In an era of tightening marketing budgets, the pressure is mounting on marketers to demonstrate substantial ROI. Yet, amidst these challenges, it's surprising how often the intersection of SEO and PR goes unnoticed. On one side, there are SEO enthusiasts solely focused on links and organic search results, while PR professionals emphasise on coverage and reach. However, amidst the evolving landscape, we mustn't overlook the valuable resource of Digital PR Metrics. These metrics serve as a hidden treasure for both SEO and PR, providing insights that can unlock exceptional results when integrated effectively. By leveraging these metrics, we have the opportunity to showcase to clients and stakeholders the true value of every marketing investment.
Let's take a step back and think about why reporting using the right metrics is so important; Value of work. The call of duty for us marketers is not just to achieve these metrics, but to guide our clients and stakeholders in understanding them. Both PR and SEO professionals need to start demonstrating metrics that are search led, brand led, and conversion led. This helps them understand our work better and recognize its value. With tighter scrutiny on marketing budgets, we must demonstrate how we positively impact both brand and the bottom line. Let's delve deeper into how we can make these connections evident through our metrics.
Search Led Metrics
Search-led metrics help you understand how your campaigns are helping to boost a brand's online presence. They indicate how well you're doing online, how effectively you're meeting your audience's needs, and how you compare to your competitors. By keeping an eye on these metrics, you can get a clearer picture of how PR coverage impacts your entire digital footprint.
1. Website Traffic:
Website traffic provides crucial insights into the audience reach and impact of your PR campaigns. Not only does it tell you how many new visitors have come to your site, it can also shed light on how they interacted with it. Any action tracked signifies engagement, and can be a strong indicator of campaign success. You can track campaign-specific traffic by analysing referral and social sources, or by using specific tracking codes in Google Analytics. Understanding your website traffic data can also help inform future PR strategies, ensuring they align with the behaviours and interests of your target audience.
This metric reflects where your brand stands in search results for certain keywords. While this might seem more related to SEO, it's a metric that PR professionals should definitely consider. If, for instance, you're running a campaign centred on "sustainable fashion", seeing an uptick in your brand's visibility for these terms in Google search results is a sign of success. You can track these shifts by using SEO tools like SEMRush, Ahrefs, or Google Search Console. Not only does it provide evidence of your campaign's broader digital impact, but it also offers additional campaign impact beyond standard metrics.
3. Search Demand:
The aim here is to measure how your campaign affects the demand for your brand or related keywords. A spike in searches for your brand name or terms related to your campaign post-launch, could indicate an increase in brand awareness and interest; a significant PR victory. For example, the press tour for the Barbie movie is currently taking place a few weeks before its release. As you can see, search demand has increased over the last few weeks due to tons of media coverage and social media engagement.
4.Campaign Landing Page Performance:
Not all PR campaigns have a dedicated landing page, but they should. Whether you're promoting a news story, research report, or case study, it's best practice to have a page on your site that details it. Watching how this page performs then becomes a valuable metric. If it's doing well, with a low bounce rate and high time spent on the site, it shows that your message is hitting the mark with your audience. Remember, a successful landing page is not just about design and aesthetics; it's a clear reflection of the effectiveness of your PR efforts. You can track these stats easily through Google Analytics.
5.Domain Authority Uplift:
This metric is important as it measures the 'trust' search engines have in your site. The higher the Domain Authority, the more likely your site is to rank well. A PR campaign that results in a Domain Authority increase indicates improved online credibility for your brand. Reputable publications with a high Domain Authority (e.g. BBC has a DA of 100 and Guardian 95) that link to your website will increase yours over time. The example above is by the Columbia Journalism Review. They launched an online tool where users enter their their demographic information to see how much press coverage their story would attract, if they were to go missing. The tool got lots of coverage, backlinks and shares and the domain authority went from 1 to 35 in just three months.
6.Time Spent on Site:
Think of your website as your home and new visitors as guests. When your PR campaign attracts these guests, how long they stay becomes a crucial metric. If they're spending a significant amount of time, it's like they've come over for dinner, not just a quick visit. This suggests they find your content engaging and relevant. You can track this behavior through Google Analytics, helping you understand which parts of your site hold their interest.
Yes of course, backlinks still hold great importance. But the focus has shifted. It's no longer about the sheer volume or Domain Authority score. The spotlight is now on the quality of these links, their relevance to your content, and the diversity of the sites they originate from. This shift emphasises the credibility and trustworthiness of your brand in the eyes of search engines and users alike.
Brand Led Metrics
Listen up, SEOs (particularly those who consider digital PR as a pricier version of link building) - brand-led metrics are pivotal. These metrics capture how your campaigns influence public perception, build trust, and cultivate brand loyalty. They also prove how digital PR affects more than just your search rankings. It's not just about backlinks; it's about sentiment, recognition, and affinity - the cornerstones of a compelling brand image. Both SEO and PR pros should recognise the importance of benchmarking and reporting on brand-led KPIs. Sharing them with stakeholders again shows 'value of work' and a comprehensive understanding of campaign success.
8. Brand Sentiment:
A PR campaign's impact on your brand sentiment can be evaluated through social listening tools (e.g. Buzzsumo, Meltwater).They help capture and analyse public opinion about your brand during and post-campaign, even if it's not a direct objective. Positive sentiment amplifies your brand reputation, making it a valuable metric to report on.
During a campaign, customer reviews and comments about your brand, product, or service can be instrumental in gauging the shift in brand perception. By using social media monitoring or online review platforms, you can track and analyse these reactions. Notably, positive comments or reviews can be further leveraged as testimonials or case studies, adding an extra layer of authenticity and trust to your brand.
11. Brand Search:
Look at the 'Direct' traffic in Google Analytics. This measures the number of users who came to your website by typing your URL into their browser or through a bookmark. An increase during or after a PR campaign indicates growing brand recognition.
12. Social Media Following and Engagement:
Growth in your social media followers or increased engagement (likes, shares, comments) after a PR campaign indicates broader brand reach and resonance. This can be tracked directly on each social media platform or through social media analytics tools. It's always recommended to benchmark social media following before and after a campaign to monitor growth.
13. Journalist Feedback
Positive responses and feedback from journalists serve as a great indicator of the success of your PR efforts and relationships built. These nuggets of validation are more than just feel-good moments, they underline the value you're bringing to your brand's image and reputation. Whether it's via email, social media, or direct communication, be sure to document these feedback points and share them with stakeholders, as they provide an additional dimension to the value of your talents.
Conversion Led Metrics
Quantifying direct commercial impact of PR campaigns is a challenging, yet important task. It's not always straightforward to connect the dots between PR efforts and tangible outcomes such as sales or sign-ups. However, with the smart use of tools like Google Analytics, certain SEO tools, and even CRM systems, you can bridge this gap. PR's influence extends far beyond visibility and brand image; it can drive meaningful actions from audiences. Demonstrating how PR campaigns directly contribute to business bottom-line, from lead generation and sales to subscriptions and sign-ups - has never been more important. Therefore, conversion-led metrics deserve a prominent spot in your campaign reporting, offering a more complete picture of your PR strategy's effectiveness. By tracking and reporting on conversion-led metrics, you validate the strategic importance of PR within the broader marketing mix.
14. Assisted Conversions
This metric shines a light on the indirect impact your PR campaign may have on conversions. For example, a user might find your site through a PR article, leave, and later return directly to make a purchase. Google Analytics provides a way to track these assisted conversions, underpinning the value of PR in the conversion journey.
Each piece of coverage from your PR campaign that includes a link, regardless of it being follow or nofollow, can direct traffic to your website. Referral traffic can be tracked through Google Analytics, enabling you to observe the behaviour of your 'campaign' visitors, including their conversion journey.
While this metric might be harder to track in PR campaigns, it's possible. You can use unique tracking codes or UTM parameters on campaign-specific landing pages to observe the direct impact of PR on sales in Google Analytics. Plus, monitoring sales peaks that align with your campaign launch and traffic spikes can also offer extra insights. Not all sales will be directly attributable to PR coverage, but spotting these trends can provide strong evidence that your campaign is contributing to business performance.
17. Lead Generation
PR campaigns can often stimulate interest, leading to inquiries, form submissions, or newsletter sign-ups. Google Analytics, as well as your CRM system, can help track the source of these leads to your PR efforts.
For PR campaigns promoting physical events or store locations, tracking the increase in footfall or attendance is key. While traditional methods might include guest lists or physical counters, advanced solutions may involve geo-location tracking or Wi-Fi analytics to provide more precise data. This direct correlation between PR efforts and physical visits can provide compelling evidence of campaign effectiveness.
If your PR campaign is focused on promoting an app or store, tracking downloads can be an effective conversion metric. You can track this using platform-specific analytics or by using UTM parameters on the download links shared in your campaign. This gives you a clear picture of how many users were prompted to download your app directly from the PR activity.
20. AI (Artificial Intelligence):
Finally, we must acknowledge the upcoming role of AI in transforming PR reporting metrics. With AI's evolution, it is set to aid PR and SEO professionals in better data analysis, in-depth insight discovery, and more accurate measurement of campaign ROI. To stay ahead, it's crucial to keep abreast of new AI tools and integrate them into our metrics evaluation.
PR and SEO professionals in the digital landscape must embrace the symbiotic relationship between brand value and online visibility. SEOs should recognise the impact of brand-led metrics, which highlight the significance of PR in shaping brand perception and reputation. Likewise, PR practitioners should value search-led metrics, showcasing the reach and visibility achieved through SEO efforts. By embracing this holistic approach and leveraging both sets of metrics, PR and SEO can drive comprehensive campaign success, demonstrating the true business impact of their collaborative efforts.
Written by Isa Lavahun.
Isa is a seasoned digital strategist specialising in search marketing, with a passion for crafting compelling stories that resonate. With over 15 years of experience in the industry and a flair for digital PR, content strategy, and influencer marketing, she leverages her skills to drive visibility and engagement for businesses. Isa is known for her honest counsel, practical advice, and results-oriented approach. Discover more about Isa's journey in digital marketing here