During the webinar, Stephen talked about link-building best practices and outreach strategies. He also shared some of his experience at Branded3, and told us about the crucial changes that have taken place over the past few years. Stephen has been working for four and a half years at Branded3. His first position was a link builder, and, as he admits, link building was done in a totally different way than it is today. Originally, when Stephen came to Branded3, link building was performed by technical link builders. Now, link building requires more of a PR approach. SEOs have started exploring traditional PR tactics, which PR agencies have been using for the last 60-70 years.
Originally, Stephen says, SEOs and link builders were not responsible for brand awareness. Rather, they were preoccupied with conversions and driving traffic to a website. It wasn’t all about a brands’ actual presence until quite recently.
A lot has changed, and now SEO and link building have more in common with PR. This trend has been triggered by Google’s tendency to rank “human-oriented” content higher. The criteria by which Google ranks websites has evolved. Google tries to take into account a brand’s performance, rather than just its site’s quality or relevance to certain keywords.
The era of information technology has led to a lot of changes in consumer behavior. To understand these changes, Stephen advises familiarizing yourself with the concept of “the Zero Moment of Truth.” The ideas you will find there are still applicable to the current state of SEO. Although the data you will find at “Zero Moment of Truth” is a bit outdated, the core points and principles are still relevant and they explain a lot about consumer behavior.
The main idea Stephen emphasizes is that, before people consume a product, they will consume a certain amount of information. People do not simply rely on one or two traditional media resources anymore, instead they use multiple resources to get information about a product they want to consume. That’s why to launch an efficient campaign it is so important to make sure you involve the maximum number of resources needed to make your brand highly visible. Google wants to rank not just websites, but brands themselves.
So, PR and SEO are merging and giving birth to new online strategies. Not only does SEO borrow from PR strategies, PRs tactics also take advantages of online opportunities. Twitter is a good example of an online media channel that PR professionals use to effectively reach consumers and gather feedback from them.
Now SEO campaigns go beyond the technical dimension. Things like coverage, exposure and traffic were not traditionally perceived as things to strive for, but nowadays they are regarded as indicators of a campaigns’ success. A piece of quality content might not provide you with the huge number of links, but if it makes people talk about you and earns your brand offline mentions, your campaign has achieved its goal.
As there are plenty of media sources that should be covered within an optimization campaign, it is important to create content that is adjusted to a certain media channel. Paying attention to your target audience is no less important; it’s always a game of anticipation – you should think ahead and offer the right kind of information expressed in an appropriate, catchy way. And, of course, you should be creative. For that, you need a large number of people to be on board – designers, copywriters, a social team, etc. Creativity takes time, effort and resources. Although creating quality content is a long-term investment, it will eventually earn you more links.
So, PR strategies are becoming more and more relevant for SEOs. You need to build relationships, reach out to your audience, and find the right approaches to different forms of media. Link building is no longer just a technical skill, and you can learn a lot about it from PR strategies. Your ultimate goal is to increase your brand’s presence, which is more difficult that simply improving your website’s ranking.