Google’s John Mueller had kind words for Digital PR in a Twitter discussion. He went so far as to say in many cases Digital PR is more critical than Technical SEO.
What is Digital PR?
Digital PR is basically just building awareness and popularity.
The short description of the strategy could be framed as: Create something worth linking to and tell others about it.
This is something I’ve been doing for fifteen years, way before the practice had a name.
Why Digital PR?
I’ve used this strategy for fifteen years, out of necessity, for building links to corporate B2B sites.
Back in the day, one couldn’t engage in desperate low level link strategies like reciprocal linking with a B2B corporate site.
So I had to come up with popularity-building strategies that wouldn’t raise eyebrows at the corporate HQ.
It’s basically link building with one arm tied behind your back.
The 2021 edition of low level desperation link building is guest posting, which in general is off the table for B2B companies.
Link strategies that are good enough for an affiliate site are inappropriate for a corporate site.
What’s left is what some are calling Digital PR.
But there’s no clear definition of what Digital PR is. That’s why some definitions found online encompass everything an affiliate site would do to build links, including guest posting.
Clearly, some definitions of Digital PR are just a re-brand of low level link building.
But it’s not necessarily a re-brand of low-level link building, as John Mueller reflected on it in a discussion on Twitter.
John Mueller on Digital PR
The discussion began with a tweet discussing how the difficulties in recruiting for digital PR.
“So digital PR/link building recruitment is kinda mad at the moment, but one good thing I think that will come of it is digital PR salaries rising. Tech SEO has traditionally been far better paid (still is) but it’s nice to see digital PR talent being valued.”
So digital PR/link building recruitment is kinda mad at the moment, but one good thing I think that will come of it is digital PR salaries rising. Tech SEO has traditionally been far better paid (still is) but it’s nice to see digital PR talent being valued.
— Louise (@louisevparker) January 23, 2021
Then John Mueller commented on Digital PR:
“I love some of the things I see from digital pr, it’s a shame it often gets bucketed with the spammy kind of link building. It’s just as critical as tech SEO, probably more so in many cases.”
I love some of the things I see from digital pr, it's a shame it often gets bucketed with the spammy kind of link building. It's just as critical as tech SEO, probably more so in many cases.
— 🍌 John 🍌 (@JohnMu) January 23, 2021
Bill Slawski (@bill_slawski) commented in the Twitter discussion on how digital PR can be a part of a fully considered SEO strategy:
“Digital Pr and SEO together can work very well. I find myself puzzled by people who insist the digital PR is a thing to itself & SEO works by itself, because I know how effective they can be when used together.
A campaign that using both can be a very effective.”
One person in the discussion wondered if relevance should be considered. My thoughts are that in general only relevant sites are going to link to content that is useful to them.
Would love to hear more about how relevance should be considered within digital PR campaigns. Lots of debate about that.
— Mark Johnstone (@epicgraphic) January 23, 2021
Is Digital PR Just a Buzzword?
A developer with Yoast was doubtful about the concept of Digital PR, remarking that it may be, in some instances, a term used for link buying.
He also suggested that a company spending money on PR might be able to unfairly influence Google.
And I think that glorifying digital PR, over doing the hard work of *being a good solution to the problems of an audience* is bad for brands, and the web. I want a search engine to return the best results, not the company which paid an agency the most to launch a fancy microsite.
— Jono Alderson (@jonoalderson) January 23, 2021
Jono wasn’t the only person who was skeptical. The discussion spilled over onto Facebook where I saw some people commenting on their feeds that link builders were going to rush out and rebrand as Digital PR.
Nevertheless, it’s good to see some corners of the search marketing industry begin to open up to a way of marketing that isn’t directly tied to ranking but rather approaches growing a site through activities that help a site become popular.
It might seem odd to suggest that a way to rank better is to become popular. But Google tries to rank sites that people trust and enjoy, which is what that Expertise, Authoritativeness and Trustworthiness (EAT) is partly about.
So why not get out of the SEO box for a moment and at least think of non-SEO ways to make a site popular?