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Digital strategies are driving PR campaign tactics more than ever: almost two-thirds of communications industry professionals agree that digital marketing and PR tactics need to be used more collaboratively.
I agree, but despite the great digital rush, B2B marketers also need to remember to leverage “Brain Engine Optimization” (BEO). Successful PR campaigns rely on a mix of digital and analogue strategies to increase brand awareness.
Communication agencies that resort to fake-earned media strategies are rare, but they do exist. Recently, a well-known London PR firm tried to financially compensate a freelance tech journalist in exchange for reporting for his clients. This highlighted the harsh reality surrounding the connection between the “cheating” of PR firms and journalists in their digital strategies.
Scenarios like this provide the perfect opportunity to shine a spotlight on how communications professionals can use successful SEO tactics to gain reach without jeopardizing their reputation or credibility.
1. PR and SEO are inextricably linked
Most B2B marketing teams recognize the value of SEO. Research has shown that organic search accounts for over half of all website traffic. SEO should clearly be at the forefront of B2B online strategy.
It all starts at the content creation stage, whether you’re creating a blog post full of relevant keywords on a corporate website or making sure that paid visibility is up to scratch. The advantages of an effective SEO strategy – if implemented well – are obvious.
The PR strategy should also include a focus on keywords for each content format, including press releases, articles, blog posts, and even social media posts. This doesn’t mean that content is so keyword overloaded that it no longer makes sense. Instead, PR professionals should carefully craft copy that associates a B2B company with keywords in its industry or ties it to a market topic.
When B2B organizations regularly appear on trusted third-party domains and their organic content ranks high because of SEO, it can be a testament to their industry leadership. Journalists are busier than ever and don’t have time to judge who is the best organization in each industry. Here functions on a “Top
While SEO is important, it’s also important to think closer to home and optimize your natural search engine: the brain.
2. Don’t forget the power of the brain
With the continuous advances in the digital world, it’s easy to forget what really drives most B2B sales: people.
According to a 2019 study, a whopping 68% of all online experiences begin with a search engine. But the search begins long before a consumer even looks at a screen: As with B2C experiences, all B2B customer experiences begin with a preliminary internal memory search, followed by queries in a search engine.
Due to the mere exposure effect – also known as the familiarity principle or cognitive resonance theory – the brain prefers familiar things, even if this familiarity is unconscious. Brands that are more memorable are more likely to be trusted, and this is where mental cues come in.
PR professionals can use mental cues to build brand awareness and reputation online, just like SEO and backlinks, even before the need to buy arises. Such Brain Engine Optimization (BEO) helps to link memory retrieval to a search on Google.
But how can PR professionals ensure that traffic is directed back to the site? Backlinks play an important role in this.
3. Embedded backlinks connect PR placements and digital marketing
Backlinks are links that direct online traffic from one website to another. All major search engines consider backlinks as “votes” for a particular page – indicators of quality content endorsed by other sites. Google considers authoritative backlinks to be one of the most important signals for ranking content and is therefore an important part of any SEO strategy.
The ability to dominate search results via keywords is important, but also ensuring the click goes straight to a company’s website is a key goal of any SEO-driven PR campaign. For this reason, PR texts should contain backlinks to relevant pages on company websites. Backlink clickthroughs in organic content can be tracked via UTM codes, marketing platforms like HubSpot, or website analytics tools like Google Analytics.
Quality links start with quality content. Content that is genuinely interesting, useful, and original can garner credible backlinks and help businesses rank well on sites like Google.
PR professionals can work directly with journalists to place earned media content in targeted publications to increase brand awareness through thought leadership and ensure embedded backlinks provide a clear path for corporate websites to be visited by highly relevant audiences.
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In the digital age, SEO is the be-all and end-all for communication professionals. Media channels now exist on most online platforms, giving B2B companies a great opportunity to leverage SEO and backlinks to increase digital lead generation and brand awareness.
However, PR and marketing professionals should not forget the influence of brain engine optimization. Comprehensive SEO tactics can help B2B communication professionals make the most of BEO to improve their marketing efforts and ultimately create a more memorable and successful B2B brand profile.
More resources on SEO and PR
How to Position Your B2B Brand for Search: Garrett Mehrguth on Marketing Smarts (Podcast)
How to increase search engine optimization through public relations
How to Use Media Relationships to Drive SEO (Webinar)