By Nick Herinckx on November 2, 2010
Your press releases can rank higher
Most businesses publish press releases to trumpet company news, while (hopefully!) persuading journalists to tell the company’s story.
Your press releases can bring you much greater benefit if you learn to optimize them for search engines – benefits like more people coming to your website, and your site appearing higher in search engine results.
You need to include two main components in your press releases to optimize them:
- Keywords that are relevant to your company and commonly used by people searching for what you sell.
- Links to pages on your website that are relevant to the story you’re telling. Build these links on keyword-rich linking text – also called “anchor text” – for best results.
Before you start optimizing your press release, you’ll want to make sure your website itself makes good use of keywords, or your efforts won’t yield much benefit.
First, Find Your Keywords
Optimizing a press release is simple, but it does take manual work. The first step is the same as in any link building campaign: Understand which keywords will bring people to your website.
If you haven’t done it already, now is the time for keyword research, so you know exactly which words and phrases you’re going to target with your press release. Once you have your keyword list, you’ll want to check your press release to ensure:
- Your targeted keywords (and variations, if they fit naturally) are used in the text.
- The links pointing back to your site from the press release include relevant targeted keywords in the anchor text.
Insider’s tip: When you mention your brand name or company name, locate your main keyword or keyword phrase nearby. That will encourage anyone reading your press release to associate the keyword or phrase with your business. This can help you get the valuable keyword-based links you want from a news site.
Let’s say you work for Apple, and you’re planning to send a press release about the latest iPod to news sites that write about new consumer technology. If you want a link in a news story to be built on the keyword phrase “music player,” you’re more likely to get that if you write, “the new Apple iPod music player was announced today,” than if you write, “the new Apple iPod was announced today.”
The appearance of music player right beside the focus of the news – the new iPod – increases the likelihood that the person writing the news story will link to your website using “music player” for the anchor text. That can help you capture the attention of people who search for the more general term, “music player,” rather than for your brand. And you do want the attention of people who aren’t yet iPod fans, right?
It’s also a good idea to build your links on important keywords, because many sites simply publish press releases without rewriting them at all.
Does Press Release Optimization Work?
The answer is a resounding “yes” some of the time, but “no” most of the time. The truth is, while press release optimization sounds like a sure thing, in practice it’s an elusive link-building tactic. Here’s the sticking point: Your news has to be worth writing about.
What’s newsworthy? Sadly, it’s often not what you and your company believe is hot news. A good rule of thumb: If this weren’t your own company’s news, would you want to read it?
News sites are in the business of informing people, winning new readers while retaining regular readers. On any given day, they’ll pick up the most newsworthy items.
What do you think the chances are of this press release getting picked up by a major blog or news site?
You get the idea.
What SEO Results Can You Expect?
Most often, you’ll see your inbound links suddenly increase when you launch a press release, and decrease almost as quickly as the days pass. If your website is small, and normally doesn’t have a lot of inbound links, you could see the same pattern in your search rankings, too.
There are two reasons for this abrupt ascent and decline:
1) Many websites simply take RSS feeds from major press release sites every day, translate them into HTML text and publish them. These press release re-publishing sites will often post your press release in its entirety, complete with any links you’ve included.
Most of these sites are of very low quality - no editorial judgment is exercised on the press releases they publish. That's because their sole purpose is often generating revenue from advertising. The links you get from sites like this aren't as powerful as links from authoritative sites. As new press releases are added, yours will be quickly buried deep within the site. Search engines won’t be able to find it, and whatever power the link had disappears.
"Grab and publish" press release publishing sites often look like this:
2) If your release does get picked up by a high-quality news site, congratulations! That link will have power, and you have more chance of your news being spread via Twitter and other social networks.
Eventually, though, your story will be buried under fresher news. Unless lots of people link to the news story itself from different sites – something that’s much more likely for a story on a high-quality site – the page will eventually become less visible to search engines and people. The links in the story will pass less value to your site over time.
Not all is lost, however. When a trusted, authoritative news site links to your website, you get more trust from search engines. And Google gives better ranking to sites it trusts.
How Does PR Optimization Fit into My Link Building Strategy?
The truth is, no single link-building tactic will yield long-term results. If you want to keep getting inbound links, you need to earn links from a range of different sites. Don’t neglect other link-building tactics, such as cultivating reputable bloggers in your field. Release news whenever it’s truly newsworthy, optimize your releases, and keep track of which sites yield you good links. Then you’ll know where to send your news releases for the best results.