Business Growth and SEO
The pandemic struck. Shutdown orders were issued. We all had to work from home.
And just like that, all firms conducted their business online. Now you need to make it easy for remote buyers to find you. Our research has shown, again and again, that implementing search engine optimization (SEO) is one of the most effective ways to draw website visitors and build an audience. Yet it’s also the least understood, most underutilized, and most abused of all digital marketing techniques.
What is SEO?
SEO is the practice of drawing more visitors to your website by moving up the search engine results pages (SERPs). This means when your target audience does a web search on Google, Bing, Duckduckgo, or any other search engine, your webpage will be listed at or near the top of the search results. For example, if you’re an expert in operationalizing diversity, equity, and inclusion, an effective SEO strategy will help you appear on the first, if not one of the first few, results pages each time your target audience searches on “how to implement diversity, equity, and inclusion,” “best practices in DEI,” or “how to promote DEI in the workplace.”
I love some of the things I see from digital pr, it’s a shame it often gets bucketed with the spammy kind of link building. It’s just as critical as tech SEO, probably more so in many cases.” — John Mueller, Google
SEO consists of two parts: on-page SEO and off-page SEO.
WHAT IS ON-PAGE SEO?
On-page SEO refers to creating content and optimizing web pages so that search engines will associate your content with your target audience’s search phrases and rank it as one of the most relevant. Most people associate SEO with on-page SEO. While important, you also need third-party websites and platforms to corroborate your expertise, authority, and trustworthiness (EAT). This is where off-page SEO comes in.
WHAT IS OFF-PAGE SEO?
Off-page SEO are the range of tactics to ratchet up your website’s SEO rankings through the endorsement, expressed or implied, of third parties. Also known as “off-site SEO,” these tactics are implemented online and off. Online, they focus on obtaining backlinks to your website and mentions of your brand on external websites and platforms. Offline they involve, but aren’t exclusive to, mentions of your brand in print, on the radio, and through word of mouth. Online mentions and backlinks signal your authority to search engines. Greater authority translates to higher SEO rankings. Whether online or offline, obtaining this type of third-party credibility is known as earned media.
What is earned media?
Earned media is attention you garner from the public and the media that you haven’t paid for. Before the world wide web, earned media meant unpaid publicity on print, TV, or radio, as well as word of mouth. Since the web’s invention and predominance, the term has included online mentions you haven’t paid for, including:
- Social media mentions or shares of your content (which some call “shared media”)
- Articles you’ve written for online publications
- Articles featuring you, your business, your analysis, opinions, links to your website.
- Online/offline reviews and recommendations
- Search engine results pages (SERPs) where you show up–yes, that’s earned media
Earned media is no longer just about giving people and firms third-party credibility. With its expansion to the web, it also validates websites.
You can generate earned media through digital PR.
What is Digital PR?
Digital PR is a strategy using digital techniques for obtaining mentions and placements in external websites and platforms to grow your online presence and authority. Far more than link-building in professional services, it’s geared to raise an expert’s profile as a thought leader by tying their brand to the news, trends, and developments in their field. Referred to in some circles as thought leadership PR, it can include pitching your analysis, opinions, and insights to editors looking for guest contributors, journalists needing quotes and soundbites for their stories, research and ranking organizations helping buyers make informed decisions, and podcast hosts on the hunt for guest experts. Reading further you’ll learn that your key relationships in thought leadership PR aren’t limited to those with editors, journalists, and bloggers. They include other thought leaders.
Why are Digital PR and Earned Media Crucial for SEO?
Off-page SEO as a search engine ranking factor is more important than most people think. Google’s John Mueller recently said, “I love some of the things I see from digital pr, it’s a shame it often gets bucketed with the spammy kind of link building. It’s just as critical as tech SEO, probably more so in many cases.” Moz’s Search Engine Ranking Factors study corroborates digital PR’s importance: “Off-site SEO-related factors likely carry more than 50% of the [Google] ranking factor weight.”
When online reviews, articles, and social media shares mention you, link back to your site, or both, they can signal to search engines a vote of confidence in your EAT, prompting the virtuous cycle of pushing you up the SERPs, channeling even more traffic to your website, which raises you higher up the SERPs. Note that even linkless positive brand mentions–also known as “implied links”– count towards EAT.
If appearances in other websites and social media platforms can establish your thought leadership, why not beef up your LinkedIn profile rather than invest time and resources in a website? You can’t build authority without first establishing relevance online. Journalists, bloggers, and event producers look up an expert’s thought leadership trail and audience reach. Having a website where you regularly blog and share your ideas and insights is the perfect place to establish that trail and grow an audience. This is how owned media becomes the engine that drives earned media.
7 effective earned media strategies to boost SEO rankings
There are quite a few earned media strategies businesses can use to boost their rankings. But, for the purpose of building credibility as a thought leader through third parties, the following are the most effective.
STRATEGY #1: BEEF UP YOUR WEBSITE WITH GOOD CONTENT
Helpful, keyword-enriched content that dives into the what’s, why’s and how’s of topics enjoy more views, shares, and links. They also draw the attention of journalists and editors. Here’s a great example of how high quality content on owned media can lead to earned media: When the Environmental Health & Engineering, Inc. (EH&E) published an insightful, optimized blog article on pandemic commissioning, it drew many views, including that of the editor of a global industry association, who requested that the authors contribute a guest article on the same topic.
STRATEGY #2: SHARE YOUR INSIGHTS WITH THE MEDIA
More often than not, the media won’t come to you. You’ll need to reach out and convince them you’re a worthy source or contributor.
One way to share your insights is through guest blogging.
WHAT IS GUEST BLOGGING?
Guest blogging is the practice of writing one or more guest articles for an online publication or another organization’s website. Also known as guest posting, it shows search engines and your audience that you’ve won the confidence of your industry’s trusted sources of information. You can learn more about getting media placements in the article on strategies for improving your SEO with guest blogging.
Not everyone has time to write an article, least of all experts who frequently blog. The less time-consuming option is to send journalists timely, insightful soundbites they can include in articles they’re already working on or plan to. We call this technique “newsjacking.”
WHAT IS NEWSJACKING?
The term newsjacking describes the process of commenting on breaking news for publicity. Newsjacking can be particularly efficient, as it offers the chance for multiple journalists to pick up your comment.
Newsjacking is simple, but requires some prep work to get started.
HOW TO NEWSJACK
There are four steps to newsjacking. First, set up an alert for breaking news related to your area of expertise. If you’re an expert in infection control, you’ll want to set up an alert for infection control. Alerts will serve two purposes: notify you when news on your topic hits the headlines, and help you track which journalists are writing about it.
Second, write out your key messages ahead of time. Questions to ask yourself are:
- What’s my angle on this topic?
- Why is it newsworthy?
- How is my angle different and better than what they’ll likely receive from someone else?
- What soundbites can I use to make my point?
- What stats, infographics, and images can I share to make my point?
Third, edit your comments down to 200 words or less. And fourth, when the news breaks, send your comments to the journalists you’ve been tracking.
This article first appeared in www.fastcompany.com
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