One of the most effective ways to distribute content outside of your blog, email, and social media is through a press release. Optimizing press releases can not only make them easier to find (and therefore a better asset for communicating news and attracting traffic to your website), but can also greatly help SEO link-building efforts.
A well-written press release should contain embedded links to key web pages on your site. Then, when it is distributed through a press release distribution service and is syndicated and posted on numerous third-party websites and blogs, you automatically have a powerful set of links (with chosen anchor text) back to your site. This means those links serve as a link signal for the major search engines and elevate your search visibility for your website.
Here are some tips for ensuring you optimize your next press release:
Make sure your press release is newsworthy
The first step you’ll want to take before you sit down to write your release is to make sure you aren’t just writing a marketing pitch. A press release should let people know about something new that’s happening, whether that’s internal company development, or a larger trend/story that your news/company fits into.
Clearly define your goals and target audience
Think long and hard about exactly which types of publications you are hoping to target with this release, and then write the release with those publications in mind. Really think about who your ideal audience would be, what story hook would appeal to them and how you might be able to interest them in your story.
Structure your release like a news story – and focus on getting your keywords in first two paragraphs
Structure your release like a news story. If you studied journalism, you are familiar with the infamous inverted pyramid theory. Stick to that structure. The more the release is written like an existing news piece you might see in the press, the better chances you’ll have of getting it picked up.
In addition, search engines place a disproportionate amount of importance on the content early in your release — specifically the headline, subhead and first two paragraphs. Make sure to use your targeted keywords as often as you can within this space.
Focus on 2-3 keywords or keyword phrases
Consider which search terms people would use to find your release, and try not to choose terms which have have to high of competition. Use Google’s free keyword research tool to help research the most commonly searched for variations of these terms.
Think about your anchor text
Use your targeted keywords phrases when linking to landing pages (ie. Don’t use “read more” or “click here.”
Add rich media to your releases
Google and the other major search engines love content with rich media (images, video and audio). Don’t be afraid to add these components to your press release.
Don’t forget to optimize your images by making sure they have clear file names which accurately describe the image and incorporate a keyword (e.g., “Nameofyourproduct.jpg” rather than “DSC_1234.jpg”). Include a descriptive caption for any multimedia asset you distribute. Don’t forget to include your logo with your release, as it is the image most likely to come up if someone searches directly for your brand name.
Write a clear headline (that’s under 22 words)
Search engines rely heavily on page titles when determining rankings. Your press release’s headline is the single most important factor in press release optimization. Unfortunately, search engines don’t understand puns or plays on words, so your headline should be straightforward and use the same language someone would use to search. Make sure you include your most important keywords/phrases. To be indexed in Google News, your headline should be between 2 and 22 words. Google SERPs often limit titles displayed to roughly 67 characters, so your most important news should be in the first 67 letters and spaces of your headline.
You’ll also want to consider including a subheadline. While this subheadline will not be included in the title tag and therefore has a less significant role in press release SEO, its early placement in the body of the release makes it a great place to incorporate additional keywords/phrases not included in your (under 22 word) headline.
Link early in your release
Hyperlinks and anchor text are the currency of SEO and press release optimization. Links help search engines associate the content of a release to other sites, which helps the release’s ranking. As with using keywords, linking is most effective in the first few paragraphs, where search engine spiders focus the most.
Link to deep landing pages
It is also most effective to use “deep” links to specific pages in your website, rather than only to your homepage. This boosts the rankings of both the linked page and your whole site.
Track conversions from your press releases
You can place tracking codes in the URLs that point from the press release to the landing pages. This way you can truly measure the success of your release not only in the coverage you receive, but also with how many conversions and visits your website receives from the syndicated releases.
Write a blog post version of the release and include a link to the release
This will improve your chances of more people seeing the news and release. The more visibility the better. Also, visitors to your blog are likely to be invested and interested customers or potential customers, and may be inclined to link to/share the release from their own social networks.
You can also post the release to your company’s newsroom or press page.