SEO & PR: The Future of Digital Marketing

Public Relations
PR and SEO 06.11.14

The notion that PR is the new SEO may seem strange, until you consider how drastically the search engine landscape has changed in recent years. Many website owners cringe in anticipation every time Google announces a new update to its search engine algorithm. In the last few years, the Panda, Penguin and Hummingbird updates hit many sites especially hard.

Google has just recently announced a new update to Penguin, which first launched in 2012. With the introduction of Penguin 3.0, even more websites that use outdated SEO tactics are likely to experience penalties and suffer drops in the rankings. How can businesses survive and even thrive in this environment? You may need to change your entire outlook when it comes to SEO and ranking your website. The fact is, the latest Google updates favor PR professionals over the traditional SEO approach.

Let’s see how these approaches differ and why this is so important.

The Problem With Traditional SEO

Search engine optimization focuses primarily on keywords and backlinks. With each new Google update, this has become increasingly problematic. Early SEO tactics could rank sites by simply using lots of keywords and amassing thousands of backlinks. This approach has actually been obsolete for some time now, as Google began cracking down on low quality links and keyword stuffing more than five years ago.

Now, SEO specialists must tone down their tactics, seeking out quality backlinks, using keywords sparingly and even varying anchor text. Some SEO firms now specialize in removing harmful links, which can be done using the Google Disavow Links Tool. While these actions can be helpful, it seems that much SEO today is focused on being cautious, defensive and, in some cases, doing damage control rather than aggressively helping to promote businesses.

Is there a way, in the age of Penguin 3.0, to proactively promote your website without risking the wrath of Google? It turns out that the answer lies in the field of public relations.

On the 5W PR Youtube: SEO and PR – Could the future of SEO be Public Relations?

What Makes PR So Essential Today

Public relations is an industry that’s much older than SEO. PR professionals have been using traditional media for decades and have long implemented many fundamental principles of publicity, copywriting and influencing the public. Whereas search engine optimization tends to rely on tricks and gimmicks with a very limited shelf life, the PR approach takes a longer term view. Here are some of the main things that a public relations professional does to promote a business.

  • Create Brand Awareness – Defining the key characteristics of a brand is essential for any promotional campaigns. The idea is to get people to recognize and talk about your brand.
  • Produce and Share Quality Content – Google, as well as potential clients and customers, care about relevant and interesting content more than keywords and backlinks. PR firms focus on creating the kind of content that people actually want to read, listen to or view. This also happens to be the kind of content that ranks best with the search engines today.
  • Create Viral Campaigns – Viral marketing is really just a way to describe the process of getting people to share content and discuss a product or company. A viral video, for example, may be shared by millions of people on YouTube and social media. This type of publicity does not depend on any type of SEO tricks.
  • Social Media Marketing – Social media has emerged as one of the biggest internet trends of recent years. Social media relies less on SEO than on getting people to trust and care about a product or brand. Today’s PR firms apply many of the techniques that were previously used in print media and apply them to social media. This includes the use of compelling graphics and creating catchy advertising campaigns.
  • Work With Traditional Media – Despite the growth of the internet, media such as print publications and TV are still very much alive. The PR industry understands that the best campaigns often combine leveraging traditional and digital media.

Why PR is Emerging as the New SEO

Public relations is an old industry that is constantly adapting to new technologies and trends. SEO, by contrast, is an industry that quickly rose and declined during the early years of the internet. This doesn’t mean that all search engine optimizations techniques are obsolete. However, it seems clear that PR is making a comeback and is, in many ways, replacing outdated SEO methods. The idea that you have to choose between SEO and PR is a myth. Today’s leading public relations firms understand the importance of safe SEO strategies that comply with Google’s Panda, Penguin and Hummingbird updates. They also realize, however, that SEO is only one part of the picture. It’s even more important is to build trust and create content for actual people rather than search engines.


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