How PR Events Can Impact SEO
It was the dress that nearly broke the Internet.
In early 2015, an innocuous photo of a form-fitting midi dress nearly broke the Internet. For days, people around the world debated whether the dress was blue with black stripes or white with gold stripes. Memes, debates and even scientific analysis of how our brains perceive color dominated social media. Even major newspapers and television networks ran stories about it.
But to really appreciate the power of #TheDress — yes, that was its hashtag — you must understand what happened once the conversation died down.
Roman Originals, the U.K.-based fashion retailer that sold the dress, was virtually unknown in the United States prior to 2015. However, once that image went viral, organic traffic to RomanOriginals.co.uk from the U.S. eclipsed 5,000 visits per day within a month's time. By January 2016, organic traffic from the U.S. was at 10,000 visits per day.
Why the boost in organic traffic? For one, most people who used Facebook in 2015 remember #TheDress, and many still seek information about it. Look at the bigger picture, though, and ask yourself this — did Roman Originals' website SEO benefit from all those images, blog posts, social media shares and news headlines?
You bet it did.
Here we'll discuss how PR events like #TheDress can really impact SEO. While what happened with the dress is certainly an extreme scenario, it illustrates how real-world actions can directly impact your digital marketing efforts.
Point 1: Small Businesses, Huge Benefits
Do you think your business is too small to grab people's attention? If so, think again. The marketing company Moz analyzed several large and small businesses that garnered heavy press coverage in 2015. Larger companies received more headlines and social media shares, the study found. However, smaller businesses saw bigger increases in backlinks and organic traffic — and those metrics last much longer than the 24-hour news cycle.
The best practices of SEO are constantly evolving, but backlinks are just as vital now as they were a decade ago. Exceptional PR can dramatically fortify your website's link network.
Point 2: Being in the Press is Important
Small businesses have all kinds of opportunities to be featured in the media. Are you sponsoring an event or hosting a clinic or seminar? If so, you can probably get coverage by your local newspaper. And most newspapers these days publish their stories online, giving you content that's easy to market and share.
Or perhaps your business is doing something that's flat-out innovative or different. In spring 2015, the CEO of Seattle-based Gravity Payments made national news by implementing a company-wide minimum wage of $70,000 per year. This was covered in the aforementioned Moz study — Gravity Payments enjoyed a 90 percent increase in press mentions and more than 100-percent increases in organic traffic and backlinks. The positive press was so powerful that Gravity Payments suffered few measurable impacts when, in December that same year, news broke that a lawsuit might have forced the CEO's generosity.
Always be thinking of ways to engage your local media; same goes for national or regional magazines, blogs and trade publications. Press coverage is helpful even when it doesn't go viral.
Point 3: Share the Unexpected
People do crazy things. If you own a small business, then you've probably encountered your share of unpredictability. It could be a customer with a highly unusual problem, or it could be an employee with a highly unorthodox solution. Life often feels like a 9-to-5 grind, which is why people rally around those unexpected moments.
Phil is Founder and COO of Main Street ROI. Phil leads the company’s operations and is primary creator of Main Street ROI’s marketing training programs. He is an expert in search engine marketing, website analytics, and sales funnel optimization. Phil’s marketing thought leadership has been published on Forbes.com, Inc.com, MSN.com, and many other major business media outlets.
Phil earned his Master of Engineering Management degree from Thayer School of Engineering and Tuck School of Business and his Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Engineering degrees from Dartmouth College. While attending Dartmouth, Phil started every game on the varsity football team as the defensive safety.