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September 13, 2007

Press Releases and Optimization for Search Engines

By Li Evans

Press releases are a great way to announce interesting, unique or important news about someone or something important about your company.  However, the most important thing to remember is that what you might consider important just might not be that important to the world at large.  Understanding who will find this information intriguing enough to call you to investigate a little more and create a story out of your information is the key to creating successful press releases.

There was a time where launching a new website or a new web site design was newsworthy.  That was back in the day when stuffing the keyword meta tag with over a 100 keywords, might have helped you rank well.  Unfortunately (or maybe fortunately), those days have past and  marketers, web site owners and public relations experts need to find more interesting hooks around the more mundane informational announcements that Presidents and CEO's of companies insist are "most newsworthy".

Along with the fact that press releases need to be more creative to catch the interest of the target audience, press releases need to be "found", or "stand out" among a sea of thousands of other press releases that are being released every day.  Since the advent of the internet, the technology distribution advancements has been both a blessing and a curse.  A blessing because it makes it a lot easier to reach a lot more perspective outlets for your press release, but a curse in that it's made it easy for everyone and their uncles' cousin to just the same thing as you are.

So how do you stand out?  How do you get your press release found or have it picked up?  Here's a few tips for creating, optimizing and distributing your press releases.

  • Define Your Target Audience
    Your target audience is not "everyone".  I once heard that come from a superior of mine that our target audience was "everyone, everyone's eyeballs", and just shook my head.  Press releases, just like websites, have target audiences.  Knowing who your audience is helps you to decided how to speak to the person you want to eventually read about your information.

    Deciding who your target audience is ahead of time also can be a tremendous help in creating interesting angles, fact, and information for the body, title and hook of your press release.  Lastly, knowing who your target audience is helps you in defining the best keywords to optimize your press release for.

  • Create an Interesting Hook
    Every day, every hour, thousands of press releases are being distributed through email, websites, RSS Feeds and Press Release distribution channels such as PR Wire and PR Web.  That's a lot of "noise" to compete with.  Stop and think about what will make this press release stand out, why is it newsworthy?  Who will care?  Is it something that is unique among your industry or some revolutionary new service or product that will make your target audience's life better or easier?

    Having the hook and knowing how and why it's important to your audience helps you to pitch the press release to media outlets in a more personal way, rather than just releasing the press release to the distribution channels and praying "because you released it, someone will write about it"

  • Define The Keywords for the Press Release
    Now that you know who your target audience is and what makes your news more interesting than the normal mundane press releases that come out everyday, you can research what keywords you should focus on.  Keyword research helps you to hone in on reaching that target audience, it helps you to be found in a sea of thousands of other press releases.

    Search engines can read press releases if they are displayed as HTML on a web page or written in a program like Microsoft Word and then transformed into PDF format for easier distribution.  Knowing this, then it's easy to understand why even researching keywords for press releases is important.

  • Write an Optimized and Intriguing Title
    Just like with pages on your website, each press release should have an interesting and intriguing title that will entice the reader to want to click in and read more.  Optimizing the title around the keywords you chosen with your research, will also help your press release to be found when searches are conducted, making it interesting helps to drive the traffic into your website where the press release is located, or on the distribution site you chose to announce the press release through.

  • Include an Image with Your Press Release
    Since the launch of Google's Universal Search and the subsequent 3d Search from Ask and Blended Search from Yahoo, images are fast becoming another way to make your content stand out.  Including and image that is related to your press release makes the article more appealing than something that just contains all words.

    You can embed the image directly into the press release document.  However, if you do that,  you should offer links to the reader to actually download the image in different types of resolutions for their use – encouraging them to utilize your picture from your site.  This not only helps promote your press release, but can also have the added benefit of obtaining some image optimization as well.

  • Have an SEO Look at the Press Release
    If you have an in-house SEO, or your company has access to an SEO Agency or Consultant, it would be worth your time to actually have them go over your press release for any recommendations they might have for better optimization.  A fresh set of eyes, that are specifically trained in helping content to be optimized for the subject matter it should be found under can go a long way in helping your press release be found in the search engines.

  • Decide Your Distribution Channel
    Believe it or not, blasting your press release out on services like PR Newswire or PR Web may not always be the best course of action to take when distributing you press release.  In most cases, these types of services will work just fine, however, before just defaulting to putting your press release out on the services, stop and think about a more personal approach that could get you more quality coverage in your own market space.

    Many news and media outlets consider it as you "scooping" your own story by blasting your press release out through these services and won't even give your press release a second glance.  If you have a really great angle, a hot story or something so exclusive that it truly is big news for your company, or your industry, you should consider taking the personal approach and selectively contact a handful of media outlets about your press release.  Offer to give them exclusive or perhaps semi-exclusive rights to the story a few days in advance of the official press release.

    What this does, is create, not only a genuine interest, but also a great relationship.  It also helps in getting your news covered from a few different angles, which is more than just the one from your press release.  As some might baulk at this idea, it's likely a much better scenario that gives your news more creditability and it's being covered, rather than just wallowing in the depths of press release service with a thousand other press releases.

So the next time you are writing a press release, and you just by default "write and release", take the time to go through these steps. By going through this process, you could be pleasantly surprised by the results it garners your little extra effort of hard work in optimizing that press release.

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Comments

You might be interested in knowing that I’m offering a free email tutorial called "89 Ways to Write Powerful Press Releases."

I explain why we should no longer be writing press releases only for the press, but for consumers who can find the releases online, click through to our websites and enter our sales cycle, even if journalists don’t think our release is worthy of attention.

The course includes several terrific press release samples as well as "before" and "after" makeovers.

You can sign up for the free press release writing tutorial at http://www.PublicityHound.com/pressreleasetips/art.htm

It's a very long tutorial but please stick with it. By the time you're done, it will be like earning a master's degree in writing and distributing press releases. And you'll know more about this topic than many PR people.

I recently posted a blog to a news and press release portal http://news.finditt.com after posting the blog the website SEO'd it and within a day my blog was showing up in top search engines in the first position. I have decided to try their news release service as well. They put an emphahsis on SEO and the importance of it. I agree with your blog and wish I would have taken this more serious earlier.

I don't think my most recent press release was geared toward SEO. Can someone with a "fresh set" of eyes take a look, and give me some pointers. I have another press release to go out in the next week or two.

http://www.reversemortgagenation.com/news/cash-asset-manager-mortgage-acceleration/

Thanks in advance.

Great infos in here.
Yes the content it is everything.
Good luck you all.

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