A press release is an announcement that you push out to the media. For this article, I am only going to discuss internet-based distribution services. There are other publishing means, but my focus is on helping you to understand how this methodology can improve your search engine rankings and get targeted backlinks to your website, blog, or landing page.
Anatomy of a Press Release Marketing Campaign
A press release marketing strategy can be a very effective white hat SEO technique. I have helped my clients to get placement on page 1 of Google, Yahoo, and Bing for the client’s targeted keywords with just one optimized release. Those results are both dramatic and temporary, so I recommend this marketing method as a piece of an overall content strategy. Adding a monthly or quarterly announcement to your editorial calendar will reap excellent optimization benefits.
What happens when you publish a press release through a quality distribution service is this:
- Your content is very quickly pushed out to thousands of media outlets.
- Many of these, in turn, republish your press release.
- Websites that use feeds to bring in fresh content grab your news item and publish it on their site.
- Good topics can get picked up by keywords and hashtags, and are then published on social bookmarking sites, Facebook business pages, and Twitter.
So, in the days following your distribution, you will typically find that your article is published by multiple sources. As you’ll see in the instructions below, there are also many ways to maximize the duplication of your content.
How to Write, Optimize and Publish a Press Release for SEO
1. Choose your announcement topic.
What’s your news? For example, due to the great SEO results, I’m getting with press releases, I’m going to publish an announcement about a monthly service for businesses seeking content marketing and search engine optimization help. Your topic could be a change of staff, a new location, a new service, a new website, a business partnership, product results, etc.
2. Perform your keyword research and craft your title around those keywords.
This is the most critical step. You want your title to contain targeted keywords for the search engines to pick up, while also being very catchy and reader-friendly. Your keyword research gives you the opportunity to compare similar keyword strings side by side and choose the best one. I use the Google AdWords Keyword Tool to identify the most targeted keyword phrases for my topic. In my case, I would research the phrase “press release” and choose a good phrase that has low competition and a high number of global monthly searches – but not too high. (We’re talking thousands, not millions. You want keywords that help you stand out. It is much easier to find a sailboat in a lake than in an ocean.)
3. Write your content as a news article.
Start with a synopsis of your topic, then the meat of the article, and finally a company bio. It’s important to remember that a press release is a form of journalism. Include the who, what, when, where, and why of your announcement. I typically cover as much of the interesting content as I can right up front. I also use very short paragraphs to make the press release easy to scan, and I sprinkle in quotes. Quotes are your opportunity to get a little more flowery. For example, it is acceptable for a CEO to say “This new program is a very exciting addition to our services, and we’re expecting fantastic results.” But the regular content should be newsy and non-promotional.
4. Choose a quality internet-based distribution service.
You have many choices for services that will distribute your press releases, and I have tried many of them. I do not recommend free services, as they rarely have built-in SEO tools and often have annoying restrictions designed to get you to upgrade. So you may as well pick a good paid service, to begin with. The one I typically use is a fraction of the cost of the high-end services and I’ve gotten great SEO results.
Here is what you are looking for in a good distribution service:
- Live links can be incorporated into the content.
- You are allowed to include a logo, picture, and/or video.
- You can add your keywords.
- You do not have to sacrifice your life savings to publish your release.
You can find a list of press release distribution services, including both free and paid services, in the Resources section of my website. In my experience, you do not need to spend a lot of money to get great SEO results. However, a corporation that is pushing out a major announcement would certainly want to utilize one of the highest quality services, such as PRWeb.
5. Upload your content and add links, images, and keywords.
Link wisely. You do not want your press release to look like a ransom note. A few tasteful links back to your blog, website, or landing page are appropriate.
6. Proofread carefully!
Errors and typos are costly to the public image. NOTE: If you have copied your content from a Microsoft Word file, be sure to check for any strange characters and make sure the quotation marks look correct. Be sure to view a preview of how the release will appear life if the distribution service has that capability.
7. Publish your press release.
Mid-morning on a Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday is an optimal time to publish your announcement. Distribution should happen within a fairly short time, and you should get an email confirmation with a link to the press release.
8. Continue with your content marketing.
Once you publish your release, you want to do more than just sit back and wait for traffic. Think about how you can get more mileage through social media and other methods. For example:
- Post your link on Twitter and Facebook.
- Post it to your favorite social bookmarking sites, such as Digg and StumbleUpon.
- Pose a question on one of your LinkedIn groups with your press release link as the answer.
- Place a link to the release on your company website Press page and optimize the page for that content.
Next, of course, is to monitor your results, which you can do by searching for your targeted keyword phrase and related phrases on the search engines, checking your page ranking, and using Google Analytics.