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What many people don’t realize is this: The press release can be a way to help boost search visibility for your website. A press release (defined as “a marketing communications tool organizations use to get newsworthy information out to the media or potential customers”) can then accomplish two things in one stroke. First, get the news out there about the new product launch, and build traffic on your website along with it.
A press release still means the same thing it meant a decade ago. However, now with SEO and social media changing the rules of the game, there are multiple ways to get your press-worthy event or product launch out there than there used to be. While the press release in itself hasn’t changed much it’s potential role and impact is much wider.
Imagine that you were in the middle of a job search, and you don’t want to spend too much time online, which should be a good thing. For each job application or message, you use the exact same cover letter, only changing the name it’s addressed to. You just tweak the name and send it off everywhere. Have you ever done this?
That’s “Spray and Pray”. In order to be efficient, you decide to use the exact same message to copy and paste, only after just changing the name on it. You could probably zip through a lot more people that way than to think and write up a message each time.
Sure it’s fast, and you get a lot of messages sent out to a lot more people. But, as you might have guessed, it’s sloppy, thoughtless, and lazy – even. And it probably won’t be effective. Apply for jobs this way and you’re lucky to get a response at all.
Where press releases are concerned, this approach has been common with organizations that broadcast press releases far and wide, using mass email, and press wires for maximum exposure and impact. It has worked in the past.
But fast forward a few years to now, it’s simply not effective anymore.
The takeaway? There is no magic shortcut.
The exact same principle applies to press outreach. It’s far more effective to send a press release directly to a reporter after cultivating a relationship with them rather than blast them off to other newspaper editors in an email.
Spend more time on each person you are trying to recruit to write about you. You want them to reach out to you, not the other way around. Research on search and social media what they cover and find out how to best customize the message so it is relevant to their interests and their line of work.
The most effective cover letters are those that clearly show that you’ve done your homework and much thought has been put into creating it.
In order for that to happen, the first step you want to take is to choose a focus.
What phrase do you want to be searched and found on?
Which words are likely to be repeated throughout the text? These questions will help you answer what to do next.
Here’s an example:
Let’s say that you are an arts nonprofit organization in the Los Angeles area and you are throwing a community engagement event. You might focus on a phrase like:
Keywords are supposed to be words that will be frequently used here that the phrase contains. In the example here, the keywords are:
The actual writing and the text needs to be relevant to the phrase. So don’t put “lifestyle and exercise” if it’s about a “community engagement event around art”.
The search algorithm scans the content line by line and makes mathematical matchups of the phrase being used throughout the release. how the keywords and the phrase you are using match up with how often those words are repeated in your press release.
By carefully paying attention to little steps like these that can make a big difference in being searched and found.
Let me explain.
As I mentioned earlier, search engines read every word of the press release from the top to bottom. They don’t want to have to go all the way to the bottom of the page to find the phrase. The latter signals to the algorithm that the phrase isn’t relevant to the content, and demotes it (places it lower) on the search results.
When optimizing a press release to get better found in the search engines, use your focused phrase, early and often.
Early just means higher up in the release.
Often means using it throughout the release.
The best places for the phrase include:
Example: “Anxiety disorder”
URL and keyword match?
Title and keyword match?
Keyword shows in the heading?
Keyword in Links?
Keyword in the first paragraph?
Keyword in the last paragraph?
Get more “yes”-es checked off and you get from your phrase more playing power for search engine optimization.
There’s a phrase in marketing:
tell ’em what you told ’em, and
tell ’em one more time.”
Think of this when looking to write content as a way to, help boost search engine visibility.
The focus phrase “community engagement Los Angeles” can be woven into the title, the subhead, or both, and it can – no should – also be woven in throughout the body of the content.
The boilerplate is the about the company part of the release and, the boilerplate is often, the same content used again, and again. It’s an easy way.
To get that key phrase in there one more time, let’s say the boilerplate for a hotel is: “We’re a hotel, and on and on…”. You could also vary it to something like: “The hotel has a new San Francisco conference room, and on and on…”.
This applies to not just press releases, but to any webpage.
Another step to get your press release better searched and found is to include links in your strategy. Search engines are looking for three main things when they’re pulling up sites and giving them relevancy.
Architecture: which is essentially the HTML or source code of a website.
Content: which could be the content on a web page, a press release or a blog post.
Linking: Let’s say you’re uploading a press release to your own website, you can have a phrase link to another specific page of your website. You know, let’s say that you have a certain page on your website about your target phrase. Well, what you can do, is you can highlight that phrase in the press release and link it to the other page on your website.
For example, let’s say you are a wedding photographer in Fresno, California, you would have the target phrase wedding photographer Fresno or wedding photographer Fresno, California and in your press release it could be in your boiler page it could be in the body of your content. But if you have that phrase, you know, so and so is a wedding photographer in Fresno, California, wedding photographer Fresno, can link to a specific page on your website that talks about your work as a wedding photographer in Fresno, and that alone can be a really powerful step that makes a big difference in boosting that press release. This is not only good for visibility it gives the search engines you know, a little more algorithmic content to feed on but it also boosts usability meaning the user experience so let’s say someone is generally is interested in learning more about the phrase that your linking to, they can click and instantly go to another page.
So once you’ve written your press release, you’ve focused your phrase, you’re using an early and often and you’re weaving in links, the next thing you want to do is upload it to your website in a search friendly way.
That means when uploading your press release, don’t just leave it as a PDF file. It’s ideal for the press release to become its own webpage on the organization’s website.
Search engines look for the site architecture, the content, and the linking. The content’s done, the linking’s done, now what you want to do is upload it on the web just like it’s its own individual web page.
I always recommend that press releases become their own individual HTML web page so that the search engines can attribute all of that content to a unique URL, title, and description. So, let’s say we’re uploading the press release about, the conference room in San Francisco.
We’re giving directions in the URL name, we’re including key phrases in the URL as well as the meta title, the meta description and the keywords including directions on what phrases to link to within other pages of the site. That’s where this press release content is really going to account. So, if the press release is going to this web team, you can say here’s the press release, please give it this name /san-francisco-conference-room and that the Meta title might include San Francisco conference room in it, the description might have it in there. And when that phrase is used in the URL, which is the architecture, and also the metadata which is part of the architecture as well, it helps to take the content and linking and create all of this kind of mathematical synergy throughout the release to make it really search friendly. So when you’re taking these press releases, and you’re uploading them in a way, that’s not only frequent but has all the best practices, then you’re really on the right path for success.
So you’ve written your content, woven in the phrases, early, often, and throughout, and you’ve optimized the press release with links, and distributed it to the press release page with best practices. You’re not done yet. There’s one more step you can take, to help your press release content get better searched and found. And that’s, employing the power of social media.
Back in the dot com days, search engine optimization was just starting to get defined, and you had to know a lot about coding, and how to stuff things into code in order to game the system the search engines use. Over the years Google has gotten much wiser, and nowadays those old tricks don’t work anymore.
Social media has pushed search engine optimization to completely new levels. Nowadays search engines index posts from social media sites like they do any normal webpage. The same press release posted on social media as a blog link not only gives organizations a beautiful foundation to work from, but it gives them an easy content sharing platform.
Search engines are also looking for and prioritize sites highly trafficked and used with frequent content. So again, social media really comes in and starts to you know. Kind of, become integrated with search engine optimization overall.
So my last recommendation is to take a press release and share it on social media. One of the most strategic places to do that is on a blog. I don’t mean carbon copying, and just paste the press release onto a blog post and publish. Blogs are part of social media, and we’re supposed to be social on social media and not speak in a robotic manner.
Speaking in a conversational tone is important when guiding people to go back to the press release from the blog. So what you would say is,
“Last week our organization, launched a new product. We distributed a press release last month to our investors, about the product. We wanted to share it with you so that you could learn more about it,”
Focus on a phrase, use the phrase early and often, including them in links, and pepper them into the blog post linking to your press release.
The phrase is used in the title of the blog post.
It’s used in the URL of the blog article and the URL of the press release on its own separate page.
It’s used in the body.
Shows up in links.
And so on.
There’s a lot of opportunities, that you can put into play, to get a lot more mileage out of your press release.