Want publicity? Submit an optimized press release, say today’s leading
online PR experts. Whether you’re targeting journalists, consumers or all of
the above, an optimized press release can create endless possibilities for
Unlike traditional press releases that for years were
limited to providing news for the media, general
business announcements have gained acceptance in
a world in which we can reach millions of Internet
Online press releases are appropriate for almost
any occasion, says Joan Stewart, president of The
Publicity Hound, and can be powerful tools for
growing a company or establishing a brand. Executed
properly, the optimized press release can open
doors that no business owner can afford to ignore.
The Big Picture
While SEO press releases are written to be ranked by
search engines, people must be able to understand
them, warns Mickie Kennedy, president and founder
of eReleases.com and SEOPressRelease.com. Thus,
respect your audience and always present your business
professionally. If you get 10,000 search engine
visitors to view an optimized press release that reads
like a search engine tactic, you will damage your
Creating an effective optimized release requires
an understanding of public relations writing and the
ability to enhance it with SEO-specific keywords. An
online PR professional can provide these services as
well as managing the distribution and any other
facets of your campaign, or you may choose to try
parts of the process yourself. Be advised, though,
that poorly managed publicity is not necessarily better
than no publicity at all.
Optimization techniques include adding technical
elements to your website and seasoning the
copy with keywords. Including photos and other
graphical elements not only creates interest but also
grows traffic when using captions and naming pictures
in a keyword-friendly convention. In addition,
adding keywords to anchor text links, along with
embedding audio and/or video features in releases
Understand that the optimized release doubles
as a Web page. “In fact,” adds Sharon Dotson, president
of Bayou City PR, “companies with no budget
for a website can still get top search engine placement
with an optimized online press release.”
Make the Commitment
Before looking for help in writing and distributing
the release, define the intended goal and determine
how to measure success. Developing a public relations
strategy will depend on the quality of content
and your dedication to PR efforts. An effective public
relations campaign requires a schedule for press
release distribution, an evaluation process and then
adjusting the messages accordingly. According to
Kennedy, a company will generally see a return
when submitting quality content and committing to
four or more releases annually.
“Services such as ours,” says Michael Schwartz,
CEO of WebWire, “offer low pricing to encourage
multiple submissions of similar press releases containing
consistent messages that are packaged differently.
For example, many customers participated
in the Haiti relief efforts by submitting releases. It
was an effective coat-tail technique to get into readers’
To achieve the best results, adds Schwartz, press
releases should be submitted before Wednesday of the traditional business week. When distributing releases
later in the week, WebWire offers a “sponsored
link” product called WebRelease that provides
ranking with Google and/or Yahoo! search early the
Ask the Right Questions
When shopping for a marketing or public relations
firm to create optimized press releases for your business,
experts agree that writing samples are the best
way to judge prospects.
“Every PR or marketing firm will share winning
results and testimonials,” explains Kennedy. “If a
firm has 500 clients and 20 get real results, you see
the problem that anecdotal results and testimonials
will provide. The perception created is that the company
does a great job while the reality is that 96 percent
of its clients don’t achieve great results.”
Read sample releases created for actual clients to
ensure a balance of keyword optimization and readability.
Stewart also suggests asking the following
• Does your price include keyword research?
• What is the fee for writing, and is there a separate
fee for online distribution?
• Is there an additional fee for sending the release
to targeted media outlets and bloggers?
• How many revisions does the price include?
• What’s your turnaround time?
• What clients have hired you to write press releases
and what are their phone numbers?
• Can you tell me about success stories those
clients have had as a result of releases you
wrote for them? (If they tell you, call those
clients yourself and ask for a reference.
Were they satisfied with the release? If not,
why not? If yes, what happened as a result of
• What is the fee? (Most reliable services
charge $150 and higher for writing a press
Reap the Rewards
Well-written releases offer many advantages,
from attracting a wider variety of
audiences to improving search rankings.
Writing informational copy rather than
promotional content, for instance, will
attract both journalists and consumers.
In addition, optimized press releases will
stay online forever, continuously pulling
traffic and providing leads when employing
the right keywords to attract the
right target audience.
“An optimized release goes directly to
the target audience,” says Dotson. “End
users obtain relevant information without the filter of traditional print and electronic media.
In addition, the optimized release will help build a
website’s page rank and relevance. Search engine
ranking improves since these optimized press releases
link back to a company’s website due to relevant
keywords strategically embedded in the copy.”
Therefore, Stewart adds, it is wise to create variations
of the same release by altering the keywords
to attract multiple audiences. Each release, then, will
achieve better rankings for each search phrase rather
than using a single release that targets everyone.
“And to achieve maximum return on investment,”
she says, “remember to add a clear call to
action telling readers what to do next — visit a
website, call a telephone number, send an E-mail,
look at a catalog, go to a sales page or request a
What to Watch Out For
There used to be a vetting process by the media, says
Kennedy, but today the decision-makers are the
users who have access to and can scrutinize an overabundance
of information. Hence, it’s easier than
ever to make your information available, but more
competitive than ever to win over an audience. Very
little distinguishes your information from everything
else available online.
Distorted traffic statistics can pose another obstacle.
Many free services heavily stream RSS feeds
that automatically create “hits” when RSS readers
update their feeds. Therefore, the number of hits
from people perusing releases is generally lower
than the value reported.
Another challenge includes the anecdotal or
temporary impact on search engine rankings resulting
from backlinks to your website from the
press release provider’s website. Kennedy advises
that most SEO firms find these results only last
about two weeks. Another hurdle can be avoided
by using specific, long-tail keyword phrases such as
“black patent-leather pumps” when trying to
achieve page-one search engine rankings, instead
of using highly competitive, short-tail phrases such
as “women’s shoes.”
When optimized press releases are well-written
and provide quality content, they can be a very powerful
vehicle for any company. Even a sole proprietorship
can look like a big business by leveraging
optimized press releases correctly. Although there
are no guarantees, writing and submitting an optimized
press release can create new, long-lasting opportunities
for your business.
About the Author: Michelle M. Wicmandy is the Director of Marketing for
Southeast Media, a marketing communications firm,
and specializes in mobile and e-mail marketing.