How Optimization Influences Communications
Why are you reading this blog post? That, I’m not really sure about.
Who are you? Why are you reading this blog post? I can take a good guess. You probably have marketing, communications or PR in your profile somewhere. Chances are, you’ve read a post on a similar subject or even read something on the Zer0 to 5ive blog before. If our readership mirrors a site such as MarketingProfs, you are likely a professional at a small or medium-sized business in North America.
How do I know this? Because we’re inside an optimization loop. It’s similar to the social media bubble of our own design that keeps the unpleasant posts of our crazy uncle out of our feed and keeps feeding us posts that we’ll like, comment and share on. The optimization loop is more automated and more invisible. Every Google search (at least 5.5 billion a day), Amazon purchase (600 items a second on Prime Day 2016), or Facebook like (500,000 a minute) is being captured and analyzed to keep us clicking, buying and engaging.
Past performance is generally regarded as a good predictor of future behavior online, so the optimization loop keeps on working to drive more clicks. For those trying to get someone to take a new action online, the loop can be hard to break into. Here are a few ideas on how you can get your message out (or your client’s message, since you’re probably from an agency!):
1) Publish Outside Your Box
When creating content for potential customers to read, it’s important to get it published in the right places and engaged with by the right people so that it leaves your brand’s loop and enters the content loops of your prospects. This can best be accomplished through contributed content to publications or blogs that serve a target audience. When it comes to Google, they will have stronger authority on the content topic, and will be more likely to make your content rise to the top of search results.
There are also ways to leverage social media to try and break into new areas (e.g. hashtags in Twitter, audience targeting in Facebook), but if your account is outside of the loop, it’s less likely to be effective. With systems like Facebook’s algorithms in place that rely on thousands of factors tied to affinity and actions around a company’s page and individual posts, having your content pushed out by a well-regarded third party is a great way to increase impressions on your message. Plus, it allows you to use your brand and personal accounts to spread that message rather than relying on self-published content, which is likely to receive fewer eyeballs.
2) Become an Expert to Your Audience
There used to be ways to fake it online without real content, but the methods employed by Google and Facebook to determine valuable content are largely driven by user behavior. Bounce rate, time on page and post engagement all matter when it comes to rankings and visibility, so time spent creating good content will pay dividends over time. By combining strong content and wider distribution, it’s possible to become an expert source for target audiences.
This emphasis on quality carries over to email marketing as well. Gmail and other services increasingly monitor user engagement to determine if an email will be delivered. They examine behaviors at a macro (sending account) and micro (individual email) level to build reputation scores, so if your emails are ignored for being of little value (let alone marked as spam or unsubscribed), it’s going to keep your content from being seen.
3) Understand the System
It takes a lot of work to keep up with the changes being made by the big online platforms. Keeping up with what’s working on Google and updating your content and communications strategy on an ongoing basis to match can pay big dividends. Factors go beyond content too. For example, if web pages are slow loading, not mobile friendly, or not protected with SSL encryption, there can be penalties from Google because your site is not providing a good, secure user experience.
There’s also a degree of “follow the money” that smart users can capitalize on. If Facebook wants to push Facebook Live video to users to increase its popularity, it would be wise for you to use it and break through the walls that the algorithms put up. Being aware of best practices and using them to influence your communications strategy can create a lasting competitive advantage, as the optimization loop only gets stronger in your favor.
By: Bob Minkus, Director
In order for your corporate or personal website to be found by search engines, and ultimately visitors, Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is an important part of your web strategy.
In this blog post, we’ll review some key components of SEO: content, code/HTML, keywords and link building.
The best website content is readable by search engines (not hidden in images), added often, optimized with keywords, and is organized logically by keyword-based themes or categories. Furthermore, the best website content is reader-friendly – meaning you should optimize your site content for your target audience, making it easy to read and understand. (more…)
Wikipedia is an online encyclopedia covering just about every topic out there. It is maintained by a worldwide community of volunteers, who routinely edit and update the information. PR professionals can help their clients be part of Wikipedia either by creating an original article (often referred to as “entry”) or ensuring an existing article is up-to-date.
How Wikipedia Helps PR
- It’s credible: With high standards for its articles, Wikipedia maintains accurate information that consumers and media can rely on.
- It’s popular: As one of the leading online encyclopedias, it’s estimated that traffic has risen by about 170% in the past few years alone. If your content is there, people will have easy access to it.
- It’s editable: Because articles can be edited by anyone, you have some control over what is published, and you can report inaccurate information. As your clients evolve, so too can their Wikipedia entry.
- It drives traffic: The site is highly ranked by Google and other search engines; an article in Wikipedia can greatly boost traffic to your website.
Before submitting an article for Wikipedia, make sure you fit the required criteria:
- Be sure your topic is notable. By Wikipedia’s standards, a topic is considered notable if it has been written about or featured in an independent, authoritative publication.
- Make sure your article is unbiased. Write from an objective point of view. Read Wikipedia’s page on neutral point of view here.
- Study the most popular pages on Wikipedia to get a sense for how they are written. Examples are here.
How to Leverage Your Wikipedia Article
Once your article is posted to Wikipedia, there are several ways to leverage it within your PR campaign strategy.
- Explore Wikipedia to see if any other topics naturally relate to your content and provide a link from one to the other to generate additional traffic.
- Include external links to other content on the company/company employees. These are valuable for referral link traffic, although harder to keep listed.
- Consider consulting a backlink analyzer to discover which external websites are linking to your Wikipedia page (such as Yahoo! Page Links).
Wikipedia is a valuable tool in a PR professional’s toolkit, allowing for the dissemination of accurate company information, while simultaneously generating site traffic.
Zer0 to 5ive Strategist
As more and more magazines, newspapers and trade publications move into the digital space, public relation firms can leverage SEO tactics to gain greater exposure for their clients.
Journalists and bloggers are using search engines and tweeting and blogging today’s hottest topics. The majority of online content is redistributed content; bloggers and online writers find content and re-post or rehash it. This means that making your PR materials SEO friendly can help you generate continued pick-up online and gain your clients further exposure.
For many traditional public relation firms, SEO may be a new challenge. However, it’s one that must be adopted for greatest success. Here is broad overview of the components that make a press release SEO friendly. Look for future blog posts that dive deeper into each of these areas and download our free SEO Guide to maximize your search presence.
Select Smart Keywords: What are the key search terms that are relevant to your content or your client? Choose 3 or 4 terms that are most relevant to the piece. Keywords with higher search volume are more competitive and harder to rank for, so be selective of the keywords you want to target. Including geo-specific terms can help you eliminate competition. For example, “Philadelphia PR Firm”, “Philadelphia Online Marketing”, or “PA Integrated Marketing” would be targeted terms that Zer0 to 5ive would like to have visibility for. The term “Public Relations” has a far larger scope but may be too competitive to rank for.
Include Keywords: Once you select the best search terms for your content, include them in the piece as much as possible without detracting from the piece’s clarity. Including the phrase verbatim in the title is key, as this title will often have an H1 Tag (an html component in the copy of a webpage) and be included in the Title Tag (html code that displays at the top of a webpage)once brought onto other website domains.
If your client posts the release to their website, be sure to tell their IT team to include the keyword phrases in their Title Tags, Description Tags, and Keyword Tags. Also tell the programmer to use header tags in the copy when the phrase is used. Provide the piece in plain html; do not use it as a PDF or image. This will help search engines see what words you are relevant for.
Use Links: Including links in your materials can be a savvy SEO practice. When you use a keyword in the body of the press release, hyperlink it back to the client’s website. When the content is picked up on a new URL, this link will help boost the SEO of your client’s website.
You can even link the article to itself if it is hosted on the client’s website. Again it is important to be selective. Covering your materials with links can detract from the flow of the piece and make it look spammy. Linking in a boiler plate or author bio section is a good technique for maintaining your credibility and gaining an SEO edge.
Utilize Linking Resources: If you have a Facebook page, Twitter account or blog, include a keyword rich link to the article once it is hosted on the client’s website. For example: Zer0 to 5ive PR Firm Tackles SEO. Remember to use keywords in the anchor text.
All of these tactics can help your piece make its way onto search engine result pages. Use the checklist below and look out for future posts that explain these components in full-detail. Keep all of these tips and the checklist below in mind for your next release and let Google do some pitching for you!
- Research keywords for your target audience/subject matter
- Select 3-4 keywords or phrases to target in the release
- Add these keywords to your release title and sub-titles (Header tags if possible)
- Add keywords strategically within the body of your release
- Add 3-4 links that point to the client’s website, by hyper linking a targeted keyword (this can be done in the body of the release or in the boilerplates)
- Have links pointing to the content from any blog or social media outlet available
Post by Zer0 to 5ive’s SEO Strategist Ryan Purtill