Getting news attention for your business or organization when you want it is glorious, but so is a healthy amount of web traffic. If you have to write a news release anyway, why not try to kill the proverbial two birds with one stone? Just don’t let the reporter or assignment editor know what you’re doing.
Search engine optimization is a common practice and it’s reached way beyond just embedding your targeted keywords in your content. It’s reached to all platforms and formats including your news releases. Anyone whose spent anytime writing search engine optimized web copy knows it is very complicated to not sacrifice the writing quality while trying to include the keywords, especially the keywords that are location-based like “Dentist Dallas.”
In addition to the fundamental practices for news releases: being newsworthy, well written, proper AP style and compelling; SEO for a news release builds on all of these practices but includes a few more.
You should use keywords in the headline of the news release. This is assuming you’ve already identified the keywords you will use consistently across all content for your organization. If you haven’t, there are many keyword tools out there to help identify keywords. For free tools check out the Google AdWords Keyword Tool or the tracking tool offered by Rockin SEO. Remember when picking these words, you’ll want to target the words you know for sure your customers, reporters or bloggers are using to find your services. If you don’t know where to begin, a great place to start is by asking your customers how they found your services.
Depending upon what you prefer or how you were taught, most press releases are between 300 and 500 words. You should still optimize at least the first 250 words, but do not write an optimized boilerplate. Your boilerplate is supposed to provide generic information about your company, but because it is the same from release to release it could cost your company some serious page rank. The search algorithms will not recognize the text is a boilerplate and will penalize you for plagiarism.
Be Selective with Links
If your release is packed with links, search engines will flag it. The links need to serve a purpose to the reader. Is the information they provide useful? Is it a call to action? One or two links will be fine and at least one of them need to be somewhere on your website besides the homepage.
Include the photos! They add weight, which we’ll talk about later. Your keywords or key phrase should start the photo’s caption. If you’re not providing photos with your news releases, you’re not providing sufficient information. You’re goal is to get coverage, which means whatever the story is, there has to be some visual representation.
Search engines pay attention to social content. Don’t believe us? Google yourself and see how much of your social presence shows up. Social media is an excellent way for your release to gain visibility. This is where the weight of photos and video come in to the play. Content with photos show up in news feeds and are shared more than just a block of text. Not only are the social users going to see it, but it will assist building your brand on social networks and it will help your page rank. The point of SEO is to be seen, so go social and be seen.
You write for people, not for machines! Don’t use jargon, or pack your release full of keywords that do not make sense. If you’re unsure you’ve avoided a polluted news release, have a friend outside of the industry look over it. If they can’t understand it, it’s likely most other people won’t understand it either. You don’t spam your news release to reporters; don’t spam it all over the web either. Your goal is to balance SEO and news value.
At Accelerate Online Marketing our goal is for your company to have a healthy web presence and to grow. If you have any questions about how SEO can impact your website or news release feel free to contact us or comment below.