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Is SEO now the same as PR?

29 January, 2014

courtesy of digitalthirdcoast.net

The debate around how SEO and PR work together has been raging for a while now. In the past, the two disciplines used to work completely independently of one another, but recently this has changed.

This is a subject I’ve been discussing for a while and I’m interested to hear people’s thoughts.

Last September, I blogged about Leeds Business Week. At his LBW ‘Search engine ecosystem: increase your ROI’ seminar, Ian Harris from Search Laboratory talked about some of the big brands and how they make the most of their campaigns. He touched on a view I’ve had for a while now: that SEO nowadays is nothing more than good PR.

courtesy of swordandthescript.com

PR and SEO: best friends and natural partners?

I have recently been working a lot in partnership with a “PR agency” and it’s been a great experience and a natural progression. As an associate of Northern Lights PR, I have done a lot of website development, blog set-up, and SEO work for their clients. Similarly, if clients ask me for offline or traditional PR and B2B reputation management or crisis communications, these are areas where Northern Lights CEO Victoria’s expertise is highly valuable.

Northern Lights might be considered to be a traditional PR agency, but they have been very innovative in staying up-to-speed on digital technologies – this makes them stand out. In her recent blog post Are PR professionals going to get serious about strategic blogging? Victoria calls on others in the industry to see the potential and get up to speed about the opportunities of SEO for PR.

SEO and PR: it’s all about great content

Recent changes to Google algorithms have increasingly prioritised high quality, regularly updated content. While there are many different methods employed by SEO practitioners to increase a website’s search engine rankings, we are increasingly seeing that creating and distributing great content (on topics that people are interested in and will read, share and talk about online) is the only method that guarantees longevity at the top of search results.

In her recent Forbes article, Cheryl Conner puts forward the view that public relations, in the form of quality content, is the new SEO. Jayson DeMers describes the increasing importance of social media, and particularly Google+, in building your search engine rankings – something I have discussed in many previous blog posts.

Public relations is about building awareness and understanding of brands (and getting people to talk about them by creating a buzz) through a variety of communication methods, including press releases and editorial.

Now that SEO is focused on building good quality links and getting more people to talk about your brand online through social media, content marketing and blogging are key.

As digital becomes and increasingly important ‘news channel’, good PR practitioners have to have an understanding of SEO, digital and content marketing. Similarly, good SEO practitioners need to understand the principles of PR and implement good public relations practices in their work.

So if SEO and PR practitioners are both trying to do the same thing, using increasingly similar tactics and relying on the same kind of skills, are SEO and PR now one and the same?

courtesy of roosterdigital.com

  • I think that you work with Victoria and the team absolutely makes sense. You are both great at what you do respectively. Bringing together does seem to make sense. If great PR works and PR is about great content will SEO become a mute point in time though? My fear on SEO is it has spent so long on beating the system, understanding the system, exploiting the system – almost a battle to defeat Google at the expense of content. Your approach is sensible to me. A logical evolution.

    • Jonny Ross says:

      Fair point, however I think there will always be the need for SEO, but more from a techinal angle, if you imagine a house is a website, it would be like having a Chartered Surveyor, especially whilst there are still no real guidelines and standards!

    • Jonny Ross says:

      PS As always thank you for your very kind comments, and liking the approach! Looking forward to lunch with The Agenci later this week!

  • Hi Jonny
    Thanks for the kind mentions here – there is no doubt that we struggled to maximise our content till we started working with you – thank you.
    Think we all have to keep banging the drum on the need for PR to understand SEO – I don’t get a sense it is happening fast, except for those working on mega brands
    Stuart, agree with your comments too – we always try to write for our clients first so that you get good content, rather than these SEO games people play
    Great post here and things for us all to think about

  • An example of getting SEO so very very very very wrong and the associated consequences:

    Irwin Mitchell has been delisted from Google it would appear.

    http://www.legalweek.com/legal-week/news/2325508/google-de-lists-irwin-mitchell-website-from-online-searches

    “Irwin Mitchell are considered to be one of the biggest solicitors in the UK today,” commented Graves. “But that hasn’t stopped Google from doing something that we have seen happen countless times over the past few years, completely eliminate a brand from their organic rankings.”

    • Jonny Ross says:

      Stuart,

      Great find and great example of how we simply rely on google and overnight we can be well and truly in trouble!

      Thanks for sharing this Stuart,

  • […] An initial SEO report alone will give you a lot of advice about what you could do to improve your existing site. To achieve better results, you can also implement an organic SEO campaign. To assist you, search for an SEO consultancy that specialises in organic SEO services. (Whereas some SEO consultants focus more on paid advertising routes such as PPC – it’s like the difference between and advertising agency and a PR agency.) […]

  • […] As always, I will be focusing on making my SEO, social media and web development service offer as good as it can be in 2015. One of the ways I will be doing this is by developing the digital PR and blogger outreach element to our SEO campaigns. After all, good PR brings good SEO. […]

  • […] discuss how to bring offline and online PR / SEO together to improve your website search engine rankings and brand visibility, contact Jonny Ross […]

    1. I think that you work with Victoria and the team absolutely makes sense. You are both great at what you do respectively. Bringing together does seem to make sense. If great PR works and PR is about great content will SEO become a mute point in time though? My fear on SEO is it has spent so long on beating the system, understanding the system, exploiting the system – almost a battle to defeat Google at the expense of content. Your approach is sensible to me. A logical evolution.

      1. Jonny Ross says:

        Fair point, however I think there will always be the need for SEO, but more from a techinal angle, if you imagine a house is a website, it would be like having a Chartered Surveyor, especially whilst there are still no real guidelines and standards!

      2. Jonny Ross says:

        PS As always thank you for your very kind comments, and liking the approach! Looking forward to lunch with The Agenci later this week!

    2. Hi Jonny
      Thanks for the kind mentions here – there is no doubt that we struggled to maximise our content till we started working with you – thank you.
      Think we all have to keep banging the drum on the need for PR to understand SEO – I don’t get a sense it is happening fast, except for those working on mega brands
      Stuart, agree with your comments too – we always try to write for our clients first so that you get good content, rather than these SEO games people play
      Great post here and things for us all to think about

      1. Jonny Ross says:

        Pleasure and enjoy banging the drum!

    3. An example of getting SEO so very very very very wrong and the associated consequences:

      Irwin Mitchell has been delisted from Google it would appear.

      http://www.legalweek.com/legal-week/news/2325508/google-de-lists-irwin-mitchell-website-from-online-searches

      “Irwin Mitchell are considered to be one of the biggest solicitors in the UK today,” commented Graves. “But that hasn’t stopped Google from doing something that we have seen happen countless times over the past few years, completely eliminate a brand from their organic rankings.”

      1. Jonny Ross says:

        Stuart,

        Great find and great example of how we simply rely on google and overnight we can be well and truly in trouble!

        Thanks for sharing this Stuart,

    4. […] An initial SEO report alone will give you a lot of advice about what you could do to improve your existing site. To achieve better results, you can also implement an organic SEO campaign. To assist you, search for an SEO consultancy that specialises in organic SEO services. (Whereas some SEO consultants focus more on paid advertising routes such as PPC – it’s like the difference between and advertising agency and a PR agency.) […]

    5. […] As always, I will be focusing on making my SEO, social media and web development service offer as good as it can be in 2015. One of the ways I will be doing this is by developing the digital PR and blogger outreach element to our SEO campaigns. After all, good PR brings good SEO. […]

    6. […] discuss how to bring offline and online PR / SEO together to improve your website search engine rankings and brand visibility, contact Jonny Ross […]

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