Digital PR is becoming increasingly popular in the world of digital marketing – and for good reason. As organisations begin to realise the importance of implementing SEO in their marketing strategy, Digital PR is becoming more and more in demand as a key service area, not just a supporting tactic.
But for many, digital PR is still uncharted territory. So to begin, let’s break this down and discuss what it is, and how digital PR differs from traditional PR…
To provide some context, many PR professionals have a background in more traditional public relations. Pre-digital revolution, public relations and brand management were huge priorities, and still are, for many businesses and brands. Those that work in more traditional PR roles tend to focus on crisis and reputation management, as well as boosting brand awareness in both print and online media.
As the digital world takes centre stage, digital PR now plays an instrumental role. In essence, digital PR is a service and marketing strategy that refers to the creation and promotion of content that will be outreached to relevant online publications, in hopes of gaining high-quality backlinks to your site’s domains.
Fundamentally, the aim of traditional PR and digital PR is the same: to build brand awareness and engage relevant audiences. However, the core difference is that digital PR’s mission is to align PR with a broader SEO strategy.
Digital PR experts translate long-used PR strategies into the digital world and use their understanding of Google’s guidelines to work alongside SEO specialists and content marketers, with the overarching aim of building website authority and attracting organic traffic.
How does it work in practice?
If you are a business, you are probably hoping to rank well on Google for search terms that are relevant to your company, because realistically, how often do people go onto Google’s second or third pages when looking for something specific? For instance, if your business sells “luxury homes in Spain”, it’s important that people interested in buying luxury properties in Spain are able to easily come across your website on the search engine results page (SERP) when they search for relevant keywords and phrases.
To do this, digital PR specialists reach out to journalists, bloggers and influencers with content that is relevant to their target audience. In doing so, the client generates coverage, and the journalist (ideally) links back to your website as a reference or information resource. Backlinks serve as a vote of confidence to Google and help your website gain authority, and therefore, improve rankings.
The key to building backlinks is to keep in mind 3 key factors: quality, quantity and relevancy. You want to ensure you are gaining links from websites with a high DA (domain authority) and that are relevant to your target audience. And make sure you are driving a high volume of links to continue building on the link equity.
To gain these links, there are 3 common methods used in the digital PR space:
Story-driven campaigns refer to newsworthy and seasonally delivered content. These campaigns typically have quicker-turnaround times, such as listicle-style articles. For example, if you were creating a story campaign for a luxury property site, a listicle would be something such as “The most picturesque villages and towns in Europe” or “5 reasons to invest in property abroad”. These stories are relevant to your target audience, meaning they will also be relevant to your target publications.
Story-driven campaigns are also very useful to journalists because they help fill their content quota. With many journalists expected to produce multiple stories a day, it can be challenging to consistently turn out stories that fit their target demographic – cue the help of digital PRs.
Hero or content campaigns usually require more in-depth research, such as a data-led campaign. These campaign types also require a campaign landing page to host the long-form content and serve as a reference point for the data. In the example of the luxury property site, a hero campaign would be something such as “The best cities in Europe to own a rental property” – gathering data that looks at average rental costs and average property prices in each city, then creating a ranking. This type of story provides analysis and unique insights, making it highly desirable to journalists. They also increase the chance of journalists linking back to your client’s website or campaign page, as valuable and linkable assets are often created to support the campaign.
With so much going on in the media every day, it’s up to digital PR practitioners to keep their finger on the pulse for any potential client opportunities. Newsjacking refers to the process of monitoring live news and identifying how a brand or business can be put at the centre of those conversations. Typically, specialists will use a media alerts monitoring site, such as ResponseSource for newsjacking opportunities. Sites like this allow digital PRs to get media requests directly from journalists. So, if a journalist is looking for commentary on how the economic crisis is going to impact the property market, you can lend your clients expert advice and be featured, cited as an expert, and even linked to, in the article.
“Digital PR is probably more critical than technical SEO.”John Mueller, Senior Webmaster Trends Analyst at Google
But why is it so important in the context of SEO?
Digital PR is an essential aspect of SEO because it helps build links and authority to your website. Backlinks to your website are essentially “popularity votes”, and the more votes you get, the more popular you are with Google. Subsequently, a link from one website to another represents a vote of confidence.
In Digital PR, specialists create linkable assets, such as a listicle story or a data-led campaign, and promote them to relevant journalists and publications to try and get them to write about your content and link to it.
In doing so, your website is able to benefit in a multitude of ways, such as:
Each website is assigned a rating from 1-100 that estimates how well your page will rank on the search engine results page. The higher the score, the better, and the more likely you are to appear higher on the Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs) and improve your visibility. When high-authority websites link to your site, it signals trust to Google and raises your own DA score.
By publishing content and gaining high-quality backlinks from high-authority websites, you can increase your rankings and targeted keywords. As your website gains more links and the DA improves, Google will put more trust in your website and favour it when it comes to ranking higher.
The more links you build in relevant publications, and the better you rank, the more visible you are and the more likely individuals are to browse/click through to your site. A good digital PR strategy means including a variety of targeted publications in your outreach, allowing you to tap into a wider audience. As a result, you have a higher chance of generating more website traffic.
The use of digital PR in your SEO strategy also allows you to make use of keyword research. Identifying and including relevant keywords in your content ensures your content piece is fully optimised and contributes to your SEO goals while linking to any key-target pages you want to improve the rankings of.
PR campaigns also improve keyword associations when receiving a mention online. Google may associate your linked content page with other keywords found in the content where you are mentioned.
Creating and outreaching content to relevant publications helps establish your brand or business as an industry resource. The more credible the publication that hosts your content is, the more recognised it is within relevant audiences. Over time, people being engaged and interested in your content will signal to search engines your website is a credible source of relevant information in your industry.
So, if you are creating an SEO strategy without the inclusion of digital PR, you are missing out on a huge opportunity to gain a competitive advantage.