A recent Google report found the typical B2B researcher performs 12 online searches before he or she engages with a brand. With this nugget in mind, we should be prompted to ask our teams, "What has public relations and marketing done for search marketing lately?"
To ensure your search, PR and marketing efforts result in collaboration, your team should practice the following behaviors.
1. Familiarize yourself with domain authority
If you've ever read any search marketing article, you've probably seen mention of a website's domain authority. So, what's a domain authority? And what does it mean to marketers?
Domain authority is a score (on a 100-point scale) that predicts how high a website will rank in Google's search results. A site's domain authority is calculated by dozens of factors—primarily metrics, such as link popularity, how many domains are linking to the site, and how authoritative the sources of those links are.
Of course, everyone wants the company site to have a domain authority of 100. Realistically, however, a perfect score is reserved for online giants, such as Facebook and of course, Google itself.
Some SEO experts say a good domain authority is between 35 and 50; 50 and above is outstanding. In reality, there's no simple answer to the question. Domain authority is not a measure of your SEO efforts—it's really a competitive metric best used to compare your site against others in your market.
Provided your domain authority is close to or better than your competitors', you're in good shape and likely to rank well in search results.
2. Maximize your media list
The media environment is rapidly evolving, and knowing which media outlets to spend your time with can be tough.
Blogs, deep verticals, and online media groups pop up daily. For example, when The Huffington Post launched in 2005, who'd have thought it would rank among the world's leading media outlets alongside the Wall Street Journal and The Financial Times just 10 years later?
Though targeting media outlets based on their focus, readership, and relationship to your company is important, communication professionals need to be considering the domain authorities of media targets, too.
Prioritize your media list from highest to lowest domain authority (rather than use circulation numbers) to ensure you spend your PR time earning links that will provide the most value to your organization. And keep in mind that links from authoritative sites deliver more SEO power to your site and help drive up your site's domain authority.
3. Request a link
Some media outlets, especially trade media, include a link back to your website as a standard practice when you contribute to a piece or provide a bylined article. On the PR and marketing side, that link drives readers to your website. Assuming the media outlet is an authoritative site with a higher domain authority, it helps boost domain authority.
If a link is not automatically included when the article is published, it's acceptable to request one. Ask for the link to go to your homepage from the first mention of your company. But never demand a link. Linking may be against the publisher's policy, and demanding one doesn't help you build your company's relationship with the reporter.
Suggest the reporter link to a specific piece of content on your site mentioned in the article if that content is relevant to your contribution. That provides a more valuable and powerful link to the readers and benefits your SEO efforts.
For example, if you referenced company-generated survey findings, linking to the actual report on your website is a win-win-win for everyone. You get the link to your company which helps with your SEO (for both domain authority and page authority); the reporter gets a stronger article; and readers get a direct path to additional supporting information.
Consciously including information in an interview or bylined article that you know has in-depth content behind it is a savvy PR move from which the reporter, the reader, and your business will all benefit.
4. Incorporate your keywords
A total of 71% of B2B researchers start their research with a generic search term rather than a search for a specific brand name, according to a recent Google survey. That percentage indicates buyers are looking for products and solutions first. Brands are just a secondary criteria.
So, why not give researchers what they want? Incorporate your keywords on your site, in news releases (the first words of your headline), bylines, boilerplate, online descriptions, and blog posts.
Don't stop there. Think of all the content pieces you produce. Add keyword-rich scripts to all videos posted on your site (including the scripts to webinars and presentations), and ensure graphics and images have alt tags with optimized descriptions.
Using your keywords is essential, but knowing when to stop is, too. Keyword stuffing is never a good tactic, and Google will penalize you if you're caught. A good rule of thumb is to ensure only 5% of your content consists of keywords. If you go above that, you become a dreaded keyword stuffer. Ensure you don't sound like a broken record by writing copy that speaks to your audience as people, not like web spiders or robots.
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Building a company's Web presence takes understanding and teamwork. As communication professionals, we understand content is the cornerstone of marketing and PR. And because words are all that matter to search engines, PR, marketing, and search must work hand in hand to balance content and copy online while they still deliver search results.
By treating the above elements as interdependent tools in your B2B marketing toolkit, you can expect to see concrete results in your PR, marketing, and search marketing efforts. In addition, this new line of thinking will help ensure you stay one step ahead of other B2B marketers.