Several months ago, I wrote a post about whether or not the press release is dead. It resulted in some fun comments and conversations, and I’m happy to say that at least from my peers in the PR world, the general consensus is that the press release definitely serves a purpose. Not only can a press release be a source of news or offer background for a story being pitched, it can also serve as a vehicle for companies and brands to improve their search engine optimization (SEO).
We thought it would be helpful to share a few tips from our SEO team to help you make the most of your press releases and work towards that increasingly important #1 Google spot!
Keep in mind there are four objectives in attracting online traffic with a press release:
- Attracting direct visitors to the website
- Positioning the press release to be found as the result of an Internet search
- Building link strength for the sponsor website (usually a company or brand)
- Generating new content for the sponsor website
Achieving these objectives requires some strategic construction of the press release itself in linking and also optimizing the content and release title. In addition, attracting visitors to a website is a function of setting links from the press release back to a page on the sponsor company’s website. When a user reads the press release material and wants to know more, they have an easy way to get more information by clicking on a link contained in the text.
At GFM, we use the following standards when considering hyperlinks for a press release:
- Limit the total number of hyperlinks in a press release to no more than two links per each 500 words
- Avoid repetition of links in a release – if a link needs to be repeated, spell out the second reference, but do not hyperlink the repeat references
- The most important hyperlink should be set within the first 50 characters of the press release
- Link to other pages within the sponsor company’s website beyond the home page
- Consider using varied “anchor text” terms when setting links. Anchor text is the set of words the reader would “click” on to visit the sponsor Web page. For example, in this post, I might choose to use “SEO press release strategies” as anchor text to link back to GFM’s Digital Team information because it reflects how readers might search for more information on SEO and press releases. This is a better option than linking to the terms “click here” or even “GFM digital” which are unlikely to be search terms for this kind of information.
Positioning the press release to be found by search engines is referred to as optimizing and it requires creating a searchable title and making sure that content supports the terms used in the title. A few simple steps for headline setting/optimizing include:
- Use a phrase in the lead part of the headline that people would naturally search for
- Avoid using the company/organization name as the lead phrase in the headline. It’s best to place the company name at the end of the header or in the sub-head, because placing the company name at the beginning devalues the release in search as marketing materials
- Include the lead phrase in the body copy of the press release
If your company is lucky enough to have an SEO expert on hand, they know SEO is more than website keyword tagging. Be sure to work them into your press release review process because chances are they’ll have great recommendations to help boost your search ratings.