For centuries, businesses have employed public relations (PR) strategies as a way to build authority and increase their stature to stand out among their competitors. Done right, PR is a highly cost-effective way to boost a company’s authority. And, in no other industry is authority – which equates to trust – more critical than in the asset management industry.
More recently, search engine optimization (SEO) has become an essential method for increasing a brand’s search engine visibility and authority on the internet. Without an effective SEO strategy, a company’s website is likely to languish in obscurity, never to be found by the tens of millions of people searching for relevant content each hour of the day.
Very similar objectives, but an increasing number of firms are realizing that a good PR strategy can’t accomplish what a good SEO strategy can – that is, to ensure your firm’s content is actually found by the people who actually want it.
Why More Firms Don’t Combine PR and SEO
Considering that the vast majority of people use internet search engines such as Google to find the content they want and that quality content is an integral part of a successful SEO strategy, marrying PR with SEO would seem like a match made in heaven. So, why aren’t more firms doing it?
Even for firms that utilize both PR and SEO, they are often viewed as two different strategies supporting two different channels. Most firms continue to use traditional offline PR methods, such as press releases, reporter outreach, interviews and bylined article placement to get their message out. Some firms also use SEO, but they tend to utilize it one-dimensionally, typically just to garner clicks.
Asset Managers Don’t Need Clicks. They Need Authority
This siloed approach to PR and SEO is not surprising considering most PR pros aren’t taught SEO, and most SEO pros aren’t taught PR. But the few pros on either side who know and understand the significance of integrating the two, or firms who commit to internal or external expertise in both, can achieve both domain and industry authority, which can be invaluable in the asset management industry.
Let’s face it, firms that appear first on Google – whether through organic search or paid ads – are perceived as an established and trusted authority, regardless of their actual standing in the industry. Even if they don’t get a massive number of click-throughs, they win by gaining top-of-mind awareness. In that regard, an effective SEO strategy can do more for a business than an expensive ad campaign.
PR and SEO: A Natural Collaboration with Shared Goals
You could think of PR and SEO as the art and science of building brand presence. The art is in creating compelling content that converts, while the science is in determining the ways in which the content gets read by the people it’s targeting. Over time, the art becomes more refined by the science and the data it generates to keep moving the content up the search engine rankings.
The SEO team focuses on increasing search engine visibility by optimizing all of the static and timely content on a website – insights articles, commentaries, white papers, among other things. They also select the right keywords and key phrases to be used in the content and optimize the links in all earned media coverage. They also drill into the details of SEO by providing proper descriptions for images added to the content.
The PR team assists the SEO team by creating opportunities for backlinks to the firm’s website from high-ranking sites. When PR scores a guest contribution or a mention in a publication, it can include a backlink to your website that increases its search engine ranking. SEO helps PR in choosing the right links to include in their content.
How SEO and PR Work Together
SEO is not an exact science. That’s because SEO best practices evolve frequently based on the ever-changing algorithms the search engines use to improve their results. The job of SEO – whether it is in-house or outsourced – is to stay on top of the changes to ensure its methods and techniques are current.
The job of PR is to ensure the firm looks the part of an authority. Your SEO can be right on target, but if your content is of poor quality or visitors arrive at an outdated website, it could all be for naught. If you have a nice-looking website, but there’s no commitment to timely, SEO-friendly content, Google won’t take it seriously. If it has performance issues – i.e., it slower than it should be, or it’s not a secure website – it can hurt your relationship with Google. Or, if your portfolio manager doesn’t know how to present himself, your firm won’t appear to have authority.
An effective SEO strategy can help to increase a firm’s visibility and internet authority, which is critical in this digital age. It’s through the search results pages that many of your future clients will be introduced to your firm. But, if your firm doesn’t do the necessary work to put its best public face forward and provide click-worthy content, it is destined to languish in obscurity.
Dan Sondhelm is CEO of Sondhelm Partners, a firm that helps asset managers, mutual funds, ETFs, wealth managers and fintech companies grow through marketing, public relations and sales programs. Click to read Dan’s latest Insight articles and to schedule a complimentary consultation.