Why PR Should Not Own SEO (Nor Social Media or Content Marketing)

Since Google’s Panda and Penguin updates, social interaction and relevant content have become more important for search engine optimization (SEO) than ever before. Social media, content marketing and search (SEO and SEA) must be integrated.

In fact, all forms of marketing should be integrated as it’s not about the media and tactics in the first place but about the customer, his networks and his needs. We have seen the same mistakes happen regarding social media media marketing and email marketing. Integrated marketing is the only customer-centric marketing.

Some people now apparently start saying that PR should own SEO as social and content becomes more important, among others. We don’t agree. PR should not own SEO just as it shouldn’t own social media. The debate about ownership should by now be over. It’s all about integration and collaboration.

SEO is everywhere, not just in PR

You cannot define general rules about ownership because social media means different things to different people and it all depends on the goals. The same goes for SEO. Search engine optimization is very important for bloggers and content marketers. It’s also crucial for many social media marketing activities.

If you assume PR should own SEO, you assume PR should own social media and content marketing too. And what about lead management? Or community marketing?

Even in setting up LinkedIn communities and having them found, search is important. PR is not involved in all the optimization processes around different customer segments and SEO plays an important role in many stages of the buying cycle.

Optimizing customer segments via Lee Odden
Optimizing customer segments via Lee Odden

In its’ latest ‘State Of Search Marketing Report‘, conducted by Econsultancy, SEMPO found 33% of respondents (excluding agencies) stated that social media is very much part of their search activity. 60% treats social media and search engine marketing differently.

This is not really a good sign. It can mean that businesses start seeing social as so important that they have dedicated teams now. But these teams should not work separately.

Use of social and search engine marketing – source
Use of social and search engine marketing – source

You must integrate: SEO, social and content

Social, search, content, etc. must be integrated. And SEO is important for everyone, it really shouldn’t be owned by PR. In his book ‘Optimize‘, Lee Odden gives a holistic approach to search, social and content marketing.

The customer is one and we should organize around their preferences, not our departments. As Lee, who was a speaker at Content Marketing World, says: ‘You Must Integrate‘.

You must indeed integrate around your customers, their preferences, social networks, etc. and of course your goals. No channel or tactic should be isolated and no department should own a tactic. Integrating and optimizing if everyone’s job as it’s about the customer.

Questions such as whether you should invest in SEO or social media should not be asked as they are about the characteristics of tactics and media, not about what your customers and their customers want.

The same goes for SEO because it is about a promise and how you deliver upon it and what you do with the resulting visitors, fans, subscribers and what they want. And, of course about how you can serve them want they want to convince and convert.