As our world becomes increasingly digital, lines between business concentrations have blurred. Marketing bleeds into social media. Social media bleeds into customer relations. Customer relations bleeds into branding—and so on and so forth.
But, two marketing initiatives that aren’t often integrated are search engine optimization (SEO) and public relations (PR). However, these two initiatives must be intertwined in order for a company to compete in today’s marketplace.
Think of it this way: Most customers and prospects turn to search engines like Google to conduct product and brand research. In fact, a recent study reports that a whopping 93% of online experiences begin with a search engine (source).
So, today we take a deep dive into the average B2B SEO strategy and the ways in which PR strategy plays a role in elevating a brand’s online reputation. Let’s get into it.
A Beginner’s Guide to B2B SEO Best Practices
Google and other search engines use complex and multifaceted algorithms to rank websites. As a result, SEO is also complex and multifaceted—there are a variety of technical and content-related factors that influence Google’s perception of your website.
To make things even more complicated, search algorithms change constantly—making SEO best practices hard to keep up with. Let’s take a quick look the current SEO landscape—starting with content-related considerations.
Content-related SEO Considerations
SEO is not about tricking Google into ranking your content higher. It’s about creating genuinely high-quality content that ranks high in the search results naturally.
For an in-depth guide to creating high-quality content for SEO, check out the following blog post: How to Boost Organic Traffic to Your B2B Blog.
Historically, an SEO keyword strategy involved mapping a target keyword to a single page. Then, the keyword would be methodically placed in the title tag, the meta description, throughout the body copy, and within any H tags found on the page.
Today, however, Google places more importance on keyword clusters and the relationship between related concepts. Rather than focusing on a primary keyword, modern content creators must determine which topics are related to a primary keyword and then, structure their content accordingly.
This new mindset is loosely based on the concept that a page optimized for one keyword is significantly less valuable than a page optimized around a cluster of related keywords.
SEO ranking factors aren’t limited to the contents of your website—you must also consider how users behave in response to your content. Metrics like click-through-rate and bounce rate signal how relevant and useful your website is.
Think about it, Google won’t continue to serve content that no one clicks on. And they won’t serve content that receives minimal engagement. For this reason, you must do two things. One, make sure your page title and meta descriptions are directly related to the content of your page. And two, make sure the user finds exactly what they’re looking for when they land on your website.
Closely monitor your click-through-rates and bounce rates to correct any errors before Google adjusts search rankings accordingly.
Technical SEO Considerations
And now, moving onto the more technical aspects of a B2B SEO strategy. By no means must all public relations professionals know the technical ins and outs of SEO, but it’s a good idea to have a working knowledge of the technical factors that influence a website’s rankings. Here’s a quick overview:
Do you have the appropriate technology installed?
The two most obvious SEO monitoring tools include Google Analytics and Google Search Console—both free. Without these tools as your bare minimum, it’s difficult to monitor and track problems or any progress you make.
Are your URLs Structured Appropriately?
URLs play a big role in a B2B SEO strategy. For this reason, remember to keep your URLs concise, standardized, and optimized with appropriate target keywords.
Do you use the right H tags?
H tags like H1s, H2s, and H3s signal to Google what your content is about and how important certain elements are. Therefore, it’s critical to make sure your website utilizes these tags appropriately.
Have you optimized your images?
Implement alt image tags optimized with target keywords to tell Google what your images contain.
Is your website able to be crawled and indexed?
Think about it, if Google can’t crawl or index the pages on your website, they won’t appear in organic search results. So, if your website’s organic traffic is non-existent, be sure you check that Google is actually able to crawl your site using tools within Google Search Console.
Do you understand external linking?
Backlinks are essential to how well your website ranks organically. So, we recommend working with outside websites and publications to build high-quality backlinks to your content. Also, be sure to check your backlink profile regularly and have any low-quality or spammy links removed.
Do you understand internal linking?
Include your target keywords within the anchor text of links to other pages within your own website. Like external linking, this signals to Google what your site is all about.
Is site speed bringing you down?
A slow or lagging website will drastically impact the usability of your website—and as result, it will also impact your search rankings.
How do you handle website errors?
Be sure to set up the correct redirects whenever you delete a page so visitors don’t land on ‘error’ pages.
Miscellaneous SEO Considerations
Of course, this isn’t a comprehensive list, so if you’re interested in the nitty-gritty of technical SEO, be sure to conduct your own research. Before moving on to the specifics of an integrated PR and SEO strategy, we have a few last considerations that may impact your company’s overall web presence:
Often, customers and prospects take to social networking sites to search for businesses they’re interested in. If your company doesn’t have a presence on the most popular social media websites, there is a portion of your target audience you won’t reach.
Similar to social media, certain prospects go straight to websites like G2Crowd or Yelp when they’re looking for businesses. If you don’t have a presence on these popular review sites, you’ll be missing out on valuable business.
Mentions of your brand on external websites impact your web presence more than you may know. Think about it, if you Google your brand name, and a negative article is among the first results, you’re in trouble. Therefore, you must make an effort to contribute meaningful bylines and guest content to high-quality websites. That way, you can control search results in a way that is more favorable to your company’s reputation.
So How Does PR Impact Your SEO Strategy?
Now that you have some basic background information on SEO best practices, let’s explore exactly how you, as a public relations professional, can help your marketing team improve their search rankings.
One of the quickest ways to improve a website’s search rankings is to build up high-quality backlinks from other reputable websites. Now, as a PR professional writing press releases, speaking to media outlets, and having bylines placed—you have a unique opportunity to control the various links in the pieces you promote.
We recommend, if there isn’t already an official workflow in place, sitting down with the person in charge of SEO at your company and asking for a keyword map or list. That way, you have a better idea of which keywords to use as your anchor text, which keywords you should always include in official statements, and also which pages on your website to link to within these keywords.
2. Data-Driven PR
For those who aren’t familiar with the term, data-driven public relations is a strategy that relies on data-driven insights to generate publicity for your company or product. Generally, this type of strategy leads to a significant amount of coverage or links back to your website.
To get started with this type of PR/link building strategy, try one of the following tactics:
Gather insights from your company’s customer and contact database. Most companies collect important data from prospects through lead generation efforts, marketing campaigns, and networking events. This information can hold important data-driven insights.
Let’s look at a quick example: After analyzing their CRM data, a hypothetical agency finds they’ve had an increase in website form submissions from prospects who have “customer experience” in their job title. After digging a little deeper the agency finds that customer experience jobs have doubled in the span of a year. Using this information, they go to the press to pitch content regarding this important shift in the modern business landscape.
On a similar note, most companies retain information about product sales and buying habits. This data can help you uncover newsworthy buying trends.
Here’s an example: A fictional fitness equipment retailer sees that sales vary drastically depending on the region the buyer lives in. Using this hunch, the retailer designs and distributes a map depicting the most popular fitness equipment in each state.
As a result, many other websites writing about similar topics link to this map as a resource, increasing brand recognition and generating high-quality backlinks to the company website.
If you work for a large company with access to the necessary resources, we recommend sponsoring or conducting your own survey to gather data. Let’s look at an example:
A company specializing in HR software is developing a new product suite to meet an HR need that no other platform provides. Based on this instinct, the company puts together an online survey and distributes it through their various marketing channels. The results of this survey were then used to pitch the following headline: 78% of HR leaders say they need a better product to fit this specific hiring need.
Although these are only three examples of data-driven public relations, you can see what we’re getting at. Developing data-driven insights can accomplish important branding goals and generate high-quality backlinks in the process.
3. Events and Networking:
Nothing generates press and influencer coverage better than a well-executed event. And, as we’ve already demonstrated, with press coverage comes linking opportunities, social media followers, and increased brand awareness.
For this reason, we recommend putting an increased effort into the promotion of branded professional events—including press coverage, high-profile attendees, and top-of-the-line speakers. The more online coverage an event receives, the more opportunity you have to influence the links and web mentions surrounding your brand.
4. Keywords and brand positioning:
How you talk about your brand will dictate how others talk about your brand. Therefore, your branding strategy must be in line with your keyword strategy. Think about it—if marketing and PR are pushing a certain phrase, but that phrase has no search volume, it will have little impact on your search rankings.
But, if you work with your SEO and marketing team to handpick phrases and keywords with high search volume, other companies and publications will follow suit. As more publications link to your website and refer to your brand with your target keywords, the better your search rankings will be.
A company’s web presence is no longer just the responsibility of a single person or department. In our modern business environment, every department has an impact on Google search results—whether it’s an employee filling out a review on Glassdoor or a board member sharing your company’s blog post.
SEO is a big job and everyone must do their part to achieve search ranking success. So as a PR professional, SEO may not be in your job description, but taking the steps outlined in this article will only make your job easier and work to help your company achieve its various marketing and branding goals.