Is SEO good for digital PR

Digital press work: Search engine optimization with online PR

In the good old days before the Internet, companies were like strongholds. When the drawbridge was raised and what information was allowed out into the country was decided by the press officer, and mostly it was strictly written company press releases.

From time to time the chief executive would appear at the castle window, for example during the balance sheet press conference, and read ready-made, sovereign statements.

Forgotten and gone ... Corporate communication in the age of Web 3.0 follows completely different rules. The amazing thing about this change is that more and more large companies are also recognizing the signs of the times and facing their customers, consumers and the media in an open dialogue.

Example Microsoft: Just a few years ago, the giant from Redmont was the Fort Knox of PR - not a single word came out of the corporate headquarters that was not approved from the very top. But even Microsoft is now informing the public through (uncensored) internal videos or encouraging employees at all levels of the hierarchy to blog about their respective projects.

PR: I blog, so I sell

That's all well and good, but in Germany in particular there are still many marketing and sales people who respond. Blogs, Twitter & Co. are nice gimmicks, but I have to sell. What use are the newfangled communication vehicles that are commonly summarized under the heading of "social media"?

Well, quite a lot, as you are about to discover. The fact is: Social media sells - products, services and, last but not least, your company. And: The correct use of these new (online) media is usually even cheaper and more effective than (paid) online advertising.

Put yourself in the shoes of a (fictitious) IT service company in the field of business intelligence. This is of the greatest importance for the business and the order situation - even the greatest critics have now understood this Search engine ranking, i.e. the place where the company appears on Google & Co. after entering defined search terms. But a simple search query reveals the whole dilemma in which the company and its services currently find themselves: It appears in all search engine rankings somewhere on pages 20 to 30, the top positions are exclusively occupied by the competition. What to do?

PR 3.0: Search engine marketing with a difference

The most convenient option: SEO (S.earch E.ngine Optimization, search engine optimization) or SEM (S.earch E.ngine M.marketing, search engine marketing). That means: The company books the most important Google “Adwords” (especially “Business”, “Intelligence” and “Optimization”, as the friendly advertising consultant so nicely explained) for (estimated) tens of thousands of euros per month for a week later the problem is solved: every time a potential customer enters the corresponding terms in the search engine, the company appears right at the top with its advertising. Wonderful. What modern technology can do.

The more effective and cheaper option, on the other hand, is: online PR. What many professionals in the fields of SEO and SEM like to conceal: Much more efficient than booking expensive Adwords and text ads is almost always generating so-called generic search results. These are the links that the search engine spits out because the results simply fit in with the content.

What really matters

How do you create these links? In the age of Google, there is only one currency that counts and that promises success: those are the links with other websites that you generate. The bigger and more visited the website that links to your page, the higher you will get in the results. That's all.

Price question: How do you get links to important (= also well linked) websites? Quite simply: With your own press releases, with news and blog posts - with efficient online PR.

Your personal program "Improve search engine ranking" begins with the clarification of the question of which descriptive texts are important for your company or its products and services. Which keywords generate the highest traffic or the most orders? And: What use is the good competition? These terms should be used as often as possible in your press releases, blog posts, etc. In plain language: As often as possible without looking ridiculous.

But don't forget to keep an eye on the effectiveness. Do 80% of the visitors to your website come from organic search results, but do these only generate 20% of your leads, i.e. the really successful contact initiation? Or are 80% of your leads generated by the 20% of web surfers who click on your Google Adwords? Then you need to think carefully about how to realign the relationship between generic hits (information) and paid ads (leads).

Online PR: where is the news?

The terms are fixed, the mailing list is up-to-date, so now it can be sent out. And when it comes to broadcasting, we face the classic PR dilemma, which is: We don't have any content, but we have to produce news. Usually, companies then develop supposedly exciting press releases about in-house promotions, products that will (perhaps) be ready for the market sometime in 2017 or the color in the new office space. The problem: At first glance, there is nothing worth communicating.

There is another way. Even without a specific reason, you produce news that is echoed very quickly, especially via the countless channels of Web 3.0, and consequently helps to improve your search engine ranking. Let's get creative ...

  • Approach # 1: The market itself, in which your product, your company and its employees are active, always comes first when finding news. That means: If the trend is rolling - jump on it! A look at the media is enough for this: What is the hot topic of discussion right now? Which topic is controversial? If you can then find an answer to the question of why your company, of all people, is contributing to a solution, you are as good as at it. Or you can find a new, fresh perspective that also makes the story interesting for vertical media (i.e. special interest). Take the federal election as an example: Is everything said about this in the general interest media anyway? By no means, the PR anchor can be a big choice for many small, but targeted news items: What specific expectations does your industry have of a new government? Quote your CEO / Managing Director! The expert approach works for almost any topic.
  • Approach # 2: Enhance the story with additional materials such as photos and illustrations. Infographics, for example, as they appear on the front pages of many daily newspapers, provide numbers at a glance that tell a whole story. Also taken with pleasure: Quickly researched facts on hot topics such as surveys, statistics - or your own sales figures with a new reference to the market. If you are the (quotable) source, you're halfway there.
  • Approach No. 3: An almost always unused source of exciting news lies in your company itself: It is the employees who are behind it. Nothing interests people more than other people. Are there any exciting, unexpected or emotional approaches that affect your employees? Is it really nice to be human? Where do they get their ideas and inspiration from? What are their career paths like?

This news should then not only be brought to the people via the press distribution list. Here are three more tips:

  • Integrate all news and personal statements in a (company) blog.
  • Set up an RSS feed that readers can use to subscribe to your topics.
  • Make the landing page referred to in your news appealing and user-friendly.

These three things hardly cost anything, but they are extremely effective. The advantages of this type of search engine optimization at a glance:

  • Much higher content design options in contrast to Adwords.
  • The news only appears in a context-related manner - there are no random results.
  • In contrast to Adwords, clicks on the generic search results do not cost you a cent.
  • Higher efficiency: In fact, the generic search results are clicked much more often than advertisements. For every search query, 75% of the following clicks are attributable to the generic results, whereas just 25% are attributable to advertising.
  • Unlike paid online advertising, your links and search results from online PR will last much longer.

(The book on the article: The book to the article:Hajo Neu; Jochen Breitwieser: Public Relations. The media pros' best tricks)

the authors:
Hajo Neu is the managing director of neu: kom, a consulting agency in Heidelberg that specializes in technology and entertainment topics. He held a management position at the PR network Euro RSCG ABC for several years and worked, among other things, in the press and public relations department of the European Parliament.

Jochen Breitwieser is Press Officer and Public Relations Manager at Callidus Software Inc. in San José, California / USA. Before that, he founded the German office of the international high-tech PR agency "The Hoffman Agency" in Munich as managing director and then worked as an account manager at the agency's headquarters in San José.

(Image: © Secret Side - Fotolia.com)

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