For years, I have wondered how Google filters and prioritises web pages but I always assumed that the coding schedule and algorithms would be too complex for a ‘tech novice’.
Google accounts for 90% of all web searches, it is the largest media property to date and has opened the door to two-way communications with organisations and stakeholders. Public Relations in the digital age must understand how to use Google to create a strong online presence through Search Engine Optimisation (SEO).
Google search result ranking works by prioritising websites with fresh, educational, valuable new content, social media usage and links from high authority sites.
Firstly, there was the PANDA algorithm originally created by Google to eliminate thinner sites and content farms from being at the top of search results, restoring deserving, high quality and legitimate websites to their rightful place.
Then Google upgraded their algorithms to PENGUIN, brought into penalise brands who used manipulative black-hat techniques to attain the top places in search results (Dietrich, p.29). Thanks to Google PENGUIN this helped profitability of PR campaigns by gaining more website views, customers and therefore their websites ranked higher than before in the search results.
PR Campaigns SEO top tips:
Be aware: Avoid the temptation of opting for quick results. This usually means that the SEO’s code of conduct hasn’t been followed. Don’t use Black Hat techniques like adding irrelevant or repeating words, blog or comment spamming, or linking unrelated and thin sites just for greater visibility on searches.
Have an SEO-PR strategy: A PR strategy revolves around intertwining earned media to a brand’s owned media. Having a plan of attack and connecting the two practices – PR and SEO – will most importantly generate sales, change views and increase awareness.
A PR campaign without a carefully thought through plan will barely raise awareness. Further search visibility, inflated site traffic turning into sales is all due to hard-earned coverage springing from well researched PR-SEO strategy (Bayles, p.8).
Constantly post content: Remember that quality should take precedence over quantity. It takes more effort to produce intriguing and valid content ‘but, much like training for a marathon, it pays off in the end’ (Dietrich, p.33). Be cautious of using duplicate content. It won’t initially get your site blacklisted, but directly duplicating onto similar or owned websites without syndicating properly is risky. Look at high flying German car manufacturers BMW, they were blacklisted because they duplicated their content into different languages. PANDA will blacklist even the biggest of companies for straight translation.
Be social media active: Have conversations with consumers, recommendations by influential journalists, social influencers and bloggers, will gift you with a higher google ranking. Engage with the masses and make Google assume you should be able to reach those further afield, pushing your online profile up the search results ladder.
The aim is to reach as many people as possible and have more people talking about you. If the role of PR is to develop relationships with people who matter to the organisation, then you should use all networks available. As Stephen Waddington explains in The Digital Resolution, ‘smart public relations agencies for their part are putting search at the heart of campaigns’ (p.4).
PR and SEO are stilled individual entities yet they overlap, this integration of jobs roles is imperative to building and maintaining brand reputation in the digital era.
Bayles, S. (2015) Public Relations’ Digital Resolution [online]. Brighton: Coverage Books. [Accessed 10 March 2016].
Dietrich, G. (2014) Spin Sucks. Indiana: Que Publishing