There exists an age old rivalry between PR and SEO attribution.. “What lead to the traffic increase and which one should we do?” The answer is simple, and there is now sufficient evidence thanks to a number of studies which have been released in 2017 which show that doing both SEO and PR simultaneously will accelerate your return on investment in both channels!

The cliff notes and summary of this is as follows:

  1. PR activity and media mentions has a statistically proven relationship with the number of backlinks and mentions that your site has.
  2. The amount of backlinks and mentions that your site has a statistically proven relationship with your visibility on the first page of google, and this has a direct relationship with your traffic and sales.
  3. Technical SEO and User driven relevance on your site is a key gate keeper to more rankings. Without these 2, you will de-accellerate any returns you get from PR and conversely by working on both simultaneously you will get a materially better result!

It is important that we have a clear understanding of what SEO is when done properly and this will reveal exactly how important PR is and how the two correlate together so closely. To me, White hat SEO is all about improving the visibility your website has in the Google natural results. What determines where you place within these results comes down to three key factors or pillars of SEO

  1. Technical relevance: Your website needs to be technically relevant to Google, and Google must be able to efficiently and effectively crawl through your website to determine exactly what your website is about. The things your SEO will focus on here is
  2. Your site meta data, schema and other “back end” SEO elements which send positive signals to the search engines to tell them what your site and business is about

This makes up about 20% of where you rank.

  1. User driven relevance: User Driven relevance is all about ensuring that your website has the right type of content to service your users needs. Let’s take an example of the following
  2. Your site structure: Do we have the right structure on our site to service how people are looking for our business? Take for example a Fashion businesses, recent studies of Google conducted by Online Marketing Gurus show that women search for dresses in over 1600 different ways! Our websites menu, navigation and categories should shape how people search
  3. A recent case study of ours saw a sites visibility in Google’s top 10 pages increase over 9 fold by recategorising their “Dress” category on a client site, Hello Molly Fashion into more diverse and specific categories with their own content, landing page, url and title tag!

This makes up 20% of where you rank.

  1. THE MOST IMPORTANT factor is your Domain Authority and popularity: To put it simply, Google wants to rank legitimate businesses that are being talked about. The last thing you want when you google a phrase is to find random businesses that have gamed their way to get to the top. Google’s algorithm looks at several key factors to determine who exactly is an “authority” such as
  2. The number of mentions you have around the web
  3. The quality of the people talking about you/linking to you
  4. The growth of your mentions over time

This makes up 60% of your site visibility within the organic rankings.

This is why PR has such a strong relationship with SEO.

PR is a fantastic, if not the best way of earning natural links outside of pure play SEO and Content outreach. Here is the data and studies which help back that claim.

The two key studies which helped uncover this were by Brian Dean, and SEMRush. Massive props to both Brian a maverick and idol of mine in the SEO space and SEMRush being the top competitor analysis tool in conducting such great studies to demystify this topic.

Study 1:

Brian Dean: “We Analyzed 1 Million Google Search Results. Here’s What We Learned About SEO ( Source: ) ”

This particular study looked at over 1,000,000 different websites to look at the relationship between different factors and your SEO rankings. The key takeaways are as follows…

  1. “Backlinks remain an extremely important Google ranking factor. We found the number of domains linking to a page correlated with rankings more than any other factor.”
  2. “Our data also shows that a site’s overall link authority (as measured by Ahrefs Domain Rating) strongly correlates with higher rankings”

Source 1: As you can see below, as the number of mentions you have on different websites (referring domains) increases, so does the likelihood of your position on page 1 . More mentions therefore likely means higher rankings on page 1, and higher rankings on page 1 means more traffic. This study is further backed up by other statistical analysis in another study to be mentioned later in this piece.

Source 2: As your domain link authority increases, so does your position on page 1 of Google! Domain link authority is again predominantly determined by the number of mentions you have around the web and the quality of those sites linking to you!


Ultimate SEO Guide

Study Number 2:

SEMRush Ranking Factors 2.0

This study looked at over 600,000 keywords and close to 1 million websites also to look at relationships with different SEO activities and website rankings. Below you can see the top ranking factors ranked. In our interpretation this again shows a massive relationship between PR and SEO (as good statisticians we can’t claim causation of course.)


Key takeaways and cliff-notes:

  1. Your direct website visits seems to have a very strong relationship with rankings: This makes perfect sense, and again has a strong link to PR. Typically businesses which spend more on PR and above the line marketing, have a higher amount of brand searches for their name. Brands with more brand searches tend to be more authoritative and have more natural links/are being talked about more online!
  2. The total number of referring domains/backlinks again has a super strong relationship with your rankings. Again, the best way outside of standalone SEO to get backlinks and mentions is through PR and media publications!

Theory in action. Here are 2 case studies where we stacked SEO+PR together and some fantastic results (1 of which generated more than $1.5 million in annualised sales increases for a fast growing fashion boutique.)

Online Marketing Gurus have done our own testing to show the relationship between PR and SEO by “stacking” PR on top of our SEO activities to accelerate results. See below just two case studies where we saw growth in excess of 300% by including PR as well as our normal SEO activities to drive growth:

Below is the overall visibility of a site we worked on in the Chocolate space. We focused on Technical SEO, Content production and PR+Backlinks to drive results. Our PR campaign helped get this client featured in Seven news a well as several other major media publications

The Results

  1. Increase in overall rankings from under 50 keywords to over 787 keywords in the top 10 pages of Google
  2. A 3 X increase in sales generated by Organic Search
  3. Traffic more than tripled and the rate of organic traffic growth accelerated after “stacking” PR

Case study 2:

Combining SEO and PR to grow one of Australia’s fastest growing fashion boutiques sales from $130k/month to over $330k/month in 18 months

With this client we worked very closely with them to do the following:

  1. Adjust their technical SEO and relevance to better suit their target market ( rolling out new detailed categories and content for all their key “dress categories”)
  2. Worked on a targeted linkbuilding strategy to gain strong links on key pages to bump their rankings.
  3. Engaged a publicist to work on pure play PR strategies to earn lot’s of natural links and mentions on SMH and other sites.

The results: At project inception we had less than 350 keywords in the top 10 pages of Google, by 18 months we were well over 2000 as well as ranking for the most competitive keywords like “Playsuits” and “Party dresses” in the top 5 spots.

  • Organic sales increase from $130k/month to over $330k/month for a yearly investment of less than 100k

What can you do specifically to get a better ROI out of your SEO/PR activities…

  1. Engaging a publicist on an SEO project is a great way to accelerate the return on investment you’re getting. More mentions, means better rankings and more traffic.
  2. Engaging an SEO on your PR project will ensure you are getting the maximum return on your investment from those activities.

Media mentions, likes and shares are great, but if you’re website can’t be understood by Google due to technical issues, a lack of follow links, and poor structure you will be wasting the lions share of online benefit you should receive. Engaging an SEO team with your PR project! PS.. I know a guy 😉

Ensure that your media mentions are checked by your SEO to ensure that you are sending the right type of traffic and links to the right place to integrate with your SEO plan. Where your publications link to is super important.

For a complimentary SEO audit by yours truly please visit my personal landing page here and fill in your details, this is a fully custom 50+ page audit of you, your competitors, and a full 12 month SEO Success plan.

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Mez Homayunfard
Head of Agency Partnerships
Mez is one of the Co Founders of Online Marketing Gurus and heads up Online Marketing Gurus Agency Partnerships. Mez is a keynote speaker , Ecommerce SEO Specialist and Strategist with an avid interest in offsite SEO. Mez was the CEO of the Company till February 2017 and helped see the company become a BRW Fast Starter 2 times, Optus Business Award Finalist and Deloitte Fast 50 as well as Fast 1000 company