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The Other PR that influences search ranking

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Our panel at SES NYC yesterday was about how to get authoritative links and what that can do for your search ranking. The moderator was Sage Lewis, panelists were Lee Odden, Chris Boggs and me.

Chris took the more traditional approach and explained how to leverage directories, associations and sponsorships.

Lee and I spoke about the other PR - public relations. SEO-PR is a term that has been around for about 4 or 5 years now. When optimizing press releases first became an option the PR industry did not adopt the practice. SEO firms immediately saw the value, but they lacked the PR and 'newshound' skills needed to create a great news story.

Those who attended this session really got how using PR skills to create great content and then pitchi that news story to relevant online news sites and bloggers can have a huge influence on your search ranking.

When you understand that Google's PageRank and "links as votes" system is basically a PR model of third party endorsement and trust, this makes perfect sense.

What is an authoritative site?

* One with a large number of pages
* One that has themed content
* One that has links in and out to similarly themed content.
* One that has a high PageRank

News or media sites are authoritative sites. And as any PR person knows, mentions in the media carry a lot of weight as a third party endorsement..

So the trick is to find a news angle in some piece of content you already have, or some activity within your company. Here are a few examples:

A company that supplies business phone systems had a product that assists call centers to track who they call. When the Do Not Call list became an iaaue and the Supreme Court ruling came out they sent out a press release about how their software could keep a call center compliant with this new law. It got a lot of coverage and built them a ton of links.

HerRoom.com a leading online retailer of lingerie, had a series of videos on their site that show how effective various makes of sports bras are at reducing breast movement while exercising. A bit of PR digging to find the news angle in this content turned up the fact that Dr. Joanna Scurr, a professor at the University of Portsmouth in the UK, has been doing scientific research in this field and some large media sites covered the story.

HerRoom contacted Dr Scurr and hosted a live interview with her about her research. She spoke about breast movement during exercise and the probl;em of breast pian. She also shared results from a medical study in the Uk that found that the best way to deal with breast pain is with a good sports bra.

HerRoom tied in their Bounce Test Videos as a service to women. Now they can see which bras offer the best support, reducing movement and breast pain.

A good press release with the links, podcast and video gor picked up in some major media sites. Bloggers wrote about it. - mommy bloggers, exercise bloggers and health bloggers..Women recommended it.

The podast was registered at podcast sites.

The result in terms of SEO? That page on their site has moved from not in the first 100 a month ago to #14 on page two. And it is still climbing. We have a few big media sites and influential blogs we expect to run the story in the next few weeks. Those links should push it onto page one.

The moral of ths story? Next time you hire an intern look for one who has a PR background, a nose for news and can write great content. You can teach her the SEO part.


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