Social media and SEO - part of an integrated PR strategy - Business Works
BW brief

Social media and SEO - part of an integrated PR strategy

Keredy Andrews of Punch Communications Public relations is concerned with looking after a business' reputation as well as influencing the opinions of an audience. Therefore, in this digital age, it would be quite naive to presume that traditional media relations, which is what most people still think of as PR, ticks all of the necessary boxes. However, incorporating other activity that deals with exactly the same interests is still something of a rarity. In particular, social media and search engine optimisation campaigns should be integrated with a brand's PR strategy and delivery; not only do these three spheres underpin each other but more consistent messaging, greater all-round visibility and a better return on investment can also be achieved.

These three elements are already interlinked whether we appreciate it or not, so it is good business sense to understand their commonalities and ensure they work in harmony. Each strengthens the other in a number of ways and here are just some of the benefits that can be gleaned from combining these three disciplines effectively.

  • Undertaking activity across any of the primary social networks – Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and LinkedIn – through the eyes of PR ensures content is treated like a micro press announcement. They will be on message, convey the required tone, fit within an overarching narrative and target the correct audiences with creative and engaging posts.
  • One of the key measurements that search engines use to determine which pages they should display in the results page is the variation, quality and number of links to a website. Therefore, off-site search engine optimisation techniques should be carefully considered when distributing press releases and talking to the media to gain online coverage. It can mean the difference between adding to your website's 'backlink profile', or not, therefore influencing the chances of ranking higher in Google. Using keywords in press content – the terms a business would like to rank for in a search engine – can have a tremendous effect on search engine positions, which in turn affects website visits and ultimately the number of enquiries via the site.
  • Last year, the major search engines announced that they do take links from social networks into account, even though most of them contain coding that prevents the search engines’ 'spiders' from following where the link points to. This means it is beneficial for organic SEO to include links in social media posts as well as keywords, especially if the posts are then multiplied by user sharing, such as retweets in Twitter.
  • In line with the previous point, all blog posts and news should be distributed though social media channels appropriately so that links to the site are created and traffic is increased. Just having a blog with excellent, relevant content assists SEO too, since search engines favour fresh content and it also means their 'spiders' will crawl the site more often.
  • With the arrival of Google’s social network, Google+, social media and search is more linked than ever before to create what is being termed social search. The more recent addition of 'Google Search, Plus Your World' to search, now means that peoples' G+ profiles and business Pages can be presented in organic search results when a user is signed in. The inclusion of keywords, high engagement figures (shares and +1s) and frequency of posting can all contribute to a business’ G+ Page being displayed.
  • The promotion of social profiles should be integrated not only into PR materials, such as press releases and by-lined articles, but also onto your website, the realm of the more traditional on-site SEO activity. Social buttons that inspire visitors to follow, fan, circle or connect to a business should be complemented by those that allow them to share pages and blog posts with their social communities.
  • With an eye on what is needed to encourage social media sharing as well as content that people want to link to, thus bringing SEO value, and a PR outlook, which often means high-quality writing skills, a website can be at the core of a successful integrated strategy.
  • Traditional, technically-led SEO undertakings must not be neglected, however. This includes having keywords effectively incorporated within page headers, copy, URLs and image 'alt tags' as well as in the page meta descriptions – HTML that is hidden from the user but is the text that usually appears alongside results in search engines.

By assessing the ways in which the three disciplines of public relations, SEO and social media marketing are linked in this manner, one can see they are, in fact, three points of the same triangle; or three interconnecting circles, which through their cross overs create areas in which to operate – each one alone, two together or all three for fully integrated activity.

These fields are by no means exclusive. For example, social media profiles can be promoted at every customer / client contact point, such as in-store or on email footers, whilst SEO activity can be boosted by business support teams ensuring partners correctly link to a webpage and news can be included within on and offline direct mail outs. What is clear is disconnected strategies are rapidly becoming outdated. To succeed and stand out, particularly in this difficult economic time, businesses must take heed of the evolution of PR and look towards the integrated future.

Keredy Andrews is a senior account manager at Punch Communications.

Tweet article
BW on TwitterBW RSS feed