SEO Press Releases: What They Are and What They Do

Search engine optimization (SEO) is the latest buzz phrase of the marketing world (we’re guilty of using it, too!), but did you know it is sneaking into the PR world as well? Not only should you optimize your website or your blog, you should also be optimizing your press releases for search engines.

A traditional news release with plain text will reach the editorial community on the date you release it, but what happens when a potential customer is searching Google for that great new product six months later? Unless your press release has the staying power to continually rank high in search engines, the chance of an older press release being found is slim.

This is where SEO comes in. Here are some important tips for optimizing a press release:

1. Use the important keywords in the title (words customers would search).
Headlines are the first thing a search engine and a reader will see. Putting keywords in the headline increases your chances of being found and people seeing the relevance of your news release to their search.

2. Keep the title to approximately 80 characters.
PR distribution sites will often use the headline for the title tag. Keeping the title short (while including keywords) ensures the keywords of your release will not be cut off and will be visible to search engines (and readers) at the first glance.

3. Effectively use keywords throughout the press release.
Using a keyword density check tool will help you determine if your press release includes too little, too many, or just the right amount of keywords in the text. Using too many words may seem counterintuitive, but it could actually hurt your SEO. Too few keywords hurt, too.

4. Use links in the body of the release.
Adding links in the body of the text will increase the chances of the search engines finding your release. And always start with http:// for the URL. Those seven little characters will ensure the links are active in the release whereas URLs starting with www. could be missed.

5. Include anchor text.
Try to link at least three keywords in the text specifically to an internal page of your site rather than just the homepage. These tagged phrases provide more SEO value to a release than just listing URL links in the text, since they appear as searchable terms.

6. Make sure your news gets out.
In addition to the traditional press list, news releases should be distributed more widely using outlets targeted for online media as well as submitted to a variety of online news sites that post content, both of which are geared at the end user, versus the editorial community.

SEO has changed the landscape of not only traditional marketing, but traditional public relations as well. Writing and distributing timely news releases with the editors, end user, and search engines in mind will dramatically increase the reach of each release.

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