SEO Agencies vs. Public Relations (PR)


Stop f*cking Around With SEO Agencies \- You Need PR

For those of you who misunderstood, my first post was introducing the fact that I'll be doing a series of posts in the coming weeks and months. So, onto today's rant/lesson:

SEO companies are full of "experts" who have no grounding in traditional marketing techniques \- for example, they've never looked at editorial calendars, hell, most of them have never even heard about them.

For those of you who don't know, magazines, newspapers and other publications plan months in advance for what they're going to write about. Editorial calendars let people in the Public Relations (PR) world know when to pitch their stories, and to whom.

We all know that to get a site ranked, you need to build links. We also know that getting legitimate links is the most diabolically frustrating, tedious, monotonous, soul destroying process if you follow conventional wisdom, which goes something like this: write great content and magical internet fairies will link to your site.

What a load of bollocks.

People who bend the rules might buy links or use software to spam, but these methods are short sighted.

What you need to do is get your link on high profile, high traffic websites. You need to be using a PR freelancer or agency to be scouring editorial calendars for online publications and getting them to hound hundreds of journalists each month to get them to promote your site. (EDIT: here is the poor mans approach I discussed in a comment below)

PR agencies who have adapted to online publications are rejoicing, and for good reason, they have a solid understanding of how marketing works and can deliver something that a lot of small to medium sized SEO companies can't offer.

If you want to have a go at doing this yourself, there are really expensive services you can sign up to which will give you contact details for journalists and bloggers. Forget that, just find the biggest magazines, news outlets and blogs in your niche and find their editorial calendars.

Remember: your links should generate targeted traffic. If they're not doing that, you're either doing it wrong or you've hired a snake oil salesman. If you're wasting your time scouring for directories, leaving comments on blogs, adding forum signatures or any other of the low level link building techniques, you're doomed to failure.

Instead of spending 20 hours a week doing that, spend 20 hours a week focusing on one publication. Spend days getting the copy perfect, spend days preparing your pitch, spend days researching your target journalist and you will get a result which will blow your and your clients socks off.

One link can result in hundreds of thousands (if not millions) of visitors and the snowball effect will be the social media world sharing the article, spreading your site and raving about it until the cows come home. And yes, Google is focusing on social media indicators a lot more, this will also boost your ranks.

P.S. I'm not trying to sell anything

You promised dirty little secrets. When do they start…?

Your rookie SEOers may not be doing what you talk about above, but I think most working in a decent agency, corporate or consultants worth their salt are.

seobollocks ✍️
In this case, the dirty little secret is that most SEOers are charlatans and to expose this to business owners who are looking to hire an SEO agency/expert. The people visiting r/SEO are a broad bunch, so I'm going to try and cater to them all.

Dirty secrets for people doing the Search Engine Optimization (SEO)? Again, it depends on the level you're at – if you've been in the game for a while, you will know about tools such as ScrapeBox, but you might not know how people actively (and automatically) find and hack WordPress sites, for example, to add their blackhat links or alternatively add malware to get a site deindexed for a while. I don't advocate these methods, but it is the sort of stuff that is not really talked about.

People are generally too scared to talk about it in the open, and the only places where it is talked about is on Black Hat Forums where 99% of the discussion is novices trying to sell each other low quality services.

Not talked about by who? There were multiple presentations at Pubcon the other week on exactly these black hat methods and more.

The one thing you are right on is the wide range of skills on r/seo It definitely goes from business owners and web designers through to some industry leaders.
seobollocks ✍️
It seems you are one of the rare experts who is actually an expert – you're not my target demographic for these posts as it seems I will be preaching to the choir. I'd be interested to hear what you consider to be a dirty secret, as I'm sure you have a few up your sleeve!
I'll pass :) I have no dirty laundry to air like yourself. I look forward to the next dirty secret
seobollocks ✍️
Fair enough! Perhaps I should refrain from the "dirty secret" usage and rephrase it to "dispelling myths"

Good post – you'd be surprised how many people outside of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) (Public Relations (PR), media planners, creative agencies, etc) just don't understand this simple point.

However, I've worked for global media agencies for quite a while and I can promise you – good agencies do this. I wouldn't be caught dead with an SEO strategy that didn't integrate fully into the client's media plan(offline and online), content calendar and PR schedule.

If a client doesn't have a PR agency, PRWeb and simply doing the manual work (building relationships) on twitter are your best friends.

In fact I would go further – rather than encouraging SEO users to "spend days researching your target journalist" – I'd make that months, in fact start right now. Don't have a client in that niche yet? You might have next week – build the relationships now. SEO users without a digital 'black book' will always struggle compared to old fashioned PR.

I've worked for/with a couple of huge global SEO companies and neither did anything like this. The people in charge who I spoke to had no idea what they were doing and going down the crap link method talked about in the main post.

I agree that they should be doing it, but from my experience they don't.

What you're describing works great for a very specific sub set of websites that is NOT most people.

Most sites are no where near profitable enough to pursue such a resource inefficient strategy.

seobollocks ✍️
Not true, it works for every type of business and industry, you just need to be creative.

If anything, it is a more efficient way of spending your time and money. You are focusing your time and energy on a single venture with a high return. You don't have to just go for the big publications, and in fact, it is a bad idea to do that straight away.

I'm imagining you either work for or own a small SEO agency where budgets are limited and so is time. The best approach for you would be to start building contacts.

Start with relatively popular bloggers in your niche – start commenting on their blogs. NOT for links, leave genuinely insightful and helpful comments. Use your real name and have a photo of yourself. After you've done that a few times, they will know you.

This is when you drop them an e-mail saying hello, giving a very brief introduction and asking whether they would be open to the idea of either a) checking out your product b) letting you do a guest blog post.

If you can do a guest blog post, great. Make it the best post you have ever written, tailored specially for their visitors – follow the style of the bloggers writing.

Once you've done this a few times (getting great links in the process) you can approach the next biggest blog – send them a quick e-mail and mention that you've been writing for these other people, and ask if you could send a few ideas their way to do a guest blog post for them.

Once this process is underway, you'll quickly find yourself moving up the food chain, start getting invited to do more posts, podcasts and various other bits and pieces. Once you get to a certain point, you'll be in the radar of the big fish – they'll most likely just run an article about what you're doing/promoting or get in touch.

This is the poor mans back door approach if you don't already have the media contacts. Yes, it can be time consuming initially, but the pay off can be huge – and don't forget, you're getting constant traffic and links throughout the whole process.

If you're clever with it, you can infiltrate social media channels (including Reddit) and before long you'll have people promoting your articles for you.

It's not rocket science, and it doesn't need to cost an arm or a leg. Start small, get bigger, and these contacts are now yours for the rest of your career.

I followed this approach for a hobby site of mine – within a week I had 4,000 visitors, by the end of the month I had over 25,000 unique visitors. All targeted, all engaged, all begging for more. I got invited onto a podcast by one of the most famous bloggers in the sites niche, and got mentioned and linked to by other big bloggers. The site has gone from 0 to massive in a few months.

Each blog post on my own site is now getting a minimum of 2,000 visitors within the first 6 hours (another thing you should look into is timing when submitting to social media sites, I find 11am UK time to be the best – that way you get UK traffic going on lunch, and parts of America waking up) and I constantly get traffic from people searching for the headlines I use.

Inefficient? No. Expensive? God no, apart from the cost of your time.
I agree. It works for a certain type of business, and doesn't work at all for other types.

seobollocks ✍️
I challenge you to give me a type of business it won't work for. I'll start with a classic example:

accountant firms, how the hell do you get anything interesting to write about that? Easy. List 2 other topics, e.g. sport and sex

Now combine the two to give yourself some article titles:

Sport: 5 ways your accountant can give you a six pack (article about how keeping on top of your money can free some money up for that gym membership, and listing 5 top tips, supplied by your friendly accountant firm)

Sex: How To: Turn Your Significant Other On with Accounting (similar concept to above)

Basically, you can put together any topics and turn it into something interesting. The tone of the pitch will change depending on the publication and your client. I guarantee you can do this with even the most boring of subjects.

Yes, my examples are a bit shit, but it should give you the idea.
I agree with everything your saying and we're working more or less in the same manner but my biggest client at the moment is one of the largest providers of stamps in my country. It's B2B orientated stamp selling.
seobollocks ✍️
Can you convince them to make a custom stamp? I'm sure with a bit of creativity you could generate a huge amount of buzz. Hell, do a few rageface stamps and you're golden – comic readers also have jobs and own businesses. You might even end up generating a new revenue stream for the client.

This is what I mean about hiring Public Relations (PR) and Marketing agencies though, they're the types of people who will come up with creative ideas to actually sell the boring product (no offense intended towards you, I'm speaking in generalities)
I've done (something like) that, as I said we're working in a similar manner! Our market doesn't respond well to ragefaces but we've got things in the work.

What I was trying to say was some products are just extremely boring, no offence taken, and force you to think outside the (seo) box.
seobollocks ✍️
Definitely – I suppose that's all part of the fun :) The hardest part I find is convincing the clients to give it a go.
Your examples are fine. What you are doing, whether you realize it or not, is arguing which form of marketing is better.

You're talking about two totally different things. It's like comparing radio commercials and billboards. There different man. If you have had the success that others have had, you wouldn't be talking. I'm sorry you have had some bad experiences with Search Engine Optimization (SEO). I've had them too. Some people suck.

But I've had good experiences as well, and I've made thousands off of SEO. I think I'll stick to it.
seobollocks ✍️
No, what I'm showing is the most effective way to increase ranks in Google while achieving the highest ROI.

I'm still waiting for your challenge… And I'm also curious to hear your link building strategies

I think what you should clarify is that it seems that you are talking predominantly about the boutique SEO shop that charges an arm and a leg for "guaranteed" 1st place positioning in Search Engine Result Pages (SERPs). While these are sadly a dime a dozen, they do not speak for the industry as a whole. I work in Search Engine Optimization (SEO) at the enterprise level. My agency is part of a large network tied to Public Relations (PR), digital, Print, TV, you get the picture. We take a website from conception to inception. What you should focus on is not that SEO companies have no clue about marketing, the good ones do, and they know a lot more than given credit for. The focus should be on the thousands of shitty small companies and so called "consultants" that look at SEO as an end all be all.

SEO is a microcosm of the marking world. Part of that world is Search Engine Marketing (SEM), part of it is PR, part may even be traditional advertisements on tv, print, and radio. The point is SEO should never, I repeat never be used as a standalone strategy for success. Of course small blogs aren't going to use TV. but the principles of their marketing strategies still applies to even the smallest blog about pokemon as long as that writer wants to make a name for himself.

On a separate note, Panda and this "post-panda" world that SEO users like to throw around doesn't really exist. of course Panda is a real update but the hype behind it is mostly nonsense. The updates effects were felt mostly on the shitty ad-filled, content aggregated, paid-link laden link profile, cloaking, grey/black hat sites. This hype i speak of put a lot of the aforementioned shitty sites and small SEO shops and consultants outbid business. I say good riddance. If you can't produce quality content on top of a sound technical site architecture with fresh updates. If you cant then push this content out through social channels. If you can't read simple guides to do this that can be found on site like SEOmoz, SEER, Distilled, etc. If you can't do any of that and have to rely on grey/blackhat techniques, then you deserve the penalties and bans. I say good riddance.

However, the problem then becomes that all SEO is associated with your scummyness.

*Real, quality SEO companies and consultants build a comprehensive digital media strategy.

*Google targets those that don't bother or can't be bothered to build quality and value.

*Those targeted bring the SEO community down as a whole.
SEO agencies are an easy target. Like you, most people are distrustful of any authoritative sources that try to help them out. As a result, they get hosed by some indian firm whose idea of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is blog and forum spam.

Many of the techniques you mentioned are effective and reputable agencies will certainly incorporate them into a marketing strategy but that does cost money and most small or local businesses can't afford good marketing and are unable or unwilling to do the hard work necessary to get visits to the page.

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