How to Optimize a Press Release for Search and Social Media

Press releases have been a key tool for public relations professionals as far back as turn of the 20th century, and the goals, methods and procedures for creating them have stayed relatively the same. A release will generally follow a standard format, starting with an interesting and informative headline, followed by more detailed paragraphs with specific company information, and ending with a company boilerplate and media contact information. 

Journalists have long been using press releases to generate story ideas or to understand and reflect the opinion of individuals and organizations. Most recently, a new trend has emerged where the releases themselves are posted straight to a media organization’s Web site.

With newer press release distribution methods, PR professionals need to start thinking of each release as a potential page on a media organization’s site, inclusive of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) strategies.

Anchor Text
Links are crucial for search engines to gauge which pages out of the many thousands of possible options should be displayed first in the results pages (SERPs) – and pages with higher authority or PageRank are often listed higher on the SERPs. In addition, the PageRank of a site that links back to your page can be a further indication of the relevance of your own page.

For instance, if a press release with embedded links is picked up by CNN or Yahoo, it is more likely to have higher relevance than if the release is picked up by sites with less authority.

And if you have a press release posted on a high value site, the anchor text embedded will provide the linked-to page with more authority.

What this means is that its important to include anchor text as they provide the page your press release links to with “link juice” and will eventually help it rank higher for specific keywords.

Ensure there is one link per paragraph and use embedded links for a more natural linking strategy:

Not GreatClick here to visit our blog.
Super AwesomeEvidence-Based Marketing is the best marketing blog ever.

Appropriate Landing Pages
When including multiple links, be sure to choose landing pages that best represent the content of your press release: a product specific page, an events page or to the section of your corporate website that is most relevant. If Evidence Based Marketing was to share a link to the blog on a releases that focuses on social media trends a best practice would be to include links straight to the “Social” section of the blog and not just the main blog page. 

Keyword Research
PR professionals often slave over each word and character in a press release, evaluating a multitude of adjectives and synonyms they feel could best represent their clients. But, it’s also important to consider terms that are more likely to show up in search engines when a potential user or customer may be looking for products or services that closely relate to the client.

For instance, before writing this article, I used Google’s keyword tool to compare the popularity of the term “press release” with the commonly used synonym, “news release”:

Clearly, “press release” has a much higher number of monthly searches both locally and globally and so “press release” is what is used in the headline of this article.

Research key words and phrases and insert them into a release. In particular, use keywords in headlines, subheads and section headlines to help the release rank higher in search results pages.

Social Media and Embedded Images/ Video
recent study by SEOmoz demonstrated the growing influence of social media to SEO. Sharing a link on Facebook was determined to be one of the most important social factors to add relevance.

Infographs, images and videos are more likely to be shared, so if content on your press release can be supplemented by interesting items – be sure to include them. Embed codes and share buttons help a user quickly and easily share these items.



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