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Austin Paley

How to Use SEMrush to Inform PR Initiatives

Austin Paley
How to Use SEMrush to Inform PR Initiatives

The world of public relations has changed in recent years. Newer tools and technologies have made it simpler and easier to reach specific audiences, and the evolution of search engine optimization has created a more complex PR process that requires a strong strategy and understanding of SEO best practices. Although traditional PR best practices haven’t changed much, digital PR has changed dramatically as it has become a major player in the realm of SEO and digital media relations.

Digital PR operates quite similarly to traditional PR. However, the main objective focuses on driving website traffic from online media placements, while still increasing offline brand awareness. This type of PR is typically measured by the types of placements secured, examining things such as the domain authority of the media outlet, quality and quantity of the links amassed back to your website, and keyword rankings relevant to those placements. Ultimately, digital PR has become such an important component to nearly all marketing strategies because of its ability to help promote a brand to an online audience, and its crucial role in generating high-quality links for SEO purposes.

The SEO and Digital PR Relationship

Although it is fairly straightforward at face value, it’s important to understand the specifics that form the relationship between SEO and digital PR. In theory, the more media placements you secure online, the more likely you are to receive a link back to your website. When you are cited as a source, a quote is attributed to you, or someone gives credit to your products or services in some way, it’s more or less standard for editors to give a link to their audiences to provide context, and while this isn’t new for PR, the importance of the link has grown considerably as SEO algorithms have started to understand quality of links over sheer quantity.  

The more authoritative links you generate to your website, the better your SEO will be – since a strong backlink profile is one of several key contributors to improving your search engine rankings.

Most marketing professionals understand the relationship between SEO and digital PR, however a lot of those with a strictly traditional PR background don’t always have a strong sense of what they need to do to make sure their efforts provide SEO results.

When it comes to digital PR, SEMrush is an excellent tool for identifying the right opportunities and helping to shape PR decisions that will promote long-term growth for your brand online through search engine visibility. Its features allow you to determine what to pursue in order to fulfill the needs of both users and search engines alike.

How Can I Identify Existing Page-Level Opportunities?

While securing a new placement in a reputable news outlet is a good start when looking to gain temporary publicity for your brand, thinking about a more long-term strategy focused on driving referral traffic back to your website consistently over time by looking for existing content you can add to or update is often a more effective approach in the digital world. To do so, it’s essential that you identify specific page-level opportunities that will provide long term traffic benefits, and SEMrush makes this process quite easy.

With SEMrush, you can look at a certain domain that is relevant to your industry, and identify existing pages on that domain that rank well for keywords that already receive large amounts of monthly traffic. Once you’ve identified a page on the site, it is a lot easier to know for certain that an opportunity to get your brand included on that page will be worth your time.

This approach varies slightly from traditional PR, as you’re examining an article that has already been published, but it does a great job at achieving the core objective of digital PR of driving links and traffic back to your site. Once the specific page has been identified, you can then implement your PR best practices to try and inject yourself or your brand into that existing conversation.

Offer to help improve the piece by updating the article with new information, or by sharing insights from your company’s experts. Leveraging the value that your brand’s products, services, or people can bring to an outlet’s readers has the potential to directly contribute to your website traffic (and theirs!) – if done correctly.


How Can I Determine the Likelihood of This Content Being Evergreen?

Very similar to the point above, evergreen content that consistently performs well over time can have a lot of long-term value for brands. Many PR professionals will focus most of their efforts on getting that one big placement, but as previously addressed, those in the digital PR world understand the importance of content that goes beyond that and performs well in the future as opposed to temporarily in the present. The Organic and Advertising reports in SEMrush let you look at how a domain’s keyword rankings perform over time, allowing you to understand more thoroughly how a website is trending in terms of keyword word growth and overall SEO stability.

Understanding this will help you better understand whether or not you can count on a domain to maintain rankings, or if it looks more likely to fall off due to shady SEO practices or lack of new inbound links or content. When choosing where you want to place a specific piece of content this can be an important consideration so you get the most long term value for all the hard work you put into the content you created – whether that’s an article, a release, a quote, or a piece of multimedia like an image or video. Thought leadership takes time and effort and you want to know that a piece you’ve worked hard on will perform well over time and not just when it’s initially published.

Similarly, with the help of SEMrush you can home in on which sections or columns of a website perform particularly well. Look at which areas are the most authoritative and garner the most traffic, and then shape your media outreach around that data. Consider a top-tier media outlet for those in the marketing industry as an example. Perhaps their social media section continues to rank better than their digital advertising section does. If so, when you’re pitching your marketing expertise, it should be a no-brainer that you’re going to highlight a social media story in your initial pitch to that specific outlet.

With most media placements, you’ll likely receive an initial burst of traffic from the article going live and the social media push issued by the news outlet. While that type of content performs well in the moment, there is a good chance it won’t have a lot of longevity. Understanding how the outlet has ranked over the last 10-12 months can shed a lot of light on where to invest your time working with a certain source. When looking in SEMrush, if you see that certain website’s content isn’t trending downwards, then you can make a fair judgement call that their brand isn’t in trouble – and neither is your piece’s exposure on their site.   


How Do I Decide Where To Pitch Exclusives?

Exclusive pitches are very popular in the world of PR and journalism – on both the digital and the traditional end. Maybe you have big news about your company that could impact readers, or perhaps your design team has created a really great infographic that provides significant value to your audience. Creating this content takes a lot of the time, and you want to exclusively offer this type of material to a relevant, top-tier media outlet to get the most exposure possible. But how do you know which source to offer it to?

When it comes to exclusivity, you’re sacrificing potential exposure across other channels in the hopes that one specific media outlet will provide better results than multiple (often smaller) outlets could have. Therefore, it’s no surprise that you want to go after a source that is not only well-regarded, but will consistently generate high quality content that attracts droves of users in the present AND future. By using SEMrush you can take a look at seemingly similar content (like other infographics, for example) on several sites and decide what has performed the best historically, so that you can identify what outlet will offer your content the most value. By doing some competitive analysis and looking at domain overviews, or scanning through the overall traffic reports in the keywords tab, you can understand which outlets will most likely provide sustainable, long-term success. An outlet with consistently high keyword rankings will likely be the best bet for your brand—especially when you’re relying on the performance of one domain to directly influence the exposure of your content.   

Using SEMrush for Your Digital PR Needs

Digital PR and SEO are closely associated, and more and more recently digital PR is becoming an absolute necessity in order to achieve success in the world of SEO. Capturing the interest of users online is steadily becoming more important than capturing those offline in a lot of ways. By leveraging digital PR and SEO together, each channel can help enhance and reinforce the overall efforts of the other one. Without PR practices, SEO falls short in terms of garnering relevant links back to your website – a key contributor to strong SEO. On the other hand, if your placements and media mentions aren’t appearing in search engines when users are trying to find a solution to their problem, your digital PR initiatives won’t be nearly as meaningful as they could be. 

As a tool, SEMrush is undoubtedly one of the most efficient in helping to make decisions about media outreach that will improve the value you provide to users on a consistent basis, and the increased recognition your brand will see in return.

Austin Paley is the Corporate Marketing Communications Manager at Blue Fountain Media, a digital agency that focuses on results-driven solutions for companies ranging from start-ups to Fortune 1000.

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