12 Perspectives on How B2B SEO Can Better Support PR & Communications

As Google continues to update its search engine technology, the requirements associated to gaining good keyword placement in search results, have become more difficult to attain. Industry relevance, influence, and brand trust all play a factor.

Social media has a greater impact on search engine optimization (SEO) as well, both on the website and pointing to the website. SEO professionals need to identify and network with key influencer’s in their client’s target markets, to develop trust, mentions, and links.

PR and marketing communications teams are key participants and often the owners of the messaging strategy for an organization. The best links, social media visibility, and relationships online, are won when PR and SEO combine forces.

In an effort to gain better perspective on this opportunity, I asked 12 PR and communications professionals on how B2B SEO can better support their effort. Here are some of their perspectives on this topic.

Stacey Acevero

stacey-aceveroThere shouldn’t be silos between the search and PR departments, and an open dialogue should exist for the most effective communication. For example, SEO shouldn’t be an after thought – when PR, marketing or social media is creating content for a campaign, SEOs should be actively involved in finding the best keywords and links to infuse, way before publishing deadlines.

SEO professionals can also suggest content strategies to create an overall more-rounded marketing strategy such as suggesting a blog post concept in association to a formal press release, or reminders to push certain social media posts harder than others because your site is close to ranking on Page 1 for a certain keyword.

It is also essential for B2B PR, marketing and communications teams to have a concrete understanding of SEO elements – it results in a much more harmonious process.

Stacey Acevero is the social media manager at Vocus. Stacey blogs at Vocus on influential marketing and social media while also blogging at PRWeb on public relations and SEO.

Catherine Allen

catherine-allenSEO is about finding the right audience to read your message. The time is now to get more eyeballs on the both the content we create (such as a blog post or an infographic) and the content we earn (such as a news article or feature on Forbes.com, IndustryWeek, American Medical News or the like).

Whatever content we create must be optimized via SEO to reach its full potential. Keyword optimization of your content should be done whenever possible and appropriate, across all channels.

Catherine Allen is a senior vice president with SHIFT Communications, Inc., an award-winning, privately-held, employee-owned social media public relations firm.

Mike Essex

mike-essexB2B SEO professionals offer several skills that can help PR teams work better. Through link building research (finding new opportunities and by analyzing competitors) they can provide PR teams with new places online to submit news, stories, opinions, and industry insights.

SEO pros can also identify types of stories that worked well for competitors, or gaps in the market which PR teams could then write about.

Likewise there’s a lot SEO pros can learn from PR teams. For example, getting a good quality link will take time, so patience is needed. PR teams understand it is better to focus on getting one great story on a high profile site than lots of other links, a great lesson for any SEO pro.

Mike Essex is the Online Marketing Manager at Koozai, a Digital Marketing Agency

Robyn Federman

robyn-federmanThe most important thing I do in today’s B2B world is develop and curate content. To do it effectively requires an understanding of how search and keywords work. That means bringing in your SEO right from the beginning, before you develop content.

Too many companies bring in their SEO afterward, and pay the price in lower search rankings. The conversation becomes “this is what you should have done” vs. “this is how we should do it.”

The B2B sales cycle can be long — and SEO can take a long time to show benefits as well. Keeping everyone on the same page early helps achieve common goals in a shorter period of time.

Robyn Federman is the Director of Communications for Catalyst Inc. and has been developing marketing communications, social media, advertising, promotion, and public relation programs that drive new business for more than 25 years. An award-winning copywriter and content developer, she offers both direct and digital marketing experience, both client-side and agency-side, and has worked on major B2B accounts that include American Express, Intuit, Xerox, IBM, Pitney Bowes, and Ziff-Davis.

Jennifer Hrycyszyn

jennifer-hrycyszynI think we all agree that SEO and PR professionals have mastered press release content. And, while press releases drive visibility and search it can no longer stand on its own.

Communications campaigns are best served when SEO and PR incorporates keywords into a variety of content from blog posts to tweets to bylined articles. And campaigns that optimize key web destinations such as press rooms, microsites and social sites further drive discoverability.

By looking beyond the press release and leveraging all assets SEO professionals can strategically support communication campaigns to help raise awareness and ultimately drive sales.

Jennifer Hrycyszyn is a VP at Greenough and has more than 15 years strategic communications experience working with a variety of B2B and B2C companies.

Martin Jones

martin-jonesAs Google continues to fine tune its algorithm, non-contextual and low value links will continue to decrease in value and potentially may even become somewhat harmful. Rather than creating content for specifically for SEO it makes much more sense to SEO your content.

As PR is, and should be, the gatekeeper of content, communication teams should be working in tandem with the web teams, where keyword strategy often sits. More time and thought should be going into how all copy aligns with the overall keyword strategy as well as how it links back to specific pages on the company’s website.

By optimizing every piece of copy that goes online for SEO, you can continually increase the quality and diversity of your backlinks in an organic way, keeping you well in front of the curve when it comes to future algorithmic changes by Google.

Martin Jones, co-founder and managing partner, March Communications, is a technology PR and interactive specialist with 18 years’ experience developing new and creative ways to promote companies, brands and products

Melissa Lane

melissa-laneIf the mantra for real estate is “location, location, location”, then the mantra for communications professionals should be “consistency, consistency, consistency.” The goal of any strategic PR program is to ensure you’re hitting the right audiences (journalists, analysts, bloggers, partners, customers) at the right times.

All communications materials that can be searched should be optimized – including press releases, online newsrooms, media kits, blogs, and other marketing materials such as white papers and newsletters. And in all of these documents, a B2B PR professional needs to understand the right keywords and topics that reflect their targeted audience and utilize these keywords consistently across all material.

Melissa Lane has more than a decade of experience working with high tech B2B companies. Currently she is communications manager at Neolane, where her primary responsibilities include generating customer content and analyst relations.

Cassandra Oryl

cassandra-orylThere is the potential for significant collaboration between PR and SEO professionals, both in terms of generating links and measuring success. The problem is, and always has been, that measuring PR is very difficult. That’s especially true for B2B, which tends to be a complex sale.

SEO professionals can provide data to prove the value of PR. For instance, a media placement that is online (pretty much always the case now) may help increase ranking for a targeted keyword. Of course, that works best when the PR and SEO people are in-sync around the keyword effort. And, the PR person must ask the reporter for a link in the media placement and help the SEOs in their link building effort.

Cassandra Oryl is a Principal at Slice Communications, developing creative, insightful, and relevant information that their clients to distribute to target markets in a variety of ways.

Adria Saracino

adria-saracinoThe biggest problem I often see between SEO and PR/communication teams is a lack of cohesiveness. This includes not working together – sometimes not even talking!

SEO and PR teams are always after the same goal: to improve their brand's positioning online. The PR team excels at getting coverage on external sites, the SEO team wants this coverage to include links to boost rankings and, in turn, conversions.

If these two teams aren't working together, the PR team will often be doing cool campaigns that get coverage, but no links, and the SEO team will be doing another campaign that gets links, but maybe not coverage on those big sites the PR team has contacts at. Thus, working together is essential in making the most of both teams' expertise and capturing all the low hanging fruit possible.

Adria Saracino is the Head of Outreach at Distilled, a creative online marketing agency. When not consulting on content strategy or leading her team of outreach warriors, you can find her writing about style on her personal fashion blog, The Emerald Closet.

Meghan Schulte

meghan-schulteAs with most things in life, it’s more important to have quality over quantity. Reviewing a blog with 10 hyperlinks included is unlikely to resonate with the reader and unlikely to produce much of a response.

Aligning the client’s strategic goals at the beginning of each project to establish a consistent look and feel of the brand throughout all of the company materials, and then enhancing the content with SEO and relevant keywords in a well thought-out manner, will make each communication user-friendly, simple to navigate, and will ultimately resonate with the target audience.

Meghan Schulte is an account executive with Morningstar Communications, with over six years’ experience in communications, marketing, public relations and non-profit fundraising.

Francis Skipper

francis-skipperSupport between search marketers and PR/communications teams should be a two-way street. Search marketers can directly support public relations efforts by providing relevant keywords trends and ROI-driving insights to the team.

As the search team adjusts their efforts/tactics to achieve optimized results, they should proactively share the keywords that are driving success (and those that aren’t) with the PR team. These trends can directly influence PR word choice and messaging.

Francis Skipper, is the Vice President of Digital Media at 451 Marketing, a national communications agency specializing in public relations, social media, and search marketing.

Elizabeth Sosnow

elizabeth-sosnowYou may not be a Sherlock Holmes fan, but you probably know that he couldn’t make it very far without his loyal wingman, Watson. B2B PR folks really need SEOs to help them solve mysteries for their clients.

PR folks are typically hired to develop an “earned” audience strategy. That strategy, or hypothesis, is built upon a foundation of clues. PR and SEO have to commit to doing some hard detective work together to find those clues.

We hope the SEO folks will tell us “where and why” a client’s “owned” web properties are failing, if there’s current sticky content and which keywords will help position the client properly. In return, PR can assess what actions and content are likely to engage the social web and drive more traffic and links to the website.

Together, we can solve the mysteries that are holding back the client’s business…without a dead body in sight!

Elizabeth Sosnow is a Managing Director at BlissPR and has 20 years’ experience in content strategy and marketing. She leads the firm’s Digital activities, including blogger outreach, influencer engagement, SEO benchmarking and social network analytics.

Summary

Collaboration between SEO and PR teams is becoming even more critical for the success of a B2B SEO program. What initiatives have you seen work for your organization, as it pertains to SEO and PR? I would love to read your feedback and perspective via comments below.