Lee Odden

Social Media Optimization for Public Relations

social media optimizationI’m here at the PRSA International conference in Washington D.C. and the conversations about social media are to be found everywhere. The halls, the exhibit floor, sessions and even at the fantastic dinner hosted by Shonali Burke last night.

Yesterday I gave a 4 hour workshop or, “SEO Bootcamp for Communicators” as it was titled.  I polled the attendees who came from a variety of companies and organizations ranging from a for profit private school to the Veteran’s Administration, on what their questions were about SEO. Most revolved around getting to understand how PR can get up to speed on the value of SEO and incorporate it into what they’re doing as Marketing has done.

To that end, one of the things I touched on in the workshop and that I will also address in a solo presentation today on Social Media Optimization, is a model for incorporating Social Media & SEO into news promotion.

  • Objectives:  What are your goals? You can’t finish your mission without an end goal, so it’s important to identify some kind of general website traffic, citations, links, social engagement and organic referring traffic goals.
  • Audience:    Who are you trying to reach? This question can be answered at a broad level in relation to online PR and news content as well as at the individual content level. Keywords and promotion tactics can vary whether it’s direct to consumer, journalists, analysts or bloggers that you’re after.
  • Social Conversations & SERPs:  Listening to social conversations about the topics important to your company, brand and constituents is essential for knowing where to engage and promote. Think of it as reconnaissance.  The SERPs, (Search Engine Results Pages) are your SEO battlefield and it’s important to understand what types of content is being displayed for your most important keyword phrases. While personalization is a factor that can make the SERP experience vary according to your location and web history, it still makes sense to identify what media types are included: web pages, images, video, blog posts, news, etc.
  • Resources:   Content, people, processes.  What content and media do you have to promote? If you put out a press release, adding images and/or video can increase distribution quite a bit.  Who do you have available to you to help? Copywriters, IT, marketing. Adding SEO and Social Media components to content authoring and publishing processes will ensure more of your content goes out in an optimized state.
  • Tactics:  What channels to optimize? This is where information captured in Listening and SERPs helps you decide what kind of content and which social channels to optimize for.  If news, images and video are represented in the search results and there are relevant conversations happening around social media sites including some or all of those media, then your “marching orders” are to leverage those types of media in your news optimization.
  • Measure:  SEO, Social, PR. Knowing when you’re a success is important for productivity as well as reporting upstream in your organization. Setting goals, making benchmark measurements and then tracking progress as skills and effectiveness are refined will help you stay on track.

When companies and individuals enter the Social Media and SEO waters, it’s often very tactical and tentative. Testing is fine of course, but making the effort to establish some kind of framework and process can reap big efficiency / effectiveness rewards.

One way to increase adoption and results is to develop a process that is followed by anyone in communications, media relations or PR that is in a position to publish content online. The form of this process will vary, but here’s an example:

social SEO

By adding a process, it adds accountability as well as the likelihood that a much greater quantity of content will be keyword optimized and promoted to extend the reach of news direct to end consumers as well as to journalists and reporters doing online research.

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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. If you’d like a tool for setting your goals, you can use this web application:


    You can use it to manage your goals, projects and tasks, set next actions and contexts, use checklists, schedules and a calendar.
    A Vision Wall (inspiring images attached to your goals) is available too.
    Works also on mobile, and syncs with Evernote.

  2. Great article Lee. I’m a little bummed that I missed the workshop, but I appreciate you mapping out the process to publish content above. I’m gonna use that structure and enjoy the results.

  3. I really like this framework and I think it touches on a lot of what’s missing in many brand’s approach to SEO and PR. I think too many brands and agencies look for a quick fix with a third party solution and they miss a lot of the benefit of what SEO can do for them and how valuable of an asset a press release or other news can actually be. In my 10+ years working for large PR agencies, I never got more than blanks stares when I mentioned link building.

  4. Social media is definitely a media that can’t be ignored. If you aren’t leveraging the power of it, you will definitely be left in the dust

  5. Avatar Lynn Lipinski says

    Thanks for posting this framework. It really helps me visualize how SEO works hand in hand with social marketing. Listening to conversations that are happening on social media and monitoring SERPs is a great way to set benchmarks.

  6. Avatar Susanne Penfold Social Media says

    Thanks for the post, the Objectives is very important. It’s all very well wanting to get to number 1 in Google but what are your Objectives when you get there.

  7. I like this approach. I have noticed that a few people forget about the SEO aspects when dealing with social media campaigns.

  8. Avatar Rahul @ MazaKaro says

    we dont have to ignore Social media , it is one of our activities every day !!!
    and Yes building links for SEO ranking does really matter !!!! right

  9. Avatar Perry Frandsen says

    Sometimes all this can be overwhelming for someone new to online marketing. I am relatively new but I am slowly learning how to link. I am also of the over 55 generation which makes it a little more difficult to understand social media. Your post helped me to see how to organize my time and focus for optimal results. Thanks.

  10. Avatar Laurie Head says

    Great SEO workshop, Lee. I was there in the classroom! Forgot to ask you about any thoughts you might have on using Livefyre and others (are there others?) like it. Care to comment? – Laurie Head, AIS Network

    • Thank you Laurie – I’m glad you enjoyed the workshop. We’ve used Disqus and ECHO for comment management. In fact, here’s a post we did on several such systems: http://bit.ly/czegbE

      I haven’t used Livefyre yet but it does look interesting as a way to enable blog readers to extend conversation directly back out to Twitter. Nofollow links between sites don’t provide much value to SEO, but then again, SEO isn’t the only way to reach customers 🙂

      Are you using it? What do you think?

      • Avatar Laurie Head says

        Thanks for your reply, Lee. No, I haven’t used it yet but am shopping around for something that provides that functionality. I will check out the link you provided. Appreciate it!

  11. SEO and PR need to work together. After all, there is no point in doing a PR campaign to find that people are searching for you but you’re not ranking. Epic Fail.

  12. Getting PR pros up-to-speed on the value of SEO… now that’s a noble pursuit!

    I learned a lot during your one-hour presentation at BlogWorld last week – I can only imagine all the great info you can provide in a four-hour workshop.

    • It was a lot of information and the communications pros in attendance were very interested in that and more. I’m looking forward to creating additional resources specifically for PR agencies and practitioners in this area 🙂

  13. Avatar Josefina Argüello says

    I would just like to point out that I still like to have different social networks for different purposes, and personally I don’t use Facebook for other than my personal friends and connections – where I can discuss more intimate stuff. I therefore do not usually link my FB to say LinkedIn or even my page. I know I am not the only one out there in folllowing that policy. Once more, congratulations on a great post.

  14. Avatar elina webb says

    The online market for a new one can be overwhelming sometimes. How can I link to, but slowly I am learning, I’m new. I was a little difficult to understand that social media is also am on the 55 generation. How to focus my time and your post helped organize and the right results. Thank you.