I recently took a column writing masterclass taught by the great Jay Rayner, the Observer’s restaurant critic for the past 20 years. While explaining how to grab and keep the audience’s attention with our writing, he made an important statement: no one has to read anything you write. It is the writer’s responsibility to make the subject matter interesting enough for someone to actively renounce to a few minutes of Twitter dodoloomscrolling to read your piece instead.
This made me think about a second problem (which won’t apply to celebrity critics such as Jay), but may certainly worry people or brands who don’t have a regular column in one of the UK’s major national outlets – people who are instead still trying to get the right people to read their content. Grabbing the audience’s attention long enough for them to read the entire article is a challenge, but this is secondary to the one of getting readers to even come across the content in the first place.
For this reason, articles and posts need to be written with a very important member of the audience in mind: Google’s algorithm. Tailoring copy to the preference of Google will increase the chances of content getting in front of the right people and will drive website traffic as a result.
Isn’t PR about getting other people to write about you, you ask? What does it have to do with what you write in your company’s blog and how you optimise content? Well, it turns out that PR has a lot to do with that.
Search engine algorithms generally prefer content of a certain length, which uses specific keywords, and is organised in a coherent and easily navigable structure. But there’s another element that will help your website climb to the top of Google’s search results. One of Google’s favourite features is how connected a website is to the rest of the internet. Other websites linking back to yours can dramatically increase its SEO ranking. And the more reputable the domain where the linkback is placed, the more impact it will have on the position of your website on the search results page.
This makes PR a crucial tool in your arsenal of SEO tricks. Getting a mention in the Financial Times isn’t just prestigious for the potential reach of the publication itself, but also for the impact such a link will have on your domain.
The caveat (there is always a caveat) is that not all publications will provide a linkback when mentioning a vendor. Journalists and their readers need statements from industry experts to explain events and make informative considerations on the matter. They do not want to sell or be sold to – that’s called advertising. For this reason, don’t expect all of your press cuttings to translate to an increase in website traffic. Slowly but surely, however, these will have an impact on just how many people will get to click on your website rather than your competitor’s – hopefully three places down from yours in Google’s results page if you’re using the right PR agency.
Like all things PR-related, this is yet another outcome you’ll have to be in for (for the long run) to achieve, but one that will pay off if you keep at it!