SEO advice from a PR firm - Web Marketing School

SEO advice from a PR firm

If you want information on SEO, consult an expert

I’ve just read a blog post by Chad Hyett (SVP at Porter Novelli) about Google Killing the PR Industry.

The overall message is spot on, and the article is sound.  Its basis being that using “online PR” as a link building tool is a bad idea.

I absolutely agree with that sentiment, and I bet that real PR people are pig sick of link merchants like PRweb pumping out millions of press releases purely as link building strategies for their clients.

The bit of the article though that worries me is this:


When individuals, posting on company blogs that should be trusted resources of information take no effort to research their claims about SEO, it damages our industry as a whole.


SEO History 101

The Florida update didn’t introduce the use of links as Google’s primary ranking factor.

That has always been PageRank Algorithm, which was proposed on January 29th 1998, and became the basis for Google.  You can read the original paper published by Larry and Sergey while they were both Stanford Alumi here.

The very reason that Google won the search engine battle of the mid 90’s to early 2000’s was down to the fact they didn’t use keyword density, or TF*IDF as their main ranking mechanism.  That made it harder to game effectively.

The Florida update introduced a relevancy score into backlink portfolios for a website.  Back in the day all you needed to do was have more websites linking to you than your competitor, often done using the old /links.html trick with thousands of other sites in reciprocal linking rings.

To state as fact, that prior to 2003 Google didn’t use links as a ranking factor is flat out wrong.

Please Update your Post: Porter Novelli

I’d be extremely grateful if Porter Novelli or Chad Hyett could update that post to reflect the truth, our industry is rife with mis-information and when an organisation that should be considered trustworthy publishes incorrect information, it does nobody any favours.



Porter Novelli are owned by D.A.S., which is a division of Omnicom.  I’m former Head of SEO for Omnicom (UK).



22 thoughts on “SEO advice from a PR firm”

    • hi Ian

      It doesn’t really matter… what counts now is how to game the SERPs today… just kidding!

      No, seriously… G prefers freshness nowadays… the more often you publish content, the better for your site… they stimulate blogs and sites to publish more frequently…

      Good or bad? You decide…

  1. That meme made me chuckle since it seriously highlights the approach of many new SEOs these days.

    Would you recommend carrying on with PR link building though? I ask because of your previous blog about WH and BH SEO… Like I quoted there: if it works, use it.

    • No, frankly I wouldn’t.

      I reckon Chad Hyett (who wrote the original piece) also wouldn’t.

      The thing is, as soon as you start using an approach to death, with the specific purposes of spamming links at your properties, its guaranteed to be next on Google’s hit list.

      For years I’ve had a real problem with “PR Sites” who are little more than article directories, buying pagerank from link vendors, then selling article placement for anything from a few bucks right up to hundreds of pounds per submission.

      While sites like PRweb may well have started in all good faith, can anyone look me in the eye and say its any more than a cesspit of SEO submissions? I doubt it, unless you’re a BDM for them.

      Real PR on the other hand, IS exceptionally valuable.

      Don’t get me wrong, its one of the cornerstones of marketing, and used correctly can result in some awesome links from amazing sources – but if you’re naive enough that your PR strategy is submitting to article directories, you dont know what PR actually is.

      • With PR being so misused it’s easy to see why people (such as myself) are so easily confused and misled by the whole concept. Obviously your points now clearly highlight a REAL PR, with great quality and incomparable exposure when done right, as compared to article directories… We both know how much Google LOVES them!

    • Agreed.

      Lets face it, thoroughly mis-informed stuff is published every minute of every day.

      Its just when decent companies post stuff thats out of context (and in this case, just wrong) it just irks some extra points.

  2. My god Martin, you’re posting a hell of a lot of content this month! haha, well played.. If I can’t keep up :/

    Anyway, I’m happy to say I learnt a lot of what I know from Blogs and Forums, I then just tested the living $%$£ out of it, but I can see why people make mistakes.

    It’s taken me a hell of a long time to learn what I now perceive as SEO and I’m still pretty far off knowing the industry inside and out. I can however rank for 99.9% of Keywords on page 1 though, so that’s a + sign after 5 years of hard work!

  3. While the original post by the PR agency about SEO is total BS, I wonder how many SEOs would like me to write, ‘Don’t Take PR Advice From an SEO’?

    Especially seeing how much awful PR is perpetrated by SEOs.

    To be honest I have read just as misinformed bullshit on SEO blogs too, supposedly written by SEO experts.

    I do agree though that this Porter Novice blog post is piss poor and embarrassing.

    • @James – Im totally with you on that one, SEO’s who have submitted a psuedo-press release to an online article site, does not make a PR guru.

      Its a huge source of irritation just how much total bull is slung about the internet these days, from personal blogs (like mine 😉 right up to corporate blue-chip / fortune 500 / ftse blogs.

      We’ll never solve the underlying problem, but for now calling out clearly incorrect information on trusted reputable sources is the most I (or anyone else) can do.

  4. Aye, he also says concentrate on good content and the rest will fall in to place. Eh, no. Websites with good content (which I assume he means has been produced by some pr person) still need promoted using SEO. The guy’s off the mark but suppose he’s done a good, if inadvertently, pr job as his traffic’s went up today if not his cred.

  5. “but if you’re naive enough that your PR strategy is submitting to article directories, you don’t know what PR actually is.”

    Thank god you said that Martin… PRWeb is NOT PR!! It’s paid media…

  6. Glad you guys agree with the major point of the article and you’re right, PageRank has always been around. I updated the post. I somehow, in haste, focused on Florida’s impact and really meant quality linking – but doesn’t Google continue that always. Anyway, appreciate all the thoughts about this and a good correction call out.


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