Press releases are an effective means to attract media attention, but it is also one of the most cost-effective munitions in the search engine optimization and marketing arsenal. With a solid grasp of the English language and some company and industry knowledge, the transition to being an effective SEO-PR master is easier than you might think.
The Many Benefits of an SEO-PR Strategy
If you’re not sending press releases through distribution services and directly to those you believe are the most influential in your industry, you should be.
Inexpensive: It’s costly to run display and search advertising campaigns and the amount of time it takes for traditional SEO can be immense. The expense of a press release, however, is limited to the time it takes to write it and then distribute it electronically. When the message is picked up by multiple outlets, the cost per impression simply cannot be beat.
Broader Reach (and Links): Perhaps the most noteworthy benefit in distributing press releases is that many Web publishers post them on their websites. In many cases, they do so verbatim from the original and, in some cases, include your original links. The result is that your message is seen by a broad group and influences search result rankings.
Expedited SEO: Nearly every search engine optimization agency I’ve come across in the past few months leverages press releases for their clients. Why? Fast indexing for one, but the ability to “control the content” means that you’ll be able to include the keyword rich content you want to rank for, ultimately influencing your site’s search ranking. Add a compelling title and your URL (with anchor text, of course) and you’ll see your release appear in the search engine results pages in short order and many times over – even for competitive terms.
Now that you’re sold on the benefits of SEO-PR, how do you construct an effective press release? Let’s look at a few best practices that make press releases such a powerful SEO strategy.
Get to the Point Quickly
Attention spans on the Web are decreasing. Unlike an article when you have an opportunity to “set-up” the story, in a press release it is essential to include the most important information right away – at the very beginning of the text.
The intent of a press release is to supply information to the media in hopes that traditional editorial gatekeepers will find it relevant enough to share with their audience. This is true for consumer-focused outlets and service providers, as well as for companies that follow a B2B model. Since search engines index content in a “top-down” fashion, get to the point quickly by including a synopsis (most services provide this feature for clients).
An effective press release is written clearly and uses concise text to announce news. Ask any editor: if they take the time to look at your material, it had better get to the point right away. Drawn-out leads written to “suggest” editorial featuring a certain company only irritate busy gatekeepers. With literally thousands of press releases received each week, there's no time to read 150 words before the main idea becomes clear. All that does is increase the chances of your e-mails being filtered into the abyss. Once that happens, it’s not likely you will be able to gain audience with that editor again through e-mail.
More Elements of a Good SEO-Friendly Press Release
There is no shortage of advice on how to create a press release, but little in the way of information on creating search engine friendly press releases.
Develop Compelling, Keyword-Rich Headlines
Well-written press-release headlines grab the attention of the user and include the most important facts to summarize the body content. Titles also influence how search engines determine relevance for user queries so include descriptive keywords (the ones you want to rank for), repeat them periodically throughout the body of the release and you’ll see you release indexed quickly.
Lead Readers With a Strong Lead
A concise lead paragraph should support the headline and incorporate as many of the key facts as possible. The lead should entice the editor to continue reading. Oftentimes, a good lead paragraph that conveys pertinent points will be picked up verbatim for publication placement.
Present Fact-Based Copy
Perhaps the most vital part of a press release is fact-based body copy. The body copy should include market positioning, key features and benefits to the end user. By including information that supports the release, editors and bloggers are more likely to use that data and the information you present in tandem. That means your company will be positioned with information that matters to people reading it.
Provide Contact Information
Another component critical to an effective press release is providing names, titles and contact information to identify the sender and another person who can intelligently discuss the content in detail. If possible, a direct quote from a company official that encapsulates the release should be included. For example, a release announcing a new executive vice president should identify the president to offer supporting statements. When introducing a new product, the director of engineering would be more appropriate.
Provide Background Information
The last element in an effective press release is a boilerplate paragraph about the company that describes its products and services, markets served and when it was founded. This should identify the full, proper name and location of its headquarters. If the company is publicly held, list the exchange, ticker symbol and the most recent annual revenue.
By supplying all of this information in a simple press release, editors will have ample resources to further research the company if they deem it editorially necessary. Consider the content within the press release you create to be a search-engine-optimized page on someone else’s site and you’ll master the art of SEO-PR.