Today's guest post is written by John-Henry Scherck.
He apologizes today's post isn't very romantic, but he hopes it woos some PR hearts.
There has been a great deal of chatter in the search community about PR vs. SEO, or how PR campaigns can supplement the link building done by SEO.
The idea that a PR campaign can take the place of an SEO campaign is simply not true.
Having PR and SEO initiatives are great for your business and PR teams can generate tons of links to help boost your rankings. But the links PR produces don't normally retain value over time.
Don't get me wrong, I will take a powerful link any day, but when you get a link from a CNN or a HuffPo (or any site that publishes content non-stop) a lot of the value the individual link passes to your site diminishes over time.
Google has made big efforts to let users know their algorithm promotes new content, and recently rolled out a "Freshness Update." All other factors being equal, links from fresher content are more valuable than links on older posts - especially on websites that publish a lot of content.
To get a little technical: When your link is on the homepage of a notable website, a ton of link juice (i.e. ranking fuel) is flowing into your site. Link juice hits the homepage and trickles down (it's very Reaganesque) to the rest of the site and through its outbound links. When your link is on the homepage it is awash in a sea of link juice.
As time goes on and your link moves into the site's archives the link rapidly loses value because it is not situated on a part of the site that has a lot of inbound links. A two-year old link in a Gawker post is still a solid link and will help build overall domain authority, but it's nothing compared to how powerful it was when it was first published.
If you want to rank, it's not enough to have only inbound links; you need your links to have anchor text with your keywords. When I am link building for my company's site, instead of getting branded links (i.e. Digital Third Coast) I always shoot for links with keywords such as Chicago Internet marketing.
But asking for links with keywords can start an awkward conversation when you are dealing with established publications. I have heard of editors no longer interested in covering stories because anchor text was requested. PR links can drive traffic and the stories themselves can be a huge benefit in terms of exposure and branding. However, they rarely contain the targeted anchor text crucial for ranking. Journalists and editors are aware of SEO...and most of them are not interested in helping you outrank your competitors.
Static (SEO) Links Vs. Blog Post (PR) Links
In order to maintain competitive rankings you need powerful links on static web pages. Because their value doesn't rapidly diminish over time, links from those boring niche directories are key when it comes to achieving rankings. A PR team is going to find links that build your brand, drive traffic, and promote your business. An SEO is (hopefully) going to build links that will get your site ranking well and retain value over time.
Finding the Balance
SEO has changed a lot in the past few years - now you must earn your rankings. You need a high quality site that truly deserves the number one spot, not just the site with the most inbound links with targeted anchor text.
If your company doesn't connect to other businesses, promote content on the web, engage in social media, or involve itself in the community, does it really deserve to outrank your competitors?
Link building shouldn't focus only on SEO, or on PR. You need to find a healthy full circle approach to marketing that covers your bases and helps your company increase its inbound leads, solidifying its brand.
Having a PR team is great, and hiring an SEO agency is a solid move, but having a PR team that works in conjunction with your SEO agency is one of the most beneficial steps you can take to grow your company's overall web presence.
John-Henry Scherck is an Organic Web Strategist with Digital Third Coast (Twitter), a leading Chicago Internet Marketing Firm. When he's not building links, formulating strategy or doing keyword research he enjoys cooking and wasting time on Procatinator.com.