It’s been on everybody’s lips lately, SEO and PR are converging. So what led to the fact that those two industries are finally merging? What is it that SEOs and PRs have in common? In this blog post I would like to give you an understanding of the two industries’ similarities as well as the need for both to adapt to current industry changes triggered by Google’s latest algorithmic changes – Authorship.
PR is the practice of managing the flow of information between an individual or an organisation to the public. PR’s usually spend their working day writing compelling content be that a newspaper article, a press release or an interview. In order for their content to generate the greatest exposure possible they have to build neat relationships with influential journalists and bloggers in order for their content to get published and to see the bright daylight resulting in brand awareness and exposure for their clients.
SEO on the other hand is the process of increasing the visibility of a website in a search engine’s organic results. Usually the rule is the higher a website is ranked the more visitors it will attract. Search engines rely heavily on links, traditionally meaning the more links a website has the more value it provides to the searcher. The issue here though is that links can be manipulated, therefore low-quality content used to get high rankings. As a result, Google has now implemented Authorship but more about that in a bit. And that’s where our SEO & PR love story begins…
Setting the Scene – Zero Moment of Truth
The rapid growth and evolution of the social web has resulted in an enormous shift in consumer purchase behavior the reason being that the web is now powered by social media aspects of all types where anyone can be an author and publish content.
According to Google’s ZMOT (zero moment of truth) survey consisting of a sample of 5,003 consumers 84% stated that online feedback and research greatly impacted their purchase decision making process. Apparently your average shopper now uses 10.7 online sources of information before even making a purchase.
But that’s not all, according to Experian Hitwise 90% of UK web journeys start with a search on Google. This also poses a significant shift for the PR industry as online audiences can no longer be characterized by just demographics but by their search history which is made up of personal motivation and interests. As a result PRs have to engage with their audiences directly. These numbers must not be ignored any longer my dear PRs! Here’s how it works:
This actually puts PRs back into a pretty powerful position I believe as the skill set remains the same (‘make them feel the love’) the only difference now is the medium which has shifted online in the form of social media platforms, reviews and blog posts.
That means PR professionals now have to identify the most influential sites and the market authors with the greatest influence, perhaps using PR tools like Linkdex offers. Apart from that the sole focus is again to amplify your client’s brand message. According to traditional PR and journalist practices not much has changed, has it? Digital PR already consists of blogger outreach and creating content to be shared on social platforms.
Authorship – Empowering PRs
In order to maximize the searchers’ user experience Google has introduced various updates over the last few months, one of them being Authorship to ensure search results are of the highest quality. And what better way to do so than rating and ranking the people who are actually writing and producing compelling content? This enables Google to ensure that only authoritative content reaches the top of search results instead of sites full of manipulated links.
Due to the combination of Google+ and Authorship (encouraging authors to link their content with their G+ profile) the search giant is en route to empower people rather than domains! The motivation behind those recent developments was to find a way of connecting authors with their content online. Meaning it’s not only about content anymore but far more about the people behind content.
Quite frankly put, content is nothing else but an extension of authors themselves and your rankings will now depend on who you are and what you have to say. I think you agree with me when I say that when reading good content we usually ask ourselves ‘who are you, are you a trustworthy source?’ That won’t be necessary anymore because from now on we will see the authors behind the content in search results (usually features a photo of the author).
You can see my Google Authorship profile here within the Google SERPs, and if you click on the “More by Clarissa Sajbl” link you’ll be taken to a search result page listing all the blog posts I have published and connected to my G+ account which you can see in the screenshot below.
This is a biggie for PRs and journalists as their content finally receives a competitive edge and if you diligently contribute to authoritative websites and get people to share your content you are on to a winner as you’ll be ranked ahead of low profile writers.
Missed PR Opportunities – Neglecting SEO
Do you now see why PR and SEO are merging and why PRs really should care about Authorship? If you’re still not convinced, why don’t we take a look at the opportunities PRs have been missing out due to neglecting SEO practices:
Public relations content is very likely to be socially shared online and the more it gets shared the higher it will climb up the search results list, resulting in greater visibility and brand exposure. But do PR agencies currently report and measure those links/votes?
Search data is incredibly insightful for PR pitches, messaging and campaigns. Just think how valuable it would be to see where your competitors are publishing content, which sites they are linking to and which authors are writing for your competition and what? Identifying and analysing this data is hugely beneficial for any PR agency to benchmark future strategies and activities as well as ROI
I hope that you can now see that your reputation as a content creator will directly impact your credibility as a successful PR.
We’re moving from Domains to People
A couple of weeks ago we hosted a “Linkdex Think Tank on Author Data” and as you can imagine I was keen to catch up with Kelvin Newman, one of the finest thought leaders in the industry, to get his view on the issue. Here’s what Kelvin had to say:
Too long we have kind of concentrated on websites and web pages rather than the people who are behind that. I think that what digital marketers want to do is as individuals connect to other individuals. The ability to track those people down in a scalable and efficient way is really quite interesting. That means if you know those people and you know what kind of content they have shared previously, what kind of content they like, and what they are interested in. If you can understand that about a group of individuals beforehand, then when you are putting content together you can think about that in that process. So if you understand what they have liked and what they as a group have liked previously you can increase the likelihood of producing something successful.”
At the end of the day isn’t that what PRs are in it for?
Authorship – Get a Piece of the Cake
As you can see there are various influence factors that will play a crucial role on your authorship rankings within Google. Simply follow the next steps and be ready to jump on the bandwagon maximising your PR exposure.
Continue to create high-quality content AND ensure that your content is linked to your G+ profile with the rel=author parameter
Start using your G+ profile as the number of people you have in your ‘circles’ will gauge your author rank, so be interactive with your circles and community. Keep in mind the more people you have in your circles and the more interactions you generate with your circles the more credible you are for Google
Traditional PR has always consisted of creating compelling content to grasp your audience’s attention and quality relationship building, something the SEO sector hasn’t really had to take into account until now. As a result we have to embrace content and social signals, all of us. All we ought to focus on is to build and communicate authority and trustworthiness, in retrospective this sounds what PR has always been about!