According to John Mueller, Search Advocate at Google, Digital PR can be more important than technical SEO. Yes, you read that correctly.
When utilised as part of a fully considered SEO strategy, Digital PR and SEO work symbiotically to generate highly effective campaigns.
To take it back a step and clarify what PR (or Public Relations) actually is, Digital PR is all about creating something worth linking to, and then telling people about it.
PR is classified as ‘earned’ media. When looking at a business’ media matrix, it’s traditionally broken down into Earned, Owned and Paid kinds of media. These classifications identify whether content has been:
1. Earned - If your brand has been rewarded with a mention by another publisher
2. Owned - When you create and publish content from your brand on your ‘owned’ channels. And,
3. Paid - If this content is paid advertisements.
Digital PR is classed under earned media because it sits under the category of ‘shared’ content. It’s promotion that exists outside of our own digital ecosystem with a focus on positioning our brand as an authority, maintaining a favourable brand image and increasing overall visibility of our brand.
Other examples of earned media include digital Mentions, Shares, Reposts and Reviews which are all types of promotion for your brand and can influence the opinions of others.
How Will Digital PR improve your SEO and Ranking in the Search Engine Results Pages?
The short answer - backlinks.
Backlinks are considered to be one of the key pillars of great SEO. Backlinks are pretty much what they sound like they are. Links that point to your website from another domain. They are so powerful because the referring domain in some cases can pass on its earned authority and ranking to your site simply by incorporating a ‘do follow’ link within their website.
Digital PR also comes with other flow-on benefits including:
1. Increased website traffic - because the more relevant places that your brand/website shows up, the more traffic you’re likely to generate.
2. Organic brand promotion - carefully choosing who you’re targeting with your Digital PR outreach efforts can be make or break. If you select a reputable and aligned source, Digital PR will contribute to building your brand through online mentions and favourable promotion. Similarly, a negative review or write up can be detrimental.
3. Generate leads and sales - Whilst these aren’t direct measures of Digital PR, it’s often the case that an increase in website traffic will result in increased leads (however you classify these for your brand) and sales. When a customer trusts a brand, they are more likely to buy or invest in sharing information with that business.
Just like when your friends tell you ‘hey, you should try this, I love it’, and you believe them, Google and other Search Engines look toward different methods of Digital PR and determine how relevant your website is to the search query.
What are the different kinds of Digital PR?
Whilst the principals of Digital and Traditional PR are largely the same, Digital PR media examples include online formats like blogs, influencers, audio and video and attribution. Traditional media on the other hand is Print (magazines, newspapers and publications), Media (radio and TV), Event Coordination and Networking/Relations.
There are 5 key types of Digital PR that can be applied to most businesses. All of the below strategies are designed with the key goal in mind to achieve direct do-follow links to your website.
The main tactic for securing Digital PR is to find content gaps within digital publications who are actively seeking content or stories in order continue improving their own website’s relevance. The way we can capitalise on this is to reach out to digital publications, media personalities, journalists, blogs and influencers to make them aware of how your brand can fill this gap.
Below are the different types of Digital PR that we can offer in exchange for mentions:
These are newsworthy articles written by you about your brand, a new product or service. Press releases are generally written from the angle of announcing something new, or solving a problem for their intended customer. The key here is to leverage data to validate your claims.
A press release will then be pitched to a media contact list including relevant websites, bloggers, journalists or influencers. The idea here is that a publication or your media target will choose to run your brand story as close to the press release as possible. For this reason, you want to include key messages that are important for your brand and the pitched story and allow to allow for little deviation from the intended message. Journalists will get creative and will likely re-write your press release so you want to make sure they don’t miss the good bits.
This is when you or your brand are pitched as the authority to another audience and write and publish an article on someone else’s website. This practice is largely outdated unless there is highly relevant alignment between the guest poster and the website. Guest posting must be a mutually beneficial activity for all parties involved in order for everyone to benefit from the exercise.
These are just like they sound. Mentions of your brand that do not contain direct links to your website or digital platforms. Unlinked mentions are near impossible to track unless your brand utilises listening software that skims the internet for public mentions of your brand. These are not the primary goal of outreach.
This will involve adding your company website to a directory that lists other similar companies. They may be industry relevant directories, product relevant directories or directories of stockists for your brand.
These are the Digital PR mentions driven by ‘influencers’ or highly relevant social media accounts who generally boast a large following and high levels of engagement. Influencers are a modern digital PR approach as they generally exist across multiple online media platforms.
What Digital PR is not.
An alternative strategy for achieving backlinks is referred to as ‘link buying’.
Whilst companies choosing to sped money on Digital PR may be able to influence Google to favour their site, this tactic is generally not going to benefit your site in the ways outlined above (improved site traffic, brand building or to generate sales and leads).
Tips for great Digital PR:
Before you start hustling, writing press releases and getting them out to as many journalists as possible, these tips will help you to get the most value for your hard-spent time.
- Find your niche:
What makes your brand, product or offering different to that of your competitors? Are you an authority? Are you completely new in the market? If so, what are you contributing to that no one has seen before? These are the questions you should ask yourself to help uncover your Niche and the angle of your release.
- Write a great story:
Journalists want to cover stories and content. There has to be a hook to drive the success of your campaign. Here is where solving problems and providing evidence based facts and stats comes in handy to back up your claims. The format of your release is secondary so long as your Press Release contains editorial value and link worthy content.
- Catchy subject lines:
Half the battle is getting journalists to open your emails! Especially if you’re contacting major publications and news sites, you’ve got to consider what’s helping you to stand out in an overflowing inbox?
Outreach refers to the process of finding the most direct means of contact for a relevant journalist or media personality to promote your story. There are a few ways that you could go about this, but the most likely method is to acquire the direct email address for a suitable journalist. There are tools to help you with this like huntr or alternatively you can try and track down contact info yourself with a Google hunt.
- Understand your audience:
Digital PR will be most successful for your brand when you consider where your audience might be going to discover brands like you. Where are they consuming their news? Who are they influenced by and what are your competitor brands doing?
How can I measure my Digital PR results?
Finally (and arguably most importantly) is to understand how you’ll track the impact and results of your Digital PR outreach. There is no one key metric that will tell you the full picture here, but a combination of the below reports will demonstrate the outcomes of your efforts.
Google Analytics: Using analytics, head to to your All traffic > Referral reports. Take a look to see whether you’re receiving referral traffic from other websites. Are any of these sites that you pitched to? And with a quick Google search are you able to find your campaign content or brand alongside your referring domains? If so, big tick. Things are happening. If your campaign is having a far-reaching impact across traditional media or digital brand mentions (no links) you may also notice an uplift in your organic search traffic.
Google Search Console: Search console measures your digital marketing KPIs for clicks, impressions and position ranking. You can also use Google Search Console to monitor keywords and brand name searches. If you see an increase in your brand name search or new keywords relevant to your release, it’s a good indicator that your campaign is working.
Domain Rating: measured using SEO tools like Ahrefs, SEMRush or Moz, your domain rating is a score calculated to demonstrate the strength of your backlink profile. It’s generally measured out of 100 with 0 being very low and 100 being excellent. If your website is achieving more backlinks, your Domain Rating will grow.
Leads and Sales: Whilst leads and sales can be difficult to attribute to marketing activity, if you notice a spike in enquiries or sales on your website during a campaign period, it’s likely a correlation with your PR activity and campaign. It’s best to ensure that you’re not running concurrent campaigns to make sure that these spikes can be more clearly linked to your PR activity rather than promotions that you may also be running.
Digital PR combines the qualitative aspects of building and promoting your brand, with the quantitive elements of digital marketing and SEO.