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Measuring the ROI of Online Public Relations

Posted by Media Relations on Wednesday, July 1st, 2009 - Comments »

Measuring the return on investment from online marketing and PR efforts is essential as an indication of success as well as a feedback mechanism to guide subsequent efforts.

Determining the effectiveness of SEO for Public Relations starts with clearly identified objectives. Matching the purpose for the effort with specific metrics is essential.  For example, if improving brand visibility is a goal, then documenting brand mentions in connection with news & PR content at regular intervals can demonstrate the effect of content promotion and link building.

Online PR metrics and tools often include:

  • News wire service metrics (see screen capture below)
  • Web analytics for landing pages and web site
  • Google and Yahoo alerts
  • Monitor blog search engines (via RSS)
  • Press release landing page conversion tracking
  • Social media monitoring
  • Inbound links
  • Pickups on blogs
  • Pickups on other web sites & online publications
  • News and Standard Search Engine Rankings
  • Conversions: Less likely sales, more likely white paper downloads, webinar signups, newsletter subscriptions, demos, etc

A press release that is keyword optimized and announcing a promotional offer of some kind, should have tracking codes added to the links embedded in the release. Those links should point to landing pages designed to convert visitors from the press release to the desired outcome. Ranking is not a worthwhile metric in this case but conversions are.

Capturing various measures and key performance indicators isn’t enough to gain support for optimizing news content in many organizations.  These efforts belong within the Public Relations effort and should emphasize goals consistent with PR objectives. Sometimes it takes a little creative packaging of analytics to help other departments or upstream executives “get” the value of  optimizing PR content for search.

Here are a few tactics to use in order to sell the value of SEO within a PR effort:

  • Show competitor social search visibility vs client/company
  • Show competitor’s optimized news content ranking in various types of search engines where the company/client is not (and probably should be)
  • Research a keyword glossary and run a ranking report on those phrases. Show the lack of search visibility for what search audiences are actually looking for, relevant to the business
  • Run a test of a few news items, whether they be blog posts, press releases or a digital asset like video. Take a benchmark measurement first and then show progress.
  • Set keyword ranking goals for news content and estimate the cost to achieve the same goals with PPC advertising over time. Demonstrate the cost of organic search traffic vs PPC traffic.

If you can’t get budget approval for an overall search campaign as part of specific PR efforts, then using a competitive example or a small scale test might be enough to demonstrate the value of incorporating SEO with Public Relations.

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