By Michele Spiewak
When you Google your company or industry key word, what do you find? Do your results include your own web site, recent articles and press releases, or maybe your company blog? Are these links too far down the search results list to be useful and promotional? Search engine optimization (SEO) is critical for improving your firm’s visibility, search ranking, and web analytics. As marketing and PR professionals, we should be in the habit of integrating SEO into all our PR and marketing efforts. Here are a few tips to keep in mind:
Research keywords for your web site and writing materials. Keywords are the lynchpin of SEO, and a lot is riding on those words. It’s wise to invest time in researching keywords that will help people find you. If the task is too daunting, hire a SEO consultant to build out a robust program that will optimize your web site and your writing materials. A SEO consultant will conduct keyword research to learn what search phrases are actually being used to find your type of services. The research will address questions such as:
- For what do you want to be known?
- What services do you provide?
- What will your clients type into a search engine to find your company or its services?
In researching SEO keywords, be mindful of verb tense and language choice, both of which can mean the difference of hundreds of hits. For example, searching on “design firms in Boston” produces very different results than “architecture firms in Boston.” Online tools such as Google Keyword Planner and Google Insights for Search can help you evaluate and refine words and discover popular variations. Look for keyword phrases with reasonable search volume that accurately convey the key concept. A thorough keyword research exercise can dramatically improve online search performance.
Both content and keywords matter. It would seem logical that good content alone would generate SEO results, but content plus keywords is the magic formula for ensuring that your written material lands in front of interested eyes. Your PR and marketing materials should always be written well, blending relevant, informational content with SEO keywords that drive results without harming readability. To get there, SEO should be part of the standard writing and editing process of your PR and marketing projects – not inserted at the end as an afterthought. A good rule of thumb is to include a keyword (or variation) approximately once every 100 words. Using a keyword phrase in a press release headline and first paragraph, for example, is an excellent way to improve SEO.
Build links into everything you write. Online press releases, byline articles, and editorial pieces should routinely provide a link that allows readers to click through – offering more information on your company AND boosting SEO. Remember that the more relevant the link, the better. So an author’s name can link back to the “About Us” page, or a link at the end of the article can loop back to a relevant project or case study. Just be careful not to overdo it: a press release shouldn’t have more than three or four links or it might raise a Google red flag, think you’re front-loading your information, and dock your rankings as a result.
Make it easy for people to find you and hear your message online by pointing them to the information they want. That’s what good SEO is all about.
Michele Spiewak is an account director at Rhino Public Relations.