Developing Your Earned Media SEO Strategy
As a digital marketing strategist at a global PR firm, I often get questions about how to employ an earned media SEO strategy to enhance the impact of client media placements. But first, what is SEO exactly?
SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization and is a digital marketing tactic used to increase the organic (non-paid) visibility of content or webpages in Google search results. The end goal with any SEO marketing program is to ensure your content is easily found online by potential customers.
From a PR perspective, the media placements you deliver on behalf of your clients can deliver immense SEO value – but only if optimized and executed correctly. The key to your earned media SEO strategy lies within a strategic five step process informed by research and executed with data-driven precision:
1. Develop Target Audience & SEO Key Phrase List
No earned media SEO strategy should commence without first defining your target customer. Once you have that, move on to analyzing existing search data from Google Analytics and conducting thorough keyword research. To do this, put yourself in your customer’s shoes. What search terms might they be entering when looking for what your company or client does?
Once you have a few target SEO key phrases (1-3 words a piece), input these into the Google Keyword Planner and see what other recommended keywords show up. You’ll want to find mid-to-long tail phrases (2-5 words) with decent monthly search volume, but also a low competition rate for placement. Once you’ve got a list of about 5-10 target SEO key phrases, you’re ready to move onto the next step.
2. Work SEO Phrases Into Earned Content
Each piece of earned media should be assigned a target SEO key phrase from your list and worked into the content directly.
Make sure it’s included in key areas such as the title, meta description, URL, image file names and subheads (H1, H2, etc.). Google algorithms place a high value on these components, so it’s crucial your key phrases are well represented there. Google also places a high value on the quality of the user experience, so be sure the page loads quickly and is not covered in ads or low value content.
Next, you’ll want to ensure the SEO key phrase is included at least a few times throughout your main copy, and that it links back to your destination URL (client’s website or campaign landing page).
3. Include SEO Backlink Anchor Text
A backlink is simply an incoming link to a website. Anchor text refers to the keywords that are highlighted within the backlink URL. These are very important to your SEO strategy since backlinks signal to Google the value of your content.
From an earned media perspective, you should be including SEO phrases from your target list within anchor text that includes a backlink to a relevant area of your client’s website. For example, in the previous paragraph my anchor text is where it says “SEO Strategy” and the backlink is the URL that it points to.
The same approach should inform your paid media strategy as well. Be sure to provide any sponsored content partners with your target SEO key phrases as well as the anchor text and backlink. Keep in mind it’s not the number of backlinks that matter, but rather the quality of the backlinks. Focus on domain authority websites and remember to add value to their readership community.
4. Track Results In Google Analytics
One of the most important aspects of any SEO strategy is tracking results and measuring success. It’s important to begin this process with establishing benchmarks such as average daily/monthly search volume as well as positioning within Google for your target SEO phrases. Google Analytics has a great set of tools for measuring these metrics so it’s important to configure your systems properly to be able to track them.
Once your earned media hits, conduct an analysis of how many keywords made it into the piece as well as if they are positioned the correct areas with appropriate backlinks. Begin tracking the impact of your SEO by searching key phrases in Google News and also in standard Google search. Leverage Google Analytics to measure any improvement in key phrase positioning within the search engine results pages (SERPs).
5. Optimize Strategy Based On Insights
Once you’ve been running your SEO program for a while, you will begin to see even more valuable data within your Google Analytics. It’s from here you’ll want to mine that data for key insights to continue building on the success of your SEO efforts. Begin using Google Analytics to monitor organic traffic and make updates to your earned media strategy going forward.
Focus on the SEO keywords that are driving the most impact in your business by measuring the conversion rates and ROI of users who land on your site from those searches. Regularly check your positioning in Google for target phrases and make any necessary adjustments to the content on your page to further amplify your placement in the SERPs.
Conclusion – Execute Your Earned Media SEO Strategy
While there are many factors that contribute to an SEO program, PR has a tremendous opportunity to leverage earned media to drive positive results. The key is to focus on detailed SEO research which can inform your optimization and outreach strategy. Remember to that quality trumps quantity and even just one high quality backlink on a highly authoritative site can deliver immense SEO value.
What earned media SEO tips do you have? Please share in the comments below!
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