Why your PRs should not neglect SEO

Mobas' PR Account Executive, Catie, cuts through the SEO noise and lays it out straight.

As a new PR Account Exec I’ve been vaguely aware of search engine optimisation, but have never had it stripped down to the basics to understand exactly how it works, how it applies to me and how I can effectively put it into practice.

This changed, however, when our Digital Project Manager, Jon, generously gave his lunch hour to share SEO insights with the Mobas team. Perusing the latest edition of CIPR’s Influence magazine later that afternoon, what do I find? How to optimise your website for search engines, an article by journalist Colin Kelly. Clearly something to take notice of, SEO should not be neglected by PRs.

Search engine optimisation in essence is really, really simple: write relevant, focused content that people want to read, and your website will rank highly in search engine results pages (SERPs). The higher your ranking, the more likely people are to click through to your site and use your services. It’s so simple, in fact, that you might be tempted to overlook it.

Colin wrote: “SEO is a series of largely common-sense considerations that anyone can put into practice to help their website, or content within it, reach a bigger and more lucrative audience. Good SEO is about making a series of small changes which all add up to a bigger result”.

You may think that this is best left to the digital guys and girls, but when words are the biggest component of SEO, it’s the PRs and copywriters who need to be in the know. In an ideal world, says Colin, “PR professionals, editorial teams, web designers and management should all work in unison”.

While it’s true that keywords will organically appear in your writing about your specific topic, you can take it one step further and – as the acronym suggests – optimise it. No need to forget everything you thought you knew about writing for the web, just a few educated tweaks could make the world of difference.

For example, you might be writing a website or page about woodland, yet significantly more people search for forests. This awareness of your audience, and a few keyword substitutions to suit popular searches, could give you significantly more traffic.

Likewise, making individual web pages more concise and focused will give Google – or your chosen search engine – a better idea of what the page is about. Bots called spiders are used to trawl through websites to ascertain their contents and, based on a range of algorithms, they are ranked. If a piece of content is overloaded with too many topics, search engines won’t rank the page as highly for those individual topics.

Colin says: “I remember being disappointed when I realised that innovative, creative writing doesn’t go down well with search engines. It might have been good for humans, but the machine that I was relying on to bring them there didn’t know what my site was about”.

This might require a slightly different focus than you intended. But again, it’s about writing accessible content that people want to read, rather than inaccessible content that you want people to read.

For Jon, the key to SEO copywriting is that it should never be apparent to the user: superfluously plugging keywords will result in weak content that people won’t read. Again, it’s the subtle implementation of strategic insights offered by SEO.

If you could do with some SEO advice – or a digitally well-versed PR team – get in touch with Mobas today at say.hello@mobas.com.