Claire Gamble Unhooked Communications at Brighton SEO 2019 talking about offline PR, events and SEO

BrightonSEO 2019: PR and SEO, blurring the lines

Last week, I spoke at BrightonSEO about how offline PR activity – in particular, face-to-face events – can help to create a whole host of digital marketing opportunities, such as earned media coverage, links and social buzz.

And it was just one of the more PR-focused talks at the conference, highlighting the growing importance that expertise seen as ‘traditional PR’ is becoming in SEO.

BrightonSEO 2019: The Brighton Conference centre where PR, SEO and digital marketing talks took place

Digital PR: Why it’s more important than ever to bridge the gap between traditional PR and SEO

For decades, PRs have worked with businesses to develop strategies that help build trust, manage their reputations, position them as experts, develop relationships and engage with the right people.

And over more recent years, Google has developed its algorithms significantly. We’re now a long way from when I started out my career fresh out of uni as an SEO copywriter, where our main concern was adding in the odd keyword here and there.

Authority, relevance, trust and reputation are of key importance.

The recent updates to Google’s Search Quality Rater Guidelines put more emphasis on reputation and quality, as outlined in this Search Engine Land article.

“This subsection of 2.6 (Reputation of the Website or Creator of the Main Content) puts more emphasis on print media by replacing “newspaper website” with “newspaper (with an associated website).” It also allows search quality raters to take a track record of high-quality, original reporting into account — not just awards won by a publication.”

As part of this drive to show users reputable, credible information, Google is now giving more preference to original reporting in search and Google News results.

This article in Search Engine Land explains: “Original reporting will not only rank better in Google Search but soon will also rank better in Google News, including Google Discover. In addition to original reporting ranking better, the stories will stay at the top of the news cluster for a longer period of time.”

 While media relations is just one tool in PR practitioners’ toolkits, for many it’s a core part of PR strategies and plans.

PR and SEO link building meme. If use, please add a link to

So does this mean that PRs are the best people to deliver SEO campaigns?


But you need to ensure we have a seat at the table.

With over 200 ranking factors that impact websites’ rankings on Google, there’s a lot of different pieces at play in this SEO game.

Technical SEO is, of course, hugely important.

But when it comes to outreach (which, by the way, is what traditional PRs refer to as media relations and pitching) and creative ideas for content and activity that will secure coverage on credible media outlets’ websites, as well as earn links and create social buzz, us PRs have the right skillset and experience to get results.

That’s not to say the PR industry doesn’t still have some catching up to do in the digital world.

According to the PRCA Digital PR Report 2018, over a quarter of PRs think they need more education and insights into SEO.

While some of us may not want to get stuck into technical SEO, we should at least find out more about the basics to understand how the build and performance of a website works with content, links, social signals and more to help search engine rankings (one of the reasons why I took Kate Toon’s Recipe for SEO Success course a little while ago, which I can fully recommend).

And just as PRs should improve confidence and knowledge of SEO, it works the other way too.

SEOs should get a better understanding of how the media landscape works, and how you can create stories and content that don’t just secure earned media coverage and links, but that tie in with the brand, its objectives, key messages, and reputation management, as well as the target audiences’ wants and needs, and wider market trends.

It will save all those awkward conversations when we’re asked to do some ‘outreach’ on an overly promotional dodgy infographic with no news hook to tier 1 national media outlets.

PR and SEO have been seen as two separate teams for too long – to get the most effective results they need to work together, not in isolation. This is where a digital PR agency can help to bridge the gap.

And that’s why it’s great that leading digital conferences like BrightonSEO are providing a platform for PRs to share their expertise and insights, and why PRs are eager to take advantage of these opportunities.

Want to talk about digital PR ideas for your business? Or are you a digital / SEO agency looking for a PR partner? Email [email protected] and we can chat.

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