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.