Specialised search optimisation and the move back to PR

14 November 2008

OK, so this is anecdotal, but I’d like your help in either confirming or debunking my theory that SEO is moving squarely back into the digital PR fold. I’m not just saying this because I’m a digital PR guy, but based on an observation: I have been having a very busy time of late fielding a lot of questions about SEO and SEM.
In this ultra-competitive time, clients and marketers are looking to boost their search rankings as a way to get a leg-up on their competition, which is nothing new. The whole SEO arena has changed greatly over time: the advertising companies have had a go at getting it right, then search specialists started to pop up and offer advice built on their technical knowledge of how search engines work…
Search and web optimisation is something that I’ve felt for a long time
should draw on the expertise of the PR industry as it
requires detailed knowledge of customer motivations and what people
type into search engines. In order to get your SEO right, you first
have to get yourself into the head of your target audience and
anticipate what they’re going to type into their search queries. If you’re relying on a search-optimisation company, you’re missing the
other key part of the process, which is encouraging people to search
for your terms in the first place.
The real power of SEO comes not just from getting the content right online and building a website correctly, but also driving your consumers and potential customers to use your keywords when they search. The best way to do this is to ensure that all your communications – both online and offline – make extensive use of the terms that you want to “own”. This integrated approach ensures that any time and effort spent on SEO is rewarded through an increase in the number of people searching for the terms you’ve focused on.
Though the basic tenets of SEO are relatively straightforward (to the point that Google has released a guide that talks through the basic procedures and how-to’s), getting the keywords right and making an effort to “own” particular terms requires a bit of forward planning, research and integration with broader messaging. In that respect, natural results and paid search results are remarkably similar – you have to work it into your communications strategy, not your advertising strategy.

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