At 24-7PressRelease.com press release, we had been trying to find some further information about the most recent penguin updates. The folks (Jennifer) at Pole Position were wonderful in contributing a blog post (below) to help clarify and clear up some information. Thank you Jennifer & team! Without further adieu, here is the article.
Why Penguin Demands Good PR
It’s a real zoo around here. Thanks to Google’s recent Penguin updates (and Panda in 2011), search engines are feeding spam and black-hat SEO to the lions. Meanwhile, affected websites are dropping in rank while site owner/managers run around like monkeys, wondering how to fix the problem.
Of course, most experts say the solution to getting out – or staying out – of the dog house with Google is fairly simple: straighten up and fly right. Create quality content. And, while I agree with that 100 percent, you can’t assume that quality content alone is enough to reach your target audience. You have to know how to crow about it and, even more importantly, how to get other influencers in your industry to do the same.
PR Pros in Good Position for Penguin
When Google brought Penguin out of its cage in April, unnatural links – along with keyword stuffing, cloaking and content spinning – became a primary target. As any good Penguin knows, if something smells fishy (like the link from an Alaska-based fishing charter site to a tanning salon in Atlanta that Eric Ward mentioned), it probably is fishy and ripe for devaluing.
However, Google’s Matt Cutts assures us that it’s not time to “write an epitaph” for the importance of links as an algorithm signal. Rather, link building – like content – needs to be managed strategically and on the up-and-up.
Enter the public relations pro, whose role amid rapidly evolving technology now transcends traditional press agentry and publicity. According to the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA), PR in the digital age is defined as a “strategic communication process that builds mutually beneficial relationships between organizations and their publics.”
On the Web, these mutually beneficial relationships are often showcased via website links and shared content. In light of Penguin, an experienced PR specialist is well positioned to make the kind of connections an organization needs to keep and improve its site rankings.
PR that Pleases Penguin
Of course, good press is still important, and links from influential sources like the New York Times, Wall Street Journal and ever-popular Mashable are at the top of the food chain. However, getting coverage and links from such major outlets isn’t practicable for most businesses. However, opportunities for PR and quality links still abound, if you know how to come by them honestly and with the sweat of your brow.
In a post-Penguin world, here are some key PR activities you should pursue.
Research Industry Influencers
Before you create scads of beautifully written and keyword-optimized (not keyword-stuffed) content, you need to find out who the influencers are in your industry. Hopefully, your PR strategy already includes building relationships with reporters and editors at valuable-to-you news outlets. However, to get a variety of links from multiple, reputable sources, you need to open the bard doors wider. You also need to be busy as a beaver because search, discovery and due diligence is a time-consuming process
Annalisa Hilliard, link building strategist at Pole Position Marketing, recommends the following tools for finding your influencers:
• Open Site Explorer – In addition to helping you determine where your competitors are getting their links, this paid tool will also assist you in finding people who have clout (not to be confused with Klout). In addition, it shows total links, number of unique websites linking to a page and social likes/shares. Armed with this information, you can gauge where you stand among your competitors for targeted keywords.
• Organic search using unique queries – One free tool to enhance this type of search is Solo SEO. Enter a keyword and you’ll usually get a long list of search queries. Results are available for Google, Bing and Yahoo.
To her list I would add these tips:
• Mine social media sites. Each site has a unique set of users, as well as unique ways to search for influencers. Twitter and LinkedIn searches are particularly useful in this area.
• Stalk your competitors. Find out who they are having conversations with on various social channels.
• Read the comments. This includes comments on YouTube videos, news articles and blog posts made by influencers and competitors you’ve already identified.
• Add your comments. Don’t forget the importance of adding your position to the conversation. This also may be a great way to get the attention of the individual or organization that published the content.
• Look for evangelists. Who has come forward via social media or other outlet and expressed their undying affection for your products, services or organization? Invite them to submit user-generated content on your site or another well-respected one. Or, provide content for them to publish on their site. Lots of options here. This is a fantastic PR opportunity you should not waste.
Pitch Content or Concepts that Appeal to Influencers
Once you have a list of influencers you’d like to approach, it’s important to recognize what’s important to them. The biggest mistake marketing people who try to be PR people make is pitching a blogger or reporter with “markety” stuff. Influencers don’t like to hear how wonderful you are. They want to know what your business or organization can do for their readers.
So, respect their time and get to know their audience. Read their site and several blog posts thoroughly. Build a relationship with them, and only send them content that matters.
Even better, offer to guest post on a regular basis – especially about industry topics that are hot. This will build your credibility and theirs. It’s a win-win situation.
Create an Outstanding News Room
Most companies that have news rooms on their site find that they are high-traffic areas. Visitors want to know what’s fresh – and so do search engines, incidentally. So, it’s important to keep your news room up to date with a reasonable number of press releases. Include navigational links to other pertinent areas of your site, such as your company overview, your blog, recent media mentions, events, statistics and more. Don’t forget to offer RSS syndication.
Write Natural Press Releases
With Penguin, everything is about what looks “normal,” as opposed to something that appears to be gamed. So, when writing news releases, it’s still important to include keywords and links, but think variety and originality.
Don’t overuse website links, keyword phrases and anchor text. Instead, focus on writing fresh content for readers first and search engines second. And, be sure to use a reputable press release distribution site with a track record of legitimate success.
Be Genuinely Social
Don’t forget to give your news a little extra push by publishing it on social sites. But, make sure you have your audience in mind. Companies are often “markety” on social sites. Sometimes it’s because they don’t have enough time to engage each site’s audience properly. Other times, it’s because they don’t understand how to be social. So, share news (your own and industry tidbits) in an engaging way that will help you make connections and build relationships with influencers.
As Penguin continues to impact search results and rankings, PR strategies like these will rise in importance. To Google, it’s about rewarding the most authentic links and content. Well-versed PR pros are among the best equipped to take that bull by the horns.
Jennifer Carroll | Pole Position Marketing | @martijen Previously a freelance business writer for more than 10 years, Jennifer specializes in content marketing and social media consulting for Web marketing agency Pole Position Marketing. She also contributes to the company’s blog, eMarketing Performance. A self-proclaimed word nerd, Jennifer’s favorite escape is historic fiction and anything by J.R.R. Tolkien, preferably in old-fashioned, ink-on-paper form.