A few weeks ago, there was a general panic about whether Google had effectively “killed” PR agencies by forcing people to change their search engine optimization (SEO) strategies for press releases. The links that were once stuffed into releases had to be eliminated, because Google now considers them “suspicious.”
This effectively disabled the power of the press release when it comes to helping a client's search rankings. Some people speculated that the changes meant releases would become secondary options for clients, and PR would be unable to help clients with SEO.
The reality is quite the reverse. In fact, Google's move will stop agencies and companies putting utterly unworthy releases over wire services just for SEO. Maybe it will make people think more carefully about the story they have to tell and how to get it out there.
Better yet, Google's new approach is putting more weight on meaningful stories when deciding where different links appear in search results – and that's a windfall for PR agencies.
Opening ‘Penguin's Box'
Essentially, Google turned search into a PR-friendly world. Here's why:
- Backlinks from reputable sources often mean a link back to a client's website from a news outlet. Now, PR agencies aren't just securing great media placements, they're boosting a client's SEO value when that third-party article goes live and links back to the site.
- Content is more important than ever in the SEO game. But the content has to be good. PR has been writing bylines on behalf of clients already, which means search-optimized blog posts, knowledgeable contributed articles, and other content are a natural step – and great for SEO.
- Social media has already been the domain of PR for a long while. Now that Google is placing more emphasis on “social search” by weighing likes, Tweets, +1s, and other social shares, social promotion and community building is foundational to effective SEO strategies.
Penguin 2.0 struck at phony link-building schemes by adding more value to social media endorsements and backlinks from reputable sources like news publications. Simultaneously, the update devalued big directories and websites that are little more than repositories for duplicated articles.
The best part about these changes is that PR is just going to keep doing what we've been doing: telling great stories, getting media placements for clients, and building relationships. Since Google's goal is to make search as “human” as possible, it seems that PR is already in a perfect place to help build a new kind of SEO.
Martin Jones is managing partner at March Communications.