Make it easy for your customers to find you online

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Have you ever tried searching Google for the best industrial roofing contractor in Grand Rapids only for it to return a list of websites on pottery trends in New Zealand?

Of course not.

Google and search engines like Bing and Yahoo! earn trillions of dollars by helping your customers find your specific products, services and insights at the snap of their fingers. They would close their doors tomorrow if they didn’t.

So why aren’t more customers banging on your door if search is so great? You might need to become a little better acquainted with how search engines work.

With the coronavirus pandemic quickening online media consumption, you need a digital presence for your customers to find you. Digital public relations — technically called off-site search engine optimization — greatly increases that likelihood.

With big data, it’s possible for your company, the reporters who cover your market and the customers who buy your products to all get the information they need when they need it.

Here is how it works.

News outlets pay journalists to write enlightening stories people will read and engage with. More people reading articles, listening to podcasts or subscribing to newsletters on their website equals more money they can charge paid advertisers. Some news media organizations pay reporters per page click to align compensation with ad revenue.

Reporters rely on companies, industry leaders and market influencers for news and analysis on trends to earn page clicks. The result is that your customers find the news and information they need to solve their challenges.

It’s swipe right on Tinder when journalists give readers, listeners and viewers information that’s desired and relative. The best part is you can now track and measure each part of the digital process.

Here’s how to make digital PR work for you.

Research and compare relevant keywords for your company and your competitors on Google Trends, Moz Keyword Explorer or Ahrefs. Then, research terms people are looking for. Once you capture the right words, find reporters, podcasters and bloggers who use them the most.

Remember that the job of a journalist is to get valuable facts to their readers. They receive tens if not hundreds of mostly irrelevant pitches and press releases every week. They will only make time for you when you offer them something unique, informative and intriguing to write about.

Your audience might not subscribe to or read massive outlets like The Wall Street Journal or The New York Times, but you can often find influential reporters, podcasters and bloggers who effectively deliver your message to niche audiences that are most appropriate to your business.

When you connect with a reporter to place an article, mention their news website, podcast or blog on social media to promote it. Repurpose the content with the same and similar keywords on your company website.

Ensure that you link to the original article to boost the news site’s page rankings and search results. You can offer journalists and their news sites added value with your own built-in online community. They more than likely will return the favor.

Such links generate value and increase website authority long after a story is published or posted, unlike traditional broadcast and print platforms.

Finally, know that the process takes time. Paid online advertising returns quick buys, while organic online PR is a long game to influence future buying. They are not the same and don’t deliver similar results. In fact, there’s a sturdy bridge for sale in the New York area for anyone who believes an effective digital PR campaign can move the needle in less than six months.

Instead of going for the quick hard cash, see how keywords and backlinks are driving customers to your website with effective web tools like Google Analytics, SimilarWeb and SEMRush. The data can reveal trends that better position your services, goods and business.

Digital public relations is now ensuring honesty, transparency, accuracy and responsibility from everyone involved.

You are in control of your data. Work with search engines and online social and news media resources to ensure your customers can find you when they need you.

Dave Yonkman is president of the public and digital media relations firm DYS Media in Holland.

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