Tips for Optimizing Online Press Releases

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You may have heard online press releases can give your website an SEO boost and help you reach clients online. You might have seen releases from your competition showing up in the search results already or considered releasing a few press releases yourself. But do you really know the difference between online publicity and the traditional press release?

The Internet has changed the face of publicity. The traditional press release has learned a few new tricks, and your company can benefit from staying ahead of the curve. Here are some tips for optimizing your press release for online distribution.

Make sure your release makes it to Google News and Yahoo News

If you are interested in reaping the SEO benefits of your press release, you need to be sure to include Google News and Yahoo News in your distribution. Talk to your distribution service and make sure these crucial online news services index their press releases. A good way to check is to pull a headline from one of their recent releases and run a search on Google News or Yahoo News yourself.

With the advent of universal search, getting your press releases indexed takes on even greater importance. News results are already showing up in regular search engine results, so it pays to be sure search engine spiders will be able to locate your release.

Research your competition

A quick search of Google News and Yahoo News will also serve you well in choosing the keywords for which to optimize your release. Look at the news results for your chosen keywords. How recent are the pieces?

If the top ten results weigh in at less than a day old, you know you are entering a competitive market. If you see a few results from three hours ago or eight hours ago, but the rest of the news came out over a month ago, your SEO options are more flexible.

Determine your SEO flexibility

If you are in a crowded market, you will need to utilize fewer keyword phrases, and perhaps even a single phrase. Depending on how fierce the competition looks, you may consider targeting more specific phrases and niche markets. Better to hit a smaller market where you can make an impact than have your press releases buried in a flood of competing news stories.

Pick a few phrases for which to optimize your release

Once you have done a bit of research, choose a small number of keyword phrases for each release. This is important to maintain clarity and focus for your press release. If you try to optimize your release for ten phrases at once, you are likely to come up with a jumbled mess that even a search engine will recognize as useless content.

Don’t obsess over plural or singular keywords

It’s a good idea to utilize both plural and singular keywords in your different press releases, especially if you’ve chosen extremely competitive keywords. However, you should not devote an overly large amount of time and resources to this area of SEO.

Search engines, especially Google, have grown increasingly savvy in dishing up results for plural and singular keywords in their regular results, and this trend is likely to influence online press releases as well.

Keyword placement

At the bare minimum, your keywords should be included in the headline of your press release. Consider the press release headline as the equivalent of a web page title.

Yahoo, Alta Vista, All the Web and especially Google look for keywords in the headline of your press release to determine relevancy. For extremely competitive markets, make sure your keywords show up in the first five words of your press release title if possible.

This does not mean you should stuff every possible keyword combination into this line.  Remember, you want people to actually read your release when it comes up in the search engine results.  Instead, utilize keywords creatively. Think about combinations that can work together well and sprinkle them into the title.

Utilizing keyword phrases within your press release is important as well, especially in the first paragraph or two. This does not mean you should stuff your piece to the point of making it unreadable. It is also a good idea to rotate keyword phrases rather than use the same one repetitively.

Think in terms of general concentration rather than rigid rules. A good way to gauge keyword density is to highlight all instances of your keywords. If your press release glows in the dark as a result, you need to go back and rewrite. If you see only one or two phrases, you might consider looking for more opportunities to utilize your keywords.

Creative keyword usage

Keywords do not necessarily have to appear right next to each other in the title or body of the release to matter to search engines. For example, a title like “Financial Services Help Consumers Reduce Debt” will allow you to hit the following keywords: Financial Services, Debt Reduction Services, and Consumer Financial Services.

By splitting your keywords, you can increase SEO value for your press release without sacrificing readability. As you may have noticed, you can also combine keywords that appear in the title with keywords scattered in your press release. This technique will be less effective for extremely competitive markets.

Don’t force keywords

Keyword density should never upstage your content. The best practice for optimization is to write with your designated keywords in mind, and use them when natural opportunities arise. When optimizing existing pieces, try to maintain the natural flow of the content as much as possible.

Offline success can lead to online results

A search in Google News or Yahoo news will show you that the search engines keep a close eye on newspapers around the country and around the world. Getting your news into a real publication like this is an excellent way to show up in the search engine results.

Keep in mind that optimizing your press release for search engines may actually lessen your appeal to journalists. Journalists generally look for clean, succinct copy in press releases. Your SEO efforts will not impress a newsroom, and a keyword-stuffed release is likely to make a stunning debut in the Deleted Items file.

The news world has been notoriously slow in adopting online journalism techniques. Most of them do not write their stories with search engines in mind. Journalists focus on crafting a well-written story that appeals to readers rather than search engines. Therefore, you can increase your chances of getting ink and natural search engine news results if you cater to the interests of search engines and journalists with separate release copies.

Optimizing your press releases can be a complex process, but it is well worth the time and effort in helping to promote your company online. If you follow these basic principles, you can experience the satisfaction of seeing your company name in Google News and Yahoo News, as well as finding your press releases high in natural search results.

About the Author

President and founder of Xeal Inc., Tony D. Baker is Oklahoma's leading Internet marketing expert with over 10 years of experience. Visit www.Xeal.com/webinar.htm to sign up for a free website analysis on Tony's weekly webinar.

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