Often, different departments within an organization have overlapping goals. Within marketing, this happens a lot with search engine optimization (SEO), and publicity or public relations (PR). For example, you might have a data story or important press to share. SEO teams and publicity teams can work cross-functionally to promote that content to drive the brand as well as link-building, to get the most out of every piece of content. The PR team might send email pitches, and the SEO team might want certain things included in the request such as relevant pages to link to.
To help you discover ways for your SEO and publicity teams to work cross-functionally, we asked SEO, PR, and people leaders this question for their best recommendations. From starting with communication to having the teams work toward the same goals, there are several ways that these teams can work together and amplify each other’s results.
Try these six ways SEO and Publicity/PR teams can work cross-functionally:
- Start With Communication
- Base Content On Keyword Research
- Increase Number of Backlinks Through Press Releases
- Focus On Emerging Areas of the Industry
- Track Pitch Opens
- Have Teams Work Towards the Same Goals or Campaigns
Start With Communication
Many times the reason there’s no cross-functional success between publicity and SEO is because there isn’t communication. One of the simplest ways to do this is for Publicity and PR teams to mention any media features and how they are going to promote the media feature. Also, SEOs can make recommendations on quality sites that PR teams can pitch, which would make a big impact on rankings.
Gresham Harkless Jr., Blue 16 Media
Base Content On Keyword Research
Keyword research can benefit both digital PR campaigns and SEO. Both spheres require the content creation and that is where SEO tools like Ahrefs and Semrush can come in handy.
Keyword research helps you identify important search queries and phrases that should be associated with your brand. Your selected main keywords set up your overall SEO strategy and help solidify the target audience and buyer personas. Furthermore, they are pivotal for conveying brand attitudes and voice.
An SEO team can compile a collection of keywords that the PR team can work into their content. This symbiotic relationship maintains consistency and can amplify results in both divisions.
Eric Ang, One Search Pro
Increase Number of Backlinks Through Press Releases
The SEO team should educate the PR team to use a domain name instead of the brand name. Some CMS WYSIWYG editors automatically convert the domain names to link to that domain. Thanks to this, there is a chance to gather more backlinks from each publication.
Instead of using:
“[…] said John Doe, CEO of Example […]”
“[…] said John Doe, CEO of Example.com […]”
Also, spread press releases in Docx format. In Word, links in text can’t be followed. So if someone copy/pastes an article to the CMS, the link should stay and be kept as a dofollow one.
Lukasz Zelezny, SEO Consultant London
Focus On Emerging Areas of the Industry
Focusing on emerging themes and trends within the industry is arguably the best way for an SEO and PR team to work cross-functionally.
From a PR perspective, emerging areas of the market generate significant media interest, while providing an opportunity for a brand to demonstrate original research & expertise in a developing area of the market. This ensures the brand is perceived as being at the forefront of the industry in terms of thought leadership.
In conjunction, emerging industry topics are often low competition within search engines, as many websites have not yet produced content on the topic. Therefore, if a piece of content is produced for PR purposes, it would also have the tangential effect of ranking strongly on Google as interest in the topic starts to pick up. This can lead to a flood of organic search traffic as the trend begins to grow, while any backlinks the piece obtains will help build the authority of the website.
George Shuter, Indie Panda
Track Pitch Opens
When I worked at Ketchum PR, I introduced digital measurement best practices to the pitching process. These included things like Putting UTM tracking on the links in your pitch email to see if someone opened your pitch and clicked on your tracked link in the pitch. Or using pitch software to track opens (like Buzzstream), we also used Buzzstream to find more relevant areas to pitch or our understanding of social media to run AMAs on Reddit. For some, we used Brandwatch to get more information about the reporter or publication to more effectively personalize the pitch.
Katherine Ong, WO Strategies LLC
Have Teams Work Towards the Same Goals or Campaigns
One way teams can work cross-functionally is by having the SEO team share their goals and metrics with the PR team, and vice versa. This will ensure that both teams are working towards the same goal in terms of improving visibility.
Another way would be for both teams to work together on link-building campaigns. For example, let’s say you have a content marketing campaign running on your website. You could include links to other websites that are relevant to your industry and target audience, as well as include links back to your website (and maybe even those other websites) in your content. This way, not only are you getting more backlinks for your site, but you’re also getting exposure on other sites that can help drive traffic to yours!
Amer Hasovic, Love & Lavender