The story seems dramatic, but the principles hold true. And yes, you should be optimizing your press releases. The basics of natural search optimization and press release optimization were established long ago. But as the industry continues to evolve, so does optimization - along with all the reasons why search engine marketers and communications professionals should still make press release optimization a priority. If you don't currently optimize your press releases, consider this:
Now that you have the background, let's get into the nitty gritty. These are not new concepts, but they're as important as ever with the evolution of the industry. Here, my ten tips for press release optimization:
1) In the title headline, always include popular keywords and keyword phrases that correspond with the major theme of the release. Of all on-page attributes, the title element is the single heaviest weighted aspect in the way that engines determine search ranking. Press releases are no different. Choose your keywords carefully, because in most cases a release will not rank for a competitive keyword or phrase unless it is emphasized in the title. One best practice is to start your release with information about a partnership with a widely-recognized brand name company; you might even consider starting the release with the partner's name.
2) Include popular keyword and keyword phrases in the release summary, or the secondary release heading. The secondary heading summary can also be a place to incorporate other valuable ancillary keywords and phrases that support your overall theme.
3) Reinforce the major keyword theme in the body of the release. Once again, what works for optimizing Web pages goes for releases as well. Include your title keyword theme in the first paragraph to reinforce the overall theme of the release.
4) Include the company URL in the first paragraph, after the company name. The engines put more emphasis on a link in the first paragraph or sentence of a page, so I highly recommend that you include the URL in that spot in each release. One of my contacts at one major newswire also recommends including the full path URL (including http://) so that all news-based content management systems will activate the link (some will not activate the link in their CMS if only "www.url.com" is used).
5) Use relevant keywords to describe the company at the end of the press release. Adding your generic keyword phrase or category to describe the nature of your business not only serves to describe and introduce what your company does, but it also gives the engines a little bit of keyword context to go by. Ensure that a generic and relevant description of your business is in the boilerplate ("Inc. manufactures widgets").
6) Add relevant ancillary keywords to trigger the release via keyword alert services. Remember that keywords and keyword phrases placed anywhere in the document can trigger a release alert via Google, Yahoo Alerts, online news wires or any other keyword-based notification system, so it is important to use relevant trigger keywords throughout the release.
7) Use keyword research to reach your target. Once again, just as search engine marketers regularly research keywords and phrases for SEM campaigns, understanding how your press or blog targets think at the query level can put your release directly in their inboxes, without having to make an additional phone call or send an email. Utilizing the terminology that searchers use to find information ultimately increases your chances of being found. Keyword Discovery offers a database of news-based keyword searches taken from its sample population, and this can provide direction in the level of interest around a particular keyword or topic.
8) Educate your PR team on press release optimization. If you're not the person who is responsible for writing your company's press releases, talk to your team. Using best practices for writing releases to attract journalists' attention generally also helps with optimization.
9) If your press release includes a public company (besides your own), request that its strategists give permission to distribute the release on that company's feed. This will increase pickup on financial outlets.
10) The Associated Press and Reuters are no longer the only news services in town. Targeting a press release for a publication like bizjournals.com can result in pickup in multiple local markets.