Have you ever wondered what really gets a brand on the front page of Google? For brands today, search engines are paramount to any successful marketing or public relations effort. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) employs a series of tactics to increase a brand’s visibility and ranking on search engines such as Google, Microsoft Bing, Facebook and Amazon, and it is one of the fundamental considerations of any marketing or public relations strategy.
SEO, however, doesn’t need to be a heavy lift. While there are a myriad of algorithmic factors that impact a brand’s search engine ranking, a few essential ranking factors allow brands to optimize their public relations efforts. Let’s look at how brands can leverage simple shifts in their content development process to improve their rankings and climb the search engine ladder.
- Links: Links are critical in SEO because they tell the computer when people are visiting content. When creating content, consider linking back to relevant owned content such as blog posts on a similar topic, resource pages or other pages on your website that relate to the topic. Additionally, ensure there is a link to the website homepage placed in the post as a link (https://www.kimballpr.com/) rather than rich anchor text. It may be tempting to load up content with links, but this can be counterproductive. Brands should try to stick to three or four links at most. Doing otherwise may run the risk of triggering a spam or bot flag, which will ultimately hurt the brand’s SEO value.
- Keywords: Brands can leverage the search engine habits of their audiences to help better target their content. Generally speaking, every audience has specific search engine habits, or keywords they look for, that can help brands identify what language to use in their content. Once a brand has identified what those keywords are they should strategically use those words throughout their article/blog/website, etc. These keywords will help the search engines identify what the content is about and send it toward the right audience. Brands should research what keywords will help them reach their audience, what they care about and what they are turning to search engines for, and use those keywords in the body, headline, URL and wherever else they naturally fit within the content. Similar to the note above about links, brands should avoid using too many keywords or “keyword stuffing” to avoid being flagged as spam.
- Headlines: Keywords are not the only way brands can leverage the language of their content to raise their SEO rank and better target their audiences. When creating a headline for a piece of content, whether it be a blog, article or otherwise, brands should consider using strategic language. The headline is the first part of a piece of content a potential audience member sees and is vital in grabbing the attention of readers. With that in mind, brands should consider using pithy language, paired with targeted keywords to catch the eyes of readers. For example, using listed titles such as “top 3 reasons to use social media,” or pointing out an issue the content can help solve such as, “inflation is high: social media marketing can help,” will help catch the eye of the reader and entice them to engage with content.
- Break Up Content: The format of the body of the content can be used to climb the SEO ladder as well. Once the headline captures the attention of the reader, the content of the article needs to keep their attention. There are strategic ways that brands can format their content to best engage readers. As mentioned above, placing keywords throughout the piece will help. It is also important to make the content attainable. Using straightforward, easy to read and plain language will help consumers understand what they are reading. The average individual in the U.S. reads at a 7th grade level, so keeping content at that level will help keep the reader engaged. In an increasingly digital age where attention spans are shorter, breaking up the content is key. Numbered or bulleted lists are the easiest way to format content in an attainable way. If content is not listable, shorter paragraphs will help readers feel as though they can consume and understand the content, whereas longer, meandering paragraphs will feel more daunting.
Leveraging Original Content
Of course, in order to incorporate the tactics listed above and climb the SEO ladder, an organization needs somewhere to place links, keywords and important information. This is where original content comes in. Original content can be anything from a blog or infographic on an organization’s website to an interview or thought leadership article printed under the byline of an organization’s subject matter expert (SME) in a reputable publication.
These types of original content can be broken into two categories: owned and earned. Owned content is content that an organization owns. They come up with the concept, have complete control of what goes into the content and put it on their website. Blog posts, infographics and more fall under the purview of owned content and allow organizations more control over what goes into the content regarding links and keywords. Earned content or earned media is content that an organization, or public relations agency partner, secures in a reputable publication, whether it be an industry trade publication or national business publication. Interviews and thought leadership articles fall under this definition. A good public relations partner will have established relationships with many of the editors of industry trade and national business publications and can help secure opportunities for interviews or articles in these publications. While owned content gives an organization more control over the content, earned content often gets more visibility, is often perceived as less biased and can help build or expand an organization’s reputation.
Regardless of whether the organization builds its content library in-house or through an agency partner, leveraging original content is the best way to incorporate SEO tactics into a brand’s content to boost their reputation on search engines.
SEO is a necessity for modern brands to exist in the age of the internet. When approaching the wide world of search engines, it is important to remember to play the long game as success is not achieved overnight. With a plan in place, brands can build up an online presence alongside a few strategic SEO practices that can help bring them to the forefront of search engine results over time.