Google SEO and Press Releases Lisa Parziale March 09, 2014 In this article, find out what is acceptable for press releases and SEO strategy that won't get you in trouble with Google! (Moz.com via Newswire.net -- March 9, 2014) Flower Mound , TEXAS -- In case you missed it, Google’s head of web spam, Matt Cutts, wrote this on January 20: “Okay, I’m calling it: if you’re using guest blogging as a way to gain links in 2014, you should probably stop.” Google SEO and Press Releases SEO is actually just a slang term for a collection of best practices -- it is doing web development well, content creation well, social media well, PR well, and so on. This is why successful SEO, and digital marketing in general, necessitates that companies “assemble” a holistic, integrated team with expertise in numerous disciplines. And
PR By Any Other Name…
I can already hear the groans: “But, wait! I’m not a PR flak! I’m an inbound marketer!” I completely understand – as a former journalist, who only later went into SEO, I specifically had been looking for something in marketing that was not PR. But the fact remains that much of inbound marketing is just PR by another name:
Are you interacting with influencers, journalists, and bloggers on Twitter? Sure, you can call yourself a “social-media marketer” – but you are really doing PR Are you pitching guest posts by-lined articles to news outlets and other online publications? It is not “guest post marketing” – it is PR. Are you e-mailing people in the hopes of getting links, mentions, or anything similar? It’s often called “e-mail outreach” today, but it is just doing PR via a specific communications channel
It took me a long time to accept the fact that a lot of what we do as “SEOs” is actually, well, PR. But the sooner that we accept that fact and throw away our preconceived notions about PR, the sooner that we can start to learn, adopt and benefit from its best practices.
Here’s the kicker: Technologies and communications channels change, but people do not. Publicists, for example, may contact reporters with Twitter more than the telephone today – but it
is still one human being talking with another human being. And PR experts know how to work with people. Social media is often just a communications channel – and not a discipline unto itself – that can be used by PR professionals, customer-service representatives, lead generators, and more.
The Basics of PR Strategy
There are many types of PR. But since the idea for this post was born out of a discussion on guest posts, I will discuss PR strategy here specifically on pitching content and story ideas to journalists and bloggers. This is a brief summary of some of the ways that The Cline Group works with our PR clients – and the resulting “hits” (in PR-speak) give them the added bonus of gaining quality, natural links and social media exposure as well!
The first thing to understand is that public relations is an art, not a science. There are specific, defined ways to create XML sitemaps, ensure that Google can crawl and index a website, avoid duplicate-content issues, reduce page-load time, and more. PR methods, however, can vary as drastically as the number of people using them.
Here, I will present the overall strategy that The Cline Group uses in our public-relations work. This strategic, step-by-step process delivers the best results.
1. Goal Identification
PR is not an end. It is a means to an end. The goal is not to “get coverage” – the goal is to get coverage that supports a company’s overall business and marketing goals. Here are some examples of our PR clients’ goals: We want to gain VC funding or to exit by selling We want to maximize downloads of our mobile application We want to gain more leads who will become users of our B2B software We want to build our brand through authoritative content It is useless to create a PR strategy without first having a clear sense of the objective.
2. Target Market Identification
The PR team must then research and compile a list of the general targeted audiences based on the goals that the client established. Here are some for the above examples: Investment: Angel investors, start-up founders, corporate VC funds Mobile Downloads: People who would be interested in a mobile app (of the given type) B2B Leads: The business owners, executives, and managers who would be interested in the solutions that the B2B software provides Content: The people who would be interested in the information that the content communicates
3. Messaging and Positioning
Once the goals are determined and the target markets are identified, then the PR team can determine the positioning (how will you brand the company/individual/product/content to the target markets) and messaging (what text, images, and more will you use to communicate the positioning). Take one of our mobile-app clients. Which of the following pitches do you think would be more likely to interest reporters, and, in the end, their readers?
“MediSafe reminds people to take their medication.” “A year and a half ago, Bob Shor’s diabetic dad asked him if he had seen his dad take his insulin. Bob’s answer, “No, I didn’t see you take your meds” was interpreted by his father as “No, you haven’t taken them.” His dad overdosed that day, which Bob says was the reason he and his brother Rotem created MediSafe, a collaborative app that helps keep track of long-term medication.” The second example is the opening paragraph of a Cult of Mac article. That coverage came from positioning MediSafe as a personal story rather than as just another random app.
4. Media List Creation
The next step is to compile a list of the outlets – and the most-appropriate writers at those outlets – that are read by the identified target audiences. The importance of this phase of the process cannot be emphasized enough. An ideal media list should usually be comprised of publications that have all of the following (in both PR and digital contexts): The publications that are read by the target audience The specific writers at those outlets that will likely be most interested in what you are pitching Publications with large readerships Outlets (and writers) with large social-media followings
Publications whose online sites have high Domain Authority When compiling media lists, remember that time is a limited resource. There are only so many hours that a PR team can devote to a campaign. At one extreme, they could send the same, generic press release to thousands of outlets via a wire service and just hope for the best. At the other extreme, they could focus all of their efforts on a single reporter at a single outlet that is highly desired. A simplistic example: Say a PR executive has one hour of pitching time – should he or she spend one hour on one outlet or five minutes each on twelve outlets? Usually, you want to be somewhere in the middle.
5. Press Release Development and Pitching
The final stage is to craft the actual pitches and press releases. Sometimes the same press release can be used. Other times, it is best to create individualized, tailored releases for each type of outlet or each specific reporter. It just depends on the context.
Whether digital marketers are promoting a company, a product, or a piece of content, those who use this general strategy will be many steps ahead of the competition. Sizemore once summarized the importance with the following statement in this essay of his:
If I had to choose between your average link builder and an expert PR professional who knew how to approach and interact with media outlets and presented well on camera, I’d go for the public relations person any day of the week.
Twitter's a PR Gold Mine
Twitter specifically is an invaluable tool for PR pitching – but it must be used strategically and wisely in this context.
My colleague Scott Piro, our EMEA Managing Director and Chief Strategy Officer, has written a guide to using Twitter for media relations. I highly suggest that Mozzers read his essay for more details (not that I’m biased!), but I will summarize some of his points here: Many busy reporters do not answer their phones and receive countless e-mails, but they do pay attention to Twitter Writers will often say in their Twitter bios whether they want (or do not want) to be tweeted with pitches Twitter is public, so do not give away too many details of an exclusive story – switch to email or the phone as soon as possible Link to a press release somewhere online (on a company website or on a wire service)
Know your audience and when to be more formal and when to be more friendly Piro also gives two general examples of Twitter pitches: The Benign Intro: @journalist Do you accept story pitches? If yes, what’s the best way to send you one? THX The FYI: @journalist I emailed a story idea to your [media outlet name] address. Hope u can take a look; I think it’s rly a good fit
PR: The Old and New Off-Page SEO
It all comes down to what I’ve called the “PR-based SEO process”: The idea can be summarized as such: 1. 2. 3. 4.
Do something newsworthy Create newsworthy content based on what has been done Promote the company and content Repeat as often as possible
Linkbuilders often ask themselves: “Why would this website want to link to us?” Reporters ask a related question (at least to themselves): “I get dozens of pitches a day – why should I write about you?” If you can answer this question, you’ve got a great head start. As I wrote in the linked post above:
What can a company do that would interest journalists? The possibilities are limited only by the imagination – release a new product, hire a big-name executive, conduct an authoritative analysis of the state of the industry, and so on. Then, create quality, engaging content in the context of the action – a blog post, an infographic, a press release, a video, a podcast, and so on.
The next step is crucial: use traditional public relations to promote the company’s news – and use online PR and social media to promote the content created for the news to obtain backlinks, citations, and social-media mentions. This practice will yield far better online PR results than just stuffing backlinks into meaningless press releases.
Here’s the secret: Reporters want to write about you. Years ago, space in a newspaper and minutes in a broadcast were limited. Journalists could be picky. Today, however, they know as well as we do that “content is king” and the way to maximize traffic and (for their purposes) advertising revenue. Writers are under constant pressure to write and write and write since websites can support an almost-infinite amount of content.
So, it can be easier to convince them. Just give them a nudge through the strategies that we’ve presented here.
Original article by Samuel Scott on the Moz Blog
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