It should come as no surprise that with the transition towards a digital distribution model for news delivery, the importance of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) has only grown. It simply must play a role in any digital public relations campaign. This is hardly a revolutionary thought. What makes this task a challenge, however, is the fact that the factors behind how search engines work keep changing, and the fact that you just have to think a little differently when writing a press release. It is no longer reasonable to simply try and write the best announcement – you must think about SEO as part of the process.
Take Google’s latest Hummingbird algorithm update. Many public relations leverage keyword linking as part of their SEO strategy. Now, keyword relevance has declined in importance, at least according to searches performed in Google. What is more important now are search “phrases” as said in conversation. Google is now placing more relevance on conversation queries, and how they can be best addressed from within a search engine window (ideally from a mobile device). Here are a couple of good articles: FAQ: All About The New Google “Hummingbird” Algorithm and How Google’s Hummingbird Update Impacts a PR Agency.
The take away is that you need to either invest the time to educate yourself on the latest trends impacting search engine optimization, or need to hire someone to do so.
Here are 8 other suggestions on how to best optimize your search engine placement, resulting in better awareness and exposure for your press releases that are issued as part of a public relations campaign:
- Be sure to pay the fee and publish your press releases through a news distribution service, such as Business Wire or Marketwire. The ones that offer a “linked” online presence is best. Your story will simply be viewed more times and seen as more relevant via Google, Yahoo and other news search engines.
- Use good content in your Press Releases, and publish a copy of the release on your website
- Offer a .pdf of your press release, optimized for SEO, on the same page to help maximize your online footprint; .pdf files are indexed just like an .html page
- Integrate this release page with other content that someone might want to read after finishing reading the press release, to further engage them on your topic
- Offer a registration page at some point during the process to then follow up with these visitors
- Write a complementary blog post on a similar topic, to then offer further content and support for those seeking to learn more about the news event you published
- Leverage any free PR distribution sites, especially if they offer HTML linked keyword submissions
- Broadcast the issuing of your press releases by the social media channels best for your audience so your followers get first notification, which will then also help your search engine rankings
As is typically the case with disruptive innovations, the scope of change is often wider than originally conceived at the point of inception. In a paper-based news world, the only distribution options were paid subscriptions and walk-up sales at newsstands. In a digital world, news is found in many different locations in different ways, which includes the searching of relevant topics by keywords. In this world, SEO plays an important, continuing role to ensure messages are heard in a timely manner, by the right audience. In fact, I would argue through a better distribution model that is more efficient than the world has ever seen.
Gordon Benzie is a marketing and public relations professional, and a business plan adviser, that specializes in preparing and executing business plans and marketing strategies. Gordon can be found on Google+ or at firstname.lastname@example.org.