Search your feelings

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This may be how you sometimes feel when trying to get yourself heard over the Web. Don’t worry, I’m right there with you. More often, as technology progresses, we find our society becoming more and more involved online. Everything is being done online now from scheduling tasks, to research, to catching up on the things your friends have been doing lately. With so much engagement happening online, it’s no wonder that public relations has to adapt. So what are tactics that public relations students, such as myself, need to begin to learn?

Have you heard of SEO? It is an acronym for Search Engine Optimization. SEO is a process one takes to make sure that their website is visible in the top of the search engine results page (or SERPs). You know that first page of Google that you look through when you search something? That’s a SERP, and that is where you want your website to be seen. There is a joke one of my professors told on the first day of class this semester. What is the best way to bury a dead body? Put it on page two of Google’s search results!

SEO is also something that PR practitioners need to be aware of because it helps them to connect with targeted stakeholders. According to Avinash Kaushik, a marketing authority for online marketing and Google employee, recommends that a good website will have 40 to 50 percent of its traffic coming from searches. This means that one doesn’t buy their way in through an ad, but rather your page has enough views, or hits, from people searching it or from links from other websites that thought your content was good enough to be linked to.

Content comes in many forms:

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The backbone of good public relations is good writing. In order to have good organic SEO, content on your site(s) must be valid and wanted by your publics, which is defined by the PRSA (Public Relations Society of America) here. Great writing is what will help drive your consumers to want your content and to want to “sell” it for you. This is why the PR industry, and education, must start teaching SEO in addition to strong writing. The writing is your backbone, but the content is your muscle. Flexing strong muscles will often attract admirers and this is one goal of PR. From there, relationships can be built.

In a recent article by Forbes, they listed seven top SEO trends that will dominate 2015. One of these tips mentions that building relationships will be vital to good SEO. This is another reason for the PR industry to really take note of SEO and why it should be taught to students. Relationships between brands and their publics are what the PR industry is all about.

Relationships work if two or more parties have something that attracts one another. Writing for content that people want will help to foster the relationships. People want brands that are humanized and social media is helping to bridge this gap. Knowing what keywords to insert into your content, or what semantics to use, will help you connect with your audience more. It will also provide you more visibility in the SERPs without having to pay to be seen.

I firmly believe this is one of the necessary skills of the PR industry, and I’m beginning to see it embraced more and more by both agencies and companies. I urge my fellow PR students to start learning SEO, or to at least understand it, so that you can stand out from the crowd and offer something more to the brands and publics you will be representing.

Here is a quick video which gives an easy to understand explanation of SEO:

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