5 ways SEO and PR should be working together

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With a newly integrated and and constantly evolving digital landscape, marketing and communication channels are working together more closely than ever before. Granted, you’ll see variations in how well this is actually executed based on your business structure and the channels themselves, but the fact is: Channels can’t exist in silos.

An easy collaboration exists between PR and SEO, now that good content and outreach is an integral part of SEO success — and those two things are something PR knows all too well. So how can these two different teams help each other reach the same business goal?

Education

Let’s start with the most obvious: education.

It’s easy to get wrapped up in your specialty bubble, so when you start working with folks on other teams with other specialties, it’s just as easy to forget that they don’t know what you know.

PR professionals aren’t taught about the impact that online earned media can have on SEO and keyword rankings, so before you dive in with your handful of requests, educate them on the hows and the whys. Do this in shorter sessions over a few weeks, rather than one long session, and most importantly, educate them on what they’ll be able to get out of the relationship.

This shouldn’t just be one-sided, though. Just like PR isn’t taught SEO, SEO isn’t taught PR, so reach out to your counterparts to better understand their jobs and their roles. For example, media outreach is just one portion of the job of an SEO and content marketer, but it’s an expertise your PR counterparts know and understand well.

Optimizing links in earned coverage

Next up: links. Your SEO team should be helping your PR team optimize the links in all of their earned media coverage — things like company press releases or non-paid stories. SEO can help choose links that have keywords that need a ranking boost, and they can also make sure PR is pulling the right URL to link to.

For example, at REI, if someone needed a link to “backpacking tents,” they might pull the URL generated from an internal search query (i.e. https://www.rei.com/search.html?q=backpacking+tents&ir=q%3Abackpacking+tents&page=1) instead of the landing page in the main navigation (https://www.rei.com/c/backpacking-tents). The internal search page isn’t indexed, so that link won’t provide any lift for that keyword. The same goes for any team that’s producing content that will include links.

But it’s not just getting links within PR coverage that’s important. SEO should also consult with PR to make sure any links from paid sponsorships are nofollowed to avoid any search engine penalty.

Managing media outreach

Influencer outreach is a critical component in any marketing strategy, and depending on the size of your company, there’s likely more than one team handling said outreach.

That makes things a little trickier because you don’t want multiple people from the same company reaching out to an influencer. It causes confusion with the blogger/writer/media manager/subject matter expert if they’re getting different requests from different people in the same company. 

To help eliminate some of that crossover, set guidelines for the different types of outreach that different teams will own. For example, your PR team should own the relationship with mass media outlets, while your content marketing team owns the relationships with bloggers and subject matter experts.

Share these lists and send potential contacts to other teams before you make contact to make sure a relationship doesn’t already exist. This can also help avoid any wasted time on pitching a source that isn’t responsive if the other team has already tried. GroupHigh is a great tool that can help you manage this outreach.

Aligning messages and stories

With multiple teams managing outreach, you’re bound to have multiple stories coming out around the same time. Have your SEO and PR teams (and any other teams who are responsible for creating content) align on the broader messaging and timing to ensure your brand is putting out the same theme of content and not mixing messages or promoting two different things at the same time.

This doesn’t need to be down to the specific topic; it’s more of a high-level guiding principle. Keep a content calendar that aligns with business priority and seasonality.

Sharing & amplifying content

Creating content is hard work (not to mention expensive work), and it’s something both content marketing and PR do extremely well for two extremely different audiences. Make your content word harder by sharing what’s already been created that other teams can pull from and repurpose.

For example, your content marketing team created an infographic for a third-party influencer who agreed it can be republished as long as there’s a link back to the original source. Your PR team can take that same infographic and pitch it out to their media sources, creating more links for the search team and an easy content placement for the PR team.

These combined efforts also allow both teams to influence more KPIs so they can better report how their activities are impacting multiple segments of the business. PR is likely eager to add tangible KPIs to their campaigns, and SEO has just expanded its team and impact without having to fight for additional resources, which we all know is a constant battle. PR can use keyword rank changes on pages they helped secure links to, and SEO can show how many more links or shares a piece of content got with PR’s amplification efforts.

It all comes down to communication when working with other teams that have different KPIs from yours. Meet weekly or biweekly with your counterparts to make sure each team is up to date on what the other is working on to eliminate duplication of work and collaboration on similar efforts.

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