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Why the Future of Public Relations is SEO

Posted on the 21 May 2016 by Chris

Public relations and search engine optimization may seem like strange bedfellows, but when you think about it, their role in a company is actually very similar. They’re both dedicated to increasing awareness, credibility, and visibility of the company or brand.

The major difference is that where SEO focuses on search engine rankings, public relations deals with creating buzz and interest among people and communities. Since the two have such similar goals, it’s no surprise that the duties of SEO and public relations are increasingly overlapping, and it seems that in the future, the tasks of SEO will continue to align more with those of public relations.

Moreover, the approach of public relations appears to be very applicable to SEO, and a growing number of SEO best practices are taking pages from the PR book. The roles of SEO and public relations have already begun to merge, and all signs point to the two becoming increasingly interconnected in the future.

In Today’s World, Only Quality Content is King

There was a time when search engine optimization meant churning out massive amounts of content that was really just a vehicle through which to pack a website with keywords and links. When it comes to SEO best practices today, content is still the name of the game, but the rules have changed: quality and authority are much more important than quantity when it comes to content and links, and sites that rank well are trustworthy and credible.

Content has to be relevant, interesting, and informative to be worthwhile, and links have to be carefully chosen and pertinent to the brand. Public relations offers SEO assistance on this front in two respects: for one, PR can help guide content creation, but it can also help with getting that content out there into the world.

With public relations, part of the job is understanding and anticipating the needs and wants of customers, meaning PR can provide insight about what kind of content will be relevant to clients and prospective customers, what will engage readers, and what will encourage social media sharing. In general, this content will:

  • Be informative and interesting
  • Provide a unique or expert outlook on a topic
  • Be visually pleasing
  • Include infographics
  • Have video, audio, and podcasts associated with it

Along with helping you create worthwhile content, PR can also help with content delivery because a large part of public relations is building relationships that can be used as a distribution network for high-quality content. The same way that you trust public relations to get the word out there when your company has big news so too can SEO rely on the same PR techniques to spread content. Moreover, the relationships that PR works so hard to build and maintain can also be used to create authoritative and relevant links for your website.

The Move Toward Social Optimization

Another way that SEO is becoming more like public relations is through the use of social media as a distribution tool. Whereas search engine optimization was once the only concern of SEO, today it must also focus on social optimization. This refers to the building and growing a social media presence to leverage the power of digital social networks as tools to distribute your content and your brand.

In this regard, public relations can help SEO because PR is all about building networks, creating relationships, and using connections to promote news and information. However, being successful on social media is about more than just sharing content and PR knows how to use graphics, video, and other media to create engaging memes and viral content that will interest and reach an ever-increasing number of current and potential customers.

Public Relations Brand Building and SEO Authority

Brand building is something that’s existed in public relations since the beginning, and it can be related to a newer practice in SEO known as building authority. Whereas brand building is all about developing a unique identity for your business and creating awareness about it, the purpose of authority is to establish your brand—and your company—as a trusted expert in your field or industry.

So while brand and authority building are separate endeavours, the tactics and goals are similar. SEO can learn a lot from PR on this front, because both are about building a reputation, making your brand widely recognizable, and positioning your company as relevant and significant. Not only that, but creating authoritative content for your site will help you get other high-quality links and backlinks, and it will increase your search engine rankings, making it an integral element in modern SEO best practices.

There was a time when search engine optimization and public relations were completely separate entities, and while SEO concerned itself with search engine ranking, public relations focused on brand building and awareness. But as Google’s algorithms become more sophisticated and precise, SEO tactics have been forced to adapt, and public relations best practices are becoming increasingly relevant for search engine optimization.

Irrelevant content creation and linking are no longer enough to help your website rank (in fact, the newer algorithms are actually starting to punish these practices). This is why SEO is focusing more and more on PR-inspired techniques, including creating content that appeals to the consumer, using networking and social media to create awareness, and focusing on establishing a brand as an authority.

As consumer web browsing and searching becomes more refined and Google continues to change its algorithms in response, so too will search engine optimization become more similar to public relations in its goals and purposes within a company.

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