Organic PR and SEO: How to Do It Right
Marketing and communication channels shouldn’t exist in silos. In fact, with outstanding content and outreach becoming an integral part of SEO success, it’s not hard to see how PR and SEO fit together like pieces of a puzzle.
Dimitry is the founder of JustReachOut – a solution that enables you to get relevant exposure without the help of PR firms. Just as impressively, though, he has successfully founded and exited three different companies where he drove growth primarily through PR and SEO.
To illustrate this with an example, Dimitry shares his experience with a company called Polar (a polling app) before it got acquired by Google.
Even though they had sufficient funding, he was struggling to gain traction and grow the app. To get more press mentions, Dimitry turned to one of the tried-and-true PR hacks – newsjacking. Essentially, he went to different news outlets, observed the topics, and created polls in the app. He would then pitch this data to every journalist who’s covered the topic.
The goal? Find a connection to plug your content and align it with what’s viral at the moment.
Dimitry shares: “We just did it over and over on every little breaking topic. I made it my job to let every journalist know about the data, and so they started including us. That was the genesis of how we started growing.”
How SaaS Can Use PR for Growth
If your SaaS business is in a heavily saturated and competitive market, a PR strategy can help you increase your profile and get ahead of the competition. Done well, a SaaS PR strategy will enable you to:
Earn media mentions, boost brand awareness, and get high-quality leads
Build high-quality links to your website
Use media mentions on your website to build credibility and increase social proof
How to Step up Your PR and Outreach Game
For those just starting out, a great place to begin is by answering journalist questions and queries. Dimitry shares: “You can answer those questions without having a big PR story. You can replicate that and consistently get more and more exposure that way because all you do is just help them out.”
Even for smaller startups and mid-sized businesses, the key to getting some publicity is to start somewhere and get it going. This is a wonderful tactic to learn what journalists are actually looking for and build connections while also gaining exposure at the same time.
It’s sensible to note, though, that journalists get hundreds of pitches every week. To stand out, you’ll need to hit 3 main milestones:
Know your target audience and the sites, publications, and podcasts they’re interested in. Getting mentions in big publications can grow your brand awareness, but niche publications are often a better choice for driving relevant, high-quality leads.
Customize your pitch. With 57% of top-tier publishers receiving between 50 and 500 pitches in any given week, a standard template just won’t cut it. The more relevant your pitch, the more likely you are to get a positive response.
Pitch consistently. As Dimitry says: “Start with 15 minutes and graduate to 30 minutes a day, and you’ll get one or two hits.” As the number of positive responses increases, you’ll naturally move on to dedicating more time to PR outreach and, once you get it going, you can hire out and get other people to help you.
If you’re a SaaS company, you have access to invaluable first-party data, such as customer survey results. This can be extremely useful to journalists and a fantastic opportunity for you to tie your pitch into larger news stories.
Evergreen content can be immensely valuable both for your PR and SaaS SEO strategy, as well. You can connect your content pieces to news stories, trends, or even events happening in the technology marketplace.
Evergreen Content: Why It Matters
By now, we all know that content marketing is not a set it and forget it process. But how do you actually create content that continues generating leads for months or even years at a time?
Trending content can surely create a buzz for a while, but the key to bringing an audience back again and again lies in evergreen content. Simply put, evergreen content is high-quality content that doesn’t go out of date. It’s centered around a topic that has consistent interest and search volume.
“I firmly believe that if you create very, very high-quality content, you will end up ranking for it,” Dimitry says, “but it can’t be just great content. It has to be epic, something that is Earth-shattering.”
Executed well, evergreen content won’t just be an ongoing source of traffic, it’ll also help educate your prospective customers and generate awareness for your business. Here are some of the more prominent categories of timeless content:
How-to Guides and Tutorials
Listicles and Checklists
Case Studies and Research Studies
Once your piece of evergreen content has been published, there is still more work to do. The first step is making sure people are able to find your content, share it, and link to it. For that, you’ll need a promotion strategy. Ideally, that should span tactics such as PR, link building, and remarketing.
How SaaS Brands Can Craft a Hub of Timeless Content
Google is only getting better at figuring out what content is driving value for people, and the truth is, most content has an expiration date. “So make sure your content is truly evergreen, improve it, improve again, and then promote it, and keep doing that. That’s how you stay on top.”
When it comes to SaaS, Dimitry advises companies to have four or five killer blog posts and consistently strive to make them better. To get started, ask yourself the question, “is the interest in that particular topic expected to drop off anytime soon?”
If the answer is no, there’s a good chance it is an evergreen topic that can help drive sustained traffic in the long haul.
Why You Need to Update Your Evergreen Content Regularly
Having evergreen content does not mean you don’t need to update it. In fact, to create content that carries the same value as time passes, you’ll need to constantly review and improve it.
Once your content is live, enhance it, whether it be with infographics, stats, relevant examples, or videos. As Dimitry shares, “Google doesn’t like to see new content consistently on your blog. It likes to see you improve that same piece of content over and over again and promote it in different places. Go after other people and get them to promote it and insert their quotes into it.”
Remember that while your topics may be evergreen, the actual specifics of the content will likely change over time. Failing to keep your content pieces up to date often means they’ll quickly become irrelevant and obsolete.
But what about content that never gathered traction or you simply can’t upgrade?
While it might take some legwork, it’s worthwhile to remove outdated content that’s not performing well “because then you just have the unicorns.” The founder of JustReachOut illustrates: “In 2019, my blog had close to 150 articles on it. What I did is I removed all but 30 of them; got rid of everything that wasn’t getting traffic. The site doubled in traffic on those 30 articles.”
Tips for Creating a More Effective Content Marketing Workflow
Every successful piece of content – evergreen or not – starts with a great idea and a robust content strategy.
To ensure everyone is clear on the why and how, Dimitry starts by involving the writer in the keyword research, as well as the topical depth analysis of the competitors. After all, engaging all team members and having a solid content marketing plan in place is essential for making sure everyone is on the same page.
To gain traction, don’t overlook the basics of content creation and try to understand the benchmark of what you’re competing against. Dimitry elaborates: “we need to do all that thinking together with the writer and we really need to point out specific, real problems with the content that’s ranking. Then we’re going to address them in our article. As long as we do that, we’re good.”
“After they write it, we sit down again and we each read it and determine what were the weaknesses? What were the problems with it? Did we really address them and how well did we address them?”
Do Links Still Matter for SEO?
Google is continuously cooking up something behind the scenes to enhance the user experience and make the SERPs a better place to find information.
With so many changes in its algorithm, however, it’s not hard to succumb to the “link-building is phasing out” predictions. While it’s true that it’s harder now to build good backlinks than it was a decade ago, white-hat link-building strategies are still a great way to help your rankings.
After all, ranking a piece of evergreen content on the SERPs takes time, and awesome content on its own is rarely enough to hit the top spots. Most brands will also need to build quality backlinks to their content and promote it to their audience.
Dimitry from JustReachOut shares that “nowadays, links matter but not quite the same way.” When trying to rank your content, he recommends looking at other factors, as well. One of the more noteworthy ones is finding the domain authority (DA) of the sites linking to you. Some questions you need to ask yourself here are:
How clean is their link profile?
Do they have very odd links pointing to them?
Do they link out to a lot of places?
What is the quality of that domain?
While DA certainly is a critical aspect, there are other things you need to keep in mind.
Because Google’s algorithm has become much more sophisticated, “it’s not always better to have a link than not have a link.” Before you start actively building backlinks, Dimitry suggests first getting rid of any broken links, as well as any links coming from spammy sites.
Dimitry’s advice? “I found that removing broken links on my site and internally linking stuff better inside the site actually does more than getting external links to my site right now. So I’d first concentrate on internal linking, broken link removal, and then getting good quality links.”
Core Web Vitals: Google’s New Set of Ranking Factors
Google’s Core Web Vitals (CWV) are a hot topic in the SEO world, and it’s easy to see why: they’re now a ranking factor, and improving them makes for a better user experience.
The core metrics within these user-centered Web Vitals are Largest Contentful Paint (LCP), First Input Delay (FID), and Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS).
Lighthouse, an open-source initiative, is used by web performance tools to diagnose pages and measure Core Web Vitals metrics. The most important factor to keep in mind is that Lighthouse calculates your overall performance score based on lab data. Then, it uses color-coded ranges to evaluate your score:
Red (poor) – 0 to 49
Orange (needs improvement) – 50 to 89
Green (good) – 90 to 100
To pass the Core Web Vitals assessment, you’ll need to score “good” for all three vitals (both in lab and field (UX) data). Dimitry adds: “[the Lighthouse Calculator and Page Speed Insights] actually show you which subtasks of each grade move the grade higher.”
It’s worth noting that Core Web Vitals go hand in hand with mobile-first indexing. Dimitry further shares: “We first started with an app [Polar] because our founder was the thought leader behind mobile-first. Now everything is mobile. If I up the page speed insights about the grade on your website, how well it performs technically, that’s mobile-first.”
Start Creating Content That Lasts
Evergreen content has one main goal: stay relevant and drive traffic long after you hit “publish”.
In turn, the reliable source of leads from your timeless content will give you the flexibility to focus on and experiment with other marketing tactics, such as social media advertising, PPC, and retargeting.
So whether you’re just starting out with content marketing or you’ve been using the same tactics for a while, it’s a good idea to revisit your plan and make sure it’s innovative and up-to-date.
Not sure where to start? Have a look at our content marketing services and see how we can help you create content that still holds its value years after its publication.
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