Using Traditional PR to Boost Online Traffic
Today, most brands live in the online space – particularly if they’re consumer-facing. And in an increasingly digital world, there’s always room to grow. Trying to stand out, using limited resources, is no easy feat. However, the concept of the “attention economy” is the perfect example of how gaining visibility is part of the war won on keeping, and finding, customers.
So where do you start? For most companies, search engine optimisation (SEO) and content marketing form a crucial part of an overarching marketing strategy. But with the wealth of information and the varying opinions of ‘experts’ – this can be a difficult space to navigate effectively.
Traditional SEO saw a number of questionable tactics from hotshots who talked a big talk, with a bit of a crooked walk. However, over time, we’ve seen a resurgence in putting the consumer first and rewarding good behaviour from digital professionals. We know that Google prioritises consistent, well-written and optimised content that offers value to the consumer.
So, in theory, that’s the best place to start in terms of your strategy. But once you’ve established yourself online and have relevant, helpful and engaging content for your reader, what do you do next? Because honestly, unless your brand lives in an extremely niche space – it’s one of many vying for your readers’ attention.
It’s hard to put a price on the value of a good inbound link…
The credibility that comes with a good inbound link network is what you really want. What does this mean? Basically, these are the links driving traffic to your site, from other relevant online sources. For example, if you own a travel company and you have a link to your site from a popular, high-quality blog – Google might perceive this as a stamp of approval for your site.
Similarly, if other articles link to your content (preferably using relevant link text), this can be a vote of confidence for your brand, online. It all sounds easy enough, right? Just get the right people and sites to drive traffic to yours and you’re set. Sadly, this is actually one of the things that people find most tricky to do – but it doesn’t have to be. If you’re willing to put in the effort, you can reap serious rewards from using traditional PR to bolster your credibility and visibility.
Get organised and plan
Before you set out to improve your inbound links, you’ll need a plan. Sit down with your overarching marketing strategy and decide how this is going to fit into that.
- What are your objectives?
- What mechanisms do you have online that you can drive traffic to?
- Do you have the resources to use an external PR company?
- How will you work with them to syndicate content?
- What networking mechanisms can you use to make connections?
- Who would you like to link to your site and other platforms?
- What mechanisms will you use to connect with this ideal list of affiliates
- How will you measure your efforts?
- What is your ideal timeline for achieving greater credibility?
Give them something to talk about
The best way to get people to talk about your brand, campaigns, products or services is to give them something to talk about. Carefully consider what angles you’re going to take with each communication and how that plays into a greater strategy.
Good content means novelty and/or interest, helpfulness and/or education. Identify your strengths and play to those in your content. If you’re hosting an exciting event or running a competition – make sure you get the great publicity that can come with that by shouting about it in the right places, to the right people. If you don’t see much value in communicating something – either don’t communicate it, extract the value and speak to it briefly or start putting more effort into doing something newsworthy (awards, innovations, partnerships). Then, start the conversation.
While influencer marketing is a relatively new concept in the stricter sense, public relations has always used influence to garner credibility. The only real difference now is where it comes from. On the plus side, access to influence is easier to achieve in some instances – meaning a great opportunity for your brand.
You can use influencer databases and market research, in conjunction with the knowledge you have of your target audience to help you choose relevant influencers. Then follow an outreach strategy to help you build that relationship.
Use and broaden your network
Draw on your network to promote your content, whether that’s through a personal message or word of mouth. Similarly, any events you attend or opportunities for networking also present opportunities to let people know about your site or content – within reason. Relevance is key here though
If you don’t have an established network, put some effort into building one by taking up educational opportunities, joining groups and associations, building your online communities and inviting clients and piers to events. You can also draw on the networks built by others.
There’s a difference between buying inbound links and syndicating good content that offers value to your readers. Connect with a PR company or sites that offer syndication services, who can publish paid for content that links to your site. This is not the holy grail of inbound linking strategies but it can play a supportive role to your high-quality, editorial links and open doors to new connections.
Measure what you’re doing
In order to see if your strategy is working, you’ll need to establish KPIs and measure your efforts. The better the tools you have at your disposal, the better you’ll be able to monitor increases in traffic, new links, improvements in online sentiment and the growth of your communities.
The metrics will begin to speak for themselves, and you can garner insights from the results that help you better understand what’s working and what’s not. From here, adapt your strategy accordingly.
- How are you positioning your site?
- What content are you publishing or syndicating that drives the most traffic to it?
- What are the results of influencer partnerships and are they having a clear impact on traffic and, subsequently, SEO?
- What other efforts are you putting into driving people to your brand online and what percentages do those account for?
- What is your brand sentiment like?
As you begin to thoroughly examine these questions, you can see where it’s most useful to put your resources.
In a nutshell
- Never underestimate the power of an integrated marketing strategy that draws on various, cohesive disciplines to have the greatest impact.
- Make sure you use the tools at your disposal to better understand your audience and to measure the results of your efforts.
- Take opportunities that present themselves to draw on your networks and offline marketing strategies to support your digital ones.
- Always focus on relevance, adding value to consumers and staying in line with your brand’s ethos and values.
- Use influence with intention – prioritising quality over quantity.
With a clear plan in place and an adaptive and integrated approach to driving people to your online platforms and communities, you can get a step ahead of your competition and gain greater visibility online.