PR teams help organizations to foster, encourage, and generally support a positive reputation. They also increase awareness among the public and the media. Public relations efforts include paid and unpaid (earned) communications that can be offline or online. These 4 digital PR tips can transform online public relations tactics into a discipline that drives sustained SEO results.
Let’s take a look at 4 Digital PR tips and concepts, beginning with an understanding of links.
Digital PR Tip 1: Understand The Value of Links and Link Equity
Links are the digital currency of the internet and can help form the foundation of the SEO standing of a site. Not only are links useful for human readers, but they send powerful signals to search engines. Search engines use links to understand context and hierarchy and use that information to decide how to rank content on the SERP (search engine results page). Pages that receive links from other pages are more likely to rank highly on the SERP.
Links are not created equal. The concept of “link equity” (occasionally referred to as “link juice”), is the idea that links can pass value from one page to another. A link from a popular and highly trafficked domain generates more link equity than a link from a new site that doesn’t get much traffic. In this way, you can think of links as votes of confidence coming from the domain that is sending the link.
As a hypothetical example, let’s say a new company called AccessoryCo has a PR team working to generate publicity in the market. A link from the online versions of the New York Times or Washington Post might count for 50 such “votes”, while a link from the website of a small newspaper stand business might count as 1 “vote.”
Digital PR application: When working with a media partner that will be publishing content about your organization, always get a link back to your organization’s domain. A “mention” is nice, but a link is much more powerful. A link from one domain back to another is called a backlink or an inbound link. Understand that the relative value of any links you receive is based on the credibility and authority of the website sending the link. If you have access to a Moz SEO account, you can check domain authority here.
Digital PR Tip 2: Know Your Follow vs. No Follow Links
When a domain sends a link, it can be created as either a “follow” or a “no follow” link. This is a directive to the search engine crawlers to either count the link in terms of conveying link equity or to ignore it. The default is for all links to be follow links, and link equity can pass freely across domains. The search engine bot literally reads the link and then “follows” it to the destination page, spreading the SEO love along the way.
However, it is possible for webmasters to manually change this approach for some links. A nofollow tag eliminates the potential equity from a link. Here is an example of what a followed link looks like in HTML. This link directs to the website of a company called AccessoryCo.
<a href=”https://accessoryco.com”>Click This Link</a>
Here’s what the same link looks like in HTML with the nofollow tag added.
<a href=”https://accessory.com” rel=”nofollow”>Click This Link</a>
There are some valid reasons to use nofollow links. The most common reason that a website would use a nofollow link is if they are uncertain about the quality and content of the place receiving the link. Therefore, they elect to use the nofollow tag because they don’t want to “vote” for it with a follow link. However, any links that a PR team might be drumming up from a media source or other partner should ideally not fall into that category. On the contrary, they should be links that search engine crawlers can follow. In our example above with the inbound link comparison between the New York Times and the small newspaper stand, the latter would be more valuable in terms of increasing the SEO value of the receiving domain if it was followed and the link from the former was not followed.
[For a slightly more nuanced perspective, read more here for why even nofollow links can still have some value for websites]
Digital PR application: Know the difference between follow and no follow links. When working on generating new inbound links from media groups and other partners, it’s prudent to always confirm that the link will be followed and that the webmaster won’t apply the nofollow tag.
Digital PR Tip 3: Understand Anchor Text
Anchor text is the visible, clickable text in a hyperlink. Synonymous terms are link text or link title. Search engines read the anchor text to understand the context of the page that is receiving the link.
Let’s go back to our example link to AccessoryCo that we saw above with the Follow vs. No Follow versions. The text shown in bold below is the anchor text of the link. When viewing this link on a page instead of in HTML, “Click This Link” will be the visible text that is hyperlinked and clickable.
<a href=”https://accessoryco.com”>Click This Link</a>
In this case, this anchor text is pretty useless because it doesn’t tell the search engine crawlers anything useful about the page that is receiving the link. This is a missed opportunity to send a proactive ranking signal that could increase the search visibility of the page receiving the link.
Let’s say the sample website of AccessoryCo sells fashion accessories. In this case, something like the more descriptive anchor text below in inbound links would help the site to rank more highly for relevant search terms.
<a href=”https://accessoryco.com”>Fashion Accessories</a>
Digital PR application: Know the primary keywords that are important to your website. When you are generating links with business and media partners, recommend a valuable and specific keyword to use as the anchor text of your inbound link as opposed to something generic like “website” or even something like the name of your company.
Digital PR Tip 4: Know the Best Page to Receive Your Inbound Link
When the PR team at AccessoryCo works with their media partners, distribution channels, or their network of influencers, they are often able to generate new links to the AccessoryCo domain. These links that are coming “in” to the AccessoryCo site from another domain are called inbound links. Another name for an inbound link is an “external link”, because the link is coming from a domain that is outside of the domain’s control.
The AccessoryCo site has hundreds of distinct URLs. This includes the homepage, the customer service page, the various blog pages, the numerous product pages for each belt and handbag style, and the collection pages for both belts and handbags. Any followed inbound link is going to convey value and domain authority to the AccessoryCo domain, but strategically knowing what page to link to can amplify the SEO impact for the specific page receiving the link.
Below are 5 examples of different URLs on the site and when they might be most appropriate for use as the destination for an inbound link.
- www.accessoryco.com: A link to the homepage makes sense in a PR piece focused on the company overall.
- www.accessoryco.com/shopacccessories: A link to the top level shopping page makes sense in a PR piece about the company’s focus s on both handbags and accessories.
- www.accessoryco.com/shopacccessories/handbags: A link to the handbags collection page makes sense in a PR piece broadly geared to handbags.
- www.accessoryco.com/shopacccessories/belts: A link to the belts collection page makes sense in a PR piece about belts broadly geared to belts.
- www.accessoryco.com/shopacccessories/newbeltstyle: A link to an individual belt product page mage makes sense in a PR piece specifically about a new belt style that just launched.
Digital PR application: The default for getting new inbound links is often to drive those links to the homepage or the contact page of a website. Instead of always doing that, consider what page on your site would be most useful for a potential customer clicking through the article. Also, know what pages on your site receive the most traffic from organic search so you can focus your efforts on pages that already have some level of performance. A refresher in digital analytics might be helpful for that!
SEO is a complicated discipline, but focusing on these tips can help PR teams to increase overall search visibility. For more reading, feel free to check out our blog detailing 9 steps to SEO writing. By the way, if we linked to that page using anchor text like “read here” or “click now” or “view the page”, it wouldn’t tell search engines much useful information about the page. Instead, the anchor text “SEO writing” does tell search engine crawlers what the page is about, and that link is therefore helpful to us in increasing the search visibility of that page.
Root & Branch provides digital marketing services for B2C and B2B companies. Root & Branch is a certified Google Partner agency and focuses on paid search (PPC), SEO, Local SEO, digital PR support, digital reputation management, digital analytics, and social media management.