By Simon Sanders, Lansons Communications

Google can be considered as ‘where your reputation lives’. This might seem an odd concept at first, since you undoubtedly have a website, and many satisfied customers and clients. However, given that so many searches on the Internet begin on Google (the UK’s number one website) what Google offers up in its organic and non-paid for results matters without doubt.

So how can SEO help your PR efforts, and your PR help your SEO? Here are some brief pointers…

Create content - around your keywords

Google loves fresh content — and continually re-indexes the web looking for relevant content — so creating this on a regular basis is key. Content can include regular news but also reports, white papers, video, photos, FAQs, newsletters, blogs, slideshows, webcasts, even print interviews that you can reproduce online. The simple rule here is that if Google can search for it, find it and index it, then it’s worth creating content for it.

Google — and indeed other search engines — are always trying to offer the best match for a search query, and tinker with the blend of results they offer. Innovations such as Universal Search from Google and the high-profile launch of rival Bing have seen the importance of video become more important. As broadband becomes commonplace and users grow ever more willing to watch videos whether how-to guides, news, and even full length programmes, and presentations, a wide variety of such content all has its part to play as part of a content strategy.

Creating content is one thing — but optimising it so that it matches what people are looking for is also vital. Using research tools such as Google’s Adwords Keyword Tool can help you discover a richer and wider variety of terms and uncover sweet-spots where high-converting terms are less competitive battlegrounds. Use of Google’s Insights for Search can also reveal other trends about what people are interested in around your subject. The content you create can then be built around these areas, and use these keywords. In doing this you are creating content that is in line and in tune with what people are interested in and using the terms and phrases they actually use.

Optimise and tag

When creating this content, be sure to use your keywords in potentially significant places - such as section headings, link texts, the alternative text used on images - and not just the body copy. Ensure that any images, videos, slide-shows, blog posts and so on are tagged with relevant keywords.

Analyse your traffic

Analysis of your website’s current traffic can tell you a lot. Using the free-to-use Google Analytics you can see not just which content is most visited by users, but also the actual search terms used by those who have visited your site. This can also help you plan your content. In addition, if you do run paid search advertising, you can focus on those terms that convert well since these indicate users that have found what they were looking for and acted on it in some way.

Add an online newsroom

An online hub on your website where journalists, consumers and other stakeholders can find the information they need is of obvious benefit. Free-to-use blogging software such as WordPress can be manipulated to function as a fully-featured, easy-to-manage, online media centre with many SEO benefits baked-in as standard.

Go Social

Where search can be considered how ‘people find you’, then social media helps ‘you find people’. Using social media profiles creates more outposts for you — and the likes of Twitter, Facebook, Flickr, You Tube and LinkedIn are extremely well-indexed by search engines. More than this, participating in social media and adding value in your community of interest will help you find users who in the process will help your SEO by create links and driving traffic, as well as becoming customers or clients too. Again, as above, tagging your content with your keywords where you can is a core habit to get into.

Get links from your media relations activity

On the subject of links, there are link-building companies that specialise in long-term and ongoing link-building programmes to create links to your site from others. This tends to be a separate commitment outside of regular PR activity, but there is one simple and everyday step to adopt with your everyday media relations activity: if you know you are being written about or profiled in the media, do ask for the links you want to you want and the link text you want them to use. They may say no, but it’s well worth asking, and a link from a mainstream media website is likely to add significant value to how Google rates and values your website.

Use the wires

If budget allows, use ‘wire services’ — such as Realwire or Sourcewire or PR Newswire - services that can distribute news releases to a wider range of potentially interested media than you may be able to reach or currently know. These can help not just create extra coverage but also links too.

One final thing — check your website

The following shouldn’t be an issue - but occasionally can crop us so are worth mentioning and you should liaise with whoever manages or maintains your website to act on the following. Failing to do this means that the search engine ‘spiders’ that crawl through sites and index may be unable to do their job, reducing your visibility and rendering much if not all of your SEO efforts worthless!

- Reduce — or remove - pages built in Flash, since Google struggles to read them, and your content could thus be invisible on search engines.

- Ensure you have an XML site map since this helps the search engines index your site properly, and revisit on a regular basis.

• As with your content you produce on a regular basis, ensure your keywords are used in your site structure, paying attention to a checklist that includes title and meta tags, heading tags, alt. attribute on images, title attributes on links and so on.

In summary

In summary: create content — in all its varieties including multimedia - optimise it and promote it. Online PR and SEO are intrinsically tied and it’s better to embrace it than ignore it.

It’s a lot to cover in one short article, and whilst the points above are certainly not exhaustive in detail, they should provide some areas to consider and look into further.

Simon Sanders is Head of Digital within Lansons Live, the digital and broadcast division of Lansons Communications - www.lansons.com

Adam Parker, Chief Executive of RealWire, will be speaking at Hit Me! An Introduction to Internet Marketing and Hit Me! Refresh, whether Online PR is the future of search engine optimisation. Adam will share examples of successful online PR campaigns and provide insight as to how, you can develop digital media strategies that will deliver positive business outcomes.

Register now for £95 quoting FreshJuly - Book before 31st July and save £100!

Video of Adam explaining how the online media world works and how it is the most powerful marketing force as far as the Internet is concerned. Extract from Hit Me! An Introduction to Internet Marketing Event, January 2009.

Online Ticketing for Hit Me! An Introduction to Internet Marketing