In Public Relations we need to divide the practice into three areas, Programming, Content and Relationships.
I do not mean that we as communication professionals should take charge of programming a website, or even optimizing the software on our own.
I do however mean to say that it is important to have a small grasp of the technology which powers a website, how it works and what alternatives are available. There are also several features of a website that make it more accessible to search engines, such as readable URLs, sitemaps and a careful semantic structure.
Most of the time, PR practitioners will focus on building good Content. In fact, great content is still of the utmost importance. We can divide this area into two main concerns, one is providing Content with a good structure and organization, in which case Matt Cutt’s videos on SEO are a great help in understanding how content must be written for the web.
Another concern is in building relevant content. This means first and foremost to be aware of the publics that surround us and what their interests are. The next step is in finding common ground, and if it doesn’t exist we must take charge in building it.
Only we know to whom we are reaching out can we look into ways of building relevant content and becoming relevant to them.
We build relationships of all forms and sizes, some positive, others neutral or negative. And the truth of the matter is that the Web was built to allow relationships to form, specially those relationships that lead to collaboration and cooperation.
When we create a website and publicize it, it ripples through the web resonating to a greater or lesser extent with its constituents. If the content is actually useful and valuable, it will be linked too, and while it is being linked to, in an underlying and sometimes unconscious process it is being given a set of psycho-sociological values.
We can reinforce this effect with advertising, relevant link exchanges, sponsored links in SERP, or any other artificial means. However, these tactics will prove less successful if our online discourse lacks relevance to a number of publics and to a certain context.
A SEO plan will only prove effective if it includes these three areas, focusing on just one of them or simply not taking the time to coordinate efforts between the PR department and the Webdesign team will result in erratic results.