Google Hummingbird

PR is Not SEO

Google has recently changed the game regarding search engine optimization (SEO). On Thursday Google announced that it was upgrading its search engine algorithm, codenamed Hummingbird. This new update has followed in the wake of other structural updates including Panda and Penguin.

These updates have creating significant buzz on the Internet, specifically among advertisers and marketing professionals. The concern revolves around the effectiveness of previously established SEO techniques (i.e., link optimization). PR professionals have also raised concerns due to the changes
regarding press releases.

Debate about these new changes and the effectiveness of PR tactics such as media releases will no doubt continue for years to come. However, theses new rules provide an opportunity to remind our clients and management that while SEO does play an important part in the technical side of PR, there is indeed more to PR than improving your search engine rankings.

More than Just Press Releases

Does your C-Suite understand the strategic role of PR? Google’s media announcements, provides a chance to inform those departments about both the technical and strategic roles of public relations.

Although the most recent 2012 GAP Study noted that 60% of companies PR/COM report directly to the C-Suite (CEO, CCO, etc.), it is important to evaluate the C-Suite’s knowledge of PR and when necessary help change perceptions.

In communicating with the C-Suite it is also helpful to highlight the limitations of specific tactics. For example, online media releases will continue to be affected by changing policy and search engine updates, however, high quality content and strategic placement of resources will continue to have a strong place in effective campaigns.

Timing is everything

In PR timing is crucial. If Google’s announcements are creating buzz at your company  it may be a great chance to increase awareness about the strategic role of public relations. The technical side of PR will always be directly influenced by changes in technology, however it is the strategic side that will navigate these changes and ensure that your company will reap the benefits.

Green Turf

Undercover Bust Reveals SEO’s Dark Side: Is Your SEO Legit?

USA Today reported that an undercover operation dubbed “Clean Turf” uncovered 19 SEO firms who were creating fake online profiles and employing foreign freelance writers to post positive reviews.

The firms were positing positive reviews on popular websites such as Bing and Google. Attorney General, Eric Schniderman, revealed in a press conference today that the firms agreed to pay over $350,000 in fines and to cease posting fake reviews.

Clients often hire PR firms to help increase a brand’s presence or awareness among a specific audience. To achieve these objectives many PR professional engage in SEO tactics such as identifying relevant keywords, including backlinks, and securing guest posts. However, if your firm does not have extensive experience in SEO or is interested in outsourcing this service you will want to check on the following.

Black, White, or Gray Hat?

You need to ask your SEO firm about tactics. Black hat tactics, such as the creation of fake profiles and reviews, keyword stuffing, invisible text, and doorway pages are high risk and unethical. In contrast, white hat tactics such as improving title tags, meta tags, restructuring URLs, site navigation improvement, and the creation of site maps are all considered ethical. Its good practice to ask your firm about its practices and make informed choices.

Beware of Secrets

One of the core provisions of the PRSA Code of Ethics is the disclosure of information. SEO companies who insist on “secret” practices for page ranking and will not disclose the specifics should raise red flags. Good SEO providers take pride in full transparency and will be more than happy to discuss their strategy and techniques.

The Guarantee of #1

Everyone wants to be #1, but in the world of SEO, it is a long hard battle. Avoid any SEO firm who guarantees #1 rankings for popular search engines. Search engines such as Google and Bing keep their search algorithms private   and are constantly changing them to provide a better user experience. No one knows the secret trick to achieve #1 ranking.

Keep in mind that not all SEO providers are ethical, and unethical SEO practices can result in reputation damage as well as legal problems. In considering an SEO firm, ask the right questions, demand transparency, and follow the PRSA Code of Ethics.


Why SEO is Important in PR

SEO is a valuable tool for PR pros. In today’s digital society, clients realize the importance of online content and PR practitioners understand the need to deliver consistent search results.

Regardless of your industry or level of understanding, the basics of Search Engine Optimization or SEO will boost your potential impressions and bring you one-step closer to achieving your strategic communication goals.

What is SEO?

SEO is the practice of improving your online content to increase the potential impressions or number of visitors from varying search engines. Most people relate SEO to keywords within your content, but this is only one element of SEO. Below I will cover four lesser known tips to increase your SEO.

Include a Site map

A site map is simply a list of pages for a website that is assessable to search engines. A site map file (usually in .xml protocol) contains all the urls for your webpage. When web crawlers find your webpage they will locate the site map and index all the listed urls. Google provides a great explanation of the importance of site maps and offers a helpful tutorial.

Understand Page Titles

Page titles are often an overlooked element of SEO. Page titles are normally located at the top of your web browser and are assigned using the tag in html. When thinking about page titles keyword position is critical. Position important keywords at the beginning of your title. This will not only increase the page’s SEO, but will increase its readability. Need help thinking about creative titles? Look at your competition.

Use Detailed Images

Images help your SEO if used properly. For starters make sure your image file name is concise and accurately describes the image content. Secondly, add Alt text to your image. Keep in mind that search engines cannot “see” your image and therefore they rely on alt text to identify and rank your pictures.

Develop Back links

Very few individuals are privy to Google’s secrets of page ranking, however a number bloggers and SEO experts speculate that back links play an important role in page ranking. Back links are created by having outside content link to your content. Wikipedia defines back links as “…incoming links to a website or  web page” (Wikipedia). Although creating back links takes both time and creativity, social sharing is an easy way to start. Be engaged on social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. These sites offer great opportunities to include links to your content.

The Bottom Line

If content is king then SEO is his prime minister. By following these SEO tips you will maximize your search engine potential and put your content one-step closer to your target audience. Good Luck!