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The future of search engine optimization heavily involves the trifecta of public relations, content marketing and social media. At the May 2014 SEM San Diego event Wil Reynolds spoke on the growing role of PR in SEO. Here are 10 takeaways with action steps from his presentation:

Takeaway 1 – Call, don’t just email when doing scholarship link building

Pick up the phone and call in addition to sending an email when you’re trying to build links by listing your scholarships on the websites of educational institutions (.edu top level domains), local educational trusts (e.g., the San Diego Foundation) and educational resource sites. Building quality links involves building relationships and you can’t do that purely with a keyboard and mouse.

“You’re not just building rankings, you’re building relationships.”
– Wil Reynolds (click to Tweet)

Takeaway 2 – Get a local citation when doing scholarship link building

Ensure instructions for scholarships include an option for applicants to submit by mail, so the website listing your scholarship will include a local citation consisting of your business name, address and phone number, in addition to a link back to your website.


The XYZ Law Firm Scholarship Contest

About the Scholarship:

For this scholarship, we are looking for students who have made strong differences in society by helping those less fortunate and are not able to speak up for their selves. Whether it is an individual or a small group, we would like to hear about how you have helped others and how it has impacted yours and their lives. The student with the most inspirational story will be selected for the $1,000 scholarship that will go towards college, university, or trade school tuition.

Application Deadline:

The deadline for this scholarship is December 31, 2014.

Open to:

Current High School Students and College Students

How to apply:

Apply online by email or mail to

XYZ Law Firm
213 South Main Street Suite 209
Los Angeles, CA 90071

(213) 271-4306

Full details on eligibility, guidelines, judging criteria and the application process are available at:

“It’s not about the numbers, but about the quality.”
– Wil Reynolds (click to Tweet)

Takeaway 3 – Use Muck Rack to find and connect with relevant journalists

Muck Rack helps PR and marketing pros discover relevant journalists and bloggers through searching by keywords, company names, outlets and more. Features include alerts that are sent by email notifications, when a journalist tweets or links to articles matching your search terms. It also helps you to pitch directly to your target’s email, find out who is sharing your content and organize media lists. Help is offered via phone support.

How to do it:

  1. Sign-up for – This website enables you to more easily find and pitch to relevant journalists through several means including their email and social media channels. Features also include alerts and the ability to monitor who is sharing your content. For example, you could use the service to discover exactly who at the Wall Street Journal writes on your specific area of expertise.
    1. Don’t contact a journalist yet!
  1. Find out what they want – Spend some time monitoring the journalists you wish to target and find out what exactly they want.
  2. Target with Facebook ads – Use custom audience on Facebook to target the selected journalists with ads, promoting your content.
  3. Create a list on Twitter of the journalists you found using Muck Rack.
  4. Find way the journalists ask questions – Everyone has a specific speaking and writing style, so find out the particular vocabulary journalists on your list use when asking questions on Twitter, because they are likely doing so as part of work for a story.
  5. Setup an advanced search stream on Twitter – Use HootSuite or TweekDeck, using the vocabulary your targeted journalists use to ask questions and set the search only to reference your list of journalists. Therefore search results will only render when one of the journalists asks a question using the selected vocabulary—not just any Twitter user.

“Nobody is sitting around waiting for your press release.”
– Wil Reynolds (click to Tweet)

Takeaway 4 – Use Help a Reporter Out (HARO) when pitching potential clients

How to do it:

  1. Keep old HARO alert notifications in your email.
  2. Retrieve past alerts relevant to the area of a potential client’s expertise for use in a pitch to provide specific examples of PR opportunities you can facilitate for SEO. For example, if you have a potential client who offers dog walking services, no HARO alert notifications may have been sent to you for that last 8 months, but 3 alerts may have come through during the quarter of the year that occurred 9 months ago.

“Driving traffic is not taking care of your customers.”
– Wil Reynolds (click to Tweet)

Takeaway 5 – Use Twtrland to find what influencers are interested in

Use just one of the many features within the dashboard on to see an influencer’s “famous words”— a user’s most retweeted posts..

How to do it:

  1. Add the free Twtrland app to Hootsuite.
  2. Search for a specific influencer’s profile by searching for their name,
  3. View their famous words, which are referred to as “top content” in Twtrland’s Hootsuite app.

“Who woke up this morning hoping to get spam email or a press release? Nobody! Stop the tricks. Try Adding Value.”
– Wil Reynolds (click to Tweet)

Takeaway 6 – Use Demographics Pro to find out what brands an influencer follows

Demographics Pro enables you to further find out what influencers are interested in. By viewing an audience profile you can see what accounts a user follows more significantly than the Twitter average and their brand affiliations.

How to do it:

  1. Add the free Demographics Pro app to Hootsuite
  2. Add a stream with the Demographics Pro app
  3. Click the @ symbol to search for a specific profile and click to view the full profile
  4. View which accounts the user follows more significantly than the Twitter average
  5. On the right side view the user’s brand affiliations

Takeaway 7 – Use Followerwonk to find followers who work for companies you want to target.

Followerwonk is a Moz app, featuring a tool that enables you to search Twitter bios. For example, if you are marketing for healthcare, a simple search using the phrase, “health wall street journal” returns results including several key Wall Street Journal employees including reporters, contributors and editors. Other tools apart of Followerwonk enable you to find out where your followers are located and when they tweet.

How to do it:

  1. Sign-in with Twitter
  2. Click table titled, “Search Twitter bios”
  3. In the search field type “health wall street journal”
  4. Click the button labeled, “Do it”

“Build cliques, not clicks.”
– Wil Reynolds (click to Tweet)

Takeaway 8 – Ensure your social media team handles inquiries properly

Many organizations go to great lengths to ensure inbounds lead are handled properly by their sales team (e.g. decreasing response time as much as possible) Likewise, traffic driven by search engine optimization is wasted if inquiries are not handled properly by a sales team. For example, if your ecommerce site sells car rims and a potential customer asks a question on social media to inquire if the model of 19” rims he or she is interested in are available in 18”, directly answer the question, yes or no. Do not respond with a link to the parent product category featuring all models of rims.

“If you do not have any influence over your social media team, your SEO will probably fail in the long run.”
– Wil Reynolds (click to Tweet)

Takeaway 9 – Use Facebook Search to find friends of friends who work somewhere

Facebook’s graph search allows you to search for people by employer. This makes introductions easier as mutual friends you have in common with those returned in search results are shown. 

How to do it:

  1. Click the regular Facebook search bar to display a dropdown
  2. Click, “People I may know”
  3. In the right side bar add an employer. If the search returns too many results for a single employer, refine your search by adding a position

Takeaway 10 – If another agency brings you aboard on a partnership to work on an account, ensure you are “at the table.”

While Wil stated that he is not a fan of projects which involve partnership with another agency, he emphasizes the need to be “at the table,” meaning you or your agency are in a direct client-facing role and not working through the agency who brought you on board.

  1. It is important to speak directly to the client to ensure everything is in order to reach their goals.
  2. It is important to in a position to directly defend yourself and address discrepancies raised by the client. i.e. nobody can “throw you under the bus” in your absence.

“One reason not to try and trick Google is because they have people with PHD’s working for them.”
– Wil Reynolds (click to Tweet)