SEMrush executive explains the deal with Prowly; describes the union between PR and SEO and when and why a link can be better than a mention
Recently an SEO vendor made a move into the PR space when SEMrush acquired the PR technology vendor, Prowly. It struck me as a surprise, but as I noted when I first wrote about it, I like the idea and wonder why we haven’t seen more deals like this.
Following the announcement, I had a chance to connect with SEMrush Chief Strategy Officer Eugene Levin and ask him a few questions about the transaction and what it means for the community. He agreed, and so he’s my guest on this 46th edition of the Off Script Q&A series.
1. SEMrush is better known for SEO software and it has moved into the PR market with an acquisition of a PR software company: What is the attraction to the PR market?
EL: Our goal is to help businesses improve their online visibility and digital PR is an increasingly important part of it. During the last four years, we’ve been adding many features in the digital PR space such as brand monitoring. The acquisition of Prowly simply allows us to get to a complete digital PR solution faster.
2. Did SEMrush look at other PR software tools as potential acquisition targets?
EL: We talked to many companies in this space. What made Prowly stand out in this relatively crowded market is that unlike many point solutions for digital PR, Prowly covers the entire workflow in one product including a contact database, email outreach, CRM and a [online] newsroom.
3. Do you think this deal could prompt more deals like it across the SEO and PR community?
EL: I wouldn’t be surprised to see more consolidation between SEO, content marketing and digital PR vendors. These disciplines are getting increasingly interconnected.
4. In the announcement, you said, “Integrations with SEMrush can help Prowly users understand the SEO value of their PR activities.” How so? Can you provide an example?
EL: Backlinks are an integral part of SEO. When securing backlinks in media through PR activities, brands also strengthen their backlink profile, and this eventually helps them rank higher in search engines.
This is especially relevant when it comes to highly visited media which generate lots of traffic – securing a backlink will be a signal to Google that high authority websites link back to you and hence your website is credible.
SEMrush technology can discover and track links generated by specific PR campaigns, and by using our proprietary metrics such as Authority Score, our clients can understand the SEO value of every such link and campaign.
5. What are some aspects of SEO that you think get overlooked by PR?
EL: First of all, links are usually treated as a byproduct by PR professionals even though sometimes links can be more valuable than the article in terms of business impact.
Also, it’s important to understand that links can be “follow” and “no follow”. Only “follow” links are valuable for SEO. This means sometimes relationships with media that allow “follow” links can be more valuable than relationships with similar or even bigger media that uses only “no follow” links for external sources.
Lastly, in SEO links are usually more valuable if they are coming from a very relevant domain or page. In a way, links from smaller industry-specific media or even blogs can be more valuable than a link from big media in a completely different industry.
Sometimes we see PR pros “hunting” only Tier 1 media without any concerns about relevancy. It may not be the best approach both from an SEO and PR point of view. For both SEO and PR it’s important for an article to reach the right audience, which is not always the biggest audience.
6. Conversely, what are some aspects of PR that get overlooked by SEOs?
EL: Historically SEOs think about link building in a very transactional way. But digital PR is much more about long term relationships. It’s hard to switch to a new approach overnight. But we don’t see “good old days” of wild west SEO coming back. So, moving forward link building pros will have to increasingly focus on building relationships and telling exciting stories. Which sounds pretty much like digital PR.
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Thank you for taking the time, Eugene. I’m looking forward to seeing what SEMrush and Prowly will do next. If you want to give these tools a whirl, both companies offer free trials: SEMrush and Prowly.
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