Until recently SEO and PR were regarded as two separate industries – but the scene has changed and we are now witnessing the coalition of the two. So what has led to this trend? What is it that those 2 professions are each missing – leading to the fact that they are now converging? In this post I would like to give you an understanding of these colliding worlds as well as some early adopter examples and their motivations for adopting this trend – and how that is affecting their overall digital efforts.
SEO – is the process of increasing a website’s visibility/reach within a search engine’s organic results. Generally, the rule is – the higher a website appears within the SERPs the more traffic it will attract. Search engines evaluate a website’s authority and relevance based on links – the more links a website has the more authority it holds. However, links can be manipulated whereas previously low-quality content used to get high rankings – and that’s exactly why we are where we are now! As a result Google has rolled out two major algorithm changes Penguin and Panda in 2012.
PR – the art of public relations on the other hand is to manage the flow of information between an organisation or an individual to the public. PRs usually spend a fair amount of time producing engaging content – for that content to generate awareness they also have to build neat relationships with influential journalists and bloggers for their content to be published resulting in exposure and brand awareness for their clients.
Since Google’s black and white animal algorithm change roll-out – penalising unethical SEO practices PR agencies have seen a surge in requests from their clients to look after their SEO activities. Meaning one of the consequences is that PR agencies are suddenly asked to build quality links through engagement and content creation – can you now see the shift from SEO agency to PR agency? A contributing factor is the nature of the PR profession to build good relationships with individuals and high profile websites – additionally they also have to build good quality links now. Clients are now looking for digital strategies which incorporate the PR agency’s understanding of content and its relevance.
Originally SEOs are not content creators and clients have realised that and are now putting emphasis on quality content linked to social media outlets. This is why they are now reaching out to PR agencies requesting help to overcome that obstacle. From a search perspective Google’s focus is on delivering relevant, accurate and authoritative websites on top of their search results. Meaning that actual search factors such as meta data and alt text are hygiene factors not to get penalised. I think it’s only fair to say that that both industries as a result face the same challenge – to produce attention grabbing and high quality content that is resonating with their audiences. The PR industry is currently facing a high surge in SEO requirements. However, having said that PRs are well positioned to build links since a big chunk of their responsibilities is to build relationships though now matched with online and social media.
So where are we heading now? Unsurprisingly we have seen collaborations between SEO and PR agencies. For instance Bronco, an SEO agency, has now teamed up with 10 Yetis a PR firm working together on their clients future digital output and strategies. Meaning that their combined skill set will provide its clients with extensive services across SEO, PR, content, social, UI, media rich outputs and web development. This obviously implies that search as well as PR campaigns are now heavily reliant on each other. The benefit here is clearly that the industries are not competing against each other anymore but start to collaborating with each other.
The ASDA Money brand – from supermarket chain ASDA for instance was one of the early adopters since they have appointed a content agency to create, look after and broaden its content output which now represents a crucial part of their digital strategy. You can see here that they have populated their digital assets with articles, guides and news to resonate with their audience. There’s no denying that the brand is mindful of their natural back link strategy – fostering only ethical practices rather than black hat short-cuts. The lesson to be learnt here is how ASDA Money and its content agency are deciding on relevant content. They determine their customers interests and most popular topics via monitoring ASDA’s Mumdex panel as well as its Baby and Toddler club forum. Clever, eh? Only this puts them truly in the position to create engaging content for its audience to truly resonate with the brand.