The press release is a pillar of any PR campaign. When writing one, you should keep in mind a few simple search engine optimization (SEO) practices that can have a major impact on how well it will rank from a search perspective.
Using a major distribution service (for example, PR Newswire or BusinessWire) will typically give each release a direct feed into Google news results. This is an important place to appear in addition to general Web search results.
Even without the help of a distribution service, the guidelines below will help make a press release as SEO-friendly as possible.
Use relevant keywords
In my previous SEO for Public Relations article, I recommended using the Google keyword tool to identify brand-relevant keywords and phrases with high search demand. Finding a phrase with high search volume can ensure a press release appears in general search results and Google News results.
For instance, Google pulls a live feed of news releases into its general search results for common or trending searches such as “St. Patrick’s Day.” Including trending terms can help your release grab the most exposure.
Write a search-friendly headline
In terms of search, the headline is the most heavily weighted element. Keep it short and sweet, no more than 100 characters. Be sure to include the keyword phrase.
Make the most of the summary
Whenever you have the ability to include summary text with your release online, take advantage of it. Be sure to include the keyword search phrase you identified in Step No. 1 and, if possible, keep it to 240 characters or fewer.
Sprinkle keyword search phrases into the text
To increase the perceived relevance of the release, try to include keywords or phrases once in every 100 words throughout the body copy. This gives a consistent theme for search engines to identify.
Give yourself some link love
Where appropriate, include hyperlinks to your own branded content, press releases, or company website in the press release. This practice probably won’t factor in the search ranking of the press release itself, but it’s a good opportunity to drive traffic to—and raise the relevance of—other brand content. If you do embed links, use no more than one link every 100 words.
Optimize your boilerplate
Make sure your boilerplate includes language that’s beneficial for search and website rankings. Key product categories or service offerings should be mentioned along with the company name and relevant brand links (website, media room, etc.).
To demonstrate the value of these tips, we at Cramer-Krasselt conducted a test—search-optimizing two press releases distributed annually by one of our clients. Same timing, same topic, but we optimized the 2012 versions of each release, according to the SEO guidelines above. The result: significant differences in search rank over last year.
During our test, both 2012 releases were pulled into Google’s general search results for several days. One of the releases, which was tied to St. Patrick’s Day, even ranked in results (as part of the news subsection) in searches for St. Patrick’s Day. The optimized releases saw a significant lift (more than 70 percent increase over last year) in the number of sites that picked up the release.
Press releases have always been an integral part of a brand’s content strategy. Making sure they also support a brand’s overall SEO strategy ensures you don’t miss out on opportunities to connect with users following relevant topics.
Nick Papagiannis is director of interactive/search for independent marketing and communications agency Cramer-Krasselt.