As mentioned in my last post on the evolution of SEO, Google's Penguin and Panda updates have made it harder for brands to be successful in the search landscape if they are practicing SEO in a vacuum. In addition to creating content that is aligned to your target keywords, the content itself needs to engage the reader and encourage them to share. This is a BIG contrast to a majority of SEO content I have seen over the years that has been effective in gaining high ranks in search. If you want to be successful, it will require you to get friendly with your counterparts in the Social Media and PR departments and create a unified strategy.
Face the facts, the PR and Social Media teams are known for creating engaging, newsworthy content; all of which is vital to doing well in search. It would only take a few modifications and maybe a little bribing to harness their energy for SEO success. Here are a few tips to help you get started.
Unified Objectives Are Key
SEO is about growing links and producing engaging content, this is not too far off from what Social Media and PR is trying to achieve. The difference is that keyword selection may not be a priority for the Social and PR teams. Take the time to establish a Search Center of Excellence with your counterparts. This group should consist of key stakeholders across each discipline, with the goal of creating a unified strategy and measurements of success. During meetings take the time to share insights from your keyword research, and ask for trends from their sides as well. In addition, use this time to align content strategies to achieve efficiencies all across the board.
Provide Tools To Make Their Job Easier
Including specific keywords or appropriate anchor text may not be easy at first for your new friends. If you want to foster adoption of SEO best practices, you need to make it as easy as possible. I like to provide cheat sheets or reference docs to my cohorts. For example, if I want to make sure that they consider specific keywords in press releases, I will provide a spreadsheet of our gold terms with URLs of the appropriate pages. The less they have to think about it, the easier it will be for them.
Help Show The Value in PR & Social Media
It can be hard to show the value of Public Relations and Social Media, yet we all know that a brand would be lost without these departments. The link from a high quality PR placement, or the shares from a social post has the ability to drive high quality traffic for a long period of time. Do your friends a favor and arm them with data to help them show not only how they have helped SEO, but how they are linked to key business objectives. This takes me to my next point...
As you achieve major gains in performance take a minute to give a high-five to your friends down the hall for helping you out. This small gesture of appreciation will go a long way, and encourage them to keep following SEO best practices. When shared objectives are met, everyone wins.
Bonus: Sweets Also Help!
Your new BFF's in Social Media and PR are very sociable and outgoing; treat them like people and not just a resource. If you need assistance it doesn't hurt to come bearing treats.
Pro Tip: You can get more bees with honey than with vinegar.
Bottom line, if you can have a unified strategy that includes shared metrics with your PR and Social Media counterparts, it will work wonders for your SEO practice. By using these tips you will not only accelerate your SEO, but you should make some new buds around the office.
If you have any additional tips that have proven useful, feel free to leave them in the comments.