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PR & SEO – A New Partnership for the 21st Century


There has been a good deal of press lately about the relationship between Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and public relations (see Huffington Post article from last week).  Right on time, PRSA Richmond chapter held a morning panel on PR and SEO entitled, “PR + SEO: Let’s Get it On.”

Brian Forrester of Dynamic Web Solutions spoke first.  He said that measurable marketing is king – people expect results from their spend – and search marketing is in its Golden Age.  As more and more content is moving online, it is more important than ever that people be able to filter the authoritative content from the junk.  SEO promises to do this.  By ranking sites based on their number of backlinks (i.e., quality links from external sites) search engines filter results based on most important (or popular) content.   In other words,  in order to rank high on Google’s search engine, public relations and marketing professionals must get others to link back to their company/client sites.  But how do you get backlinks?  You can’t make someone link to your site.  The link between PR and SEO becomes more clear as SEO success is reliant on public relations professionals’ ability to promote content to a wider audience that can generate these backlinks.

And according to the next speaker, Shannon Lehey of Unboxed Technology, the trick is to create content that is of interest to others that they will naturally want to link to.  Remember, it isn’t enough to just put out content, you need to create content that is authoritative and will appeal to others.  In order to create good content, first work to create a clear content strategy with a cohesive brand voice.  A solid content strategy is like glue,  it ties everything in together.   And, by taking the time to know your brand and your audience, you can create content that others want to share, generate backlinks and increase SEO.

The third speaker was Ken Shafer, the SEO guru at Snagajob.  He offered some practical tips on how PR professionals can best measure SEO success.  He recommended two sites to measure new links – and  (Ken prefers because it is updated in real-time.)  He suggested creating a spreadsheet with a column for PR that would pull in search engine traffic driven specifically through public relations-related activities (e.g., press releases, blog posts, etc.).  This way public relations is no longer seen as “fluff.”  Instead, public relations professionals will be armed with concrete, measurable data of how well  a campaign performed.

So, there you have it.  In the 21st century, SEO and public relations will be inextricably linked.  SEO will need public relations to push out and promote content for its success and PR will rely more on SEO to provide concrete ROI measurements for campaign success.