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« Posterous is Changing How I Think About Blogging | Main | links for 2009-06-08 »

Search Engine Visibility and PR - An Edelman Digital White Paper

Regular readers here know that in addition to focusing on emerging technologies, I also have long taken an interest in how search engines are evolving. Fundamentally, I believe that Google is media and also every brand's home page. Therefore, search engine visibility (and all of the reputational concerns that go with it) are front and center an opportunity for the public relations industry to shine.

With this in mind, my colleagues and I have co-authored a 13-page position paper on Search Engine Visibility. We released it to our clients last month but now we are making it available to the public today at the Edelman New Media Academic Summit in Washington. You can download it here (PDF). It's also embedded below. This is the second in a series - the first is here.

In the paper we posit that today there are two primary search visibility tactics: Paid Search (more widely known as search engine marketing - SEM) and Optimized Search (e.g. SEO). Both of these are generally not managed by public relations professionals.

Now, however, there are two new disciplines emerging. And both sit squarely in the public relations professional's domain...

  • Reputational Search - The premise and promise of Reputational Search is that any company, NGO or brand can apply a search mindset to tried-and-true PR tactics and, in the process, influence the search results around certain keywords.

  • Social Search - With Google and competitors increasingly prioritizing social content from Flickr, blogs, Twitter and others in result pages, it is imperative that brands build out "embassies" in all relevant networks – places where employees work to serve the interests of the community, as well as their company.

If you read the paper you will see that we are convinced that search engines for the foreseeable future will have a critical impact on how brands are perceived - far more so than any single social network site, which tend to come and go. As always, we're interested in your views. Please share them below or on Twitter or Friendfeed.

Reader Comments (13)

Great post. As a blog which ranks for the key terms I write about I am now being asked to write very careful about the people I interview. My blog sometimes rank about them for their businesses key terms and often I rank for their name and company name on the first page of google and a good review can be vital especially for a new company.
June 10, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterMurray Newlands
No offence but hasn't search always been this way?

People have used Google to find a plumber for years and will continue for the foreseeable future, I don't see anything much new here.
June 11, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterChris
I like the idea of building blogger "embassies." General Mills did this about a month ago with a bunch of mom bloggers. Great idea if you ask me.
June 11, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterjlbraaten
Chris has a point. Google is already every brand's homepage right now. What I can say in the near future are innovations and more Google-like giants that will compete each other to fill in the market share of marketing online.
June 12, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterVic
Chris does have a point, it's an interesting paper - optimise your PR for search, join the conversation, understand Google's importance in the user journey (pre and post purchase).

Most digital marketers who have spoken to a search agency will be aware of these points. A CEO may find this useful, to understand what her team is doing and probably would be pleased that her team has it on their radar. At this level getting an understanding of generics, brand, branded generics, navigational, transactional and long tail keywords is a good thing.

For me it says more about the scramble for 'ownership' of social media, everyone is making a play for it and flexing their muscles in disciplines they are not fully versed in. Who will win the social media land grab? The PR agency, creative, search? The winners will be the agencies who can rally talent across all disciplines.
June 13, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterGary Reid
Good idea. I have many years experience over internet. Although Google has great importance as a business promoter yet it has no market in front of TV cable advertisements and newspapers advertisements in Pakistan. However search engines has better importance for international brands.
June 14, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterseowebpromotionservice
One day businesses will realize that everyone is fed up with being bombarded with targeted advertising intruding in their lives. The future is to be where consumers look when they're ready to buy. That's why SEM is the way to go.
June 14, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterFrugalocal
SEO will become one of the main reasons why organisations will want to use PR. As you say, SEO is visibility and when the SEO technology bits are in place it is all up to PR to create content to make the digital presence alive so that Google want to find it.

I wrote a post on how I think the PR agency needs to be digitally transformed.
June 14, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterOlle Ahnve
Gained the very useful information about two searches social and reputational search.Thanks for sharing.
June 17, 2009 | Unregistered Commenteragnes
nice blog
June 18, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterasec
Good one.The primary objective behind search engine optimization is to ensure better rankings, and thus, social book marking has emerged as an effective tool for providing back links and getting higher traffic, which in turn help in securing better Search Engine Rankings.

June 19, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterSEO
Great SEO stuff. In the battle for top rankings one can not have enough info
June 19, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterCheap VPS
Excellent paper Steve which throws a bit of academic rigour behind an otherwise noisy argument. I struggle with this for clients in discussing what I call Smart Business Design. SEM can be expensive for return. The Social Search and building of Embassies strategy is just too hard for anyone running a 'real' business and is dominated by the stay-at-home aggregators trying to get rich on the Internet.

And with most reputation self-qualified and unsubstantiated Trust is becoming the victim.

Paul McKey
June 21, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterPaul McKey

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