The PR Maven(R), CEO & Founder, Marshall Communications, creating & implementing marketing/PR/personal branding strategies.
In today’s digital world, Google Search is pretty much everything. Google processes an average of over 3.5 billion searches per day and 1.2 trillion searches annually. That comes out to more than 40,000 queries every second.
And it’s not just searches for “cooking recipes” or “how to change a tire” that make Google the world’s most dominant search engine: Google Search is also home to “top stories,” user-specific advertisements and much more. It is essentially a one-stop shop for everything.
With that in mind, brands need to make their Google SEO — that is, where they appear in search results — a top priority. Whether you’re promoting a personal brand or an organizational brand, there are ways you can create and post content online that will make your brand show up with more authority and credibility for searchers.
With hundreds of millions of consumers using Google Search, first-, second- and third-page search results are prime real estate. The higher you rank, the more visible you will be in the global marketplace, and the more clients and customers you may attract.
While Google ads can get brands noticed, the most creative business leaders can also leverage public relations to boost their SEO. In fact, earned media (i.e., news coverage generated via media outreach) often registers as a first-page search result, since it comes from a credible third party.
Many people never think about PR as a powerful tool for SEO, but it has become just that. PR is a profession as old as P.T. Barnum announcing that his circus was coming to town, while SEO has only been around for a decade or two, but I’ve found that today’s PR is surprisingly one of the best ways to improve your SEO.
Here are 10 ways to use PR to improve your SEO.
1. Figure out the keywords that searchers may use to try to find you, and then generate content for your website and social media based on those keywords. Stick to the script, and use the keywords repeatedly. Google even has a tool (Keyword Planner) to help you determine the best keywords to use. However, be sure to avoid keyword stuffing — Google’s algorithm will punish you for doing that.
2. Create a “media room” for your website, and post all of your press releases and news stories about your brand in this room. You should also publish downloadable logos and photos so it’s easy for journalists to grab images and write articles about your brand.
3. Write press releases whenever you hire a new person, win an award, speak at a meeting or do anything that could be considered newsworthy. Send those press releases to the media and put them in your media room.
4. Become a newsworthy source for journalists in your area. If you are an expert on something, whether it’s architecture, history or anything else, distribute an expert source letter to the local reporters who cover your given area of expertise. This letter would introduce you and share details about your background and professional credentials. I like to include three bullet points about my areas of expertise too. That way, reporters will be more likely to reach out when they’re writing a story and need a quote.
5. Use Twitter to connect with journalists and send direct messages with potential article ideas. Following the hashtags #JournoRequest or #PRRequest, which journalists use to look for sources, can give you a competitive advantage. Twitter will also email you when a combination of hashtags shows up that may be of interest to you.
6. Publish op-ed columns in local, regional and national news outlets. This will not only generate links to news websites, but it also will position you as an authority on a given subject. If you’re a thought leader, Google will eventually recognize it and reward you.
7. Use LinkedIn to your advantage. Make sure you have a robust summary section in your LinkedIn profile that includes all of your keywords. Connecting with a wide range of people, especially people with a large following and in your area of specialization, also helps elevate your credibility.
8. Don’t underestimate the power of offline connections and experiences. Provide journalists with product samples to encourage them to write product reviews. Inviting journalists on press trips can also go a long way if you want them to cover your corporate headquarters or a tourism destination.
9. Seek out speaking engagements. These can be an effective way to generate positive news coverage. Chambers of commerce, Rotary groups and other professional organizations are always looking for speakers on relevant topics. During the pandemic, you can even do a presentation via Zoom, without having to travel.
10. Self-publish a book. I just published my second book, and I’ve found that publishing has definitely helped position me as a thought leader in the PR world. Publishing also provides an opportunity to send out press releases and get speaking engagements about your book. Libraries, for instance, often host book talks. I recently spoke at two of these, and plan to do many more this year.
All of these options ultimately can generate backlinks to your website and other resources, which can lead potential clients and customers to your doorstep. They not only enhance your search engine visibility, but they also increase your inbound traffic and expand your brand awareness. On top of that, your appearance in search engine results can highlight problems that your specific product or service can solve.
Just put yourself in a Google searcher’s shoes, and plan accordingly.
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