As recently as a couple of years ago, SEO was a relatively new discipline that occupied its own space in the marketing mix. Now, with the industry moving faster than ever, and more big brands dedicating more time and effort to SEO, its role has changed significantly. Brands can no longer think of SEO as a separate, isolated element of their marketing strategy. Put simply, it cannot be compartmentalized, and needs to be effectively integrated across every aspect of marketing.
How can brands integrate SEO effectively?
Especially in the context of big brands with complex pre-existing internal structures, integrating SEO across the board can be a daunting task. The most important thing to bear in mind is that SEO is not a conflicting discipline. It’s not an alternative to more traditional digital marketing activities, but it can add considerable value to them. Brands should treat SEO as an underlying consideration across their existing activities and always have the following question in the back of their minds:“How could this also benefit SEO?”
The great thing about SEO is that it can provide quantifiable measurement and be a really profitable addition to existing PR and marketing.
So how can brands go about easily maximizing these existing activities through SEO?
1. Host a valuable, linkable resource onsite
When launching a new PR campaign, considering the onsite content can have significant SEO benefit. Even if the initial aims and KPIs are geared towards reach, creating a useful, interesting and interactive piece of onsite content to accompany the campaign will lead to natural backlinks to boost the authority and organic ranking potential of the site.
2. Optimize content for SEO visibility
From a technical point of view, getting content proofread from an SEO optimization perspective can help individual content pieces rank. Also, making the most of natural internal linking will improve the flow of authority throughout the site and help translate any external links into the most effective results possible.
3. Convert social media coverage to links
Following up on social shares, especially for contacts with authoritative sites, can add considerable SEO value to existing social marketing. If someone influential has retweeted or favorited something to do with a campaign (this could be an image, article, product, etc.) then following up and providing them with that aforementioned onsite resource means that they’re more likely to cover this on their own site and link to a brand.
Some do’s and don’ts
The recurring theme here is external links, and making the most of them. Indeed, the main goal of SEO is to achieve an authoritative, natural backlink profile to drive as much authority to the site as possible to help maximize ranking potential. Though there are multiple factors at play in search engine algorithms, as an industry we aim for links because they remain the most widely applicable SEO KPI, and continue to correlate best to rankings. With that in mind, here are some do’s and don’ts for brands looking to integrate SEO and implement a more effective strategy for earning links through their existing activities.
Do – Create engaging accompanying onsite content that’s relevant to your audience. Think about why people will want to link to it.
Don’t – Expect people to link to your homepage just because you have a good PR story.
Do – Plan link earning outreach campaigns in advance and set targets and deadlines.
Don’t – Focus solely on ad-hoc opportunities.
Do – Create content that can be repurposed for multiple niches.
Don’t– Just rely on one angle (e.g. national media) being successful.
Do – Follow up on social coverage and existing brand mentions online to maximize links.
Don’t – Damage relationships or “churn and burn” valuable contacts for the sake of a link.
Do – Vet sites based on metrics like authority, readership, number of followers, instinctual reaction, etc.
Don’t – Target low-quality, spammy sites.
Do – Respond to media requests and register as an expert influencer in your field.
Don’t – Miss out on opportunities to contribute to industry discussions.
Do – Use a system or database to manage link earning and SEO efforts.
Don’t – Adopt a scattergun approach and have multiple people contacting the same sites.
Do – Utilize internal and staff opportunities, like contributing to university alumni profile pages.
Don’t – Ignore good internal PR, news stories and staff profiles that could have SEO benefit.
Do – Outreach onsite content and PR campaigns to top-tier catalyst sites for a trickle-down effect.
Don’t – Fail to personalize outreach to each top-tier catalyst sites.
Overall, integrating SEO into a brand’s existing marketing strategy can seem like an intimidating task. Indeed, several years ago, this may well have been the case, but SEO is now more adaptable and easy to incorporate than ever before. Brands can pick and choose how much they want to invest in SEO, and integrate link earning strategies into their existing campaigns to add an extra benefit on top of the initial aims. The tips and the do’s and don’ts above are just a starting point though, and each brand will be different and require varying levels of SEO involvement. The most important thing is keeping SEO in mind and, if the opportunity is there to boost authority and benefit organic rankings, it’s an addition that brands shouldn’t hesitate to consider.