Public relations is a powerful tool that can help brands foster and maintain a positive reputation in the public eye. Although traditional PR occurs on platforms like newspapers and television, much of today’s PR is done online in the digital realm. Companies can—and should—take advantage of both paid and earned digital communications to bolster their search engine optimization (SEO) strategies.
These four digital PR tips can help your organization leverage online PR strategies to drive better SEO results.
1. Consider the value of links and link equity
One of the most important elements of your website’s SEO is links. Links serve as a form of “digital currency” on the internet because they send powerful signals to both human readers and to search engines that the content on a web page is valuable. A website is more likely to rank highly on the search engine results page (SERP) if it receives many inbound links—links coming from an external source.
However, not all links are created equal. Inbound links from highly trafficked domains are typically worth more to search engines than links from smaller, less-trafficked sites. The concept of links holding and passing value from one page to one another is called “link equity.” In order to generate link equity, you want to get lots of inbound links from reputable and well-established websites.
For example, imagine that your company is ramping up its PR efforts, and a number of online new sources are referring to your website. Links to your website from industry-leading sources like the New York Times will generate substantially more link equity than links from your local community’s online news channel.
Any time you work with a media partner or news source that plans to publish digital content about your brand, make sure they link back to your company’s website—not just mention your company by name. Not only will the link direct people to your digital content, but it will assist in your SEO efforts! Linking is especially important when working with major industry players.
The value or equity of any inbound links your brand receives will depend on how much credibility and authority the linking organization has. Your company can use toolsets that help boost search engine rankings and visibility, such as Moz Pro, to check domain authority and see which inbound links provide the most equity.
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2. Understand the difference between ‘follow’ and ‘nofollow’ links
Every time a link is created, it can be written as a “follow” or a “nofollow” link. A follow link allows search engines to literally follow the link and attribute equity to it, which contributes to better SEO. A nofollow link instructs search engine crawlers to ignore the link, which results in no link equity.
In most circumstances, links are automatically written as follow links. However, it is possible for links to be changed into nofollow links with a simple addition in HTML. If a webmaster adds a nofollow tag to the link, the inbound link generates zero link equity, regardless of how much authority or traffic the source has.
Some websites will use nofollow links because the website they are linking to may not be credible. A nofollow link prevents the organization from giving the non-credible website a digital vote of confidence and boosting their search engine rankings.
As a company trying to bolster their SEO efforts through PR, it’s likely that your team will create links for media sources and other digital partners. These links should always be links that search engines can follow and give link equity to. Any time your PR team generates new inbound links, they should ensure that they are follow links and that the digital partner who is going to share them will not add nofollow tags.
3. Use anchor text strategically
The word or phrase that’s visible and clickable on a link is called “anchor text.” This text is extremely important because it’s what search engines read to understand the context of the link and the page it’s directing to.
Anchor text should always be descriptive of what’s on the linked page. When this happens, search engine crawlers are able to connect the dots between a web page and a search term. This helps websites rank more highly for relevant search terms.
If your PR team is generating inbound links for a media source, they should use anchor text that matches the keywords that are most important to your website. For example, if your company sells fashion accessories, the term “fashion accessories” is much better anchor text than the word “website” or even the name of your company. Keep all anchor text relevant to your web pages and overall SEO strategy in order to rank higher on the SERP.
4. Choose the best web pages for inbound links
Your website might have dozens or even hundreds of distinct URLs to link to. These range from your home page, customer service page and blog to the individual product or service pages.
Inbound links to any page on your website will carry some level of link equity and provide value to your website’s SEO. However, the SEO impact can be amplified if your team strategically chooses which pages to link to. The web pages receiving inbound links should be relevant to the source and to the user following the link.
Here are five examples of web pages on your site that make great inbound link destinations:
- Home page
- About Us
- Products or services pages
- Blog articles, case studies, whitepapers or news
- Contact Us
Although it’s tempting to drive most inbound link traffic to your home or “Contact Us” pages, there might be another web page that is more relevant and useful to your SEO strategy. As your PR team generates links for digital media, ensure that the links selected are beneficial to potential customers clicking through. This way, they are less likely to leave your website immediately, improving your bounce rate and overall SEO.
It’s also a good idea to dig into your website’s analytics and identify the web pages that already receive good traffic from organic search. Driving inbound links to pages with existing performance and traffic can improve SEO even more.
Make digital PR work in more ways than one
PR efforts are most often used to increase brand awareness and maintain a positive reputation for a company. However, digital PR can do even more for your company—as long as you pay attention to the details! By implementing these four tips into your digital PR strategy, you can both improve public perception of your brand and increase your website’s SEO performance for an overall digital marketing boost.