As of writing this article, in two months’ time I turn a grand forty years old. And I’ve had a tumultuous love affair with search engine optimisation (SEO) for fifteen of those forty. Our relationship is older than my children. A longer marriage than the one I have enjoyed with my actual wife. 

Don’t worry, I still love her (yes, SEO is female for the purposes of this article). But I also know she’s not perfect and… well… there are other fish in the sea. In fact, one of these fish has me hooked. That fish is PR. 

To understand where I’m coming from, you need some relationship history. When I first met SEO, she was new, exciting… and to be quite frank, easy. Apologies, this analogy has taken a somewhat creepy turn. For the most part, optimising a website and getting first page rank merely involved building a website, filling it with keywords (RIP Meta Keywords) and then getting a few hundred links from any old website out there. Bosh.

I remember one weekend away SEO and I had together in Doncaster. We didn’t leave that Travelodge hotel room desk for 48 hours. We built the filthiest of links and stuffed keywords in places that would make you blush. By Monday morning my client’s website was number one on Google for a search of “buy grout online” and my back was sore from sitting in the same position for two days solid. Our romance subsequently blossomed and it seemed that we’d be happy together forever.

But then Google started to resent what we had together. Like Wile E Coyote, he was intent on blocking me at every turn, and putting all sorts of obstacles in the way. Getting high rank in search results now depended on building great content, getting the right type of links, having an accessible website and a myriad of other factors. Urgh, what a buzzkill.

Oh, there are shortcuts, workarounds and tricks of the trade, but to my mind the very best SEO begins with a focus on value. If your content, PR and marketing add value to the internet, then you will eventually be rewarded with strong rank. It may be a doe-eyed view that many SEOs would smirk at (‘content is king’ blah blah blah), but it’s broadly true. And dear SEO community, I am well aware that employing an SEO pro/agency to supercharge your efforts will always speed up and enhance the process.

On that note; don’t ditch your SEO specialist or cancel the retainer to your SEO agency just yet! In our increasingly online world, SEO should be one of the key considerations for your corporate or personal branding and where possible it should always dovetail with your overall comms and PR strategy. That said, sometimes you can improve your search engine rank with PR supplemented by SEO, as opposed to the conventional reverse.  Let me explain why.

A good PR professional or agency will be able to do the following, each of which has an inherent SEO win:

  • Build relationships: this results in great opportunities for external links, opportunities for guest blogs and general sharing of content. 
  • Secure coverage: again, this has fantastic potential for backlinks naturally occurring on high authority websites.
  • Be creative: can lead to viral content that hits all types of SEO signals.
  • Present a great outward appearance to the world: a key element is a well-built website, a cornerstone of any SEO activity.
  • Produce high-quality professional copy: ensure all website content reads wonderfully and makes best use of target keywords (and associated on-topic wording).
  • Implement a high-quality cohesive social media strategy: build authority on branded social accounts, increasing sharing of tweets with links etc. 

And the best thing of all is that it’s all natural… well, kind of. And as I mentioned earlier, this is something that Google appreciates and rewards. In short, if your main intent is PR, then your SEO may flourish.

All of the above has been generally provocative and a wider point about how SEO and PR intersects beautifully. The best PR agencies recognise the importance of well-built websites, online reputation and website traffic. The best SEO agencies recognise a necessity for creative marketing, fluent copy and the benefits of relationships. When the two marry together perfectly, you have the recipe for WORLD DOMINATION! 

That’s it from me. Hopefully the SEO community will not be putting a brick through my window tonight. 

Thanks for reading!

Footnote: not that it needs explaining, but PRISM stands for Public Relations (with) Integrated Search Marketing – duh.  Please forward all royalty cheques directly to the Right Angles office.

Chris Paston

By Chris Paston - Search Engine Specialist

10 October 2019

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