3 ways to use search data to build your annual PR plan

by | Mar 10, 2022 | Analysis, Public Relations

The start of the year marks the annual planning season for many organizations. While the classic components of messaging adjustments and media list refinement are still critical, few brands effectively incorporate SEO data to enhance their strategies.

If you’re a beginner to SEO, this can seem like a daunting task. But leveraging this data is less complicated than it may seem. And when done correctly, it can help drastically improve the visibility and readership of your bylines, press releases and owned website content.

Here are three simple ways to leverage search data to help maximize the impact of the coverage you earn and the content you create. For simplicity, the how-to portion of each recommendation begins with logging into your SEO tool provider of choice (e.g., SEMrush, Moz, Ahrefs). While these tools all have very similar functionality, Moz is typically the most cost-effective and beginner-friendly.

Refresh your media lists by identifying publications who link to your competitors but not you

It’s easy for media lists to become stale with the same old vertical and trade publications. Search data provides a great opportunity to shake things up by identifying publications that have already covered and linked to your key competitors but not you.. The technical term for this exercise is a “link gap analysis,” but it’s not as complex as it sounds.

  • Input your website as the primary domain within the backlink gap interface of your tool of choice and add up to three competitor domains.
  • Weed out lower-quality websites by filtering only authority 50+ domains.
  • Analyze findings and add all relevant publications to your media list. Pro tip: Tag these specific publications with “gap analysis” for easier tracking and organization in the future.

These landscapes evolve quickly, so I’d suggest refreshing this analysis at least quarterly for the greatest impact.

Find content that’s on the verge of driving traffic for interlink inspiration in your new content

Landing backlinks within PR coverage is critical for SEO success, but it’s becoming harder to accomplish. As a result, many organizations have stopped adding backlinks to their contributed content in an assumption that the editors will remove them. Generally speaking, links to commercial or sales-focused landing pages won’t pass through the editorial process. However, links to noncommercial, educational-based content are often allowed because they add value to a reader exploring a topic further.

If the opportunity to include a link exists, make sure you’re linking to the right content. This is where search data is imperative. Link to content/assets ranking on the cusp of traffic-bearing position—either posts ranking for keywords just off page one (positions 11-15 in standard search results) or just below the fold (positions 4-7).

To find this data, follow these general steps:

  1. Input your own website within the organic research field and click the positions/ranking keywords tab.
  2. Filter out branded keywords (anything that contains your brand and/or product name).
  3. Filter by keywords ranking in position 11-15 and/or 4-7.
  4. Isolate 10-15 keywords ranking in these positions with a blog/resource-based URL.
  5. Organize by topic for easier organization and tracking.

Once you have the data, linking to these URLs gets a lot easier and helps to maximize the impact of great content you’ve already written. Sometimes one or two quality links are all it takes to move these pieces of content onto page one and start driving traffic and business impact.

Use keyword insights to ensure your messaging is aligned with your audience’s behaviors

Messaging is another area where search data can help immensely when building an annual plan. The language your audience uses has likely changed since last year—particularly in quickly-moving industries. Keywords you’ve historically used to define your brand and various products or solutions should also evolve.

Use keyword data to identify trends—a feature that all SEO tools have. To do so, follow these simple steps:

  1. Browse to the Keyword explorer (or equivalent feature) your tool has.
  2. Enter your priority keyword.
  3. Look at the trend data of the keyword itself. Is it rising? Falling? Staying the same?
  4. Explore other keyword variations to identify similar phrases that are gaining interest and earning more monthly searches.
  5. Complete this exercise for all of your primary targeted keywords and make notes of additional keywords to use for each.

Not only will these subtle changes make a difference in actually engaging with your target audience with the content you produce, but they will also increase the chances of it ranking for terms that align with their current search behaviors.

Using SEO data isn’t as overwhelming as it may seem on the surface. These three techniques will help improve your annual plan and catalyze the change needed to more aggressively move the needle for your PR and owned content strategies in 2022.

Matt Raven
Matt Raven is Vice President and Head of Digital at Look Left Marketing.