FocusON – SE “PR” O

The world of SEO is changing. However….. this is not news, it has always been this way and it will always be this way. Yet some of the largest changes recently have been in how a person can go about gaining links and rankings for their website. Old tried and tested ways that have withstood the test of time (and more importantly updates) have been specifically targeted by Google in the last 12 months, with varying amounts of success. I say varying because there are still examples out there of people managing to game the system, even in highly competitive terms, such as “car insurance” as shown by MajesticSEO’s case study.Google has even gone so far as to suggest the buzz word of 2012 “guest blogging” is now a risky prospect, if not approached in an intelligent way.

So where does that leave offsite SEO’s, the ones we all know traditionally as Link Builders?

Well, anyone who’s been attending conferences this year will be able to tell you, and it all echoes something I’ve been practicing for a while now. It’s all about building relationships. It’s about picking up the phone and speaking to people, meeting them face to face and selling a story to them that they would want to feature on their site. You need to be aware of their blog and why they blog, as well as really personalising your approach to each blogger that you’re looking to work with when undertaking outreach. On top of all of that, you have to have a great offering. You either have to be doing something that others aren’t or be really creative around ideas you’ve seen work elsewhere, without duplicating it word for word.

Does all of this sound familiar? For anyone who’s worked in or with PR it should. PR for years has been doing exactly this, but targeting journalists for the most part rather than bloggers. However in my mind this doesn’t change the fact that the actions they have been undertaking for years are now the actions we have to undertake as SEO’s to earn those quality links.

Does this mean that companies should just go out and hire a PR agency to earn links for them? Well….. in a word, no. While they may be more experienced on a whole in the type of outreach we’re undertaking now, they don’t have anywhere near the experience SEO agencies have in recognising what makes a good link or a good website. Of course, this is only mentioning the offsite work we do;  when you talk about SEO compared to PR you have to keep in mind the huge amount of onsite work that gets done, but that’s a blog post in itself.

What does all of this mean?

Well, in my opinion it shows that SEO’s have a lot to learn from PR’s, and vice versa.. As Google continues to refine its algorithm and “gaming the system” becomes harder and harder, I see SEO and PR becoming almost one and the same thing. All they would be doing is targeting slightly different people, one concentrating on bloggers and one on journalists, while using the same techniques.

  • James Crawford


    Not really.

    Most PRs couldn’t inspect the source to see if a link is a do follow.

    Likewise, not many SEOs could get a link on Forbes.

    • Dan Collier

      Agreed. However I think things are changing slowly, PR’s are becoming more online savvy and SEO’s are having to expand their skill sets. Certainly I think there will come a time when, for the most part (though not in all things), Offsite SEO and PR will become largely interchangeable.

  • Emily Wignall

    I disagree with the comments about PR’s not having the adequate experience to recognise a good link.

    I’m not an SEO – but I can certainly tell the difference between a follow and no follow link, and have good knowledge with concerns to website domain authorities.

    • Dan Collier

      In your case I would certainly concede that point.

      In some other “PR’s” cases as well I would say that my crass generalisations don’t hold true… but.. for the most part they do from what I have experienced so far with agencies other than yours.

  • Miranda Wade

    Sounds very familiar! It’s worth acknowledging that bloggers are often also journalists, so that neither is the exclusive target of the SEO or PR practitioner.

    • Dan Collier

      That’s very true! Especially as blogs become larger and gain more followers, sometimes a post is more valuable on a blog read by 5000 people in the niche that you’re targeting, than a post in a deep section of.. say… the guardian where only 500 people will read it.

  • Gemma Eccleston

    While it’s true that some PR companies still have much to learn about SEO, the better PRs are embracing the move to digital and changing the face of SEO as we know it. I work in PR and I certainly know how to recognise a good ‘do follow’ link and find out whether a website has a worthy domain authority, and that’s only the basics!

    As traditional SEO link-building techniques slowly die a death, both SEOs and PRs should see this as an opportunity to up their game and earn back links from authoritative websites and blogs organically.

    • Dan Collier

      Agreed, Gemma. There is a lot of change for the good happening in both industries, though only in small doses right now. Though I am sure that will gather pace quickly.