Did you know that over 70% of all online experiences begin in a search engine, and over 90% of all searches take place on Google? This makes Google the most important customer acquisition platform in the world, according to Chris Dickey, owner of Purple Orange Brand Communications and CEO of Visibly. As a result, understanding how search engines work and how they can be used to syndicate PR content is crucial for any business or brand looking to reach new customers and make an impact.  

Dickey shared his expertise during an Agility webinar, discussing the importance of search engine optimization (SEO) and its role in attracting new customers to a business. Chris highlighted the benefits of using SEO to improve a website’s ranking on search engines, and delved into how it can attract a high-quality audience with a low bounce rate. 

Keep reading to learn more, or dive right into Chris’ free on-demand webinar here. 

Why search engines matter to PR  

Search engines are often thought of as the domain of SEO experts, but there is a good reason why PR professionals should be involved in how search is performing. SEO has a tremendous impact on how people buy and how it influences their decisions. The first page of search results is where most audience traffic arrives, making SEO mastery an incredible way to put PR content in the spotlight, and in front of the right audience.  

When it comes to PR, search engines offer a high-quality audience with a low bounce rate, indicating that they are already interested in the product or service being offered. While there is still value in winning PR placements, it is important to understand that these placements are not necessarily a new customer acquisition strategy. Instead, they are reaching people who are already in the funnel. 

SEO, business visibility, and success 

Dickey discusses the importance of SEO for businesses, stating that “SEO is the single most important thing that you can do to your website to make it successful.” He explained that search engines like Google use complex algorithms to determine the relevance and quality of a website, and that a higher ranking on search engine results pages (SERPs) can lead to increased traffic and visibility for a business.  

The benefits of SEO 

One of the biggest benefits of SEO, according to Dickey, is that it can attract an audience that is already interested in a business’s products or services. This is because when someone searches for a specific keyword or phrase related to a business, they are already confirming some prior knowledge and indicating their interest in that topic, product, or service. 

“Search engines give you a super quality audience indicated by a low bounce rate,” says Dickey. “Of course, there’s a lot of value in winning earned PR placements. I’m not saying there’s not, but the person who is searching wants to read, and is already in the funnel. They’re probably already interested in purchasing this particular product. It’s not really a new customer acquisition strategy.”  

SEO doesn’t work without link building 

Link building has emerged as a critical component of any effective SEO strategy. As a PR expert, you should understand the significance of link building, the role it plays in search engine rankings, and why not all links are created equal.   

According to Dickey, link building is a critical aspect of SEO, and without it, SEO efforts would be incomplete. However, he notes that some SEO companies may engage in practices that are not ideal. 

He believes that PR agencies should try to be involved in link building as they have the unique advantage of being experts at making connections.

“PR agencies should be holding this mantle because we do incredible link building,” he said. 

The importance of link building 

Dickey explains that link building is essentially a social network that Google looks at when determining the importance of a website for a given subject. The search engine looks at the number of outside sources linking to a website, the quality of those links, and the quality of the linking websites. This, in turn, influences search engine rankings. 

“It’s probably the number one influence of search engine rankings,” Dickey said. “And you have this [system] where you’ve got these external websites, and each one of them has this made-up term called link juice. And when they link to you, they effectively share some of their juice with you. And so your cup gets fuller and fuller.” 

The influence of link building 

Dickey argues that link building is the most important influence on search engine rankings. He explains that Google looks at how many outside sources are linking to a website, and the quality of those links, to determine a website’s importance for any given subject.  

Not all links are created equal 

While link building is crucial, not all links are created equal. Dickey explains that there are two types of links – dofollow and nofollow links. 

“A dofollow link is essentially a vote of confidence from that website to you, and it helps improve your rankings,” he said. “A nofollow link, on the other hand, is a link that the publisher puts in that basically tells Google not to count this link toward your link juice or don’t actually count this link as something that’s going to improve their SEO.” 

The importance of keywords  

Another important aspect of SEO, according to Dickey, is the use of keywords. He explained that keywords are the words and phrases that people use to search for information online, and that businesses need to use these keywords in their website content in order to rank higher on SERPs.  

He also discussed the importance of using long-tail keywords, which are longer and more specific phrases that are less competitive than shorter, more general keywords. By targeting these long-tail keywords, businesses can attract a more targeted audience that is more likely to convert into customers.   

Using keywords in PR strategy      

One of the key ways that PR professionals can leverage search engines is by using keywords to build lists and target specific audiences. By understanding what keywords people are using to search for products or services related to their brand, PR professionals can create content that is optimized for those keywords, increasing the chances that their content will appear in relevant search results.   

The role of content in SEO 

Search engines use complex algorithms to determine the relevance and quality of a website’s content, so businesses need to create high-quality, informative content that is optimized for search engines. 

He also emphasized the importance of creating content that is relevant to a business’s target audience, stating that “you need to create content that is helpful, that’s useful, that’s informative, and that is something that your audience is actually going to want to read.” 

Earned media  

Earned media, such as PR placements, can be used to put a brand at the top of the search results page. Dickey argues that earned media is the most important metric for determining a website’s domain authority, which is how Google determines a website’s importance relative to others. He notes that earned media has incredibly limited value in the moment that it is published, and that search engines give it “stickiness” over time and allow it to be served to new audiences. 

Measurement and reporting   

Measurement and reporting are also critical components of any successful PR strategy that leverages search engines. By tracking key metrics like website traffic, click-through rates, and conversion rates, PR professionals can gain valuable insights into the effectiveness of their content and adjust their strategy accordingly. Tools like Google Analytics can be used to track these metrics and provide detailed reports that can be used to guide future PR efforts.   

Measuring and understanding clicks  

One of the key metrics is the click share metric, which tells you what percentage audience your brand is reaching within the SERP. Dickey argues that unique visitors per month (UVM) numbers aren’t reliable and are often used as vanity metrics. Instead, he recommends using search engines to identify the quality of the audience and the search volume for any keyword. By doing this, you can analyze the number of clicks and the position in the SERP, providing a better sense of how PR is performing.   

Resources for PR professionals   

PR professionals looking to improve their search engine strategy can turn to a variety of resources for guidance and support. These resources include blogs, webinars, and online courses, as well as tools like Google Trends and Google AdWords that can be used to research keywords and track search trends. By staying up to date on the latest trends and best practices in search engine optimization, PR professionals can ensure that their content is reaching the right audience and making a lasting impact online.   

The necessity of SEO  

Whether you are a business owner, a marketing professional, or a PR executive, understanding how search engines work and how they can be used to promote your brand is essential for success in the online marketplace. 

Chris Dickey’s webinar highlights the importance of SEO for businesses looking to attract new customers and improve their online visibility. By using keywords, creating high-quality content, and focusing on attracting a targeted audience, businesses can improve their ranking on search engine results pages and reach a wider audience of potential customers. Search engines are the gateway to the majority of online experiences.  

PR agencies should be involved in how search is performing because it is an incredible way to syndicate content and put it in front of the right audience. Earned media can be used to put a brand at the top of the search results page, but it is search engines that give earned media stickiness and allow it to be served to new audiences.  

Overall, search engines and PR should be used together to create a more influential and effective marketing strategy.  

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