The New Tug-Of-War: PR vs. SEO

How far would you get into this blog post if I wrote like one of the self-proclaimed SEO experts we’re meeting lately? Here’s a snapshot:

As a Michigan PR Firm, we are often seeing trends in creating Detroit websites that PR experts in Metro Detroit can spot with experience in public relations, brand building, strategic communications and writing in Michigan.

Confusing? Yes. Self-serving? Absolutely. Credible? Not at all.

The SEO obsession, at the expense of storytelling and credibility, when creating the latest generation of websites is now out of control. By jamming as many possible search terms as possible into copy and flooding home pages with eye-draining text, the SEO guessers are trying to stage an uprising against the once and future King, content.

While we collaborate with true online marketing professionals who understand the importance of credible storytelling and will listen to the realities of a business’ search potential, too many website developers are engaging in a tug-of-war with the PR principles that are proven to shape reputations and influence business decisions. Unfortunately, clients are caught holding the rope and trying to decide between the allure of potential new business just a Google search away and the fundamentals of business communication that can help set a business apart from the cluttered marketplace. We have seen sites, even in the professional services sector (where credibility and relationships are the deciding factors) that are so driven by SEO snake oil, that they don’t communicate anything other than a laundry list of capabilities and geography.

So who should win the tug-of-war? Ideally, there shouldn’t be one. When creating a website, content, design and customized search functionality should all be important factors in developing a strategy executed through the site. It needs to speak to your audience, look the way your brand should be communicated and serve as a destination for those seeking your content. The Web has changed everything about communications but, in many ways, it hasn’t changed anything. It’s imperative to communicate who you are, what you do and how you’re different. If your website is just a place for search terms to reside, searchers may end up there, but they won’t stay long and they won’t necessarily do what you want them to.