The Future of Digital Marketing is PR

Google has recently updated its algorithm to further help its search spiders behave more like humans.  The search engine has been continuously evolving; moving away from the tick box of technical elements, and progressing towards rewarding websites for strong social signals and having quality content.

This latest algorithm change has led many industry experts to raise alarms as to the dominating importance of SEO activities. Google now frowns on aggressive link building as it sees it as a manipulative attempt to increase the page rank without credence. The increasing significance of public relations (PR) on the other hand has been foregrounded by the media in recent weeks.

The 2013 correlation study completed by Moz, surveyed over 120 leading search marketers who provided expert opinions on over 80 ranking factors. Although the results cannot form any formal proof as to what is included in Google’s search algorithms, it gives a comprehensive summary of the characteristics of webpages that ranked higher in search engine results pages (SERPs). It is clear from this data that more emphasis is being placed on inbound links and Google +1s.

Google are being as vague as ever about these new changes however they have supported the consensus that weight should be placed on producing and maintaining quality and shareable sites.

“Webmasters can improve the rank of their sites by creating high-quality sites that users will want to use and share.”

This is where the importance of PR becomes visible. To get a good rank, websites must produce valuable and shareable content which is directly relevant to the website’s target audience. Furthermore, the content should be created and delivered consistently to maintain engagement. These are all core responsibilities that PR has immeasurable experience in managing.

Linking SEO closer to PR activities will be highly advantageous for your brand as it will cover all of the technical elements that are needed, and further build on these to create the quality and sharable content buzz that Google’s spiders now desire.

In the UK, over 60% of digital marketing budgets have been increased, specifically to facilitate for more in-depth monitoring, SEO, content creation, and PPC/online advertising. Recently, the Public Relations Consultants Association (PRCA) found that 72% of PR agencies are now offering SEO services, and of these services, the most demanded services were;

  • Outreaching/engaging with influencers,
  • Content creation,
  • Social networking strategy.

PR, marketing and advertising are often bundled together as one of the same; however they are distinct practises, which excel for different factors and in different situations. The following anecdote is often used to distinguish the terms:

You see a gorgeous girl at a party. You go up to her and say: ‘I am very rich. Marry me!’ This is a form of direct marketing.

You’re at a party with a bunch of friends and see a gorgeous girl. One of your friends goes up to her and pointing at you says: ‘He’s very rich. Marry him.’ That is advertising.

You’re at a party and see gorgeous girl. You get up and straighten your tie, you walk up to her and pour her a drink, you open the door (of the car) for her, pick up her bag after she drops it, offer her a ride, and then say: ‘By the way, I’m rich. Will you Marry Me?’ That’s public relations.

Understanding and appreciating the increasing significance of PR is the first step, however acting on this knowledge is key. Below are 4 tips to point you in the right direction:

1.      Increase your network – you should concentrate on building long-term networks with both online and offline medias.

2.      Create relevant content – keep up to date with the latest news and become the industry maven.

3.      Create synergising online and offline activity – make sure your customers have plenty to talk about.

4.      Join communities and discussions – participate in wider circles on social media, and if there isn’t one relevant to your area; create one.