The Importance of Integrating SEO, SEM, PR, and Overall Brand Marketing Narrative

What is SEO, what is SEM, and what is PR? These terms can mean different things to different people. Here are the definitions according to Wikipedia:

  • SEO:Search engine optimization is the process of affecting the online visibility of a website or a web page in a web search engine’s unpaid results—often referred to as “natural”, “organic”, or “earned” results.
  • SEM:Search engine marketing is a form of Internet marketing that involves the promotion of websites by increasing their visibility in search engine results pages primarily through paid advertising.
  • PR:Public relations is the practice of managing the spread of information between an individual or an organization and the public. Public relations may include an organization or individual gaining exposure to their audiences using topics of public interest and news items that do not require direct payment.


Definitions are all well and good, but more importantly, why do each of these marketing channels matter? We think there are three big reasons:

  1. PR is often how people first hear about your brand, and first impressions matter.
  2. Google and other search engines are usually where people go next to learn more about your brand, and the SEO and SEM results will influence their next impression.
  3. When the PR article tells one story, branded search results tell another, and your landing page tells yet another, the consumer/customer is left confused.

When you properly integrate all three of these marketing channels, you create a virtuous cycle. People learn about your brand via PR from a news or medial outlet they already trust. Those users who research further get a consistent and connected brand narrative when they search your branded terms on popular search engines like Google and your brand surfaces at the top of the page in a positive light, and then the homepage connects with the article they read. An optimized conversion funnel and clear brand story will increase the conversion rates at each stage of this journey. You’ll also see a higher conversion velocity if your brand creates a “funnel” versus forcing potential customers to take a disconnected journey.

So, how do you achieve excellent, beneficial branding integration between those channels? There are some key steps to creating a well-rounded brand marketing narrative that is informative and engaging. First off, build out a clear marketing strategy, even if it is simple and plain vanilla. Second, ensure all team members are in sync with this strategy. Third, ensure it is written into the Objective Key Results (OKRs) for each person inside the organization (Marketing, Partnerships, Business Development, etc). If every OKR of every team member in marketing is correctly nested with the over marketing strategy you create an instant synergy. If leadership and managers actively engage with team members across functions then silos will decrease which will again increase synergies.

Lastly, interview your customers and listen. Just because you think you have a consistent message and story does not mean your customers feel the same way. Work hard to see the brand and journey through the eyes of your consumers and customers, not your own. When your team sees the brand through consumers eyes, winning is on the horizon.

How PR Can Help Growth for an Integrated SEO Strategy

As a digital marketing agency, we think it’s crucial to have a marketing strategy that is consistent across all platforms, whether on social media, in the press, or online. But what exactly does that look like, and where should you start?

PR, or public relations, focuses on managing the spread of information (and the perceptions of that information) from organizations to the general public. Similarly, SEO focuses on managing the online presence of an organization’s website, pushing the site higher in search engines like Google for relevant search terms. We think both of these are equally important for your company: PR is how people can learn about your company and form a good first impression, while being easier to find in potential customers’ research can affirm that first impression and, possibly, get you a new customer.

A disjointed PR effort can effectively destroy your SEO strategy. Let’s say all of your public relations efforts focus on your company’s new CEO, but you have no other content on your site about that CEO and never link back to your own site (instead linking to the CEO’s old company, perhaps). In this case, the relative SEO benefit versus potential is very low. Users will have no way of confirming that it is in fact your company where the CEO now works.

On the other hand, if every PR article is deeply integrated with the story you want to tell, and clearly leads back to pages, URLs, and aspects of the site that you want to highlight, then there is the potential for a smooth customer journey. For example, when your PR efforts guide people to your new CEO’s bio on your site and other relevant pages, potential customers will develop trust and brand affinity faster, and start the customer journey in a smooth manner. That smooth customer journey can send positive trust signals to the search engines and help build the overall trust of your domain.

Now, we’re not saying that you won’t be successful without PR (we know PR can be expensive). SEO with no PR can still succeed if properly managed. However, when SEO is integrated with PR, the possibilities for growth can increase in a markedly positive manner. A classic case study for success here is NerdWallet. Their PR strategy has always been joined at the hip with their SEO strategy, and the SEO lift has been meaningful over time. From the beginning, NerdWallet worked closely with a PR firm that helped them get content on high-domain-authority sites and get links back from those sites. This boosted NerdWallet’s perceived authority and ultimately helped them gain the credentials they needed to become an expert in the industry. Even if you can’t afford top dollar when it comes to PR, look for ways to get your content on the sites of well-known leaders in your industry. The links back from those sites can provide an excellent boost for your SEO strategy.

If you are already investing the dollars in PR, you want to get the maximum ROI–no great article written in a great publication comes for free. If you integrate each PR article within the goals and strategy of your SEO team, you create another chance for returns on the PR investment. Ensure that any publication links back to relevant pages on your site, using anchor text that speaks to your key services or mentions your organization or brand by name. Finally, ensure that your SEO team is aware of posts you know are coming in advance and when they are published so they can weave those additional looks into the holistic SEO and marketing strategy. Check out our other posts for more information on why anchor text and hyperlinks are such an important part of any SEO strategy, or get in touch with our team today.

Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trust, and Why They Matter in Digital Marketing

About E-A-T

What are expertise, authoritativeness, and trust? They are three key components in Google’s Page Quality rating that determine whether a page has a beneficial purpose, and all three play into each other. Google uses Page Quality ratings as a part of their proprietary algorithm that determines which results are first when you query a term on Google. Many members of the SEO world collectively refer to these principles as E-A-T.

When determining Page Quality (or PQ), Google takes into account the page’s purpose, its E-A-T, the quality and amount of the content, and the information/reputation about the website or person responsible for the content. While the exact weighting of these factors is not something that Google shares publicly, the directional guidance they offer is still very helpful.

But how does Google determine E-A-T? The creator of a webpage should have relevant expertise in the topic the page is about, which helps lead to authority in that niche, and ultimately leads to building trust. For example, would you trust a medical research paper written by a student in the communication field? Probably not, because the student is likely not an expert in that field, nor do they have the authority that credentials like an MD would provide. On the other hand, if you are reading a parenting blog where the writer has 3 children of their own, you will be more likely to trust their experience and authority.

There are instances (like our medical research paper example) in which having formal training or experience in a field can boost the E-A-T of the page. However, Google also says that “If it seems as if the person creating the content has the type and amount of life experience to make him or her an ‘expert’ on the topic, we will value this ‘everyday expertise.’”

But Why Does E-A-T Matter for Me?

Expertise, authoritativeness, and trust are important because Google and other search engines are focused on creating a great user experience, since without it, their business models are doomed to failure. If these search engines were to rely only on factors like page rank, keywords, and other factors, they would leave gaps that could be gamed by external actors. But, factors like expertise, authoritativeness, and trust are much harder to game, and users usually receive a better experience as a result of these factors having a greater impact on a page’s quality ranking.

This is why we always tell our clients to get as much high-quality content as possible on their websites. What does high-quality content look like? Google looks for factual accuracy and expert consensus, as well as comprehensive and clear content that is in an amount appropriate for the topic of the page. If you’re a little worried, don’t be! As long as you have the expertise in your brand and field as well as great content that allows your website’s pages to easily achieve their purposes, you’re doing great.

E-A-T and Your Digital Strategy

At a high level, if your content has all three, then you have little cause for concern. On the other hand, if you lack all three (or even feel you could be doing better in one) you should begin to allocate resources now to building them. As with many aspects of SEO, this takes time, so get prepared to work towards it over the long haul.

To start, find someone who can review your site to determine how you fare on these sorts of factors. Pretty much anyone can do this with little (if any) formal training and a little help from Google’s Search Quality Guidelines. If every article is written by an expert in that field, the links correctly call this out, internal linking follows suit, and your content is current, you are likely positioning your site for success. If there is a weak point in any of these areas, you need to put resources against it now. The more you wait, the farther behind you may become given competition is likely investing in these areas, and Google and other search engines will reward that effort.