5 SEO Tips for PR Professionals

Last night I attended Boston’s March Social Media Club Event in Woburn, Massachusetts. The topic of the evening was “The Search for Results: Social Media and Search Marketing” which was presented by a panel that consisted of:

  • Amanda Watlington, Owner of Searching for Profit
  • Greg Jarboe, President and Co-Founder of SEO-PR
  • Sherwood Stranieri, Director of SEO at SMG Search
  • Thom Brodeur, Senior VP, Global Strategy and Development for Marketwire
  • Andrew Komack, Founder and President of KoMarketing Associates, LLC

Amanda led the panel through several SEO related topics including SEO’s importance in social media marketing strategies, as well as some of the tools and techniques that SEOs use for optimization. The panel discussed different points of view on the topics and strengthened their message with interesting case-study stories.

Towards the end of the evening, the panel separated and joined the audience for small breakout sessions on more specific topics. The session I joined was led by Greg Jarboe and was geared towards SEO and press releases. The primary take-away from Greg’s talk was a 5-part formula for success with online press releases using SEO. The formula was laid out as follows:

Step 1: Do your keyword research.

The importance of keyword research was stressed several times during the event. Your keywords should always be nouns or adjectives. People never search for verbs. Its also important to craft “keyword phrases” rather than using a single keyword. If you can construct a keyword phrase that can be broken up into multiple phrases, your release will have a lot more impact with the search engines.

Step 2: Actually USE the keywords!

This step raised a chuckle when mentioned because it seems so obvious. You’d be surprised to learn how many people go through the process selecting keywords and then don’t use them or use them properly. Always be sure to include your keywords in the title of your release as well as in the lead paragraph.

Step 3: Add a link to the client site in the release.

Online releases need to be written for bloggers and regular readers in addition to the traditional media folks. Adding a link to the client’s site gives the reader the ability to seek out additional information about the topic in the release. Be sure that the link points to a relevant page on the client’s website and not just to the homepage where the reader is left to hunt for the proper page themselves. Those who are familiar with the concept of the social media release will already have this step down and have taken it even farther.

Step 4: Use a search engine friendly wire service.

Not all news wire services are search engine friendly. In addition, those that are search engine friendly not might format their releases in a way that makes all the major engines (Google, Yahoo, Microsoft Live Search, etc.) happy. Take time to discover which services are set up to give you the best results in each search engine. Greg recommended the NASDAQ owned PrimeNewsWire outside of Marketwire, PRWeb, BusinessWire and the others we are most familiar with.

Step 5: Measure the results.

Measurement is definitely a hot topic and a tough nut to crack on the social media side of things, but there are several things that are immediately measurable on the PR side of the house. As always, count your clips. Enough said. Beyond that you should start counting the blog results from your release. Have people started writing about your client on their own as a result of your efforts? One really valuable exercise that might not be easy to pull off is gaining access to your client’s analytics program. You might need to bribe your way into the IT department, but the data being collected about your client’s site can contain a wealth of measurement data as a result of your press release efforts!

Overall it was a good session that yielded several great nuggets to take away. As a PR professional, you owe it to your clients to stay up to date with the ins and outs of basic SEO techniques. Attending Social Media Club events are just one of the many ways to keep up with with the flow.

What tips do you have that could be added to formula?

Social Media Club: Increasing your blog’s influence

During this week’s Social Media Club meet-up in DC, b5 Media CTO Aaron Brazell (@technosailor on Twitter) gave an excellent presentation entitled “Blog Draft Day: Making it into the Bigs”. The presentation covers a great mix of social media and blog related topics that centralize around the challenges bloggers face when trying to increase influence.

Aaron used Ustream to broadcast the presentation live during the event itself and the recording is available below. If you currently write a blog or have been contemplating starting one, this is an engaging “must-view” presentation packed full of great tips to take-away and implement.

Note: This is a long presentation that clocks in at over an hour, so be sure to set aside some time! Once the video player caches enough, you might also want to skip ahead a minute or two into the video as the live feed captured some footage before the actual presentation begins.



How Twitter Can Expand Your World – Frenemies and All

We admit, Twitter is difficult to understand from an outsider’s perspective. You really need to participate in the community to understand its value. But once you do engage, the power of this eclectic community comes shining through.

Several of us at PerkettPR have personal Twitter accounts and we also have a corporate entity where we share news, poll the community, post blog entries, track events and more. Twitter has become a fantastic resource for our firm professionally and for many of us, personally. So what have we gleamed from Twitter? Everything from tips on restaurants, travel services, books, technology and more, to new relationships across the globe – including many with like-minded PR professionals – who we’ll call “Frenemies.”

Although we continue to compete for business with many of our Frenemies, we have also united with them in a way we never would have before Twitter. It has provided us the opportunity to see each other beyond the walls of the firms we work for – to appreciate our industry colleagues’ writing, strategies and accomplishments, and even to commiserate over similar struggles.

Through Twitter, we’ve had the opportunity to build relationships like never before – not only with other PR and social media professionals, but reporters, bloggers, analysts and others in relevant – and sometimes not-at-all-relevant – industries. Without Twitter, Jeremiah Owyang and Guy Kawasaki might never have chatted with us about various topics – professional and personal – much less visited and mentioned our blog and our website.

Participating in debates about the debates, rallying around a community member fighting breast cancer, supporting the case of a missing child, and even an unexpected death in the community have all been part of our various experiences on Twitter in the last few months alone. We share lively business-related discussions within the community that often extend to each other’s blogs – sharing ideas, “joining together” on issues such as “the death of PR,” the value of social media or something more personal such as parenting woes.

Twitter has not only helped us to extend our network and knowledge significantly, but provided us with a new avenue to prove that PR executives do have substance and can participate in industry conversations. We have also learned that we have more in common with our competitors than we ever thought possible. They are human, they are smart and we can learn from them. We embrace them as our “frenemies” because we still need to compete – which makes for another interesting future blog post …

The relationships may begin on Twitter – but they don’t end there. We have followed up and met face-to-face with “Followers” from “Twitterverse” at various industry events. Twitter is a great opportunity to expand not only your contacts database but your view of the world. Log on, join the community – we bet you’ll learn something new immediately.

Customer Service Part II – Do Your Customers Hate You?

On Friday we wrote about how customer service still matters. Today’s Boston Globe reiterates the importance of great customer care in a Business Filter blurb titled, “Customers Hate You.”

The Globe pulls a few gems from the recent Marketing Daily study, “America Suffering Customer-Service Meltdown,” indicating, “that about 62 percent of Americans say companies “don’t
care much” about their needs. That’s up from 52 percent in 2004.”

Looks like we were on the money last week when we mentioned that it’s nice to experience some human interaction in the day and age of “do-it-yourself” online services – the report states that “92 percent [of survey respondents] say they have tried to circumvent an automated phone tree
to find a real person, futilely jabbing at the zero and pound sign,” and that it’s one of their biggest frustrations.

Marketing Should Focus on Existing Customers as well as New Ones
“67% of the survey participants say marketers care more about selling existing products than really helping the customer, an increase from 58% in 2004.”

Marketing is often solely viewed as a lead generation function. But this report, and the loud frustrations echoed by today’s customers, indicates that it must wrap current customers into the mix as well. How does your marketing department work with customer service and relations? Should marketing focus on customer retention in addition to customer acquisition? Perhaps if more marketers worked closely with their existing customers they could build more honest, compelling and effective campaigns.

Your customer base is one of the best mouthpieces for your business – treat them well and they will naturally become a key part of your customer acquisition and marketing strategy – nothing speaks louder than a referral from a happy customer. Except maybe an unhappy one.

In a Web 2.0 World, Customer Service Still Matters

With all the do-it-yourself technologies prevalent in today’s Web 2.0 environment, customer service is very often stripped down to an IM chat or email. Often it’s impossible to get a human on the phone when you most need it, and when you do happen to “catch” a customer service representative, cultural barriers, sour attitudes and long processes tend to prevail. Now, more than ever, customer service matters.

One of our clients, Constant Contact, has always recognized this – their entire culture is built around taking care of the customer. Personally, we’ve experienced some great customer service this month from other vendors – and as a small business, it’s great to be treated with the care, respect and importance that is often only reserved for large customers.

Two examples:

Promopeddler

We had to order a rather large supply of light up glasses for the TechCrunch Boston MeetUp. We called a vendor we had used before and when we were negotiating some timing/pricing issues, the approach was a threatening “we may be more expensive, but you’ll regret it if you don’t use us” attitude. That doesn’t play well with us, so we tried a new vendor, Promopeddler. Promopeddler won our business due to their sales rep, Laurie. Laurie’s approach was not only that she was grateful for our business but she went above and beyond with her customer service. She was truly the reason they won our business.

Laurie was proactive, persistent and consistent – all the way past the point of the glasses being delivered. She provided extensive contact information, contacted us daily to let us know the status of the rushed order, called us when she thought a color aspect could be better – and provided a recommendation – and even followed up to ask us how our event was and if the glasses worked out. Our customer experience was so outstanding due to this woman that as long as she’s there, we’ll be a customer. We noticed they made the Inc. 500 “because we give personal service with every order.” Yes – they really do.

Verizon Wireless

We had a unique situation to solve with some BlackBerry purchase from Verizon. It required getting on the phone with some customer service representatives, which is not always a very positive experience. However, one customer service representative, Anthony in New York, made all the difference today. He was very clear every step of the way through the process and he was so personable we ended up chatting about baseball and football – and even though he was a dreaded Yankees fan and we are diehard Red Sox fans (most of us, anyway), we felt like a customer that mattered. Anthony made a time consuming process not only bearable but even entertaining – and experiences like that stick with your customers, so they stick with you.

The point here is that yes, the Internet provides a mostly do-it-yourself marketplace and opportunities to communicate without ever saying a word. But positive, helpful and verbal human connections are still important ways to make your brand memorable – and your customers loyal.