Link Building the New Cross Promotion

26 03 2009

For twenty years or more the marketing industry has been obsessed with the idea of integration.  The nature of the internet is such that if we don’t integrate our online communications may for ever languish in some digital backwater.  

The idea of a link or hyperlink is central to the concept of the world wide web.  If we want to increase traffic to our online content then we need to find ways of creating links that will take people to it.  You need to understand how links work and build linking strategies into your digital PR programmes.  You can if you choose, work with specialists in this area, but if budgets don’t allow there are some basics that you can learn and should implement. 

Unless you have used a search engine, following a link is one of the most common ways to find new content on the web.  A link suggests authority not just in the Technorati sense but in the literal sense.  If a site you trust offers to lead you somewhere for more information you are more likely to have a look.   Link building is about quantity, but for this reason it is also clearly about quality.  Links also elevate your Google rankings. Search engines give sites with good genuine links a higher ranking. 

In many senses the social web is about community and by having links to other places you are playing your part in the community. Effective and appropriate linking can make you part of a powerful network.





WOM on SocNets, is it the Future?

17 02 2009

Last night I got involved in a heated debate about PR and search engine optimisation (SEO) .  Partly because the debate was on twitter and it was late into the evening (I think most of us were on UK time) it was fast moving, free flowing and it also involved many of the people who know most about the emerging roles of digital PR.

The discussion became confusing at times…talk about distributed conversations.  I think however that the main points can be summarised as follows, (and there may be I admit a little bias towards my own views here):

  • Public relations on line can play a significant role in SEO or raising the rank and therefore importance of sites in Google and other search engines
  • It is an inexact science, there are probably lots of ways to make this work but they are not publicly available or widely discusssed in the PR community
  • Some SEO agencies know this and are hiring PR people
  • Some PR people know this and are hiring SEO people
  • The PR industry has lost out so far to the SEO industry in selling skills in this area to major companies and brands
  • Planning and use of analytics will be key to how the PR industry develops in the field
  • WOM in SocNets is the future (or even the present).

I want to take issue with the last point not because I disagree but because it points up a problem.  I’ve been in PR a long time and have been involved with the social web in various ways for a good few years but the phrase threw me and I had to look it up. When I found that it meant Word of Mouth in Social Networks I felt like a fool…of course.  Let’s demystify and let’s not be too enthusiastic about the next big thing before it happens.

It is true that social reputation and peer to peer recomendation will assert themselves in the digital space but let’s not downgrade search just yet.  I went to Twestival in Manchester and met lots of mates ….it was packed with PR people and digital marketing people, so I conclude that at the moment we are talking to each other a lot of the time.

For the time being search and content are critical for the PR industry but let’s keep and eye on the growing importance of SocNets.

Many thanks to Tim Hoang, Stephen Davies, Stephen WaddingtonJed Hallam, Jaz Cummins, Lewis Webb, Melanie Seasons, Pete Goold, Ian Delaney and many more!

Stop post (that’s stop press for the blogging era): read Stephen Waddington’s take on the debate here and Jed Hallam’s note from the geekfest here.





The Marriage of Search and PR

9 02 2009

1 + 1 = 1 by Grrrega. “Google is not a search engine. Google is a reputation-management system, and that’s one of the most powerful reasons so many CEOs have become more transparent: Online, your rep is quantifiable, findable, and totally unavoidable. In other words, radical transparency is a double-edged sword, but once you know the new rules, you can use it to control your image in ways you never could before.”    These were the sage like words of Clive Thompson in a piece called the ‘The See-Through CEO’ in Wired. March 2007. He identified a major new challenge for the PR industry; the need to consider and deliver against the results of relevant search.

Many forms of PR related content are starting to rank highly in search.  Social networks have become important in terms of creating searchable and relevant content. Considering the increasing importance of public relations generated content we now need to deliver that content in a way that is itself optimised for search. The public relations industry needs to start adopting some of the techniques of search engine optimisation or SEO. For example the type of language that we use in our written output needs to use terms more likely to be used when our audiences are using search engines. We must avoid complex or convoluted terms and phrases that in the past have been favoured by some branding campaigns to more straightforward and descriptive terminology that will raise our search rankings.

The need for this and the positive results are becoming increasingly clear. Properly used editorial content can push web sites to the top of Google search rankings without spending a penny on traditional SEO.

 





How PR Became Key to Google Ranking

2 02 2009

Content that ranks highly in a Google search is de facto going to have more hits and more value.  PR practitioners have to consider how digital PR supports good search rankings.   

Early searches relied on the information provided by the website itself In the form of tags or keywords.  Content providers could manipulate this system and search engines had to improve the way that they found information or searching would become more and more unreliable.  Stanford University students Larry Page and Sergey Brin created a search engine technique based on formulas that measured links from one website to another.   This was the basis for Google.   

The search engine optimisation (SEO) business started to find ways to manipulate this new form of search and SEO became an important part of digital marketing.  High rankings have a commercial value and there will always be a tension between SEO business and the function of search engines.  SEO techniques are regarded as being either good design that search engines approve of (white hat) or they are ‘black hat’ attempts to trick search engines into providing a high rank.  This can lead to sites being banned and some major international companies like  BMW  have been accused of black hat SEO leading to temporary bans by Google.

In May 2007 Google introduced a radical change to the system by introducing the concept of  “Universal Search” which blends listings from its news, video, images, local and book search engines with those gathered from web crawlers.    News for example works differently in universal search and results are combined other search results.  This elevates the importance of news stories in the search rankings for any commercial organisation.  PR has always been concerned with delivering news so from that point the publc relations business acquired a new importance.  PR became vital to long term success with Google and other search engines.





Searching for a White Christmas

8 12 2008

tree-snow-shadow

In additions to the posts here at PR & the Social Web, which is a companion blog for my forthcoming book  ‘Public Relations and the Social Web’ , I have been blogging for a few months at ‘PR Media Blog’ the quasi-official blog for PR Agency Staniforth, which is where I work. 

I have just posted there on the subject of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and the role for editorial content.  In particular I looked at the impact of relevant calendar based content that might be likely to attract vistors via search engines, hence the reference to  a White Christmas. 

Rather than repeat the blog in full here you might want to visit http://pr-media-blog.co.uk/white-christmas-should-do-it.   It is a PR blog but it also covers lots of other things too.  There are observations, opinions and comment on anything and everything that touches on PR and the media.    If you don’t have time now, just type PR Blog into Google – it should be there around number one or two.








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