For effective Search Engine Optimization (SEO), the importance of building quality backlinks from third party sites to your site is well known. Applying online public relations techniques to support backlink creation is now a core part of the service for all competent SEO agencies and PR agencies.
But how do you assess the approach of the SEO company or improve your own internal process? This interview outlines best practice in using online PR to support SEO from the SEO agency perspective.
In this month"€™s interview I talk to Phil Robinson, the founder and Managing Director of Search Engine Marketing agency Clickthrough Marketing
about the processes and tools his SEO team apply to take advantage of online PR. My questions and Phil"€™s answers will step you through some of the main online PR techniques used to generate quality backlinks for SEO
Phil and his company have a detailed, structured process to Search Engine Marketing - read more on their approaches in his whitepapers on best practice in Search Engine Marketing.
Q1. How important would you rate online PR techniques to the overall success of a Search Engine Optimisation initiative? What process do you find works best?
Online PR is very important but its "€˜relative"€™ importance rating depends on how competitive the sector is or how competitive the keywords being optimised for are.
For some sectors, great rankings can be achieved via on page optimisation best practices, quality content and directory submissions "€“ however, in some highly competitive sectors online PR is essential for SEO success. Examples of competitive areas include high cost per click terms related to mortgages, loans, personal injury.
We have developed this process to online PR which can be summarised in these 6 stages;
- 1. Keyword research "€“ this tells us what our clients target market are searching on
- 2. Profiling "€“ defining what the target market may be interested in reading or learning about
- 3. Content Development "€“ developing content and optimising it. Types of content may include; guides, faqs, white papers, articles, videos, news or press releases.
- 4. Publishing & Distribution "€“ submitting the PR content to newswires and other relevant online sources
- 5. Linking "€“ ensuring the content published includes links back to the client website home page or relevant areas of the website.
- 6. Monitoring "€“ tracking how much additional traffic, conversions and number of inbound links resulting from the online PR campaign. Also, specific phrases are monitored to track how the strategy has improved specific rankings on Google, Yahoo and MSN.
Q2. Press releases are an obvious starting point for using public relations to support SEO. What are the do"€™s and don"€™ts? Can you recommend any press release distribution services?
The same rules apply online to offline - primarily, press releases must be newsworthy, controversial or innovative. A bog standard press release may still get some coverage and help rankings, however, a press release that is genuinely of interest and relevant to the sector will perform ten times better.
The best press release distribution services are generally paid for ones because they have more qualified wider usage by site owners and journalists. We recommend SourceWire and PRWeb, although there are around another 20 others that we use depending on the quality and content of the press release.
Q3. Have you had success with syndicating any other types of content that can be including on third party sites?
Yes. Newsfeeds are a good example. For one of our clients we produce a personalised RSS newsfeed that contains several articles and news items per day. We published this newsfeed to Google News which indexes every news item within hours.
An example of a site that has a newsfeed is London Stock Exchange. Typing "€˜mortgages"€™ into Google News will show a range of websites with newsfeeds relevant to "€˜mortgages"€™. Click on this newsfeed example
and you will see Guardian Unlimted and LSE with their own newsfeeds.
For other clients, syndicating articles and guides to help their customers has proved successful.
When having a newsfeed it"€™s important to ensure that visitors to the site can easily add your feeds to their site, Feedreader or social bookmark service (Digg or Delicious). Here is a good example of prompting to add feeds or to bookmark.
Q4. What about the social networks? How can you companies take advantage of these for SEO? Is the adoption of the rel=nofollow on links so that they aren"€™t indicated as a link in the search engines a problem.
Social networks are becoming an important part of SEO and online marketing in general. This will continue as more and more people are spending internet usage time within social networking sites like facebook, MySpace, linkedIn and YouTube "€“ and this usage time is increasing exponentially.
In terms of social networks"€™ importance to SEO, I would say not hugely important but still useful when used properly. The question over how to use social networks for SEO advantage is a difficult one because it depends on the client and their message.
The last thing any company should do is build an obtrusive marketing campaign aimed at social media because the negative PR that resulted if not done properly could potentially damage a brand. Social media is incredibly viral and negative PR can viral 5 times faster than positive messages.
Q5. And finally, classic traditional PR "€“ do you know of any viral campaigns that have helped created a buzz around a product which have helped generate backlinks?
One terrific example that most people will not know about is the company SDL International who own the domain "www.freetranslation.com". They offer translation services that are paid for but have cleverly published a free translation tool on their home page. As a result this attracted a large number of relevant sites to link to them. They rank on Google for the words "€˜free translation"€™ and number 2 for both generic terms "€˜translations"€™ and "€˜translation"€™. As a result of this strategy the site will be driving a huge volume of traffic "€“ some of which they will be able to convert to paid-for translation services.