PR pros and marketing managers will be no stranger to the question from comms sceptics – “just what quantifiable value are we driving from our PR program.” Firstly, check out our blog on how the results of a PR campaign can inform, shape and drive business strategy. Secondly, and as the focus for this blog, we’d like to zero in on the often-overlooked benefit of an effective PR strategy – SEO.

SEO a critical component of any B2B marketing campaign

Most B2B marketing teams will recognize the value of SEO. They will most likely be running a blog on their company website full of relevant topics and keywords – as well as making sure their paid search engine visibility is up to scratch. And the benefits of an effective SEO strategy are plain to see.

Research from SEO experts BrightEdge shows that straight away, 68% of online experiences begin with a search engine – with organic search accounting for 53% of overall web traffic. While any successful marketing strategy will span multiple channels, SEO dominates in terms of encouraging web visits, with BrightEdge stats showing it drives 1000%+ more traffic than organic social media.

If this research doesn’t highlight the critical importance of ranking high on search engines then consider this from Backlinko – just 0.78% of Google searchers click on results from the second page.

PR and SEO – a complementary fit

So, what if we told you there’s a way your organization can dominate that first results page? Not just with your own webpages but through carefully placed content from your organization on hugely authoritative third-party domains. Here’s how you can make it work.

It starts at the content generation stage. Any PR strategy worth its salt should now encompass a focus on keywords for every content format – be that press releases, articles blogs or even social posts. We aren’t talking about stuffing content with keywords to the point where it makes no sense – that just infuriates the reader and many savvy journalists have clocked onto this trend in any case – we’re talking about carefully crafted copy that ties a B2B organization to keywords that link to core industry or market themes.

Unsure as to what’s hot and what’s not? Then consult third-party tools such as Google Trends to gauge audience interest in individual keywords.

Pitch&Place to own the theme

Of course, once the content is generated, it becomes a question of getting this into target media outlets. Alongside keyword tracking, a PR strategy should be clearly targeting relevant publications in specific industries and vertical markets. These are key to maximizing the SEO value of a PR campaign – not only do these publications have authoritative domains via UVPM figures in the tens and hundreds of thousands, they also extremely relevant audiences who should be ultra-receptive to the targeted messaging in your content.

Consider this case in point with our enterprise software client, and one of its core industry segments. Following media topic and trending keywords analysis, the IBA editorial and Pitch&Place teams identified a growing industry focus point around 4.0 and an associated keyword – although a number of markets had already done 4.0, this was a market that was late to adopt and interest was high. A bylined article was carefully crafted with the client’s expert, including links to an extremely authoritative Deloitte report on the same topic that had just been published.

The article was pitched globally to relevant media outlets and generated 14 media placements – exposing the copy to nearly 500,000 target readers. An accompanying blog and white paper were also developed as part of a dedicated content stack, to ensure the company website reflected the same message too.

The results? Five out of the 10 items on the first page rankings for the chosen keywords are from our client’s copy. Four placements in hugely authoritative domains and the blog on its own website – all sitting right next to the influential Deloitte report. But the best thing? The client’s main competitor is sitting at the bottom of the page, prospective readers would have to click through five of our client’s items before they even saw it!

Don’t forget the backlinks

But don’t forget, dominating the search results is one thing, but ensuring click through to your own website is a vital goal for an SEO-driven PR campaign. That’s why all placed copy should include backlinks to relevant pages to a company website. These can all be tracked through UTM codes or website analytics tools such as Google Analytics.

Another one of our clients found during the course of a campaign they were generating 250+ targeted referrals alone from their placed thought leadership copy – something they couldn’t replicate through any other means than their PR campaign.

SEO and PR – the gift that keeps on giving

One of the best things about SEO-driven PR is that placed copy for specific keywords is evergreen – the enterprise software example we gave is still dominating the search results after 18 months! By generating good quality PR placements in large quantities around specific topics, B2B marketers can outrank their competitors while providing a measurable benefit to their internal stakeholders.

Jamie Kightley is Head of Client Services at IBA International.

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