Hilary JM Topper
Hilary JM Topper

When I started in the public relations industry back in the 1980s, search engine optimization was the furthest thing on everyone’s mind. All we thought about was getting placements. The more placements, the better!

Who would’ve thought that today computers or mobile phones would be so prevalent? And who would’ve thought that public relations and technology would go hand-in-hand?

Did you know that Google processes more than 40,000 search queries every second, on average, or more than 3.5 billion searches per day and 1.2 trillion searches worldwide per year?

That’s why PR practitioners need to know and understand what search engine optimization is in order to help their client reach their goals.

The way Google works is based on page ranking. This is influenced by the following factors:

• How often they appear and the location of long-tail keywords (this is a phrase of words, preferably a question) on your website.

• How long has the site existed? The longer, the better!

• How many other webpages link to your site?

Here are 10 tips on getting your clients' webpages ranked higher on search engines:

1. Make sure to have long-tail keywords that include questions. Most people use voice search in order to look something up on Google. Think about it. When you are searching for something what do you type into Google? How do you ask Siri or Amazon Alexa a question? Use those questions in your site and in your social media posts!

2. Directories, especially the free ones, are your friend! Make sure to do a search and find as many as possible. Place your client or even your business in these directories, especially if they have link backs to your site. The more link backs the more your site will rank higher on search engines.

3. Use relevant hashtags. Hashtags help rank you higher on search engines. By using consistent hashtags in your social posts, you will produce a greater return on your investment. People follow hashtags and the more you use, the higher you will place on search engines.

4. Use Bit.Ly to track your clicks and evaluate what works and what doesn’t.

5. Make sure your site is speeded up. Slow loading photos will “kill” your SEO and your chances for people to review your site.

6. Use your location in your keywords. For example, if you represent a dentist in Jacksonville, Florida, make sure to use “Where is a good dentist in Jacksonville, Florida?” in your search.

7. Evaluate what your competitors are using for long-tail keywords to get ideas on what your keywords should be.

8. Make sure to have engaging content, otherwise you will lose your SEO.

9. Backlinks are imperative. Make sure to have backlinks on blogs, press releases, online publications, free directories (as discussed before).

10. Paid Search is also an option.

With magazines, newspapers and trade magazines moving toward an online community, it’s more important today than ever before for public relations practitioners to ensure that press releases, pitch letters, YouTube videos and emails are hyperlinked back to their client’s websites to increase search engine optimization. Remember, search engine optimization equals more sales and more sales equals more money from clients to spend on marketing and public relations.

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Hilary JM Topper, MPA is the CEO of HJMT Public Relations Inc., an award-winning public relations and social media marketing firm on Long Island. Topper writes for NY Lifestyle Blog and A Triathlete’s Diary Blog. She is also the host of Hilary Topper on Air, a podcast with more than 250,000 listeners, and is an Adjunct Professor at Hofstra University.