How to Guide - Driving SEO with Press Releases


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This How To Guide will explain how press releases can boost SEO efforts, how to write press releases for SEO, the pros and cons of doing so and conclude with an action plan on using press releases in your SEO efforts. - See more at:

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How to Guide - Driving SEO with Press Releases

  1. 1. How-To Guide © 2013 Demand Metric Research Corporation. All Rights Reserved. Driving SEO with Press Releases Executive Summary For decades, press releases were the basic building blocks of a public relations strategy. A company that wanted press coverage would write and issue a press release. The more skilled the company was at media relations, the better this strategy worked. Press releases still serve this purpose, although a new and important use of press releases has evolved as a tool for Search Engine Optimization (SEO). For companies whose websites are key to revenue generation, the SEO benefits are the primary motivation for writing and issuing press releases. If releases also produce favorable media coverage, that’s viewed as a bonus. The benefits of this SEO strategy result from the links a press release can produce back to the issuer’s website. These links are known as backlinks. The more external, authentic backlinks a website has pointing to it, the higher it ranks on a Search Engine Results Page (SERP). While this strategy is conceptually simple to grasp, executing it effectively requires some insider knowledge of both media relations and SEO. This How-To Guide will explain how press releases can boost SEO efforts, how to write press releases for SEO, the pros and cons of doing so and conclude with an action plan on using press releases in your SEO efforts. How press releases boost SEO Mike Cherenson, former Chair and CEO of the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA), said: “Authentic and relevant link building, aimed at driving engagement, informing publics and building mutually beneficial relationships should be a part of every public relations and SEO effort." Experts and industry insiders agree on the value of this practice is valid, but how does it work?
  2. 2. How-To Guide © 2013 Demand Metric Research Corporation. All Rights Reserved. Quite simply, the goal of using press releases is to generate backlinks to a website. This seems straightforward enough, but there’s more to understand. Not all links are created equally, so it’s important to know what kind of links help put your site higher on a SERP, and to understand how to generate them. Google, the dominant search engine, claims to discriminate between types of links, so it’s important to stay current on how Google and other search engine providers rate and rank links. When a company issues a press release, it typically includes links in the body of the release. When that release is issued through a wire service, those links appear in the distributed version of the press release that appears on the news distributor’s website. These are the links that Google doesn’t view as “authentic”, and Google has claimed as recently as December 2012 that these links won’t help with SEO. Others in the SEO industry dispute this claim. What isn’t disputed, however, is the value of links from media websites that pick up a press release and cover it on their own websites. What this means is that the most valuable links a press release generates are produced indirectly. While the release may contain links in it, the links that come from a media outlet’s website that picked up the release and covered it are of the greatest value. Furthermore, Google, and presumably other search engine providers, don’t value all links from media outlets equally. For example, a link from a well-known, highly visited media website will boost your site’s placement on a SERP higher than a link from an obscure, lightly visited media website. Writing press releases for SEO SEO doesn’t change the fundamentals of writing good press releases, but it does add some new requirements, which are critical to having press releases produce the desired SEO benefits. What hasn’t changed is the need for press releases to provide clarity with respect to the message, and to conform to conventions for structure. Writing a great press release
  3. 3. How-To Guide © 2013 Demand Metric Research Corporation. All Rights Reserved. should always begin with agreement on the core message: what is the primary information the release needs to convey? Often there are several messages a press release could contain, but it’s best to orient a press release around the most important one. To help prioritize messages on which to base a press release, use the Demand Metric Message Mapping Tool. Whichever message emerges as the primary one, structure the entire press release around it using the inverted pyramid style of writing. To understand how to write a properly structured press release, use the Demand Metric Press Release Template. When writing press releases for SEO, you must account for these SEO-specific tactics:  Keywords. The goal of using press releases for SEO is to help your web content appear high on SERPs. To accomplish this, you need to make sure your press release is populated with the keywords and search terms that matter. Search engine algorithms consider the frequency with which terms appear in web content, so make sure you use plenty of keywords and search terms you want associated with your content. Keep in mind that what matters here is frequency more than variety. While it’s fine to use variations of your keywords in a press release, make sure they appear multiple times throughout your press release.  Keyword competition. As you’re making sure the include keywords and search phrases throughout your press release, it’s a good idea to use the Google AdWords Keyword tool to see how much competition there is for your terms. Ideally, you’d like to have keywords where the competition is low and the number of global monthly searches is high, as this will produce the best outcome for you. Here’s an example of the analysis the Google AdWords Keyword tool provides when the keywords “flux capacitor” was entered:
  4. 4. How-To Guide © 2013 Demand Metric Research Corporation. All Rights Reserved. Based on these results, “flux capacitor” is an excellent set of keywords because the competiton is low and the number of monthly searches is high.  The headline. This is the most important real estate in a press release. The traditional conventions of a press release apply: the headline should summarize the content of the release. Other best practices include referencing the name of the company or product in the headline. The challenge when it comes to SEO is that Google looks at the first 60 characters of a headline as most important. Summarizing a release in a 60-character statement that contains the relevant references is often difficult. However, it is critical to find a way to do this so that your press release generates the maximum SEO benefit.  Links. Your press release should contain links to related content on your website. Ideally, the text of the link in your press release contains the keywords you’ve chosen, which then link to content on your site that also has those keywords. A good rule of thumb is to include one link for each 100 words of press release body text.  Distribution. The most critical success factor for this strategy is distributing your press releases using a news distribution service, such as Marketwire, PRNewswire or PR Web. By putting your press release into distribution, you’re taking advantage of the network and reach these services provide. While the mechanics of using these services is similar, they offer different pricing packages and distribution options, so evaluate them closely to determine which one best meets your needs. The pros and cons of a press release SEO strategy While the risks of a press release SEO strategy are low, you should weigh the advantages against the disadvantages before committing to this course of action.
  5. 5. How-To Guide © 2013 Demand Metric Research Corporation. All Rights Reserved.  Pros o Link building. The authentic backlinks created through this process can give your SEO efforts a significant boost. o Publicity. Don’t forget that the original purpose of a press release is to get editorial coverage, and they still work this way. o Immediacy. It doesn’t take weeks or months to execute this strategy. You can literally issue a press release one day, and within 24 hours or less have new backlinks to your website.  Cons o Cost. In addition to the time required to draft quality press releases, there is a cost to distribute them through a service, typically between $99 and $250 per press release. If you issue releases frequently, these costs can add up quickly. o Narrow focus. Press releases are written in a specific style and for a specific purpose. This style rarely appeals to customers, prospects or the general public. While you can certainly repurpose the content from a press release for other uses, a press release in its native format isn’t very appealing to non-media audiences. o Reputational risk. Any form of mass communication carries with it the risk of harming your reputation if you do it poorly. This press release strategy is no exception. Failing to understand the process, follow conventions, use best practices and emit quality content can cause harm to your brand instead of producing SEO benefits.
  6. 6. How-To Guide © 2013 Demand Metric Research Corporation. All Rights Reserved. Action Plan: Using press releases in your SEO efforts If you decide that using press releases for SEO is a good strategy, here are the steps you should take to execute: 1. Emphasize content quality  Only commit to this strategy if you are capable of emitting high quality content. Even though your goal is to land higher on SERPs, the humans in this information chain will determine if the news in your press release merits space in their media.  In addition to well-written press releases that adhere to conventions, content is judged more favorably when it includes related or explanatory graphics, photos and videos. Your press release is competing with hundreds if not thousands of other release for the attention of the media who can determine its fate. Distributing yours with accompanying graphics, photographs or videos will help it stand out. 2. Develop a press release schedule  Plan ahead by putting a calendar in place of content you will emit via a press release. This allows plenty of time for drafting, reviewing, editing and refining your content. Use the Demand Metric Public Relations Calendar to document your release plan.  As you brainstorm ideas for press releases, consider issuing one for new product or service announcements, product enhancements, personnel additions, industry awards/honors, company milestones, financial results, participation in events, partnerships, corporate responsibility or anything that differentiates your company.
  7. 7. How-To Guide © 2013 Demand Metric Research Corporation. All Rights Reserved. 3. Author press releases  Find a capable writer to author your press releases, as you and your press releases are judged on the quality of the written word. Authoring press releases is not usually a job for the intern, but for an accomplished writer who understands the inverted pyramid style of writing.  Follow the “two sets of eyes” rule. To avoid embarrassing mistakes, have at least two reviewers for all press releases. Choose reviewers who have an eye for detail, and make sure that reviews encompass fact checking as well as grammar, spelling and contextual errors. 4. Distribute press releases  Select a press release distribution service that offers the best pricing and distribution that meets your needs.  Issue your press releases through the service you selected.  Issue press releases on a regular basis. While even a single press release can favorable impact your SERP ranking, you probably won’t start seeing the full benefits of this strategy until you issue press releases on a regular basis, such as weekly. 5. Measure results  The press release distribution service you use should provide you with some analytics for the reach press releases hosted on their site. These analytics are helpful and worth reviewing, but they don’t tell you all you need to know.
  8. 8. How-To Guide © 2013 Demand Metric Research Corporation. All Rights Reserved.  Use your own web analytics to monitor traffic and visits to your site. Ideally, you’ll see a spike in the wake of each press release issued. Furthermore, you want to see growth over time in traffic to your site.  Conduct a search using Google and the keywords in your press releases to see where on the SERP your content falls. These steps provide you with a process to help you produce quality press releases that will generate publicity and boost your SEO efforts. Bottom Line Content quality is king in this strategy of using press releases for SEO. Following every step and best practice described in this guide will not produce results if the content of the release is poor. So while this process is not complex, all aspects of it require attention to detail and proper execution. When this happens, the SEO benefits this strategy can produce will amaze you.