Traditionally, press releases were the standard for announcing company news. Corporate PR firms (or the company's in house public relations experts) would review news to be announced and diligently summarize the information in a well written press release. If the news was compelling, the timing right and the announcement correctly formatted and presented, the story might run in a print publication or even via the broadcast media, and the company's information would be seen by massive audiences. Today, press releases are still a powerful way to get exposure for companies but there is an additional customer to consider when drafting a release - the search engines. Ensuring a press release is search engine friendly can gain additional discovery by consumers using services such as Google while also increasing the search engine optimization of the company's main website. Below is part one in our three part series covering how to ensure your press release is search engine friendly.
1. Research your target keywords. Take time to research your optimal keywords before just including what words you THINK are the best. There are many free (and paid) tools for keyword researching, but I recommend keeping it simple by using Google's Keyword Tool. Google will provide you information on the amount of monthly search traffic for specific keyword sets including the amount of competition targeting those keywords. Keywords having a high amount of competition are more difficult to target due to multiple sites competing for high rankings for those terms in the search results. The numbers Google provides are not exact but will give you a good idea on what the top words are for your market. You'll want to choose the keywords that potential customers search the most while also considering which words have the lowest search competition. You should be able to narrow down your list to three to five target keyword sets, choosing the best one as your priority target.
2. Headlines are still important. Headlines have always been the most valuable part of a press release to help grab your reader's attention. The search engines know how important the title is in describing the overall message of the release, so they will give more "value" to keywords used in the headline which will help your press release achieve top rankings in the search engines for any keywords used there. So always try to use your primary keyword target in your headline.
3. Write for people. For the past couple of years I've advised clients to ensure their content targets PEOPLE and not search engines. A well written press release that is reader friendly is going to go much further than a keyword-stuffed release that can potentially confuse readers. This is especially true due to Google's recent algorithm changes. (BTW - Google changes its algorithm an average of 500 times a year.) That said, you should still attempt to include the top three to five target keyword sets you selected from your research in the body of your release; just don't compromise on the quality of your writing.
Read part two of our series on how to optimize your press release for the best search engine results here: Making the Most of Your Press Release - Part Two. Please let us know in the comments any questions you have or additional items you would like covered. Click here to sign up and receive our new blog posts via email.
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