Lee Odden

Public Relations Benefits from SEO

On the heels of the PRSA conference last week, the topic of how search plays a part in online PR effectiveness has continued to enter into the increasing numbers of discussions we’ve been having with companies working on figuring out where to best leverage their 2008 marketing/PR dollars. It’s that time of year again. 🙂

Now more than ever, PR and media relations efforts can benefit from attention to how search engine visibility influences consumer perceptions and the way both consumers and the media find information online. With an increasing variety of search types to choose from including standard search like Google, Yahoo, Live and Ask as well as platform or content type specific search such as news, blog, image, video and options within social media web sites, brings new opportunities to optimize content.

In the past I’ve used the Push and Pull PR model to explain how traditional media relations outreach fits in with the idea of optimizing content. The “Push” includes standard tactics like the distribution of press releases via news wires and pitching both traditional media and bloggers via phone, email or other creative methods.

The “Pull” is where the content optimization opportunity comes into play. Optimizing not only text based content such as press releases, but also the various media types being produced for PR purposes will result in a greater footprint of visibility on the web for journalists doing research on topics and looking for subject matter experts. In essence, to “pull” themselves to you.

News, blog, image, video and social bookmarking search channels each provide excellent opportunities for writers to monitor emerging trends and to find information sources for articles. Making it easy to find relevant content on those search channels can increase opportunities for companies to present their topical authority and subsequent PR coverage.

Visibility to the media is not the only benefit of optimizing of PR content. By optimizing and promoting the media types available, especially blogs, video and images, benefits for online reputation management can be achieved. With the combined search results features implemented by the major search engines this year, it is a fairly straightforward task to achieve multiple representations of the same company within the search results for a single query.

Typically, a web site is limited to a maximum of two URL listings in the search results for a unique search phrase. With positive brand representations on media specific or social media sites often included in “Universal” search, companies can push down negative search results and/or occupy numerous positions outside of the normal and indented listings that are typically possible. It’s possible for those representations to appear on their own as well, but Universal search provides additional opportunity.

By making the optimization and promotion of multiple media formats a normal part of the process for publishing PR content, companies can build up a more solid “defense” against dissenting blogs that try to “Googlebomb” brand names. Such a process also improves overall search visibility of the corporate web site.

Overcoming the challenges involved with moving companies towards a more search engine and social media savvy PR process must start with the fundamentals of how these channels work. Understanding the mechanics and social rules of content sharing and social media sites will help make the decision as to what types of PR content to start optimizing and promoting first. In most cases, starting out with the basics such as optimizing and distributing press releases and incorporating a blog powered online media room can provide ample opportunity for increased exposure of PR content via search.

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Lee Odden About Lee Odden

@LeeOdden is the CEO of TopRank Marketing and editor of Online Marketing Blog. Cited for his expertise by The Economist, Forbes and the Wall Street Journal, he's the author of the book Optimize and presents internationally on B2B marketing topics including content, search, social media and influencer marketing. When not at conferences, consulting, or working with his talented team, he's likely running, traveling or cooking up something new.


  1. Hi Lee,

    We have definitely seen huge benefits to our clients in having multiple search avenues.

    We have a client who frequently has four places on page one of Google for their number one search term.

    They are getting two from their main site and two from press releases and/or articles and/or their blog.

    They also usually have a paid ad for a total of five links that can take clients to their site.


  2. Interesting piece. Google love content, more content means better PR, better PR means higher listings.

  3. Hi Lee,

    Yes, absolutely. Whether push-pull PR or push-pull marketing, the net gain is pretty much the same. Use both sides of the marketing program to better manage the effect.

    In regards to Universal Search: What surprises me is that traditional online marketing firms have been missing this for so long.

    Simple things like naming an image on your blog or site after your brand and keywords, rather than image17.jpg.

    And leveraging social media to fully optimize ALL of your content. It’s always made sense. Now, with Universal Search, the light is coming on for the rest of the world.

    We’re driving some reputation management campaigns right now. I’ll follow-up later with our results.

    Thanks again, Lee.

    Mark Alan Effinger

  4. Lee,

    I completely agree. As a communications professional, I spend most of my time on the web and SEO and SEM both play major roles in my client projects.

    PR is definitely transforming from a traditional publishing to a web-centric appoach.



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