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Search engine optimization and public relations need to become best friends. Why? Because SEO as we knew it two years ago is dead. As our approaches to link building are constantly evolving, a stronger tie between these two marketing fronts is being seen.

With that said, let’s examine just how these two audience-building genres can play nice. First off, just what is public relations?

Public relations is the process of building or maintaining a company’s reputation and image through positive offline and online coverage. Link building, on the other hand, builds the site’s “popularity” by acquiring a large amount of diverse links from various domains in an effort to establish top ranking positions in search engines. Where I see SEO and PR butt heads is in the work rather than the perspective. SEOs think, “how can I gain rankings, traffic and ROI,” where public relations experts think, “what coverage will provide us with the most prestigious image to engage in positive events and conversations both on and offline.”

In the end, both thought processes will achieve similar results. But here’s the good news—there is a way to get the best of both worlds. We can achieve top rankings, as well as a solid reputation through a cohesive approach and understanding. Here are some pointers for the best approaches to killing two birds with one stone:

1. Optimize press releases for SEO

When crafting press releases, be sure to do so with keywords in mind. Most companies have a specific SEO campaign underway. Within that campaign will be a designated list of phrases designed to increase search rankings and relevant traffic. Narrow the list according to relevancy to your subject matter. Also, be strategic in adding these keywords to your content. Place focus keywords in the headline and beginning of the body of your content.
Outside of keyword optimization, remember that links and branding are HUGE ranking factors. Be sure your website is linked to the company name. Within the release you should also include other branding signals search engines use to identify a business:

• Address
• Phone Number
• Email

Ensure identical information is used in press releases and other content online.

Finally, don’t forget that getting your press release seen by pushing it out through the correct distribution channels is essential.

2. Host “SEO friendly” contests

No doubt about it, social is now a big part of SEO. Whether affecting it directly or indirectly it plays a role in the success of organic rankings. Hosting contests on various social mediums like Facebook and Twitter will benefit your site by achieving brand awareness as well as driving social signals to your site. It is also important to keep in mind that often times those who are finding your site through social media, are typically those who are most likely to link to your site. Contests and giveaways via social networks are a great way to generate interest and conversation. Get your target market involved in your organization, and acquire links along the way.

3. Continually publish and post unique and relevant content

Having an internal blog can be beneficial in many ways. From an SEO perspective, a healthy amount of content is good. Frequently updating an internal blog is a great way to send fresh signals to search engines, provide a constant flow of high quality content and provide additional internal linking opportunities. In addition to the SEO benefits, internal blogs are a great way to establish quality relationships with your viewers by allowing them to share with others, post feedback, questions and other comments.

4. Look for opportunities to sponsor/donate, then request a link

Looking for opportunities to sponsor and donate can be another great method. Sponsorship opportunities are everywhere, and establishing long-lasting relationships can be beneficial from both a PR and SEO standpoint. Involving your company in service projects and donations often stirs up conversation online, on television, in print and other forms of media. Along with the benefit of obtaining a positive image in the media, you’ll receive high quality .org and .edu links.
In a nutshell, the online world is constantly changing, and competition is growing. Finding ways to increase your online visibility from an SEO and public relations standpoint could do wonders for your company. If you find ways to get the best of both worlds, you may save time, money and be successful.