Before the digital age, a successful press release was one that crossed the right desk at the right time. Today, PR professionals no longer have to leave their efforts up to chance, but they need a reliable method of deciding which relationships, ideas, and campaigns are worth pursuing. That’s where SEO comes in.
By using the following search engine optimization (SEO) rules, PR strategists can position releases for better pick up:
Always Ask for Backlinks
Always include a call to action in every pitch and press material with a link to direct readers to your site from other sites. These are called backlinks, which act as currency in the SEO world. The more backlinks you have, the more authority your site gains, and the higher you’ll be ranked in searches so that more people find you.
Publish Long-form Content
Less isn’t always more. Short-form press releases used to be the standard, but now Google tends to favor long-form content because it is more detailed and solves more user problems. Publishing long-form content also means you can include more keywords and relevant phrases to gain exposure across search results and garner more backlinks and social shares, which increase your brand’s recognition.
Align Messages and Keywords to Drive Traffic and Reach a Target Audience
Including strong relevant keywords is a crucial step to making SEO a valuable addition to your PR strategy. Suppose you plan your pitches to reporters around the words and phrases that your customers search for online. In that case, those stories, when published, will show up in search results — giving your brand more exposure and traffic and possibly also pushing your competitors down or even off the first page of search results.
Avoid Keyword Stuffing
Keyword stuffing is when writers attempt to manipulate a site’s ranking in Google search results by shoving as many keywords and phrases as possible into their content. Doing this will not only jeopardize the clarity and brevity of your message but also will get your brand penalized, as Google can recognize the repetitive format. Instead of repeating the same keyword phrase often within the content’s body, create a more cohesive release by featuring your keyword phrase in your headline. By creating well-written articles with your target keyword mentioned a few times, you can optimize your PR content for search.
Think Outside of Your Brand
Step outside of your comfort zone in how you think of your brand and the ways you connect with consumers. For example, try looking at it from your competitor’s point of view.
Read what your followers are saying about your brand and consider how your audience uses information and what will prompt their need for it. Choose a pain point and answer that question with key phrases that will live on throughout online searches.
Promote Placements and Articles on Social Media
Content syndication is also a vital way of incorporating SEO for PR. Content syndication is a method of republishing the same piece of content on third-party sites. Content syndication increases audience reach and drives brand awareness by including links back to your company’s site. While YouTube may be the largest video network, it isn’t the only one. Making sure content used in outreach is placed on multiple video-sharing sites can allow for greater control over a message as it relates to search engine results.
It’s also worth noting that all of these pieces must work together for SEO to function ideally. Press releases should again live somewhere on a company’s website and include properly tagged hyperlinks. Any official brand presence throughout social media, whether on Facebook, Twitter, or YouTube, must also incorporate SEO techniques when necessary.
Optimize Your Images/Visuals
Use engaging, relevant images in your release that are at least 60 x 90 pixels.
When you have a story to tell, there’s a visual aspect to that story. Product launches, for example, should have a photo. But suppose you’re making an earnings announcement. In that case, you don’t need to throw in your corporate video because the analysts aren’t going to want to click on a video and get distracted accidentally.
Including images for executive hirings are also relevant — putting a face to a name in those kinds of stories. The critical point to remember is that any multimedia you include must be relevant to the message you’re trying to convey. Otherwise, it becomes poorly done advertising, or worse, spam.
Use Short Headlines that Feature Your Most Highly Targeted Keywords
Crafting an informative headline that delivers some type of value is crucial to capture consumers’ attention. You don’t have that many characters to play with, so prioritize the focus keyword(s) you want your post to rank for.
To ensure success, choose targeted keywords users are proven to search for online. You can use tools to verify your targeted words are used by a search audience.
For instance, say you choose keywords “healthcare” and “cloud,” as in cloud computing, to target healthcare professionals and tech industry leaders in an upcoming post. Ubersuggest finds the search volume for “healthcare” is 110,000 while the search volume for “cloud” is 368,000.
While this high search volume confirms that users are searching for your chosen keywords, it also indicates more competition and the less likely your post will rank.
To increase your chance of ranking, use long-tail variants of the search terms you were hoping to rank for. Long-tail keywords are longer, more specific phrases users search for.
Take the headline below for example:
This headline uses the long-tail keywords “future of healthcare” and “hybrid cloud.” Insights provided by Ubersuggest find “future of healthcare” gets searched approximately 1,300 times per month while “hybrid cloud” gets searched about 4,400 times per month. As you can see, these long-tail keywords are less searched than the former. The decrease in competition gives you a greater chance to rank.
This headline would capture the attention of healthcare industry professionals or users who like to keep up with emerging healthcare technologies.
By inserting your essential keywords in your headline, and early in the body, your content will rank higher in results for relevant searches.
Use Natural Language in Introductions
Another critical point to remember is to use keywords naturally. When drafting a press release, your primary focus should always be your target audience, not targeting a particular keyword.
This is where most people fall short.
Notice how different long-tail key phrases were integrated into the introduction and the article in a natural way. From the above screenshot, the keywords you can quickly locate are:
- Healthcare industry findings
- The future of healthcare
- Hybrid IT model
The more you can incorporate relevant key phrases that people are likely to enter in their search query, the better your results will be.
Finally, always track your performance. Measure success by how well your content ranks in search engines and whether it’s driving traffic to the site. Embed tracking codes in your links to understand where traffic is coming from and which links and keywords are getting the most interest. These few steps can serve as an essential foundation for implementing SEO into the PR mix.
SEO provides a wealth of tactics that can increase any PR initiative’s efficacy. By developing linkable content and then placing each form of content on various online platforms, you’ll keep your brand in the searches and help you control your message.
Ready to write your own optimized announcement? Check out this example for inspiration:
Petco’s Event Press Release: