The beginning of the year marks the start of annual PR planning for many organizations. While the classic components of messaging adjustments and media list refinement are still important, few brands effectively incorporate SEO data to enhance their strategies. If you’re a beginner to search, this can seem like a daunting task.
Here are three simple ways to leverage search data to help maximize the impact of the coverage you earn and the content you create. For simplicity, the how-to portion of each recommendation begins with logging into your SEO tool provider of choice (e.g., SEMrush, Moz, Ahrefs).
Use backlink gaps to refresh your media lists
It’s easy for media lists to become stale with the same old vertical and trade publications. SEO data provides an excellent opportunity to shake things up by identifying publications that have already covered and linked to your key competitors but not you—yet. The technical term for this exercise is a “link gap analysis,” but it’s not as complex as it sounds.
- Input your website as the primary domain within the backlink gap tool (SEMrush) and add up to three competitor domains.
- Weed out lower-quality websites by filtering only authority 50+ domains.
- Analyze findings and add all relevant publications to your media list. Pro tip: Tag these specific publications with “gap analysis” for easier tracking and organization.
Landscapes change rapidly, so do this quarterly for the greatest impact.
Identify cusp content to link to while developing content
Earning backlinks within coverage is critical for SEO success, but it’s becoming harder to accomplish. As a result, many organizations have stopped adding backlinks to their contributed content—not even giving themselves a chance. Generally, links to commercially focused landing pages don’t yield results. However, noncommercial, educational-based content will often allow backlinks because they add value for a reader exploring a topic further.
If the opportunity to include a link exists, make sure you’re linking to the right content. This is where SEO data can be incredibly helpful. Link to material ranking on the cusp of traffic-bearing position—posts ranking for keywords just off page one (positions 11-15 in standard search results) or just below the fold (positions 4-7).
To find this data, follow these general steps:
- Input your website within the organic research field and click the positions/ranking keywords tab.
- Filter out branded keywords (anything that contains your brand or product name).
- Filter by keywords ranking in position 11-15 and/or 4-7.
- Isolate 10-15 keywords ranking in these positions with a blog/resource-based URL.
- Organize by topic and distribute the list to the broader team for reference when developing content.
Once you have the data, linking to these URLs gets a lot easier and helps to maximize the impact of great content you’ve already written. Sometimes one or two quality links are all it takes to move these keywords onto page one to drive meaningful traffic.
Use keyword insights to align messaging with audience behaviors
Messaging is also typically reviewed during annual planning and is another area where search data can help immensely. The language your audience uses has likely changed since last year—particularly in fast-moving B2B technology spaces. Keywords you’ve historically used to define your brand and various products/services should also evolve.
Use keyword data to identify trends—a feature that all SEO tools have. To do so, follow these simple steps:
- Browse to the “Keyword Magic Tool” (SEMrush) or equivalent feature your tool has.
- Enter your priority keyword.
- Look at the trend line of the keyword itself. Is it rising? Falling? Staying the same?
- Explore other term variations to identify similar phrases that are gaining interest and earning more monthly searches.
- Complete this exercise for all of your primary targeted keywords and make notes of additional keywords to use for each.
Not only will these subtle changes make a difference in actually engaging with your target audience with the content you produce, but they also will increase the chances of it ranking for terms that align with their current search behaviors.
Using search data isn’t as overwhelming as it may seem on the surface. These three techniques will help improve your annual plan and catalyze the change needed to more aggressively move the needle for your earned and owned content strategy in 2022.