can help you attract authority links that Google loves.

What SEO can teach PR

In the same way that SEO can learn from PR, there is also much PR can learn from SEO.

As previously mentioned, a big part of PR is about producing content – from writing blog posts to posting on social media and creating corporate videos. Surprisingly, however,  is that much of this content goes to waste because of overflow of information.

Knowing SEO can give both you and your organization a leg up by 1) determining what content has historically performed best, 2) using keywords that will push you to the top of Google’s result page, and 3) knowing how to pitch something to journalists based on what they have covered before.

At the same time, SEO can also teach PR how to be more accountable when measuring the performance of communication. For PR, the difficulty to measure the success of a project is down to the mixture of online and offline media they need to deal with. Hence, it is easy to see why SEO appears easier to measure. There are clear and accessible tools such as Google Analytics that make the measuring of SEO projects much more easier and clearer.

These are just some ideas and examples on what SEO can teach PR and vice versa. Obviously, I have a SEO background, so if you have experience from PR, please leave a comment below and share your thought on how we can further evolve both PR and SEO.

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