There’s some good reading in Why PR agencies should own SEO, but often dont deserve to on the Smart Insights blog. The article refers to an original which is also worth a read. The author draws attention to the impact in the last 18 months of Google’s updates to its algorithm which attempt to make search more relevant for users and punish sites which it deems “low quality”. One of them, “Panda”, put the emphasis on trustworthiness, design, speed and rates of visitor returns. The other, “Penguin”, attacks dodgy search engine optimisation (SEO) techniques such as keyword stuffing, duplicate content and link schemes.
“In a nutshell”, says the article, “the onus in order to rank highly on Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs) is now on quality, engaging content with inbound links from authoritative and diverse sites and social signals Facebook likes, tweets, +1s, comments etc. all acting in Googles eyes as ‘votes’ for that website. And which marketing department should be able to best manage all these fields and the online communities around them? It should be PR.”
Ten years ago, there were black arts involved in SEO, which it was sensible to hand over to specialist consultants. But in 2012, responsibility for getting your site on the first page of Google is down to whoever creates your company’s written output, whether it’s done in-house, or by an external agency. Throwing money at “SEO specialists” is becoming increasingly pointless when the strongest weapon available in SEO has become creating content, something they’re unlikely to be able to do as well as you (or your PR company). You just need to ensure that your written material is produced with one eye on the search engines, and placed where it can have the most impact.