Guest post by Lee Odden: Follow him on Twitter | Read his blog
6 Questions to Assess Your PR Vendor’s SEO/Social Media Readiness
Recently Jason Falls made an insightful comment on his blog about PR professionals being “social media ready”. In that post, he cited the need for specific social media marketing skills to be assessed for companies evaluating the effectiveness of their PR efforts.
The state of the PR industry is in flux with increasing emphasis on the digital and social side of communications. In the context of digital PR, social media savvy is the jelly to SEO (search engine optimization) peanut butter. As PR efforts continue to emphasize content publishing, digital and social communications, the opportunity to keyword optimize content for search is low hanging fruit for those that are in the know.
Forward thinking companies would do well to assess the SEO and social media readiness of their marketing and PR resources. Is the current digital PR effort leveraging improved visibility through search engines? Do current PR and Marketing staff or vendors possess the digital PR tools they need to offer competitive consulting in a “PR 2.0” world?
Consider the following questions to assess the SEO and social media readiness of your digital PR assets:
1. Is social media participation conducted without attention to SEO?
According to the iPressroom Digital Readiness Report, social media adoption outranks organic SEO. Yet more than 82% of Internet users surveyed in “When Did We Start Trusting Strangers” (published by Tom Smith, one of the researchers of the Digital Readiness Report) stated search engines are the tools most frequently used to source information about products, brands and services. That disconnect reinforces the need for search engine optimization as a key digital marketing and PR tactic.
2. Do your social media and SEO efforts work together?
Some companies are indeed implementing social media and SEO programs, albeit separately. SEO and social media have a clear intersection, and if both are in place, they can work together to compound results.
The outcome of many social media interactions and sharing is content. One of the most important concepts to grasp when exploring possibilities with search for PR is that, “If content can be searched on, it can be optimized for better performance.” Therefore, content creation should factor in search optimization whenever relevant.
Social media marketing efforts that factor in keyword optimization of content can directly influence the discovery of communities and social content via search engines. Additionally, social content can boost links to your website, improving search traffic and Pull PR results. In other words, if you’re going to create it, why not optimize it? Implementing social media and SEO as silos misses a significant opportunity.
3. Is a search and social media friendly website part of the digital PR strategy?
The 2009 Edelman Trust Barometer indicates that companies’ own websites are viewed as more credible sources of information than blogs, social networks or advertising. The positive effects of frequently updated, quality content on search rankings present a strong case for investing in a search and social media friendly content strategy. Whether PR professionals have influence over content creation on an entire web site or limited to an online newsroom, keyword optimization of news content creates entry points to stories through search for journalists, analysts and bloggers researching online.
4. Where does a blog fit within the social media content strategy?
The highest-ranked digital skill for large organizations, according to the iPressroom Digital Readiness Report, is blogging. Blog savvy PR efforts should include the ability to develop a blog content plan that not only publishes news that the company wants to distribute, but information of specific value to target audiences. Such a blog content plan might include a scheduled mix of posts on subjects relevant to an industry niche in formats that are journalist and/or blogger friendly.
Now that every company that is promoting themselves online is in effect, a media company, it’s important to begin to think like one by leveraging an editorial plan and to package information that is useful to customers as well as journalists and other bloggers. Search optimized and social media friendly blog content can extend the reach of company news to search engines as well as social media news and bookmarking sites.
5. Are target audiences profiled and what is the best way to reach them?
Analyzing survey results is a great start to determine best practices, tools and tactics for a digital PR strategy. But it’s just that—a start. Profiling the target audience should be an early and integral part of the process.
Who is the target audience? What are their preferences for types of social content? Which social media sites do they visit, and how often? What type of search do they use for story research? Answers to these questions and more will make a digital PR effort that leverages both search optimization and social media participation more efficient. A good model for understanding social behaviors is the Forrester Technographics report. If consumer social behaviors can be profiled, why not journalists and bloggers?
6. What is your PR firm’s true core competency: traditional or digital PR including social media and SEO?
The demand for traditional PR skills by many accounts is slipping. 18% of respondents in the Digital Readiness Reports said they have no interest whatsoever in traditional PR. For the vast majority of respondents, knowledge of social networks (80%), blogging, podcasting and RSS (87%), and micro-blogging (72%) is either important or very important when it comes to PR and marking hiring.
The big question for companies that want to stay ahead of the digital PR game is, “How do your PR resources (in-house or agency) measure up?
Please also read PR Does Not Stand for Press Release
Really great info in this post — thanks for sharing it. The stat about 18% of respondents having no interest in traditional PR is a real eye-opener. I know PR gets beaten up regularly in social media, so I know its value is often not appreciated. What’s difficult is finding SEO and PR types that can communicate effectively with each other to explain their needs/wants and get real results. It’s also frustrating when people confuse marketing and PR, thinking they are the same thing.
Well said @briansolis – the link between SEO and social media is one we’re trying to discipline ourselves to take advantage of
“Just think of the lives you could swap with
While you’re selling your coats
You’re sewing your own
You know it’s not the easy way
Sometimes you have to pay to play
With fingerpaints and macrame
It’s time we asked the see and way
Could you bring a different nomenclature
Now the colors have bled to grey
To ones that don’t exist in nature
Our nomenclature’s washing away
But did it carry you away
Carry you all away
Bum bum bum
But did it carry you away
Nomenclature’s washing away
Washing us all away.” – Lyrics from Andrew Bird’s “Nomenclature”
Very thought-provoking post, Lee. Thanks for sharing the insights. Question for you…If a client has shared a targeted group of stakeholders that seems to be much more active on, for example, Twitter than Facebook, how would you go about targeting. Is it really an either/or scenario, or is it just deciding where to place the majority of your efforts. And doesn’t having a presence across social networks improve your SEO to some degree because it creates more touch points for users — and even those stakeholders unless none have a Facebook account — to interact with your brand’s Web presence? Or am I missing a bigger picture?
Thanks for your thoughts, I’ll listen off the air :).
Admittedly, though, Jason shared at a recent conference that he doesn’t worry about SEO. I sent him a free copy of my new e-Book to help him get up to speed. A guy in his position could be getting much more traffic on his blog if he optimized! Great post.
I would go as far as stating that SEO must not be content alone, nor should we rely on software to do it for us. When building a blog I take more than the content or programming in mind: I try to find new ways to deliver content without duplicating it; tweak the menus according to the more relevant keywords; focus entire sections to specific publics and make sure that I get as much relevant data as possible.
It’s easy to get caught up into adding analytics of every kind, but building a true SEO and effectiveness dashboard takes time and does not mean having a lot of variables. Just the ones that truly count.
Social Media Readiness: More than Just a Catchphrase
Damn good advice for small businesses especially, now that social media is such a massively popular (and I might add, often misunderstood) buzz word. One giant problem with many digital marketing agencies is the perception that social media is just ‘free advertising’.
No such thing! SocMed is about building communities of raving fans, listening, reflecting, and sharing in constructive, and yes — profitable, ways that achieve your specific goals. That requires intelligent structure (SEO/SEM/Linking) and thoughtful deployment (Relevant blogs, tweets, videos, and more…).
Terrific article Lee, thanks for condensing such valuable information into an easy and enjoyable read.
I find it amazing, promising and exciting that the highest ranked digital skill for a company is blogging. Fashion & Beauty brands need to take this to heart; our industry has been one of the slowest to adopt online marketing and web 2.0 technologies.
From first hand experiences with our own clients, when retail brands take the time to develop a socially-friendly content strategy that supports online PR, community development and search initiatives, they’ve seen tremendous response from consumer loyal to their products and services. More importantly, they’ve seen revenue and exceeded online sales expectation. Best post I’ve read all week.
Your blog is timely reinforcement about the purpose of blogs and what I aspire to as well. Really good one!
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Great article. Thanks for the share. Corporations should read this before hiring PR and launching their online marketing campaign.
Thank you very much for this seo information.
These are good questions that we should remember if our page rank is ready to enter online marketing. Our websites and business will affected if we are not yet ready to go with social media marketing and social networking.
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I just sent this post to a bunch of my friends as I agree with most of what you’re saying here and the way you’ve presented it is awesome.
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This is one of the most important points. Do not rely on SEO for generating more revenues and increasing your business reach among the potential buyers. A SEO can drive targeted traffic to your website, however he can not force visitors to buy from you whether its service or any product.
Excellent posting and have a great job you have.your thinking about SEO is so unique.I am thankful to you for providing this kind of information.Thanks again and keep posting more.
great advice, target audience is a great idea as is making the content interesting and relevant.