By Georgia Kirke with Chris Dickey
Have you heard the term search engine optimisation (SEO) thrown around in marketing circles, but never felt you truly used it to its maximum potential within your business? If the answer is yes then you are certainly not alone.
With more and more marketing being conducted online, understanding SEO and keywords has become a must for marketers and businesses alike. But it can be confusing too, with so many different ways to approach SEO, not to mention the potential for algorithm updates to throw your strategy out of balance.
Last year, I was very excited to talk to Chris Dickey, founder of US-based PR agency Purple Orange and Visably, a software solution for search engine visibility, about some alternative ways in which you can leverage SEO to improve your reach. You can listen to our full conversation on the Interviews with Experts podcast.
Linking PR and SEO
One of the things that stood out was how Chris had made the link between impactful PR hits and search engine visibility, and how this led to the creation of the Visably tool.
Chris: “People might think PR is all about telling stories, and it is, but it’s also about leveraging third-party endorsement. You have to ask how you can get other people to talk about and endorse or influence the audience’s opinion about your brand. When I recognised this, I realised that the most impactful PR hits we were achieving for our clients were serendipitously showing up at the top of search for some very important keywords. This made sense, because when you’re working with very distinguished publishers who have high domain authorities in search engines like Google then [this content] has a higher probability of rising to the top of the barrel and being on the first page of search.
These were [search engine results page] positions that these companies had no chance of achieving with their own websites alone. There’s an incredible and very valuable customer base that exists in search, but they are very hard to reach. Answering the question of ‘where does my brand exist in search?’ rather than ‘how do I improve my website’s position in search?’ was the inspiration behind the Visably tool.”
Making the right connections
The old saying “It’s not what you know but who you know” is very true when it comes to PR. Before the internet, it was easy to identify the top news publications and journalists you might want to target with your PR activities, but online there are many more options and it’s not always easy to work out who to reach out to. It’s a problem Chris is keen to solve.
Chris: “PR professionals are always asking, ‘who do we need to talk to in order to gain traction here?’ They need to know which writers and publishers to build relationships with to promote their clients’ products and services. You can do this for yourself, it’s not rocket science, but it is time consuming.
However, Google and the other search engines have very powerful algorithms that ostensibly populate the most relevant content from the most relevant publishers and writers in a specific category in the world. They do the sorting for you, all you need to do is extract the data.
Once you’ve done this, you now have a list of the publishers, writers and content pieces Google thinks are important, and, if you want, you can reach out to them and start building relationships. So, if you’re a long way off breaking your website onto the first page of Google search results, why not build relationships with the bloggers and websites that are already ranking? That’s the faster way to reach your audience.”
Understanding different types of search
It makes perfect sense when you think about the internet in terms of connections – no piece of content you produce exists in isolation and I love this approach to building relationships and connections to share your content far and wide.
But I also understand how carrying out research into keywords and SEO performance can be daunting if you’re new to producing your own content (or have never thought of it in this way before). Chris had some tips for filtering down the keywords to target.
Chris: “Whenever you search in Google, the algorithm tries to determine whether you want to buy something, whether you want to learn about something or whether you want to go somewhere. Those are known as transactional, informational and navigational searches. All of this is called ‘searcher’s intent’. Now, that intent is what you want to match up when you’re thinking about visibility strategies.
For instance, if you are a thought leader then you’ll want to identify the keywords with informational intent. That means you’ll focus on keywords that are providing reviews, recommendations, information, learning and education. As a content creator, this gives you a great way to show up and promote your skills. You can decide whether you’re going to write a load of guest blog posts, or whether you’re going to publish content and encourage others to republish it.
If you’re able to take that publishing mentality and orient it towards a search engine strategy, it can be very successful in terms of reaching the right people.”
I always talk about how you need to create a content marketing framework that acts like an ecosystem, where each individual piece of content connects and interacts with the others. When you bring PR into the mix, you’re simply extending that ecosystem and in the process broadening your reach.
The approach Chris recommends – using your SEO and keyword research to help you find the most suitable and visible publishers for your content – has the potential to boost your business’ profile online, introducing you to more potential customers in the process.
If you’d like some support with your content marketing and would like to learn more about how you can build a brand using high-quality content, I’m always happy to talk.
Book a clarity call with me to find out more about Write Business Results and the support we provide through our book, blog, podcast and content marketing services.