Online visibility is crucial for the success of most UK businesses. In the modern world, where 85 per cent of customers turn first to Google when looking to purchase goods and services, ranking high on search engines for a broad range of commercially relevant keywords is critical.
James Crawford, managing director at PR Agency One explains that businesses need to focus on improving their online visibility, paying particular attention to PR. Many people wonder what relevance PR has got to do with online visibility, yet there are two reasons why it is deeply influential – brand awareness and links. Driving large volumes of traffic via brand awareness and earning links, which increases non-brand search visibility for commercial keywords, helps bolster a company’s digital presence.
Online conversion from brand awareness is easy to explain. A business undertakes a PR campaign, people read the resulting editorial and are subsequently aware of this brand. This awareness sees more people Googling the brand and then converting into customers.
Links on the other hand, are a little more esoteric to explain. They are arguably the number one ranking factor for search engines and the higher quality links a website has, then the further up the search engine results list a company will appear. When a business runs a PR campaign, journalists will more often than not link to a businesses website in the editorial. Linking occurs in approximately 30 per cent of all press coverage, but this can be increased to 50–60 per cent if the PR company used for the campaign is digitally savvy.
Since Google started penalising companies that buy high volumes of low-grade, spammy links, canny businesses have been focusing on quality, not quantity, when it comes to digital PR. In simple terms, one link to a company website from the BBC or the Guardian is an endorsement from a very reputable source and counts for more than several referrals from irrelevant, ill-functioning webpages. Hence, if a site is only building up poor quality links, this actually becomes counterproductive, in turn reducing its domain’s authority.
So, how can businesses go about bolstering brand awareness and online visibility?
To help navigate this minefield, let’s explore the effective ways companies can implement these business-enhancing techniques to bring about an improved online presence.
A good PR agency will always start by identifying a company’s key objectives and making these the foundations for the project. Chosen objectives depend on the client, but these might include; increasing online enquiries and visibility, boosting website traffic, or even earning quality links to a client’s site. These can then be used as a guideline to ensure a strategy and its content does not stray too far from the intended purpose.
It is paramount that a high-quality, relevant editorial campaign is created, as opposed to sales-heavy press releases. This way, a brand will be better represented and have a greater chance of gaining more targeted coverage and links, driving traffic that will convert into sales, appointments, or whatever the aim of the website might be.
From personal experience, the most effective way of doing this, which journalists respond favourably to, is to carry out a piece of research, compile a study or create a video. In the case of Fletchers Solicitors, one of the UK’s leading medical negligence and serious injury law firms, our PR team conducted in-depth research looking into the UK’s most popular professions and how people’s career choices have been influenced by the nation’s favourite TV programmes. As a result, we discovered law and healthcare-related roles are the most glamourised and desirable job titles to possess. These findings were well received by a wide range of national publications including Vogue, The Sun and The HR Director. Links from these publications, along with a whole host of others, helped bolster the brand’s recognition earned trusted links from reputable sources and increased traffic to the firm’s website.
An equally important aspect to this process is to compile a relevant media list of key titles to which targeted material should be sent. As a starting point, identify competitors and see where they are being covered, as this will provide a rough idea of where the content should be aiming to get published.
Private Midwives is a great example of how creating a targeted media campaign can do wonders for brand awareness and boost a website’s online visibility. By compiling a series of maternity-focused PR campaigns, our tailored content brought about a wave of coverage in highly reputable publications, such as the London Evening Standard, Elle UK and Female First. The links included within these articles were all of a high quality, hence they helped bolster the company’s online visibility. As a result, the brand’s website also started ranking for a number of midwifery-related keywords, which in turn increased leads from the business’s website.
To ensure a company’s online presence is being improved rather than damaged, by chasing low quality links, take advantage of tools such as Majestic and Moz. As a general rule, if a site has a good trust flow, which is a score to show how trustworthy a site is, and is linking out to a selection of sites relevant to its readership, it is likely to be a reliable source and a good opportunity. However, if a website appears to be linking out to a vast number of random sites, then it is one to be avoided.
PR can boost a website’s ranking, drive traffic and, of course, establish the company as an expert in its field. However, it is paramount that quality runs through all aspects of a PR approach in order to make the most out of it. Unfortunately, in this instance, there are no shortcuts and slow and steady growth really is the best policy. Play by the rules, aim for coverage on reputable media outlets and success is sure to follow.