One of the first things most prospective customers do when researching a possible solution or tech product for their company is go online. And of course this very act is what makes search engine results and rankings so important to marketers.
From a PR perspective, SEO results originally started out as a useful by product of the real point of the release, which was to generate good news coverage and positive sentiment. However, over time, as the internet has grown to be such an important part of our marketing lives, SEO has assumed a greater and greater importance, to the point where now some firms are using PR and media coverage purely as an SEO tactic to boost rankings!
Search engine results are the product of algorithms which are generally based upon factors such as the content of a webpage, the trustworthiness of the website, and external factors such as backlinks, social media, news, etc. A whole industry has grown up around trying to manipulate these contributory factors in order to achieve better and better rankings, and ensure what appears beside your company or product’s entry is what you want your key audiences to see.
Because what is important is not just your ranking: where you appear on the page under certain search criteria, but also what your prospects will read about you in the description. Ensuring the meta-description (because that is what the short snippet accompanying the headline result called) is what people want to read about you is key. And if it comes from a news story about a new client, product innovation, funding story or key new hire, then so much the better.
So - what if there was a simple and inexpensive way for your firm or product to capitalise on the search engine heft of some of the biggest and most credible industry and/or business websites, thereby boosting your rankings immeasurably? And what if - when a customer or investor or funding agent or skills pool looked up your company name or product - the first page(s) of results displayed took the form of highly credible and authoritative mentions and reports from some of your industry’s leading publications?
A whole industry has grown up around search engines, and 'playing' the algorithms (‘science’), but the fact remains that a carefully crafted press release and consequent press coverage remains among the highest rated content from an SEO point of view. Because once your story is published online in a good journal or site, it immediately assumes the SEO credentials of the host site: its backlinks, social media presence, trustworthiness of the site and so on. Furthermore, when potential customers research your company online, they will be faced with reportage from credible industry and/or media sources, along with meta-descriptions of your latest, or possibly even your greatest news. So from an SEO perspective, good PR can generate extraordinary results almost immediately. And a consistent PR effort over time will ensure a constant feed of good news into your search engine results on an ongoing basis. No other tactic can generate similar results.
This is why Tom McLoughlin of Search Engine Journal argues that taking into account all the tools in the search marketers arsenal - be it PPC, email marketing, social media, or offline advertising and promotion – the impact that good PR can have on your SEO performance can be much more significant than all other channels above combined.
And it can all start with a simple, well crafted and properly pitched press release.