Research: The Integration of SEO and PR
30 second summary:
- Experts have been telling us for a number of years that SEO and public relations (PR) have to be merged
- Do SEO and PR really integrate “in the wild”?
- In the event that you’ve searched the internet for it and haven’t found anything of significant value, here are some answers for you
- Kevin Carney, Founder and CEO of Organic Growth, interviewed 184 SEO and PR experts from various brands, agencies and consultants
- Dive in to learn more about the state of SEO and PR integrations in the industry
We have been hearing for several years that SEO and public relations (PR) have to be merged. The main reason for this is because they have similar goals, strategies and tactics. It is sometimes argued that some aspects of search engine optimization are PR at a time when publishing has become comparatively inexpensive. So much so that anyone can become a publisher, and with the advent of content marketing, brands need to do it now.
I’ve been looking on the internet for information about how this integration goes or not. I haven’t found anything on this subject that I thought was valuable. That’s why I decided to create this article after gathering information from SEO and PR professionals to get a clear picture of our industry.
I created a survey and then reached out to SEO and PR experts with Help a Reporter Out (HARO). This resulted in 78 survey responses. I waited a month, went back to HARO and got 91 more. I then shared my survey with some SEO and PR groups on Facebook, which resulted in 15 more. I received a total of 184 survey responses.
When I started I had arbitrarily decided I wanted 200 survey responses, but decided to stop at 184 instead of doing another round of HARO or Facebook group work.
Of course, all polls are biased
In this case, the distortion occurs for the following reasons:
- I designed my survey with my preconceived notions about which questions are most important
- I looked for people in nooks and crannies of the internet where I thought it would be easy to find willing participants
- People who took my survey chose themselves
Does this mean that my data is incorrect? No more than any other data set collected through most surveys, but it’s possible that if I had just interviewed SEO folks or just PR folks, I would have gotten different data, and I just want this to be in the Is specified in advance. I think my data is relevant, but by no means the last word on the matter.
Does this integration of SEO and PR take place?
In a word, yes.
Now let’s look at the graphs whose underlying data leads me to believe this is true.
The first questions were very objective
These first graphs show the answers, which were fairly short and dry and not so much a matter of opinion.
The breakdown of respondents
The survey participants categorized themselves as representatives of brands, as representatives of agencies or as consultants who represent various customers. Below is the breakdown.
As you can see, it’s a pretty good breakup with agencies that have a little more brands.
Are Agencies Publishing Articles About SEO and PR or SEO vs. PR?
Personally, I was curious what percentage of agencies think PR and SEO or PR vs SEO is important enough to publish articles about. There were surprisingly few.
What percentage of the participants have an integrated team?
Much more than I expected: 71 percent to be precise.
Do companies without an integrated team have both SEO and PR?
To my surprise, the answer is more like “no”. The team sizes within this group tended to be smaller, which is probably responsible for this.
Within this group, 35 out of 52 companies had teams with three or fewer members, which means that only 17 companies had teams with four or more members. Only four companies had teams with more than 20 employees.
How closely do companies work with two teams?
While this only includes 16 companies, I don’t see a strong pattern here. Perhaps this is due to the small sample of data, or perhaps the question is too subjective for everyone to have a common understanding of how close “tight” is.
The following statements were entirely subjective
I asked respondents to rate whether or not they agreed or disagreed with a range of statements about PR and SEO. Each statement was rated on a ten-point scale, with 10 indicating a strong agreement and a strong disagreement.
Can SEO be separated from PR?
As you can see, the majority of the participants feel that they cannot.
What is the main focus?
I thought that some companies are putting PR before SEO and think that SEO supports their PR efforts, while other companies put SEO before PR and think that PR supports their SEO efforts.
I was expecting these two graphs to be mirror images of each other, and I am surprised that they are not.
What surprised me the most is not that both charts are on their own, but that they don’t mirror each other. I thought the two questions were opposite, which for me at least means that the diagrams should be mirror images of each other.
While the “We do SEO” diagram shows a fairly strong consensus, the “We do PR” diagram does not.
Are SEO and PR equally important?
There is a strong consistency with this idea.
Are PR and SEO separate functions?
There is a consensus that tends to “no”, they are not.
Is link building the PR of SEO?
For the purposes of full disclosure, I believe this is true. Now don’t get me wrong, I believe there are good and bad forms of link building, but I suppose there are good and bad forms of PR too.
The fact that this statement was shared with the participants reflects one of my prejudices. Nevertheless, I consider the participants’ answers to be valid.
The SEO-PR integration is happening, and so far more has happened than I expected.
My next thought is “What does it all mean?”
Should we change the way we do what we do?
For this I am interested in feedback from readers. What do you think?
Kevin Carney is the founder and CEO of the boutique link building agency Organic Growth.