I had a meeting today with Edelman Digital’s Craig Kronenberger, who has experience at iCrossing and Digitas, plus three stints as an entrepreneur. My topic was search as a PR strategy. We have actually put search in the middle of our media cloverleaf (Mainstream, Hybrid, Social, Owned). Here are a few of the important points from our discussion:
1) Video Has Key Role in Search Rank— video is easier to view, ofter more shareable and drives higher click-through-rates. Google and Bing have continued to battle it out by giving more search results space to blended results, which gives more emphasis on video and images. Importance of video can also be seen in the Nielsen May Online Destinations for Video Report, which shows the impressive growth of Bing's marketshare in video content views and the increase in overall consumption of video.
2) Infographics Drive Search Rank— Infographics take complex topics and displays them in a visual format. Infographics are not only highly engaging, but are often socialized because of the visual impact, which ultimately drives higher positioning in search. You should also embed content linked to photo and presentation sharing sites, which are found more easily by search engines.
3) Social as Important Focus in Search—“Perishable content, such as Tweets during NCAA basketball tourney, tend to spike search results, then quickly fade away. Longer lasting content is a critical analog strategy and should be on company’s own site.” Understanding how long content lives and what value it can provide should always be an integral part of a company's communications strategy.
4) Include Paid Search —You can ignite the PR program by using key paid search as a catalyst. It helps the process of natural search get moving. Note that 70% of clicks are on items generated through natural search.
5) Why Site Stickiness Matters—“Google's analysis of perceived value to a user is becoming more critical than ever for search ranking. Bounce rates, click-through-rates and conversion all generate good marks from search engines. It means that you as a consumer found value. This leads to higher search rank…note that indexing is moving more towards social signals, reputation and credibility.”
6) Search Has Shifted from Nouns to Verbs— Bill Gates said that we want solutions to problems, not just what but how and where and when we can act. We can reverse engineer our PR content to give a roadmap. Listen to more about Nouns to Verbs with Entrepreneur Esther Dyson
7) The New Competitive Set—The leaders in Search Engine Optimization and Paid Search are iCrossing, 360-I, Rosetta, Covario, Performics and Razorfish. With Hearst’s acquisition of iCrossing, media companies are now integrating forward to offer full packages from classic print advertising to creative to digital delivery to a defined set of consumers. Hearst’s acquisition of iCrossing and the creation of a content studio is demonstrating the importance that content plays in search. Here is the press release for reference
8) The Mirroring Effect – There is a symbiotic relationship among SEARCH, SOCIAL AND CONTENT. We should offer a content strategy which will elevate a brand’s ability to be amplified through social and found through search. PR’s differentiator is to deliver this in an integrated manner. Note that Google is now seeking out content that is original, underscoring the need for clients to be thought leaders. We need to do this for all four facets of the media cloverleaf.
Search is a discipline that those of us in public relations must understand and utilize. At its most elementary, we can use terms in our press materials that yield higher ranking. But we need to raise our game by integrating more media options such as video, photos and slide shows that increase both engagement and relevancy. We can differentiate between perishable and long-lasting content, with social content driving short term impact and longer form materials encouraging long term, in-depth discussion. All of us, me included, have to move from intuition and instinct to more measured actions.