The more I read about the “latest SEO tips,” the more I feel like I’m reading about good, old-fashioned PR. Honestly, off-site SEO (link-building, content marketing, etc.) strategies sound more and more like digital PR and modern adaptations of PR strategies that have been used for decades. SEO and PR are increasingly overlapping marketing activities.

Seriously though, PR strategy consists of:

  • Targeting high-profile press and publications through constant outreach activities.
  • Creating high-quality content.
  • Building an integrated marketing campaign across various mediums and publishing channels.

And off-site SEO strategy consists of:

  • Building high-quality backlink profiles on high-profile websites through constant outreach activities.
  • Creating high-quality content.
  • Building an integrated marketing campaign across various mediums and publishing channels.

Good digital PR activities garner high-quality and diverse links. Good SEO activities find high-quality and diverse publishing relationships.

Two Peas in a Pod

And this SEO trend toward PR is how it should be right? Google’s goal is to provide the public with what they’re looking for as best and as quickly as possible. They do so by ranking the websites they are aware of based on reputation. The goal of any company’s PR is to raise awareness and enhance reputation. And this in order to influence our internal, conscious and subconscious ranking systems. So it follows naturally that as Google continues to refine its algorithms to better serve humans, SEO will become increasingly similar to PR.

But currently the vast majority of companies have a PR team or person and an SEO team or person with very little collaboration and overlap between the two. The disciplines remain separate  despite their obvious overlap and contribution to the overall marketing strategy.

As a practical application to small businesses, perhaps you have a PR and marketing person. Or perhaps the CEO is a great PR agent who is charismatic and well-connected. Have the SEO person work side-by-side with the CEO or PR person on all outreach activities and make sure the SEO strategist signs off on all articles and content to be published. In this manner, you can maximize the SEO value from all of your digital PR activities.

From here on out, the most successful PR and SEO campaigns will be created in tandem. They will be so interconnected that it will be difficult to tell where one ends and the other begins. Pooling resources and combining PR and SEO strategies is the key to 21st-century SEO success. (Go ahead, Tweet that quote.)

SEO + PR: Benefits

The benefits of an SEO-centric PR campaign or a PR-centric SEO campaign are numerous:

  • The publications beneficial for PR have clear, well-defined audiences so you are better able to target your writing.
  • Clickthroughs to your landing page are highly contextual which increases your conversion rate and lowers your bounce rate. A higher conversion rate is good for general business of course, but a lower bounce rate directly and positively impacts your rankings.
  • Since PR targets high-quality sites, the links you receive boost your SEO value and rankings.
  • For publications that choose to write about you rather than accept your content, you save time and resources.
  • PR exposures on high-quality sites and publications increase trust in your brand and prompts others to follow suit and write about you as well, increasing your backlinks.
  • The focus on high-quality sites forces you to focus on high-quality content: an SEO best-practice.
  • You are able to repurpose the content for other channels and mediums, interweaving your SEO campaign into social media, on-site content, and SEO-influencing mediums.

One additional bonus of the SEO and digital world is that building relationships with bloggers is easier than with high-profile journalist sites, yet is still very valuable and effective. The digital world enables bloggers to have a massive reach and influence while remaining more reachable than large news sites.

Measuring Success

Perhaps the biggest difference between SEO and PR is the system of measuring success. Unlike with PR, you cannot measure SEO success in relationships built and number of PR pieces published. Certainly the number of content pieces and the clout of the associated publication websites are factors in SEO. But you must measure SEO in movements in SERP rankings which is difficult to do on a relationship or one-article basis.

However, with custom URLs and Google Analytics, you can measure the inbound traffic from link-building activities versus clicks from a SERP which is a nice side effect of the PR/SEO hybrid.


The takeaway: some SEO activities will remain clear, delineated tactics unique to SEO, including some on-site strategies and technical SEO. But the off-site SEO marketing strategies increasingly blur into social, PR, etc. under the broader digital marketing umbrella. Businesses would do well to integrate their marketing teams and efforts as much as possible and stop thinking of SEO and PR as separate activities. Allowing SEO and PR to work together and build strategies together will greatly enhance the effectiveness of the campaigns and conserve resources.