Using News Releases to Boost Your Online Visibility

By: Guest | March 4, 2013 | 

Geissinger, TaraToday’s guest post is by Tara Geissinger.

There is an ongoing conversation among communications and SEO professionals, alike, about the value of using news releases to boost your online visibility.

While there are SEO benefits, publishing news releases plays numerous other marketing roles.

The rules, purpose, and audience have changed.

It’s time to update how we think about them, write them, and measure their results in order to get the most online visibility value from them.

There are three very distinct reasons to not only write a news release, but to publish and distribute it online.

  • Getting Your Message in Front of Your Target Audience. The media used to be the gatekeeper between your announcement and the public. But with online publishing, there is infinite space to publish all news releases. People filter their content using search engines and choosing what to read. Whether your intended audience is specific niche media, bloggers, your end-user client, or potential strategic partners, a news release serves as a way to concisely deliver your message in an understood format.
  • SEO Benefits. An online release published on a variety of reputable news and PR sites offers links back to your website. Additionally, as Gini Dietrich discussed last week, it has the potential to rank well in search results.
  • Additional Real Estate in Search Engine Results and Social Media Streams. Your website will most likely only rank once, or perhaps twice, in search results for any given keyword. Why not hold multiple pieces of real estate so that searchers have a higher probability of clicking on your content? A well-optimized release has the potential to rank well in search results, they offer another way for both customers and journalists to find you. And because today’s online releases offer a variety of multimedia features such as video embedding, images, and file attachments, news releases can serve as valuable sales tools.

A single release can meet one, two or all three of these goals. A lot hinges on optimizing the release properly to increase the odds that your target audience sees your press release. What follows are tips for creating an online news release that is optimized for search engines and social media – and also for readers.

Boost Your Online Visibility

  1. Know Your Keywords. There are entire courses and books dedicated to the methodology of choosing your keywords. In its absolute simplest form, keyword choice boils down to asking yourself, “What would my customers type into Google when looking for a product or service like mine?” 
  2. Optimize Your Title. Many PR distribution websites use your release’s title as the title tag and unique URL of the published page. Without compromising the integrity or creativity of your title, try to include a keyword.A perfect example of a successful title optimization is a release we published for my husband a little more than three years ago. We optimized it simply by including our most important keyword within the title itself: Fort Myers CFP. If you do a Google search for that phrase today, Mark’s release still shows up on the front page of Google (usually right near the top.) Keep in mind: This is the actual release ranking on the front page of organic Google search results three years after publication – pretty impressive online visibility.Fort Myers Graphic
  3. Optimize Your SummaryLike the title, thesummary packs a powerful SEO punch. On a well-optimized distribution site, your summary becomes the meta description for that page. This often also becomes that little “blurb” of text that shows up below the listing on a Google search result. The summary is the perfect place to include some secondary keywords that you’re targeting. Using words that are “related” to the keyword in your title, tells search engines this really is a piece of content with a topic centered on the keywords referenced in the title.
  4. Anchor Text Links. Many distribution sites offer a number of anchor text link options in the body of your release. Take advantage of these by linking to various pages of your website. Mix it up – use longer tail keywords to link to a specific product page or link to your free opt-in. Link to your social media properties.
  5. Multimedia. PR Newswire published a study that proved that releases with multimedia elements garnered more views. It’s only natural readers would respond to a release that showcases an embedded video, a large image, or an audio interview. These elements don’t directly affect your SEO, but they will affect whether your release is viewed, how long readers stay on the page, and most definitely whether it is shared on social media.

Taking it to the Next Level

A secondary benefit that should not be ignored is the fact that your published release now features many of your marketing elements in one place – creating a visual sales page for your company. Now you can reach out personally to journalists in your local area or niche and tell them why you think their readers would be interested in your news; you can also include a link to your PR – where they can view the video, download high-res images or a whitepaper, or follow your call-to-action.

Are online releases a silver bullet solution to solve all of your SEO and online visibility problems? No. But they are inexpensive to publish, generate backlinks, create additional ways for people to find you, are timely and social-media ‘share’-worthy, give your business a sense of credibility, and house all of your critical announcement details in a single location.

To me, news release publishing has always filled a completely separate, yet valuable marketing need. It doesn’t replace anything – we still need to be implementing our SEO strategies, still need to be building relationships on social media, and still need to be publishing quality content that establishes us as leaders in our industries. But, in my opinion, the results of all of these campaigns will be stronger and more effective by including online releases, rather than omitting them.

Tara Geissinger is an SEO and content marketing expert by day and triplet mom by night. As co-owner of the online visibility firm, SEO Content Solutions, and online press release distribution firm, Online PR Media, Tara has helped thousands of businesses get more visibility online – from helping Macy’s optimize their product descriptions to working behind-the-scenes with some of the largest SEO and marketing firms in the world.

  • belllindsay

    “Without compromising the integrity or creativity of your title, try to include a keyword.” – This sentence really stood out for me – I hate when blog posts websites pepper their content/copy with obvious keywords, over and over and over again, to the point where you realize that you’re not reading anything of any quality – you’re just reading a bunch of trite keyword fodder. Consequently I’m very careful not to pimp out keywords in our content. Great post Tara, thanks again!

    • @belllindsay Thanks! I really think that’s the key with any content marketing — press releases or otherwise. Write for your reader first. Add something valuable rather than just adding to the noise. If you can work a keyword in there, BONUS! 🙂

      • belllindsay

        @TaraGeissinger Exactly. As a former producer/journalist reading SEO crap really gets on my last nerve. 😉

        • @belllindsay  @TaraGeissinger Agreed! I have a client in the manufacturing industry and it’s tough to get their keywords in the content sometimes. And when I force it, it just sounds terrible. It should flow naturally (and usually does) but i hate it when it’s just fluff…I want to read something of value, not SEO crap.

  • The trouble with this approach is people forget that media releases are for the media. Spend more time worrying about what reporters need and less time about SEO.

    • @barbsawyers But that’s just it, reporters use Google to find sources and flesh out stories too. I agree that media releases *should* be written with the media in mind — and then used as part of your outreach campaign. (I’m often accused of being too traditional in this sense, actually.) If you’re publishing anything online, however, I think you need to be cognizant of the fact that media, bloggers and even potential customers all have the potential to stumble upon it. Why not make a few tweaks to ensure they find you when they’re looking?

  • Let me give you another reason to post them online.
    About two weeks ago, I was going behind a reporter proofing a particularly persnickety article (yes, we actually do proof them).
    Anyway, as part of just checking a few facts, I stumbled across a press release on a company’s website. It led to yet another story that more prominently featured that particular company.
    You just never know how a press release will grab someone.

    • @ClayMorgan That’s awesome! It’s successes like this that continue to make me think “why not?” when it comes to optimizing them a bit and putting them online.

  • Thanks for taking a twirl with us, Tara. I’m on the rampage on this one…mostly to figure out the right balance of a news release in the bigger communications program. I know Google says they don’t rank releases, but between this and my post last week, I think we have enough anecdotal evidence to prove that wrong.

    • @ginidietrich I’m happy to help however I can!

      • @TaraGeissinger@ginidietrich
        Seems to me that press releases are a sort of empty vessel in the communications world. People shout as loud as they can about how they are perfect or terrible, but really does anything we do professionally or personally work that way? I think not.

        • @JoeCardillo  @ginidietrich I think the success of a press release depends on many factors. Someone can publish crappy online releases with weak news angles and no optimization and then declare that they’re “useless” for marketing. Another person can brainstorm a handful of strong news angles, tweak for SEO, publish and see very tangible results.
          To me, publishing a press release online isn’t 100% focused on garnering media attention. If a client tells me that their press release resulted in a very measurable boost in traffic and sales, I consider that a success. (And this happens often.) They’ve hired me to ultimately raise their visibility and increase their bottom line. That doesn’t mean that I don’t want to do media outreach and position them as the go-to source in their niche. It just means that I am not going to hit “publish” on an online distribution platform and think that it’s going to do all the work for me! LOL

  • I enjoyed this post @TaraGeissinger , thanks. I frequently remind clients that their prospective customers will visit the online news room and possibly read that news release; reason enough to get it out there. And, most of us know journalists who are working hard just to keep their heads above water and who rely on the information available online as a source of story ideas, background information or verification. Your news release isn’t, or shouldn’t be, the sum total of your company’s communications efforts but it still has a valuable place in the big picture (IMHO). And using the tips you provided to boost online visibility? Just makes sense. 🙂

    • adammbsmith

      @allenmireles  @TaraGeissinger Have you ever had a journo pick up one of your press releases? I’ve only ever witnessed webmasters publishing press release content on their sites

      • @adammbsmith  Yes, I have. About a month ago I had a client who only published a press release online — she did no additional media outreach. She was announcing the launch of her product, a reusable grocery bag/coupon carrying case. She was contacted by a producer of the TLC show “Extreme Couponing.” They wound up featuring her product. Off the top of my head, that is one example that happened recently that I can attribute directly to JUST an online press release. Most PR firms are publishing their releases in addition to all of the other, more traditional forms of outreach.

        • adammbsmith

          @TaraGeissinger That reminds me – I did manage to get one client on local radio here in the UK, following a press release, to promote ‘snow boots’ back when we hadn’t had snow for years and the whole country went to hell in a snow globe.I’m currently trying to persuade my clinets to do SOMETHING interesting,  but they’re pretty stuck in their ways and just use press releases for link building to rank higher in Google 🙁

        • belllindsay

          @adammbsmith  @TaraGeissinger That’s unfortunate Adam. As Tara mentions in her piece, there is SO MUCH you can do now with press releases – multi media, etc.. Seems so backwards-thinking IMHO.

        • adammbsmith

          @belllindsay  @TaraGeissinger I’m currently in the process of conceiving creative ideas to pitch to them.Although the biggest hurdle seems to be needing to target a UK audience when the English speaking online audience is dominated by the US.

        • belllindsay

          @adammbsmith  @TaraGeissinger We try and dominate over here in Canada but we’re just to darn polite.

  • Great post, Tara! I just added this to my Evernote so that I can review it before my next release goes on the wire. I like how you just slipped in the fact that you are the mother of triplets on top of it all. So, you’re pretty much super mom …

  • Simon Mossman MPRIA

    Help info Tara, thanks. Two thoughts from me upon reading:
    1. Not forgetting to factor in the mobile future in optimising news releases but also (and perhaps something of a counterpoint) …
    2. Not encouraging businesses and organisations to flood the online space with no end of news releases just because they’ve mastered the SEO & keyword imperatives (it’s bad enough that there are growing numbers of content farms out there adding to the digital noise and making it increasinggly difficult to achieve cut-through, buy-in and influence change, consumer behaviour change etc).

    • @Simon Mossman MPRIA Thanks! I agree, press releases should always be written with a very real, human audience in mind first. The goal is to attract media, bloggers and ultimately customers. I hope they never become “just” an SEO tool. There’s a big difference between smartly optimizing and gaming the system, you know?
      I do need to learn more about optimizing for mobile. Great point!

  • News release and press release are the same thing, right? If so, I’m curious as to why you refer to it as the former not the latter. (Honest question)

    • Actually, I’ve never really thought about it. I interchange them all the time with no rhyme or reason.

      • @TaraGeissinger In the old days, press release referred to print journalists. We called them news or media releases to encompass broadcast media and more recently digital. I still prefer news or media, though lots of people use press.

        • @barbsawyers Thanks for the scientific answer! I just *knew* I was missing something there! 🙂

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  • It is interesting, today I signed up at PRweb to do a press release. The release is completed but I am not sure where to start. I appreciate the information  abourtAnchor Text Links. Many distribution sites offer a number of anchor text link options in the body of your release. Take advantage of these by linking to various pages of your website and mix it up.  Your article couldn’t have come at  better time.

    • @rudee That’s great! I ‘m glad we were able to help. 🙂

  • ShannonCole1

    Great article! I’ve done several press releases & it has benefits my business quite a bit. I have more online links directing to my website now!  I found there are many inexpensive ways to submit a press release.  Although contact the local newspapers for a more specific area to be seen , a global presence don’t hurt either! I tried to don one at least once a year now.

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