Writing Press Releases that are Optimized for Search Engines

The press release is the most ubiquitous part of any public relations campaign. Short, direct and inexpensive, when done well they serve as a catalyst that can catapult a product or topic to national prominence. Even when budgets are tight companies should take advantage of the reach that press releases offer to get their news out to customers and prospects. The key is to differentiate your press release from the thousands that are issued each day.

When I first started in PR my boss used typeset the releases to make them look more professional than our competitors. These days typesetting is not enough to set you apart from the crowd.

Press releases now are sent out online and often are published on online news sources. They are the most effective viral marketing strategy available today because they encourage people to pass along your content and publish it.

To get the most exposure for your release it’s important to optimize them for search engines. By building your press releases to take advantage web distribution and online publishing not only will you reach more people, but you will also be able to track the success of your efforts by measuring the number of people who “click through” your embedded links into your Web site or other destination.

So how does it work?

Use links. Links on key words or concepts allow readers to learn more about things that interest them. It allows them to peel away layers of the onion and get into the nitty gritty.  In many releases that I see the only link is to the home page of the company’s web site. Keep in mind that you want information to be only 2-3 clicks deep from the person browsing your site. Don’t make them search!

Write key words into your release. If you know how people search for information on your product or service make sure that those words are included in your release. If you’re not sure what the key words are, you can use a free key word search engine such as Google Key Words. Even better, if you have access to your Web site statistics, look to see how people searched for your company Web site. For optimum results put a key word in your heading, a key word in any subhead, a key word in any anchor text and include key words in the first 250 words of your release. How many key words should be included? Pick the top three to five words or phrases. Don’t over use key words or your release will start to look like spam.

Embed photos and/or video in your release. Media rich releases garner more attention plus you can use key words in your “alt text” to attract more attention.

Use Web-based metrics to track your success. Web site analytics programs (even free ones like Google Analytics) allow you to track your referral sources. That’s where your hypertext links come in: you can track how many visitors to your site come from the specific links on your press releases. This information gives you valuable data about what your customers and prospects find newsworthy.

The success of your efforts will be apparent in the quality and quantity of the inbound traffic generated from your release. If you want a way to evaluate the potential success of your press release, there’s a free news release grader from Hubspot.  Run your release through that and see how you do!

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