Public relations used to be rather simple. Draft and send out a press release or produce a novel event that attracted thousands of folks. And then Google came along with an exciting array of possibilities for PR folks to demonstrate their expertise in other ways. By focusing on search engine visibility (SEV), PR folks can place their clients, brands, and messages where active information seekers can find them.
How is this so? Unlike passive information seekers, active ones are highly motivated to make a purchase, so their mission in discovering content is driven by a need. When they are led to a site to learn more, they desire to gain more knowledge and get questions answered. As a result, they have high PR value to clients as well as high click-through rates.
To reach this audience, effective public relations offers the best way to access keyword results effectively and economically because earned media sites have more domain authority and influence than brand-owned ones or e-commerce sites. Brand-owned sites don’t succeed in highly trafficked, non-branded searches, while the cost of SEM strategies for these keywords or of a PPC campaign of the same keywords is prohibitive.
Identifying and using the right keywords and combinations generates earned media search results. One way to begin identifying the right ones is by starting with a list of keywords currently being used by the brand and then identifying those with PR potential. Words used in combination with the brand like comparison, can, reviews, top, best, _ vs. , product category year, and how also raise the likelihood of greater earned media search results.
Consider investing in a program to save hours finding the best keywords for the brand. Some include Visibly, Ubersuggest, Wordstream’s keyword tool, and Keyword Surfer.
The next step after gathering a list of keywords is to organize them. The focus should be on the non-branded ones. Also, concentrate on those that offer or suggest product comparisons or recommendations. Finally, conduct some reverse engineering to determine how a consumer might find the brand.
The next step is to construct a list of media hits recorded within a keyword’s search engine results pages (SERP). Draw up a list of whether the brand was included or not. For those that are, make an introduction to the authors for the next time they update their results.
Begin benchmarking the brand’s success by tracking the brand’s content visibility score within SERP. Charting this within SERP regularly will help for comparative purposes and serve as an indicator when future changes may be necessary.
Track consumer keyword choices and compare them with those who ended up making a purchase. Depending on the result, consider focusing more on those keywords that resulted in more sales.
Estimate how many people visited the website or read an article because of keyword traffic. This can be valuable in comparing the PR value versus a PPC (pay per click) campaign and give a clue as to how much was saved in advertising.
In the end, it really doesn’t matter how a consumer finds the brand, but that discovery occurred. But who’s to argue that positioning more placements at the top of searches can only result in gaining more customers and qualified traffic?
SEV can grasp keywords and audiences thought to be out of reach by SEO and SEM and those consumers already seeking the product or service. It’s also another way to build a media list and collect meaningful metrics.
On the other side of the coin, be patient, knowing that some updates may take a while because PR hits that have already occurred will be uncovered and not recognized by the brand’s SEV strategy.