Lee Odden

The Yin Yang of PR and SEO

PR SEOOrganic search (SEO) success is based fundamentally on keywords and links. You can also make a pretty easy correlation between that and the combination of messaging and media pickups important in public relations efforts.

Search engines like Google advise webmasters to create great content and let important web sites in your industry know (to attract links).  Some of the best link sources are the hardest to achieve, such as a link in a story published at a major publication or even a industry niche publication.

This is where PR and SEO savvy can combine like Yin and Yang to create competitive advantages and extend the value and reach of your online marketing/media relations efforts. Some of the public realtions tactics that can affect search engine optimization results include:

  • Contributing articles
  • Pitching stories to journalists
  • Blogger relations
  • Press release distribution
  • Social media PR

These are tactics aimed mainly at achieving some PR focused result such as media coverage and exposure to prospects, industry peers, clients and even internal company staff. Working for a company that has a great reputation is a desirable thing that can help attract and retain good people.

The opportunity with the above public and media relations tactics is to leverage search engine optimization knowledge to achieve additional benefit in the form of inbound links and additional search engine listings. A broader footprint on the web creates new entry points for prospective customers and can also push down negative search results.

PR and marketing don’t often talk to each other in many companies so internal or outside SEO expertise is not often available or even considered when PR departments create content. There are many opportunities to leverage SEO for PR content including:

  • Press releases
  • Letters to the editor
  • Online newsrooms
  • Media kits
  • Corporate web site
  • Blogs
  • White papers
  • Webinars / demos
  • Newsletters
  • Social profiles
  • Real world interviews
  • Podcasts
  • Internet radio shows

Using keyword research to flavor the content, whether it’s verbal, in print, in video or audio can all influence how the outcome of the PR action is available through search.  Using keywords during an interview for example, can influence how the print version of that interview is discovered on site search or general search engines.

The thing to keep in mind is that if a digital asset (text, image, video, audio) can be searched on, then it can be optimized.

When considering using search engine optimization savvy with PR efforts and vice versa, it’s important to consider the audience. Most SEO advice and tactics is centered around lead generation, which is fine, because marketing is the cost center that ususally funds SEO programs.

However, jouranlists are searching too. With over 72,000 media jobs cut in the past 7 years as well as ad budgets shifting from traditional media to digital, journalists and news desks are tasked with doing a lot more with less resources.  Beat reporters, TV reporters and correspondents not only report news in traditional formats, but they’re often tasked to start blogging as well.

Search and social web applications are what help the discovery and tracking of news story ideas, sources and memes to be used with formal reporting. Making your content easily found in these channels means being front and center of the people who can provide the media coverage and links that are so highly valued/respected by consumers AND search engines.

The key to leveraging SEO for PR benefit and PR savvy for links that boost search engine rankings is to consider all the content types being published in an organization as well as content that could be published online that isn’t or re-purposed that way.

Then apply the insight that comes from keyword research and web analytics to influence how content is categorized online and use keywords in obvious places like document titles and links between documents. Keywords that are in demand used in places search engines value should be a part of the PR content creation and publishing process.

Media companies are already doing this when journalists look at keyword lists when titling and writing their online articles. Search drives the vast majority of traffic to online news sites that do not require a login.  Company PR departments that produce content should leverage the same keyword insight when publishing their content and NOT limit it to web pages. Considering multiple media types for optimization in a news context is where digital asset optimization for news comes in to play.

There’s a lot to discuss on this topic and today I’ll be presenting Search Engine Marketing and Public Relations at DMA08 in Las Vegas with examples and a lot more detail.

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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. Avatar LEADSExplorer says

    It is like a vortex: all the separate communication channels will work together at one point in time.
    Creating a much bigger force/stream than the sum of each of them.

  2. another GREAT article…

    p.s. you should be following me on tiwtter so i am not talking behind your back.. =)

  3. “The thing to keep in mind is that if a digital asset (text, image, video, audio) can be searched on, then it can be optimized.”

    Great point! It still amazes me how many referrals I get from Google Images.

  4. Great article Lee. Couldn’t agree more that we need to combine our PR and SEO to get the top results possible!!!

  5. Thanks guys, glad it’s helpful.

    Hey paisley, can you @ me on Twitter?

  6. hey lee. nice piece. i agree, and have been banging on about the coming together of the two disciplines for a while now. there’s so many good things to be taken from both camps.i’m a web head with a trad PR history… but i’m trying to get my clients focused on the idea that everything we do online, in whatever discipline is all ONLINE PR….

  7. It only makes sense that PR and SEO go so well together. Things that make one successful often go well together, somehow the universe just works out like that.

    The thing I will take away from this article is that using keywords in your PR (no matter what format it may be in) affects the outcome of your marketing campaigns just as much as using keywords in your SEO campaigns.

    Thanks for the tips Lee.

  8. This is a very nice way of looking at things. Using PR for rankings and keyword popularity are great ways of delivering traffic and getting quality referrals.

  9. There are definitely a lot of good synergies between SEO and PR, great job showcasing them in this article!

  10. I totally agree, PR and SEO need to used as part of any successful online marketing strategy. Traditional marketing and online marketing should be structured to work together in a symbiotic relationship.

  11. great article, thanks for the advice/tips. i will most certainly be using some of these for my sites.

  12. Excellent points. As Big G continues to modify their result sets they continue to lean more heavily on natural results. Natural results will tend to correlate well with successful PR as in theory the keywords should be the same.

  13. Hi Lee,
    Thanks for another great article – it was good timing as i am finalising a company blog to venture into this world so your advice came at a good time.

  14. Thankyou lee for the wonderful article.

  15. FANTASTIC article. I am a recent journalism grad, just completed a PR internship, and began my first SEO job. These points are without a doubt relevant, true, and extremely useful. Thank you!

  16. PS: any other SEO’s/PR people, find me on Twitter! @missmo_atl

  17. I have recently being considering experimenting with SEO based press releases, so this article was timely to say the least. I have looked into two online PR sites that seem to understand the power of press releases as well as SEO offering expertise in writing and structuring the release as well as embedding it with keyword anchor text links.
    PR.com and PRweb.com both seem to get SEO and have strong testimonials.
    David Fairley

  18. Thanks for the great info and advice…There are no real shortcuts to long term success. This is useful stuff. Thanks, Jeff


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