Research: The integration of SEO and PR

30-second summary:

  • Experts have told us for a few years that SEO and public relations (PR) need to merge
  • Are our SEO and PR integrating “in the wild”?
  • In case you too searched the web about how this and found nothing considerably valuable, here are some answers for you
  • Kevin Carney, founder and CEO of Organic Growth, surveyed 184 SEO and PR professionals across brands, agencies, and consultants.
  • Dive in to discover more about the state of SEO and PR integrations in the industry.

We’ve heard that SEO and public relations (PR) have needed to merge for a few years now. The primary reason given is that they have similar goals, as well as similar strategies and tactics. It is sometimes argued that some aspects of SEO are PR in an age when publishing has become comparatively low-cost. So much so that anyone can become a publisher, and due to the advent of content marketing, brands now have to.

I searched the web for information about whether or not this integration is going. I found nothing I considered to be of value on this topic. So I decided to create this article after collecting information from SEO and PR professionals to get a clear picture of our industry.


I created a survey, then used Help a Reporter Out (HARO) to contact SEO and PR professionals. This resulted in 78 survey responses. I waited a month, returned to HARO, and got 91 more. I then shared my survey in a few SEO and PR groups on Facebook, which resulted in 15 more. I got 184 survey responses in total. When I started, I arbitrarily decided I wanted 200 survey responses but stopped at 184 rather than do another round of HARO or Facebook group outreach.


Of course, all surveys have some level of bias.

In this instance, the bias occurs for the following reasons:

  • I designed my survey with my preconceived notions of what questions mattered most
  • I looked for people in nooks and crannies of the internet where I felt it would be easy to find willing participants
  • People who took my survey self selected

Does this mean my data is flawed? No more than any other set of data collected via most surveys, but it is possible that had I surveyed only SEO folks, or only PR folks, I would have gotten different data, and I want that stated upfront. I believe my data is relevant, but it is the final word on this topic by no means.

So, is this integration of SEO and PR happening?

In a word, yes.

So now, let’s look at the charts whose underlying data lead me to believe this is true.

Initial questions were very objective.

This first set of charts shows the answers that were pretty cut and dry and not so much a matter of opinion.

The breakdown of survey participants

Survey participants categorized themselves as representing brands, agencies, or consultants representing various clients. Below is the breakdown. As you can see, it’s a pretty good split, with agencies slightly outnumbering brands.

Do agencies publish articles about SEO and PR or SEO vs. PR?

I was purious wabout hat percentage of agencies feel the topic of PR and SEO or PR vs. SEO is important enough to publish articles about. It was surprisingly few.

What percentage of participants have one integrated team?

A lot more than I expected: 71 percent, to be precise.

Do firms without one integrated team have both SEO and PR?

To my surprise, the answer tends to be “no”. Team sizes within this group tended to be smaller, which likely accounts for this.

Within this group, 35 out of 52 companies had teams of three members or fewer, which means only 17 companies had four members or larger units. Only four companies had groups of more than 20 people.

For firms with two teams, how closely do they work together?

While this includes only 16 firms, I do not see a strong pattern here. Perhaps this is due to the small data sample, or maybe the question is too subjective for everyone to have a common understanding of how close “closely” is.

The following statements were utterly subjective.

I asked the survey participants to rate how much they agreed or disagreed with a series of statements about PR and SEO. Every word was placed on a ten-point scale where ten strong means agreement and one means strong disagreement.

Can SEO be separated from PR?

As you can see, the bulk of participants feels they can not.

What is the primary focus?

I thought that some firms put PR ahead of SEO and consider that SEO supports their PR efforts, whereas others put SEO ahead of PR and consider that PR supports their SEO efforts. I expected these two charts to mirror each other, and I am surprised they don’t. What surprised me the most is not either chart by itself, but they do not mirror each other. I had thought the two questions were opposites, which to me at least means the charts should be mirror images of each other. While a pretty strong consensus is shown by the “We do SEO” chart, this is not offered by the “We do PR” chart.

Are our SEO and PR equally important?

There is strong agreement with this idea.

Are PR and SEO separate functions?

There is a consensus leaning to “no”; they’re not.

In the spirit of full disclosure, this is something I believe to be true. Don’t get me wrong, I think there are good and bad forms of link building, but I suppose there are also good and bad forms of PR.

That this statement was shared with the participants reflects a bias of mine. I consider participant responses to be validating.

In closing

The SEO-PR integration is happening, and so far has happened more than I expected would be true.

My next thought is, “What does this all mean?”

Should we change the way we’re doing what we’re doing as a result?

For this, I’m interested in feedback from readers. What do you think?

Kevin Carney is the Founder and CEO of the boutique link-building agency Organic Growth.

Tyson Houlding
I’m a lifestyle blogger with a passion for writing, photography, and exploring new places. I started this blog when I was 18 years old to share what I was learning about the world with family and friends. I’ve since grown into a freelance writer, blogger, and photographer with a growing audience. I hope you find inspiration and motivation while reading through my work!