“Digital PR” is on the Rise…According to Google

Tricia Harte

By Tricia Harte

Ready to hop on board the Digital PR bandwagon? The internet sure is!

Digital PR is nothing new. Since the dawn search engine optimization, businesses and agencies have been using many aspects of digital PR strategies in their online marketing. 

But it seems that, of late, a lot of people are talking about it.

Why is Everyone Talking About Digital PR?

Search queries in the United States for “Digital PR” are up 23% year-over-year, according to a quick check of Google Trends.

Google search trends for the query "digital PR" steadily increasing over the past year.

But if we look back even further and expand our search to the entire world, the trend line becomes more clear.

Google search trends increasing since 2016.

There are obviously ebbs and flows of interest, at some points queries peak and drop off, but worldwide, interest in digital PR has steadily increased since 2016. 

Digital PR in recent news

We can’t help but notice that the buzz around digital PR has grown in recent weeks, and we’re not alone. Everyone is talking about it:

The recent headlines in the digital marketing sphere can be pinned back to a tweet by Google’s John Mueller at the end of January. He sparked the conversation by saying that digital PR is “just as critical as” technical SEO.

Tweet from Google's John Mueller reading: "I love some of the things I see from digital PR, it's a shame it often gets bucketed with the spammy kind of link building. It's just as critical as tech SEO, probably more so."

Mueller’s comments clearly stirred something in the marketing world. In the wake of his simple tweet, digital marketing publication rushed to highlight his commentary:

Search engine results featuring headlines about John Mueller's Digital PR Tweet

We don’t disagree with Mueller on many things, and we especially aren’t going to disagree with him on this. Digital PR has evolved to be a critical service offered by our digital marketing agency.

Let’s Talk About Digital PR

On a broad level, digital PR is about building visibility and brand awareness online. It’s successful when potential customers start finding a brand or company online organically after a series of brand-building campaigns. 

However, as Mueller alluded, many associate the strategy with spammy link building — earning a swath of low-DA, low-quality links to a company’s website without any regard to relevancy. And that’s problematic for its reputation as a service and for digital PR agencies.

Digital PR vs. link building

Back in the day, many search engine optimization companies engaged in questionably shady link building. Whether it was paying for links, swapping a link for a link, entering urls into link databases, the goal was quantity, not quality, volume, not relevancy.

When Mueller mentioned “spammy link building,” that is what he’s talking about. Over the years, Google started disavowing and penalizing sites that engaged in these types of shameful link building practices. 

But, like any public relations strategy, it’s about building brand trust in the digital sphere.

And yes, successful digital PR campaigns do secure valuable links. But those links are the result of a campaign that offers something substantive, creative, interesting, etc. to both consumers and the media who may want to cover it.

The proof is in the pudding

At DTC, we create data-driven stories that are tangentially relevant to our clients’ businesses. We leverage social media and media outreach to get attention for their thought leadership, and pursue brand mentions in digital publications.

For example, for a foodservice distributor client, we helped produce a campaign that was grounded in a survey on food delivery apps.

The research revealed a buzzworthy stat that 28% of delivery drivers admitted to sampling the food before dropping it off (gasp). We leveraged that information, and the client’s expertise in the foodservice industry, to build brand awareness.

The campaign secured 600+ brand mentions and 550+ inbound links, including mentions on HBO’s Real Time with Bill Mahr and the TODAY Show.

logos of digital publications who shared the content campaign: CNBC, Forbes, HBO, TODAY, NPR, AJC, USA Today, People, Fox News and many more.

Journalists and customers trusted the topic because it was relevant to the client’s service and mission. It gained traction because it had that je ne sais quoi. And it succeeded because it drove lots of valuable referral traffic to their website, improving the client’s overall organic visibility to their target customers.

Digital PR and SEO

As our previous foodservice client example proves, one BIG result of digital PR is the accumulation of authoritative links from reputable news and industry websites.

If you produce high quality content that people are talking about, are interested, and trust, you’re going to get mentioned on the worldwide web. Brand mentions, in addition to links, can be great metrics to track the success of a campaign.

If you want to know how widespread something gets? Check its backlinks on a platform like Moz. If you want to know whether your company or content is going viral, check your brand mentions.

Moz link checker

How can digital PR help SEO?

Digital PR works alongside and compliments the goals of a company’s SEO strategy. Oftentimes placements and brand mentions come with inbound links that drive traffic, earn clicks and establish a brand as a thought leader or expert on a certain topic. 

At the same time, increased traffic flow from reputable sites can boost a website’s authority in Google. With each and every link from a website with a high domain authority, comes another signal to search engines that a website is trustworthy. When that happens, websites notice their own SEO results in the terms of improved keyword rankings, better visibility in Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs), higher traffic, and higher DA. 

When Mueller mentioned digital PR can be just as critical as technical SEO, we couldn’t agree more.

It can provide exposure, traffic, and name-recognition much faster than technical on-site work can. When paired together, the results only amplify. 

If you’re interested in seeing more of our work and digital PR success stories, click here

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