It used to be that anyone with a basic understanding of marketing or communications could throw around the term SEO and instantly gain credibility. SEO, or search engine optimization, is all about moving your website up the search engine results. The higher it is, the more people click the link, and the more customers you gain on your site. SEO is built from using specific industry-related keywords and including links to other sites. In the early days of SEO, people could fill their blog posts and web content with as many keywords as possible and watch their search engine result placement climb. That didn’t sit well with search engine king Google, who announced changes to its algorithm over the years to make it increasingly difficult to spam your way to SEO success.
Just because the algorithms have changed, however, doesn’t mean SEO is done for good. In fact, it is more important than ever before and may even become the new public relations. When paired with PR, SEO becomes even more effective and can lead your business to great success. When you think about it, SEO and PR ultimately have the same objective: to drive traffic to a website without paying for ads or placement.
Why is SEO the forefront of social PR? For one, it is often simpler yet just as effective. Public relations often takes multiple steps and strategies to be successful, but well-thought out SEO can be just as efficient with a few clicks and links. Instead of charting out key publics, strategies, and tactics and waiting for measured results, SEO can put that plan into action and see results nearly instantly. The two areas definitely work together—as your SEO increases and your search engine result placement and web traffic increases, your website and organization gain credibility, which helps with media pitches and achieving PR goals. In one way, SEO can be thought of as the first step to PR. Once you have your SEO in line, many of your other public relations ideas will fall into place.
That isn’t to say that SEO is the end-all of an effective communications campaign. You can have the most optimized website in the world, but it isn’t effective if the content isn’t meaningful and reaching the right audiences. Most communications professionals agree that neither SEO or PR can work on a pedestal on its own; they are a team that need to be integrated. While many companies opted for individual SEO experts years ago, a large number of organizations have seen the power that can come with having an integrated SEO/PR team or having a member of the PR firm specialize in SEO while still being in tune with the public relations strategies.
Just like SEO has changed and evolved over the years, it will continue to move with the industry. Working in tandem, SEO and PR can become a powerful combination to take your company to the next level.