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Get Ahead Online

Public relations and guest blogs

Giving your website more of a presence in such a vast online market can be challenging. Laurence Knopf investigates how using public relations and guest blogging can give your website’s visibility a boost. Combined with it being relatively low cost, online PR and guest blogging truly does make great business sense

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Harness the power of content to boost visibility

Vying for first place is very much the theme of this Olympic year; however it is not just the sportsmen and women of the Games who are busting a gut to make it to the top.

There is also unprecedented competitiveness amongst companies, traders, professionals, artists—basically, anyone who owns a website. Each of these are doing all they can to enhance their online visibility and push their pages up the search engine rankings and into the medal-winning positions—or page one at the very least.

Increasingly important components of effective search engine optimisation (SEO) are public relations (PR) and ‘guest blogging’. PR is often seen as the ‘free’ way to advertise, instead of spending thousands on multiple purpose units (MPUs), leaderboards, pay per click (PPC) or direct mail and e-mail. Carefully-posted and well-written articles or press releases, complete with well-tagged backlinks to your pages, can do just the same job and at a fraction of the cost.

The phrase ‘content is king’ gets bandied about far too often, but in the eyes of Google it really is. Websites that offer good, original, informative and regularly updated content are deemed to be a ‘public good’ and rewarded accordingly with a high ranking.

Similarly the guest blog represents a win-win situation whereby both the blogger and the site where the blog is posted significantly enhance their presence and capacity to gain a good ranking. The blogger spreads his reputation and benefits from further backlinks to his website, while the recipient site gets unique and keyword-rich content.

PR—a new approach

In days gone by, PR was very much about professionals helping promote companies and high-profile figures by issuing releases in the hope publications would include them in their editorial free-of-charge. This then helped spread the word of an event, product or organisation in general. The challenge therein was to offer something so distinctive and out-of-the-ordinary that editors would be fools not to include it—again a win-win situation.

Online PR has the same principle; killer content that is begging to be published, however the hurdles are not quite so tricky to overcome. In fact, there are many sites which will host articles and news releases for free. but they generally deliver a ‘spammy’ service and will not necessarily offer the best-quality backlinks. Perhaps the biggest difference between online and offline PR is that on the internet, PR is more about creating links through to web pages for SEO purposes, by forging a presence in blogs, forums, discussion threads and social networks, for example.

Combined with it being relatively low cost, online PR and guest blogging truly does make great business sense

While you could invest heavily into researching various avenues that exist when executing an online PR campaign, it will only be as successful as its content will allow. A good quality press release needs to be written well and in a style that is consistent with/tailored to specific websites and audiences. It also should be deemed newsworthy by the host or at least relevant to their readers, while also ideally latching onto a hot topic of the moment so as to make it timely. It should have an opinion that is there to be agreed with or even challenged. By including all these ingredients, your releases should get plenty of hits.

Assuming your online PR campaign is executed correctly, it can be the most cost-effective way of getting your content out there, leading to more high quality links to your site and a search ranking to match. The real question is not ‘how much is this going to cost?’—with the answer being ‘very little’—it is more a case of ‘how long will this take?’ instead. It certainly is not a quick fix and hastily issuing bland and poorly-written releases just to meet a self-imposed deadline is not the way to go about things. It is much better to dedicate plenty of time to the planning and copywriting stages or else you will be doing your reputation more harm than good.

Blogging to success

Guest blogging is whereby a blogger posts an article on a blog that is not their own in order to get backlinks to increase their own site’s search engine ranking. There are countless benefits to this tactic, for both the guest blogger and blog host, however specifically concerning the former, here are the main pros:

O Guest blogs can usually include backlinks by way of thanks so, assuming the blog and your post tie in nicely and you have tagged your links based on your target keywords, Google will award your site top ranking points.

O All you need to devote is your time and creativity, whereas low quality paid-for links will not deliver the same results and will put a dent in your budget.

O As your content will be read more widely, you can expect more traffic to your site and more subscribers to your blog.

O By regularly guest blogging on a popular site, you will quickly be perceived as an expert in your field so more contacts and money-making opportunities will come your way.

It is important to note not to start emailing blogs straight away, as this approach will make you more enemies than friends. You need to research each blog you would like to link up with individually in order to determine its niche, style and whether you feel you can add value to the site and provide something interesting for its readers. It is not like traditional pitching whereby you have got one article and a list of places to get it in; with blogs there is more merit in building up a few close contacts and writing blogs unique to them. You will quickly get found out if you pedal the same wares to the masses.

As with anything, investing time and effort into a venture will ultimately bear fruit. Taking the quick and easy paid-for links route may deliver results in the short-term, however you can only achieve long-term success by practising ‘natural’ link-building on high quality sites and widening your reputation in the process.  

Of course, this approach has to tie in with your wider SEO campaign, so it needs to be the right sites and keywords. Being considered is better than being care-free too; if you are a known irritant in the ‘blogosphere’, trying to shoehorn content into irrelevant or disinterested sites, then you are setting yourself up for a fall.

Bloggers must be treated with respect if you are serious about collaborating. Many will be inundated with requests from unscrupulous people just looking for a link or two, so if you can convince them that you will be a regular contributor of impressive content for their blog then all you have to do then is live up to it and fulfil your promise.
As SEO tactics go, this is certainly one that can deliver great results.

Combined with it being relatively low cost, online PR and guest blogging truly does make great business sense.

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