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Suddenly Good Writing is the Best Way to Impact SEO

Two SEO experts and a nice crew of PR practitioners gathered at Schwartz MSL last night to discuss the best ways for PR peeps to help clients achieve better results with Google search. The topic is not new, but conventional wisdom has changed dramatically in recent years and months. Here’s what we learned last night:

1) Paid search (PPC) is very hard for B2B companies. The two experts, Lora Kratchounova from Scratch Marketing & Media and Ian Klein from inSegment, agreed that paying for placement in Google search results is difficult for B2B companies. It seems as though it’s hard to sort out key words that are specific to a B2B audience against the backdrop of those terms appearing in Google searches for other reasons. 

2) A company *should* bid for PPC placement on its own name. Apparently, Google offers discounted rates for companies to place PPC bids on their own company names (awfully nice of Google to do that). And even though a given company should have excellent organic SEO for its own name, it’s a best practice to secure top paid placement for that company name as well. 

3) BIG: For PR people, the little SEO press release tricks no longer matter. My co-worker Mark McClennan publishes an annual report on how PR pros fail to optimize their press releases for SEO. The numbers are stark. Three-quarters of press release headlines are too long, given that Google seems to prioritize terms that appear in about the first 65 characters. Well, as it turns out, the SEO tips and tricks I learned several years back are no longer applicable. Google is smart enough to understand context and to make very good guesses about the quality of writing. In general, PR pros don’t need to worry about keyword density, links, etc. 

4) What does matter is good writing. As Ian Klein mentioned, if a PR pro writes a solid press release that is clear and includes appropriate links to supporting content, then that pro will be rewarded from an SEO perspective. It’s that simple.

I have experienced this fourth rule a few times. Sometimes, when I read an especially good press release or blog post written by one of my teams, I run a keyword density check on that writing. And I find a near perfect density for the keywords the client cares about. In these cases, the writer is merely trying to write something good; they are not paying attention to the SEO "rules." 

It would appear that Google has improved its algorithms so that it can serve its users best–the best content is given the best authority. I guess that’s the way it really should be.

Lora Kratchounova agreed that good content is key. However, she expanded the concept of content to include other deliverables besides writing. It could be visuals or games, even. 

5) Media placements that link to client websites or pages significantly impact SEO. For good old fashioned media relations experts, Ian Klein nailed it. A high-profile placement with a link back to a client’s site might take a lot of time and a lot of effort. The SEO benefit from that placement (and link) is equal to the effort that went into the process. 

So the big takeaways for PR people affecting SEO? It’s about good writing and media placements that refer to my clients. 

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Ross Levanto

Ross Levanto

Senior Vice President at MSLGROUP

Ross Levanto has driven the PR programs for innovators across a number of tech markets. He’s also a key agency thinker with regard to the intersection of content marketing and PR.

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