December 26, 2018 Last updated December 25th, 2018 299 Reads share

How SEO Revolutionized PR for Small Businesses

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Once upon a time, small businesses wanted their names in magazines and newspapers for press for their

companies. They wanted their brands and products being talked about in a positive light, rightfully thinking that if their brands and products were associated with a positive narrative in the press, people would be more interested in solidifying an actual purchase when it came time to make a buying decision.

As press expanded into other mediums, the concept of “press” developed into public relations, or its more commonly used term, “PR.” Businesses became further integrated into how people consume

med content — which explains why executives were so focused on studying how people perceived their companies, through market research and focus groups.

While PR was becoming a must-need for businesses from a reputation standpoint, some marketing executives began seeing PR as a possible means of generating real revenue. From product placements to reviews, PR began to conceptually evolve into a return on investment (ROI) mechanism, where if you put a certain amount of money into a public relations project, you could expect a potential return.

The ROI of PR

But things were not yet fully optimized for data collection — they were really ahead of their time — so it was not always clear if a PR initiative resulted in a tangible profit. Thus, when the economy struggled and budgets were subsequently cut, PR no longer became a priority, and over time, it evolved into a less important marketing function for small businesses.

However, things quickly changed once SEO came into play and businesses turned to e-commerce. Why? Because SEO brought in data, success metrics, and tangible results to PR. For example, a company could now invest money into an SEO project that doubled as a public relations venture, helping to not only improve a brand’s reputation but also simultaneously increase sales of its products.

And everything would be tracked. Therefore, marketing managers could turn to their stakeholders and show implications of growth for past projects and projections for future undertakings.

With that said, here are a few concrete ways the commercialization of SEO revolutionized PR for small businesses:

Links

SEO created a world where link placements seemingly equated to currency. The more links pointing to a company’s website, the more likely that website would rank for keywords contained within the anchor texts of those links. While there are many other factors impacting rankings, as thoroughly stated in Moz’s beginner’s guide to SEO, links do play a significant role.

But the key part to keeping in mind is that links need to be relevant and authoritative in order to make their strongest impact. The more relevant the links and the higher the authority of those links, the more impactful.

This essentially means that not only do article placements need to be aligned in terms of branding, but they also need to be in sync with their SEO implications. For instance, let’s just say you’re a clothing brand. In the old days, you’d probably get sponsored articles in a fashion magazine and try to appeal to that fashion brand’s audience, hoping to impress them and enter their network through a “word of mouth” vortex.

But things are different now. Not only does that magazine’s site need to have a relevant audience — but it also needs to be relevant and authoritative in the eyes of Google. Otherwise, it could actually have negative SEO ramifications that bring down the relevancy and authority of that clothing brand’s website. It’s all connected in the present and future of e-commerce, thanks to technology.

Reputation Management

Prior to the Internet, when an individual had a bad experience with a brand’s products, the furthest that person would go to sharing his or her experience would be in telling their friend, to help them avoid a similar fate. But most people just kept it to themselves and, through trial and error, eventually found the right product for them and kept it moving.

But with the Internet, experiences are now shared by the instant. We turn to TripAdvisor, Yelp, Facebook, Google Reviews, and an infinite list of blogs and forums to bring validation to our experiences with companies ranging from sites like TweakYourBiz.com, a business and HR content hub, or CorporateJobBank.com, a staffing agency in Phoenix.

The thing is, those reviews play an essential role in how our reputations are perceived by the masses. If a brand is registered by users as trustworthy, then that has a fruitful effect on how Google views that brand. Conversely, if that brand has limited placements (i.e., links in articles) on trustworthy sites, and the reviews for that brand and its products are mostly negative, then Google will not perceive that brand as trustworthy.

And in terms of SEO tips — well, if a brand’s reputation consists of low authority placements and a negative reputation across sites where people converse about their experiences with brands, then Google will not trust that brand and thus not believe it’s worthy of being at the top of its search pages. It’s one of the reasons why Google loves quality brands, according to SEOBook’s research.

Brand Association

These days, consumers want to purchase products from brands they trust and admire. Long gone are the days when companies don’t have to care about how they’re looked at by the public.

People really care about where they’re investing their money, and that couldn’t be truer for millennials and their purchasing habits. So while brands need to partner with the appropriate sites to increase their SEO presence, they also must do so wisely — given that consumers will dig into sites and determine what they’re all about.

In addition, let’s say a phone repair company gets an article placed on an electronics website. All is fine, except if a consumer who is interested in that repair company does research into that repair company’s website and then sees an unprofessional article from the electronics website that oversells the phone repair company in an unnatural way.

You can compare that SEO example to watching a channel on YouTube that spends the first five minutes of its video outlining every detail of a sponsored product. It just becomes unbelievable. In other words, PR needs to be objective or else consumers will see right through the illusion of trust.

Plus, with the data-driven approach of SEO, we can see success metrics associated with these placements. Things like referral traffic, bounce rate, engagement, generated leads, etc. These are also possible when thinking about SEO-focused PR campaigns.

Conclusion

The bottom line is this: In 2018 (and in many years to come), PR will only be valuable when it’s integrated with SEO best practices. If you can’t measure it, you can’t defend it.

It’s imperative that we understand that if small businesses think about SEO when they pursue PR opportunities, they’ll be making business decisions with ROI as the focus. Otherwise, how does one really know if something was worth the effort and energy committed?

And as search becomes more and more integrated into our lives, the opportunity to think about results from SEO in conjunction with PR is now.

 working on startup together at the office stock image

Alex Sal

Alex Sal

Alex Sal is a business journalist, startup entrepreneur, and market researcher. He is also a frequent contributing writer for Markitors.com and Cake.HR, and a recent graduate of economics from Queens College.

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