Google and the Changing Face of SEO

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Search engine optimization, or SEO, used to be tailor made for public relations. Getting one of your client’s to the top of the search engine results pages (SERPs) involved creating a series of documents and publishing them online. Drafting a press release every month, and linking it back to the client’s website, created a significant boost. We used one of the main distribution services, usually PRWeb or PR Newswire, and just made sure to include the client’s URL in the body of the text. Then, every publication picking up the release provided an inbound link to our client’s website — the main indicator Google uses to order the SERPs.

Now, a good rule to follow is this one: only when a third party makes an independent decision to link to your site will Google improve your ranking.

Secondly, we created what was called a “content provision” article. These articles were spread throughout the Internet by a series of sites where people could go to get valuable content. Since there was no exclusivity involved, we could submit the same article to a series of sites for maximum impact. People interested in the article could get it for free provided they agreed to maintain the link back to the client’s website. More inbound links to improve our client’s website ranking!

Finally, we draft a short weekly blog entry to ensure a dynamic website and increase the number of “deep links” (to interior pages) to our client’s site. By hosting the blogging software on our client’s site, we ensured everyone linking to the blog was in fact linking to the interior of the website.

Unfortunately, like many things on the Internet, these options changed. Google improved its ranking algorithm to spot and counteract the top two strategies. The only self-created strategies that remain involves blog entries. Of course, many online public relations firms are unaware of this shift. They continue to waste their clients’ time pursuing ancient strategies.

Now, a good rule to follow is this one: only when a third party makes an independent decision to link to your site will Google improve your ranking. You must provide valuable, original content to make this happen.

The General Impression of “Public Relations”

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Working in the field of public relations is sometimes frustrating due to a lack of understanding among the general population. The term “public relations” and “PR” is interpreted in the general society in a very vague and amorphous manner. So when I tell people I run a public relations agency, their faces cloud over and sometimes they even ask exactly what I do.

The term has taken on a relatively negative meaning in the general public, and public relations is viewed as some kind of attempt to deceive people or put out some form of propaganda. In the parlance of Donald Trump, “Wrong!”

In the corporate and B2B world, the marketing department encompasses both advertising and public relations, and most experts suggest you should pay about the same amount of attention to each.

Public relations simply means unpaid publicity, as opposed to advertising which is paid publicity. PR professionals work to generate positive news stories about their clients by drafting press releases, placing bylined articles in trade publications and business journals and more.

The publicity vehicles created by the online revolution transformed public relations. Because if we remember the core definition of PR, unpaid publicity, well, you do not have to pay any money to publish your blog or send out your email newsletter, for example. Google Adwords, on the other hand, or online banners cost money, and they properly belong in the field of advertising.

Public relations is estimated to be about 10 times more effective than advertising per column inch. Ask yourself what you pay more attention to, a large advertisement or a small interesting news story on the same page.

In the corporate and B2B world, the marketing department encompasses both advertising and public relations, and most experts suggest  you should pay about the same amount of attention to each. In reality, most CEOs lean far more heavily on advertising, and they need to be educated about both the definition and the power of public relations.

Public relations professionals need to sound a clarion call against the general impression of their field.