SEOs provide more coverage for clients, campaigns

Although most PR pros consider Web 2.0 tactics vital, many still hesitate to use search-engine optimization (SEO) for campaigns.

Although most PR pros consider Web 2.0 tactics vital, many still hesitate to use search-engine optimization (SEO) for campaigns. Despite its technical name, SEO is a way for communications pros to ensure campaigns are reaching a broad audience, and that a client's online image is sending the right message.

SEO involves tagging and structuring promotional materials - including press releases, blog posts, corporate Web sites, and media coverage - to boost prominence in search-engine results.

"Sharp SEO can help drive the tools you're going to use already," says Phil Carpenter, GM of Allison & Partners. "What we're doing is crafting content, and that is something you can do without having to be fluent in HTML."

Search engines, such as Google or Yahoo, are often the first places that consumers turn to when they want to research or purchase a new product, service, or brand. The keywords that call up a corporate Web site - or related materials - often reflect the reputation of a brand, he adds.

Yet PR pros can use SEO for numerous reasons, including building brand awareness, cutting into a competitor's Web dominance, or attempting to push negative articles further down the results list.

Jennifer Gehrt, founding partner at Communique PR, says SEO can also help establish a company's credibility when pitching to top-tier media outlets, like the Wall Street Journal or USA Today, by demonstrating the client is a high-profile contender in its market.

"If you don't fall high enough in [the] rankings when someone does a keyword search, they're not going to go to your Web site, and you're going to miss out on that opportunity," she says.

And by enhancing the Web presence of promotional materials, like press releases, blog entries, media coverage, and podcasts, agencies can ensure that they are reaching the widest audience available to them, Gehrt adds.

"It's about leveraging tools already in the marketplace to make sure you are getting enough bang for your buck," she notes.

Key points:
  • Search-engine optimization can help manage a client's online presence
  • Tag promotional materials with keywords that you want linked with your client
  • SEO can help clients garner media coverage by establishing them as key players in their industry

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