SEOs Not So Secret Weapon
I joined GoCompare nearly two years ago as a PR and outreach executive. I had no idea what outreach was, let alone the difference between a followed and no-follow link! But PR was something I was pretty familiar with, so if all else failed I had that. Also, what’s the point of a new job if it doesn’t challenge you?!
Fast forward two years; two major department reshuffles, job title changes, team expansion and a promotion, it’s not been short of challenges. But throughout all this, in times of pure panic, I’ve always had my PR experience to fall back on and pick me up.
In today’s integrated digital marketing landscape SEO and PR are now working more closely and there are an abundance of articles out there on how SEO professionals can use PR tactics to enhance their efforts.
The majority agree that link-building is what binds the two disciplines, from distribution techniques and campaign development to content calendars and the importance of building relationships with journalists.
All of which is true, but for me, the best way PR and SEO can work together is finding the story.
Link-building campaigns shouldn’t be for the sole purpose of building just any old links. Links are a huge part of it, in the simplest way they’re a measurement of a campaign’s success, the bigger picture; they help rank in a competitive search. But they’re also about building a site’s reach, developing relationships with new and existing audiences and growing traffic. To do that you need to create interesting campaigns that offer a narrative that journalists want to write about.
PR professionals understand the media, they think like a journalist, finding the headlines while keeping their other stakeholders in mind. From my experience, when it comes to link-building, one of an SEO’s best assets is a PR who’s willing to work collaboratively to create a story. Or an SEO with PR know-how.
When my priority shifted to focus solely on link-building campaigns, honestly, I was lost. I missed my PR safety blanket. It seemed like the change of title made me doubt myself, was I stepping on our PR team’s toes if I did this campaign? Would it look like I couldn’t stick with the pace of change? Why aren’t I getting links anymore?
The answer: I didn’t have a good enough campaign, it lacked a narrative and I’d lost all sense of direction, making content for content sake. No-one would write about it, let alone link, because it wasn’t news-worthy. So, I went back to what I know, and as a result one of my favourite campaigns was created; the UK’s Ideal Home.
For this campaign, it was back to basics, researching what journalists were writing about then, and previously, exploring what makes a headline and how to get the story just right. What the UK’s ideal home looks like is a story that appears regularly in the news, but that didn’t mean that journalists would want to write about it again. If anything, we needed to work harder, we needed to be different.
Previous campaigns on the topic often consisted of simple survey data turned into a press release, occasionally with a picture of the closest looking house that’s available on Rightmove.
No-one had ever actually built it. So, we did… using CGI rather than bricks and mortar.
Throughout the campaign story development, we thought like a PR; researching the all the angles, considering the best format that appealed to the media and its audiences, anticipating the needs of the journalist with estimated valuations and expert quotes from the architect.
Perhaps most significantly, we thought of context, the campaign was for our mortgage comparison product, but instead of sticking too closely to product we looked at the bigger picture. Like America, Britain has a dream, a property dream. Getting on the property ladder is an important life goal for most in the UK, and for me, this context is what made the campaign a success. It was relatable to a wide audience, it inspired an emotional response and it drove engagement – who’d have known people would focus so much on the cost of cleaning the windows? And it got a links.
It got more coverage than links.
Why? The asset. Videos are great for sharing, not so much for linking. Journalists and publishers can just embed the video straight from YouTube without attributing the source.
But it’s still my favourite campaign. It got me back on track, I felt excited developing it and working with the architect to create the CGI walk-through and most importantly, I learnt a lot. Frivolously, not to use video in future campaigns.
Fundamentally, not to doubt myself as much. My experience, in both PR and SEO, complement each other. The techniques of PR are incredibly useful for an SEO content campaign and shifting the focus to building relationships as well as links is essential for success. But for me, SEO’s secret weapon isn’t just in PR’s tools or techniques, it’s the people; their experience, knowledge and creativity.
Rhian Davies is a senior digital campaigns executive at GoCompare. Working within the SEO team, Rhian develops creative campaigns that are designed to generate backlinks and buzz. Experience in both PR and SEO means Rhian is perfectly placed to offer advice across the whole digital landscape. Got any questions? You can find her tweeting about Labradors, Lego and literature @Rhian3Davies.
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