Historically, SEO and PR have co-existed with some occasional friction, with PRs being frustrated that SEOs are trying to steal their thunder and SEOs not fully appreciating the powerful relationships that PRs have built with the media over many years.
It’s true to say that some clients can only afford to hire agency support from one or other discipline, but where clients have the luxury of both, should 2021 be the year when we ditch the battle lines and collaborate in a better way?
If you’re at a pure PR agency, here are ten questions that you could ask your client’s SEO agency to ensure your campaigns fly.
1. What’s the keyword strategy for the campaign?
Rather than write a press release or campaign materials based on industry terminology, the client’s preferred vocabulary, or trying to second guess how the client’s customer might describe a product or service, it’s always better to base this on facts rather than assumptions.
An SEO agency should always have a good idea of what keywords the client is targeting and therefore what phrases can be woven into new written materials.
2. Which URL should be used?
Links back to a website are invaluable for several reasons, so ensure all campaign materials (including press releases) contain a link back to the client’s website. Don’t assume you know which site to use if the client has various domains. It’s much harder to get links changed after they’ve gone live so get this right from the outset.
3. What is the landing page?
Where possible, it’s best to direct people to a useful page on the client’s website rather than the home page, so ask the SEO agency which pages they’re focusing their efforts on, which pages have been optimised, and where they’re expecting the most traffic. This could be a product category page or perhaps a blog post which contains more information.
4. What should the anchor text be?
Anchor text is the visible, clickable text of a link which takes you from one site to another. Importantly it tells users what to expect on the next page and is also a useful signal to search engines. There are different types of anchor text so without getting too technical, an SEO agency will want to vary this text between different types of activity.
As well as linking to the client’s site via the anchor text, always have the full URL written out somewhere in the content as well – just in case a target site has a policy of not linking out. A written-out URL may help customers find your site by cutting and pasting, which is always a good belt and braces approach.
5. What’s the call to action?
As a result of reading the coverage, what action do you want the client’s potential customers to take? Whether it’s buying a product, downloading a brochure or registering for a webinar, this needs to be clearly communicated and may comprise various on and offline tactics. Make sure the customer journey is agreed in advance by both the SEO and PR agencies, so that the client can easily understand the results and all parties can be rewarded for success.
6. What complementary digital content is being created to support the campaign?
Are there any other assets such as articles, infographics, factsheets, videos, presentations, blog posts etc. being created that will sit on the client’s website? All of these items could be useful when pitching out content so share and share-alike.
7. Are there any online targets that might not be on traditional PR contact lists?
A great review of a new product or service, written by an independent third party such as a journalist, is undoubtedly the PR holy grail but SEO takes a much broader approach to ‘good coverage’. Clearly, it would be embarrassing for the PR agency and SEO agency to reach out to the same targets so when lists are being allocated, ensure relevant directories, forums, discussion sites, trade bodies, existing clients, business partners, Q&A sites, Slideshare, YouTube, social media, Wiki pages, local sites, glossaries etc. are also included. As long as these sites are of a good quality and contextually relevant, content placed here is all helpful to the client.
8. So what are the telltale signs of a ‘good quality’ site worth targeting for coverage?
In general, getting positive coverage anywhere is not going to do the client any harm but the reality is clients are usually paying for a finite amount of time, so all agencies need to ask themselves how they can make a tangible difference with the resources available.
Rather than use a gut feel about whether a particular site is worth targeting, it’s often useful for a PR agency to have facts and figures to hand such as the domain authority of the site compared to the client’s site, how many visitors a site receives, what the page rank is, and whether it’s social media footprint is sound. An SEO agency can help with all of the above.
9. Where do competitors have coverage/links?
An SEO agency will have software at its disposal that allows it to see where the client’s competitors have coverage and links. These sites can often be low hanging fruit for a PR agency, so it’s definitely worth investigating. And it’s also useful to discuss who the client’s competitors are—these might be different in the online and real world!
10. Did the collective effort work?
Why not work together on a joint report that shows the collective outcomes of the joint SEO and PR efforts? The SEO agency will be able to demonstrate how effective the campaign was via additional traffic to the site, which pieces of coverage generated referral traffic, how many website pages were viewed, how long visitors spent on the site, and whether call to action goals were completed. All of the above will help the PR agency demonstrate that their work made a tangible difference to the client – not something that can be said for counting items of coverage.
Asking the above questions of an SEO agency does not highlight weaknesses in a PR agency’s capabilities but quite the contrary. It not only keeps the SEO agency on their toes but also shows an understanding of a complementary marketing industry and an appreciation of how the whole is greater than the sum of the parts when it comes to a client’s digital footprint.
Make 2021 the year when PR and SEO work together not apart. Pick up the phone—we don’t bite!