ORM, PR, and SEO -- what are all of these acronyms for? Let's break them down, and then delve deeper into how they all fit together.
- ORM: (Online reputation management) is the repair and maintenance of a person, company, or other entity's online image.
- PR: (Public relations) is how organizations, businesses, and people communicate with the public and media.
- SEO: (Search Engine Optimization) is the effort made by online content creators (of words, images, videos, or other media) to help a website rank higher in search engine results.
If you want your brand to be successful, you’ve got to invest in how your business is seen by people who might buy your stuff.
- What is Public Relations?
- The Importance of SEO
- The Differences Between SEO and PPC
- What Do Industries That Can't Use PPC Do?
- How PPC and SEO Convert into Traffic
- The Complexities of SEO
- How Much Should I Budget for SEO vs. PPC?
- What Does Online Reputation Management Do?
What is Public Relations?
PR gets the word out, often via relationships with publishers public relations practitioners have developed over many years working in a specific industry.
PR is a general practice that works in both the traditional print and online worlds.
PR agencies often outsource specialty services like SEO, ORM, Pay-per-click (PPC) marketing, Facebook marketing, LinkedIn marketing, and other channels to specialists as part of a larger program to craft brand messages.
Larger companies will often have a PR specialist within the overall marketing department. The PR specialist's job is to work with other internal and external resources to complete the overall marketing objectives of the company. This may entail working with social media, content management, advertising, PPC, reputation management, and crisis management personnel.
PR for Smaller Companies
Smaller companies can often perform their own public relations by hiring a single person with a general knowledge of publisher outreach, SEO, social media, and a strong personal sales drive.
Smaller companies should understand some of the tools larger firms use to rank their content well in search results. This guide to creating content that ranks well should help.
The Importance of SEO
Like PR, SEO is a subset of marketing but its focus is purely digital. SEO is also something that businesses can implement on their own if they know how to go about it. For the purposes of this article, let's explore SEO a little deeper.
We'll provide some suggestions for how you can improve your SEO today.
You may think that connecting with customers on social media is more important than your site ranking high in search engines, but think again.
To put it into perspective, Twitter sees an average of 500 million tweets a day, and about 1.2 billion people regularly log on to Facebook. That's a lot of people.
But search engines get nearly 6 times that amount of attention, with over 6.5 billion searches being conducted every day.
The numbers tell a compelling story: search engines are one of the best places to connect with consumers, and businesses are missing out on a massive portion of the market if they don’t focus on the two most important factors in search engine marketing: SEO and PPC.
The first step? Focus on your Google game.
Why? Because it takes longer to gain traction but is far more valuable than PPC in the long run.
PPC is a "pay to play" tactic, whereas SEO involves an upfront investment for a time, but continues to provide value in the long run with far less investment.
Of 6.5 million daily searches, about 4.5 billion take place on Google
Of the 6.5 million daily searches, just about 4.5 billion take place on Google. While you shouldn’t ignore the nuances of Bing, Yahoo, and AOL’s search algorithms, your best bet is to channel most of your marketing efforts into effectively managing your presence on Google. Once you’ve got a good system going you can then determine how best to further optimize for other search engines.
The Differences Between SEO and PPC
As mentioned above, one of the major differences separating SEO and PPC is where the cost is assigned. Though you may want to consider spending some money on an SEO expert if your company doesn’t already have an employee knowledgeable on the topic, it doesn’t require much funding to put into play if your brand focuses on less competitive search terms.
With solid content, initial investment, and some basic optimization, SEO can be free in the long run. There are caveats, of course. For example - your content has to be worth the high rankings.
SEO can be free in the long run. PPC is never free.
PPC advertisements are just like traditional ads in that you pay for your spot and you pay to keep it. Whether that is ultimately worth it is something you won’t know until you put it into practice.
PPC ads appear at the top of a search listing page or in other designated spots, such as the right-hand column, or “rail.” They are directly called out as ads by a small green or yellow “Ad” logo and several ad words listed below the page description. PPC is never free, though.
SEO produces organic listings, of which there are many millions more, and those appear below the PPC ads on the page. Where you end up in the rankings list depends on how optimized your search engine efforts are.
Any company with enough cash in the bank can purchase an ad, but it takes real ingenuity and sometimes even luck to end up at the top of organic listings. It’s understandable then that so many businesses invest in PPC ads because, while expensive, they provide immediate gratification and are objectively trackable from day one. SEO, on the other hand, does have some risk to it, but the long-term payoff can be significant.
What Do Industries That Can't Use PPC Do?
Some industries cannot use pay-per-click (PPC), Facebook advertising, or other forms of paid promotion because of what they sell. For example:
- Other Weapons
- Spy Cams
- Inflammatory Religious Content
- Recreational Drugs
- Counterfeit Goods
- Tobacco Products
So what do industries that cannot advertise on Google or Facebook do? They rely on SEO and mailing lists to get the word out.
Companies that provide weapons information, like Gun Digest, get a raw deal with online advertisers, even though they don't actually sell weapons. So they rely on gun articles, free content giveaways to grow mailing lists, and lots of fresh content about things like concealed carry gear, gun care, and weapons reviews.
One frustrated company owner said he felt that Google and Facebook advertising executives lump gun information and child porn into the same bucket. Ouch.
How PPC and SEO Convert into Traffic
But let's say you are not working in a banned product or service category.
A correctly funded PPC ad ensures a guaranteed top spot for your page, but does that translate directly into traffic? Not necessarily.
In a UK study looking at over 1.4 billion searches, it was found that organic listings get 94% of the clicks. The 6% of clicks going to paid ads aren’t less valuable by any means, but they’re still only reaching a small portion of overall search users.
Organic listings get 94% of the clicks
In order to get the most bang for your buck out of PPC ads, it’s important to be deliberate in targeting and optimizing for the right queries and customers. The learning curve can be expensive, though.
Still, though they account for such a small percentage of overall clicks, PPC ads are more likely to convert into sales, the reason being that people who click on them are usually quite certain you are offering what they need.
It's also important to note that while SEO may get more clicks in total, they are not evenly distributed. In fact, the top three results get 68% of the organic traffic.
The top three search results get 68% of organic traffic
The Complexities of SEO
Google would have you believe that search engine optimization is simple. Just post great content and people will flock to your site. You'll magically be rewarded with awesome search results!
Unfortunately, it's only true once in... oh, we're guessing... "a billion" times.
Search engines use a host of known and unknown ranking factors that determine where your page ends up in the search results. It’s impossible to optimize for each individual factor, and Google and the other search engines like it this way. The best method is to diversify your efforts and plan an approach that targets several of the most well-understood factors that affect search engine results.
An effective SEO campaign will focus on a few areas:
- Content. We have clients who believe their weak content will rise to the top of search results just by building a bunch of great links to it. This is not true. Great content is absolutely key. We use a free Fertile Content Tool to ensure the written content we create is absolutely top-notch.
- Website optimization. Your website’s strengths and weaknesses play a large part in how trustworthy the search engines deem it to be. Page loading speed, mobile compatibility, and site security are all big features. A free service like Website Grader can help you figure out where your site stands.
- Keywords. The more keywords your page is associated with, the more opportunities it has to be picked up by the search engines. These terms and phrases exist within your content. The more optimized they are to specific search queries, the better. But the days of stuffing a bunch of keywords in a page are absolutely over.
- Backlinks. Search engines don’t only look at what’s on your page, they also look at who’s linking back to it. An established network of incoming links from reputable and relevant sites is one of the most effective ways to positively affect your SEO as well as ORM.
How Much Should I Budget for SEO vs. PPC?
At Reputation X, our SEO/PPC budget is allocated about 50/50. SEO is a long-term play combining content, site structure, and earned inbound links. PPC is short-term. We often start with PPC terms and try to get our pages to rank for the terms that are performing well in PPC using SEO. That way the benefits are longer lasting and effectively free.
There are benefits and drawbacks to both, but ultimately, SEO and PPC ads work together to form a well-rounded online marketing campaign.
SEO is a slower, more tedious process, though, so if you’re just getting started, consider investing in a few paid ads and then letting those do their job while you get to work on optimizing your website, building content, and establishing backlinks.
Check-in regularly to see how your paid ads are performing, what SEO efforts are succeeding, and what SEO efforts are not doing as well. Over time, you’ll be able to deduce what the best search engine marketing techniques are for your individual brand.
And if you're ready for a more comprehensive strategy for your business's reputation management, consider reaching out to us at Reputation X.
What Does Online Reputation Management Do?
Online reputation services improve how a person or company is seen by improving the entire search profile. This includes ratings, reviews, articles, websites, social media, images, and almost anything else that represents a company or person online.
What Tools Are Used in ORM?
A good online reputation management campaign uses SEO, content, and even some PPC. The tools are a cross between those used by PR, content, SEO and PPC companies.
Online reputation campaigns are essentially online-only PR campaigns with a heavy technical twist and a dose of SEO. A real ORM campaign will help a company website to rise in search results as well as other positive web properties prospective customers rely on to make the decision between one company and another.
Should I Invest in ORM?
If you're working with a startup with a small budget and no negative online reviews or other content, we recommend waiting a while before starting an ORM project. It's not necessary until your brand begins to become at least a little competitive online. Once that happens, people will begin to compare your brand to others before making a decision. That's the point reputation management companies come into play because they tip the decision in your favor - resulting in more leads and - hopefully - sales because of better reviews.
How Much Budget Should Be Used on PPC, ORM, or SEO?
We recommend a new company focus 50% on SEO, 50% on PPC, and 0% on ORM. Then, after a few months, spend about 20% on ORM and 40% each on SEO and PPC. When the terms that convert best via PPC begin to rank well (due to SEO) move the budget from those PPC terms to other terms. Why? Because once your SEO kicks in, there is less reason also to pay PPC fees. You can use that money more effectively elsewhere.
When the ORM Campaign Kicks In
A more mature company that is past the startup phase using an ORM campaign should focus on improving online reviews and getting PR-like articles created and promoted to the first page of branded search results. If your brand has a problem with reputation online, consider increasing the ORM expenditure temporarily until the problem is fixed.
Every company is different. Some industries (like guns, recreational drugs and others) will require a completely different mix.
What is public relations?
Public relations is how organizations, businesses and people communicate with the public and media.
What is online reputation management?
Online reputation management is the repair and maintenance of a person, company, or other entity's online image. Online reputation services improve how a person or company is seen by improving the entire search profile. This includes ratings, reviews, articles, websites, social media, images, and almost anything else that represents a company or person online.
What is SEO?
Search Engine Optimization is the process of creating quality web content that will rank well in search engines, ultimately driving more traffic to your website.
What tools are used in ORM?
A good online reputation management campaign uses SEO, content, and even some PPC. The tools used are a cross between those used by PR, content, SEO and PPC companies.
Should I Invest in ORM?
If you're working with a startup with a small budget and no negative online reviews or other content we recommend waiting a while before starting an ORM project. It's not necessary until your brand begins to become at least a little competitive online. Once that happens, people will begin to compare your brand to others before making a decision. That's the point reputation management companies come into play because they tip the decision in your favor - resulting in more leads and - hopefully - sales because of better reviews.
About the author
Kent Campbell is the chief strategist for Reputation X, an award-winning online reputation management agency based in California. Kent has over 15 years of experience with online reputation management, Wikipedia editing, review management, and strategy. Kent has helped celebrities, leaders, executives, and marketing professionals improve the way they are seen online. Kent writes about reputation, SEO, Wikipedia, and PR-related topics, and is an expert witness for reputation-related legal matters.