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What is digital PR and why is it crucial to SEO?

Most digital marketers are aware that SEO isn’t an island, and works best as part of a wider marketing approach, with other channels also having an impact on a website’s search engine rankings. Other channels could include Pay-per-Click ads (PPC), email marketing, social media, and digital PR. Digital PR is quickly becoming an integral part of any SEO strategy.

What is digital PR? 

To understand what digital PR is and how it works, it is important to understand where it differs from traditional PR. Often, the two have the same objective, but use different tactics. While both aim to enhance a brand’s reputation and increase awareness amongst the target audience, their approaches to interaction with those audiences are different. Digital PR is when a brand strengthens their marketing efforts on digital channels, using strategies such as:

Content Marketing

-       SEO

-       Social Media 

Often called link-building, Digital PR is an online marketing strategy that combines the development of creating unique content, with outreach to bloggers and journalists, in order to get coverage, and gain backlinks from relevant websites. 

Why is Digital PR important in SEO? 

Generates relevant links from credible sources and websites

If you’re unfamiliar with the term ‘backlinks’, and are unsure why a website linking to another website is particularly important, then you’re not alone. In short, links to your website from relevant third parties are seen as a ‘vote of confidence’ by search engines such as Google, who recognise that if other high-ranking websites are linking to pages on your site, then they are likely to be relevant to your target audience. 

The more relevant and high-quality backlinks there are linking to your website, the higher “Domain Authority” your website has. You can check how high-quality a link is by checking the Domain Authority of the site that is linking to you. The Domain Authority score can be found with tools such as SEMrush or Moz

Improves search ranking score

Following on from the above, backlinks directly correlate with rankings: the more better-quality, relevant backlinks your site has, the higher in the SERPs (Search Engine Results Page) it could appear. By strengthening the authority of your website, it will rank more competitively in search engines for commonly searched keywords. 

Increases traffic

Not only do links help both web users and search engines discover your content, products, or whatever it may be that your site has to offer, but they also increase your traffic. When your website is ranking high for keywords relevant to your website, you could see an increase in website visitors. 

Boosts your brand reputation and identity

The right Digital PR strategy can get you a lot of regional, industry-specific, and even global exposure. Regular media coverage not only raises the profile of your brand as your company’s name becomes better known, but it can also boost the value of your business.

Psychology plays a key role in marketing, especially in the form of social proof. If your brand is being mentioned by reputable media outlets, it often works wonders for attracting the trust of new audiences.  

Is a cost-effective strategy

Digital PR can be a cost-effective strategy due to many publications giving free editorial coverage for highly valuable content. Stories about your brand from other media channels and online publications often carry a lot more weight with the audience than your own paid ads, or anything you write about yourself on social media. 

What does a ‘good’ backlink look like?

A good backlink should be a trustworthy endorsement of your website, and each link should be carefully considered, as link building is a game you cannot win with quantity alone. Quality of links matters significantly when it comes to the value they will provide to your website. Although “quality” is often subjective, you should take into consideration these three elements:

Natural

Backlinks should be authentic, with the linking website choosing to link to your site because it provides value to their readers - and not because you paid them to do so with little regard for relevance.

Reputable

Leading search engines look for social proof of how credible webpages are, with Google having its dedicated PageRank algorithm which measures the importance and reputation of webpages. Google explains that: “PageRank works by counting the quality and number of links to a page to determine a rough estimate of how important the website is. The underlying assumption is that more important and useful websites are likely to receive more links from other websites.”

Relevant

Search engines review the relevancy of both the page and domain of a backlink. Let’s say you run a fitness membership website; your website was featured in a blog post about marathon training on a website for athletes – potentially your target audience. The relevancy of the page containing the backlink would help cement your website’s authority. 

What is Black Hat SEO, and what are toxic backlinks?

Black hat SEO refers to any SEO tactics that are used to increases a site or page's rank in search engine results through means that violate the search engines' terms of service. Often included in black hat SEO is the use of link farms to inflate the number of backlinks a site has. This often results in links that are irrelevant, and from unreputable websites, also known as a toxic backlink.

Did you know? You should be checking your backlink profile on a regular basis, to minimise the risk of getting a penalty due to any toxic backlinks that may have attached themselves to your website. You can remove spammy or irrelevant links using the Google Disavow tool.

Since the Penguin algorithm change in 2016, Google has been cracking down on bad links. Before that update, many disreputable companies were often paying for links, in order to cheat their way to higher authority and rankings. The Penguin update penalised the webpages associated with these bad links. 

When deciding on an effective SEO and PR strategy for your business, you must remember that one high-quality backlink has the potential to make a much greater impact than several lower quality backlinks, so don’t try and sneak under Google’s radar with black hat SEO techniques.

If you’re seeing spammy link building activity, it’s likely your website is getting placed on link farms, and you could be enroute to a Google penalty. If you’re worried that you might have been hit with a penalty in the past, get in touch with our SEO & PR team and we can take a look at the links pointing to your website, and identify any that should be removed.

How do you generate good backlinks for your website? 

How you can generate “good” backlinks will depend hugely on the context of the website or business you are looking to promote. However, some tactics that are often used in PR campaigns include:

-       News-jumping and news-jacking (a good example of this is the Heinz-Weetabix viral Twitter campaign) – although social media won’t directly correlate to links, a viral campaign will often get covered by news websites, which will generate the backlinks

-       Thought leadership and expert opinion articles

-       Hero content campaigns

-       Data or insights led PR stories

-       Newsworthy company announcements or launches

-       Multimedia-led PR pitches

-       Online PR stunts

-       Reviews

-       Press releases

The ability to combine Digital PR and SEO in a way that is truly effective is not to be taken lightly. As you can see from this article, Digital PR is a vast discipline, where you need to be skilled in multiple areas for it to be effective. If you are unsure where to start, and want to enlist the help of a multi-skilled team, get in touch to have a chat about our digital PR SEO services. We offer free website audits for anyone who gets in touch!