Online PR – Off Site SEO – If there’s a difference it depends on who you are

Online PR or off site SEO?

I was talking w/ a colleague the other day about Online PR versus Off site SEO. Whilst chatting it became clear that in the minds of some people out there that a degree of confusion exists around the terminologies due in the main, to the many cross overs of both.

I thought it might be useful therefore,  to layout the benefits of each, and highlight what they do, and show the commonalities and differences of each, showing both how they may be perceived and the benefits of each of their respective approaches.

The table below shows a set of typical aims for each of the respective terms

Online PR - Offsite SEO

The table below shows benefits and risks for general methods used by each

Online PR vs Off site SEO 2

When you look at the tables like this, it is clear that are many crossovers and that in terms of interpretation the two are very similar indeed, both offering obvious opportunities for each other with the  reality  being that in many cases, neither constituencies (PR Agencies) and (SEO’s) are getting it and are still doing things in a woefully backward manner.

Woeful PR – Woeful SEO

How many times as an SEO have you seen a non optimised press release and thought, silly sods, why did they do it that way? As a PR practitioner how many times have you stumbled across a piece of awful content and thought, OMG, how rubbish is that message?

It has to be said that what may be obvious to some, may not be so to others. If you are a practitioner of  ‘Online PR’ working in a traditional PR Agency, and you believe that your remit is to simply improve perceptions and raise awareness, then you are missing a big trick by ignoring traditional ‘off site SEO’ methods. Through engaging with a search specialist you’ll be able to dramatically improve the benefits that you bring to your clients, helping to improve their site performance in the search engines.

It simply isn’t good enough to bang out press releases to news wires and miss the masses of easy win opportunities that are there for the taking, you need to wake up and start delivering or you’ll find yourselves over run by others that do.

Conversely, if you are selling SEO Services then it really is about time  (if you aren’t already) that you woke up and smelt the coffee and took steps to ensure that your mindset shifts away from old school traditional perceptions, taking a more holistic view around how all the various spaces can be used to enhance the profile of a domain, not only from a search perspective but from a PR one too.

If you are an ‘SEO’ then I don’t have to remind you around the potential pitfalls of too aggressive a link acquisition strategy, be that through a bought link or other automated approach. I’m not going to get into the intricacies of whether link buying is a good or a bad thing as the debate on that has been had – Google won it, if you do it and get caught and they feel like dinging you, then they will. What I wanted to look at was the whole social thing, as that is where the crowds hang out and where you are likely to garner most attention.  Social retards are about as welcome in the online world as they are in the off. Lets look at that for a minute.

Behaving in a Socially Responsible Way

No one likes a thief or a liberty taker – most of us work hard to earn our livings and do the right thing in our lives. Some of us take shortcuts which may well carry a degree of risk, but hurt no one if we happen to fall – from a service delivery angle, so long as a client is apprised of the risk, then ultimately it’s their call to take it and ours to decide if what is being asked is acceptable to our policies.  I think it’s useful too to consider that it isn’t always about search rankings either . In fact I’m pretty sure that what is often overlooked is that too aggressive an approach will often have symptoms of anti social behaviour and may long term, do a whole lot more harm than good.

Automated comment spamming,  twamming and the general exploitation of websites may seem like a short cut smart route today, but lest not forget that they may come back and bite us in the future. Responsible practitioners will of course know this already and will appreciate the nuances of good netiquette.

Search engines aren’t the easy touch that they once were, especially in some of the more competitive spaces. Rapid spikes or radical changes in link patterns are very easy to identify. Whilst exceptions to the rule aren’t rare, it’s good sense to consider that those which are monitored and show results with huge change maybe expected to be  associated with a valid buzz generation hook. It might also be a good idea to consider too, that if an  algo doesn’t nab you, then  a competitor probably will.

Get real Rob, it’s a competitive landscape

Hey, many of us are pressured daily to deliver, I know that – business wants and requires results – empty trust me promises of we’ll get there in the end are meaningless to a marketing director with targets to deliver. Staff will often rely on these, peoples jobs and livelihoods can live or die on the back of a first page result. Which I guess is a reason why search engines like Google with such massive market share are happy to create the double edged sword that SEO can be. Build a good site they say, do the right things they say, yet the reality is that their SERPs are often riven with results of participants who have all broken the rules to get there.

Coming from that perspective, then most might be forgiven for being a little confused. Either SEO is good or isn’t. The answer to which of course is absolutely it is, provided that it is delivered in a way that is clever and innovative. Too many SEO companies are old school, they believe that the old methods will continue to work – I don’t agree, I think they are doomed to failure and almost stupid to continue with, especially when you consider the wealth of other perspectives that unite an effective strategy.That’s a post for another day though.

Rob Watts
Kickstart your business today - Get an SEO Consultation or just talk to Rob about your online aspirations. With over 20 years experience in building traffic he's pretty much encountered most markets and scenarios
Posted on: 27th June 2009, by : Rob Watts

6 thoughts on “Online PR – Off Site SEO – If there’s a difference it depends on who you are

  1. That’s a very useful article. I always try and relate SEO to PR for non web savvy people as they seem to get that.

    Ultimately though, I feel the two are so clearly linked. I believe that if you make a good press release, announcement or industry comment people will respond positively. The problem which I often find is the lack of cohesion between PR and the online marketers.

    The quantity of deep links within articles is often minimal, and yet this is so crucial. But no matter how closely you work with the comms team, they just dont quite get it. It doesn’t change the content but could provide so much benefit.

    I think some comms teams are coming round to it, but like everything, it takes time.

    Useful and relevant content increases readership, positive opinion and ultimately links – which has positive impact on seo.

    I’d be interested to know what you think about Twitter and how this seems to uniquely combine SEO and PR…

    1. Hi Rob, thanks for the comment – I think it’s often a case of communicating to people in ways that they best understand, which on the face of it prolly sounds a little state the obvious, yet it’s surprising the number of people who like to confuse things w/ in the know acronyms or ponsed up vernacular!

      I think Twitr is great, evident by my zillion and one rising tweets! – I’d agree with your assertion too, never has a tool been so usefully kick arse that it has enabled for multiple connection points to so many things instantly at once, the benefits being both links and strengthened communication channels too.I was having coffee w/ @altepper earlier and we had a little chat about this very thing. Things like Tweetboard ( see left) that enable for bi directional comms ( site to twitter to site, audio tools like Audioboo, visual tools like seesmic and 12s, and the tools that enable the various plugins and connections ( FB connect, Google connect etc ) of course help stimulate multiple conversations on multiple platforms across multiple networks – as personal networks grow, reshape and diversify into whatever markets or segments they need to adapt to those that buy in will no doubt reap the rewards.

      And then there’s Google wave which is just awesome and will radicalize everything even further – interesting times!

      1. Hi Rob, no worries

        To be honest, I’m still a Twitter Junior, still learning the ropes and thinking about how to integrate with everything. I totally agree about multiple connection points and managing multiple communications through a single place. Life would be impossible otherwise 😉 Many non-web savvies and SME owners, Twitter is still very much the unknown, but probably the easiest to understand and communication. It’s also a great way into SEO, keywords and understanding good practice. It doesn’t exactly dumb it down, but it gets real time results which you can talk through with people. Tweets are so shortlived though 😉

        And as for Google Wave, Glasscubes hasn’t even launched in anger yet and we’re working on integrating it (or thinking about it… beta testing comes first!!). I’m nervous and excited as it just goes to show how young the entire online world is.

        There are many revolutions to come I sense, I’m just glad to be part of it, and if I can help people along the way then I’m all smiles!!

        1. I think that’s a gr8 attitude to adopt Rob, I like to think of a world that rewards those who help others too 🙂

          Yes Tweets generally last…20 mins and then fade away …unless you can get a little RT momenetum of course!

          Keep at it!

  2. Pingback: Cool articles – SEO, blogging, internet marketing(june24-july05) « Stefanm, my link collection
  3. Great post. I think too many people forget that there is still a real world out there. As your article points out, your best results will probably come from a combination of both.

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