Optimize Your Press Releases for SEO and for Social Media

The press release is an often overlooked factor for online marketing success. Press releases not only promote your company/brand and raise your online profile, they can also increase targeted traffic by helping with your SEO. Specifically, the release can – in its own right – gain visibility in the web search results and the news search results (e.g. Google News and Yahoo News). And the release can boost your own site’s rankings by building quality backlinks.

If you aren’t writing press releases, you should be. Or if you are but you aren’t optimizing them for search engines and for social media, you should be.

A standard, run-of-the-mill, un-optimized press release about a new hire or a promotion within the company won’t do much for you on its own. Booorrring! I think I speak for all journalists when I say that I do not seek out press releases nor do I have any patience for pitches that are merely press releases. As a freelance journo who writes for Multichannel Merchant and MarketingProfs and various other pubs – and as a blogger – I get plenty of press release pitches and they only serve to annoy me. Even clever tactics to get the journalist’s/blogger’s attention like mentioning him/her in a blog post may not work anymore as we all have gotten a lot more jaded because of the ever lowering signal to noise ratio.

This means you have to be smart about the press releases you churn out.

If the news releases aren’t terribly interesting, or if they aren’t written with search engines in mind (and therefore are keyword-rich), or if they aren’t syndicated to the right outlets, or if they aren’t “optimized” to include key elements like text links and multimedia calls-to-action, then they won’t be terribly successful at driving traffic to your website.

Here are some of the outlets you could syndicate your press release out to:

All of the above sites offer various packages/levels of optimization and social media plays. For example, PR Newswire allows for embedded keyword-rich links which will help improve the search ranking of the linked page for the targeted key phrase. Note that other sites that pick up your press release from PR Newswire probably won’t retain the links that you’ve embedded into the body of the release. So you’re really only “buying” a link from PRNewswire.com when you pay the extra fee for the embedded links; but it’s still probably worth doing. In addition to working text links into the copy, write the press release’s title and body copy as you would any other search engine optimized copy. Do your keyword research using some of the available tools and include the important keywords prominently in the title and body.

Beyond the search engine optimization aspects, there’s also the social media optimization that will help your release get syndicated into the social media realm. There’s an excellent social media press release template you can use as a starting point, which will remind you to include such key things as:

  • a link to your “News Releases” RSS feed
  • multimedia call-to-action (e.g. “download white paper”)
  • photos (product pictures, executive’s headshot)
  • podcast feed and/or MP3 file links
  • Skype and IM addresses
  • link and RSS feed to a del.icio.us page containing relevant historical, trend, market, product and competitive content sources (which you should keep up-to-date so it continues to be a resource to journos who subscribe to this content source)

One last thing I’ll mention about press releases… you should try to keep your frequency up too, just like with blog posts. A single press release per year isn’t going to do much for you. Plan to push out press releases throughout the year.