The role of traditional public relations in SEO

Modern link building relies on a traditional public relations approach. Columnist Jeremy Knauff and PR expert Cheryl Snapp Conner share insight on how to achieve success in this critical area.


If you’re doing search engine optimization (SEO) properly today, then a significant portion of your effort will overlap with traditional public relations (PR).

This is because over the last few years, Google has minimized the effects of easily gameable ranking signals and refined their algorithm to better represent user experience. In other words, websites that satisfy their users tend to rank better than those that do not.

Inbound links are still a critical component of any SEO campaign, but the easy link-building tactics of the past have been wiped off the board, largely thanks to Google’s Penguin update(s). This includes buying links, guest blogging at scale, embedding links in plugins or themes and more.

The only type remaining as valuable and effective over the long term are the proverbial Holy Grail of link building: natural editorial links from high-traffic, authoritative websites.

And therein lies the challenge: How do we earn these coveted editorial links? Well, it’s a two-part equation.

The first part is to produce amazing content. I know, that dead horse has been beaten to a mushy puddle of goo at this point, but the fact remains that without amazing content, no one will link to your website.

The second part is where traditional public relations comes into play, because all of that amazing content is useless if no one knows about it. And despite Google’s frequent claims, no, your content won’t just magically earn links by virtue of existing and being amazing.


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