Five Search Secrets Every PR Pro Should Know

While they take different approaches, PR and SEO both aim to achieve the same goal – growing an organizations brand presence in the market place. So it’s smart to align strategies to create a bigger impact using both inbound and outbound tactics. Here are five important things to remember when coordinating PR and search.

1)    Develop a keyword glossary. Start by creating a list of the keywords that customers use to find products and services like yours (more about this later). Then use Google’s free Keyword Planner Tool to generate additional, related keywords – and to determine how many searches each keyword receives per month (keywords with higher search volumes are of course more important). Export this data as a .csv file into Excel. (Hint: color-coordinating worksheets according to their main theme helps keep things organized).

Once you have your keyword glossary, refer to it frequently when creating different types of content. And remember the glossary is always a work-in-progress – something you should update regularly, since the popularity of individual keywords may fluctuate, and new ones may emerge.

2)    Use words your customers are searching with. We marketers love to coin new words and phrases – be it for a new product, a trend or a hot topic, or simply a fancier name for an existing product you hope customers will embrace because it sounds fresh. (Example: ASP begat onDemand which begat SaaS which begat Cloud).

But peppering your content with your hot new word won’t help people find your solution if that’s not what they are searching for. You will miss valuable opportunities to join in the conversation if you target keywords that customers and prospects simply aren’t using. If you feel you MUST introduce a new word, try using it along with the established terms to help build familiarity.

3)    Optimize your content… all of it. This sounds obvious, but every page of your site should be optimized for search. For each page, first pick a keyword to target, by consulting your keyword glossary. Select a keyword that gets a significant volume of monthly searches – there’s no point in optimizing for a term no-one is searching for. Then, optimize the content page by sprinkling the target keyword liberally throughout the content – in the main headline, possibly in the subheads, throughout the content and in the <alt> and <title> tags.

Balance is important though. Remember, your main goal must be to improve value, readability and usefulness of the content for the user. Improving your content’s “findability” by the search engines is the secondary goal.

4)    Stop including links in press releases. Seriously. Change your belief that linking in press releases is an SEO strategy as this practice is now heavily frowned upon by search engines and will hurt your rankings. In an effort to stop link-building schemes, the search engines are increasingly penalizing sites that are linking in press releases using keyword-targeted anchor text links.

So what’s a search-focused PR person to do? Best practice is now to include target keywords in the headline (or subhead if you can’t get it in the headline) and spread them throughout the release three to five times, if possible.

Links to your website through the company’s name or through a direct URL are still fine, but add the “no-follow” tag to the link if the press release will be hosted on a domain you control. Also, go back and add the “no-follow” tag to links in older press releases where you can. (For more on no-follow links, refer to Google’s Webmaster Guidelines.)

5)    Syndicating content? Make sure search engines know it’s yours. PR pros love to syndicate blogs and press releases, and to re-use and repurpose content – it’s  a great way to spread news and build brand awareness.

But for search engines, this creates the problem of duplicate content. When the same piece of content appears in multiple places on the Internet, search engines have a hard time deciding which version is more relevant to a given search query. For example, a search engine may choose to rank a blog that re-publishes your post higher than the original on your site.

To avoid this problem, add the rel=canonical tag to content on your site – and omit that tag when you syndicate it. This informs search engines that your content is the “canonical” version they should be indexing.

Whatever PR task you are performing, always consider how search plays into the mix. Incorporating SEO into your PR endeavors will ensure you get maximum exposure for your brand.

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