By Craig Cannings
I was recently having breakfast with a good friend of mine who is in management with a large Brick and Mortar Company and the topic of Press Releases came up in our conversation. My friend questioned the real value of this medium and pointed out that Press Releases, while certainly apart of his company's communication strategy seemed to have little impact or value on their business as a whole and were rarely picked up by major news publications. Well, in my last online press release campaign, I can honestly say we did not receive an enthusiastic call from the Business editor of USA Today or the New York Times or even the Grand Forks Herald for that matter!
However, this recent Press Release campaign did result in a top 5 listing for one of my keywords in Google, multiple top 20 listings, strong placement in Yahoo and Google News, many new quality in-bound links and a significant íncrease in our overall web visibility. The campaign proved to be a roaring success in driving quality traffíc and gaining great exposure for our site, even though we were largely ignored by all of the mainstream news publications. So, how did we do it?
Before I outline the key steps we took in our own online PR endeavors, let's first review the key benefits of an optimized Press Release campaign:
• High Quality One-Way Links to Your Website
A well-constructed Press Release campaign can result in multiple in-bound links from various sources such as industry-related websites, news and media sites, many of which have a decent Google Page Rank. Given that our business was launching a new website, we literally went from zero exposure to hundreds of one-way links and listings within a couple days.
• Top Listings in the News Search Engines
An optimized press release may see top placement in many key news engines such as Google News, MSN News and Yahoo News potentially resulting in a steady stream of traffíc for up to a period of 30 days. To put it into perspective, Google and Yahoo News have the largest Internet News Audience in the world, even bígger than CNN or the BBC.
• Improved Natural Search Results for Particular Keywords
As mentioned earlier, a recent Press Release Campaign of ours resulted in a top 5 listing for one of our keywords in Google as well as multiple top 20 listings all in matter of a two week period.
• Increased Web Visibility
For new web companies, Press Releases can be a very effective and low cost means of increasing the sheer number of web listings and overall exposure.
• Enhanced Brand Awareness
Optimized Press Releases through useful media portals like Prweb.com and Pr.com can significantly íncrease the brand awareness and recognition for both new and existing web businesses.
• Promotion in a Rapidly Growing Medium
Statistics have revealed that more than 70% of Americans actually read their news online, so press releases are certainly a part of an increasingly popular news medium.
• Low Cost Means for Increasing Exposure and Web Visibility
As mentioned, there are a number of key PR distribution portals such as Prweb.com that provide a great vehicle for syndicating your releases to thousands of news outlets as well as optimizing it for the Search Engines. I would highly recommend spending at least a couple hundred dollars to take advantage of a few SEO tools offered there.
• Quality Exposure to Industry Specific Editors
I include this last benefit as an added bonus since your press release might be deemed very newsworthy and subsequently picked up by multiple editors and news channels. However, I must emphasize the number of editor calls or inquiries certainly should not be the primary measure of success for your Online Press Release campaigns.
So, the big question here is how do you actually optimize the Press Release in order to achieve some of the results we experienced in previous campaigns. Let me roll back the curtain and show you the basic formula we employed.
1. Targeted Keyword Research and Selection
Before even commencing with drafting your online Press Release, it is imperative to conduct some thorough keyword research for your targeted audience and subject matter through such tools as wordtracker.com and keyworddiscovery.com. It is ideal to select targeted keywords that have the greatest degree of volume with the fewest competitors that will also make the most sense in the context of your Press Release. Again, it is important to marry relevant and newsworthy content with good SEO practices.
I would recommend narrowing your keyword selection to approximately two to three words for your Press Release with a primary keyword and a couple secondary words. You will löse SEO potency by trying to incorporate too many keywords into one 500-800 word Press Release.
2. Strategic Keyword Placement in the Press Release
It is essential to include your main keyword(s) in the title of the Press Release as well as in the first or second paragraphs of the body. I would recommend optimizing the first 250 words of your press release and then include the keywords in strategic and relevant spots throughout the remainder of the body.
It is also recommended to maintain a keyword density of approximately 3-5% for the main keyword and 1-2% for secondary keywords. (Keyword Density refers to the percentage of words on a web page that match a specified set of keywords) I must emphasize here though that while it is important to be aware of your keyword density, it should not come at the expense of relevant and high quality content. That will ultimately defeat the purpose and desired result of your PR campaign.
3. The Effective Use of Anchor Text
Creating Anchor Text (keyword-rich links) with your targeted keyword(s) will provide valuable optimization and relevant back-links to your respective landing page.
4. Relevant and Optimized Website Content
The use of targeted keywords in your Press Release will only have real value if you also include those same words with reasonable keyword density on your landing page. Make sure to include the keywords in the H1 Header Tag as well as strategically placed in the first 250 words or so of the landing page.
5. Tagging Strategies
Finally I have experienced great value in incorporating Technorati Keyword Tags as well as popular Social Bookmark tags such as Del.icio.us and Digg at the end of the Press Release. Those visitors that like the Press Release and choose to clíck on a technorati tag or a social bookmark tag provide high quality trackbacks or back links that will ultimately enhance your site's link popularity.
In summary, I believe an optimized Press Release using some of the above strategies can be an excellent marketing channel with a good viral effect and great SEO potential long-term. I would highly recommend making the small ínvestment through popular PR distribution sites such as Prweb.com, Prleap.com and Pr.com in order to maximize the potential for yielding top keyword listings, high quality back links and great long-term exposure for your business.
I should note that while the optimization of your Press Release is paramount, it is essential to provide a newsworthy and journalistic feel to the release as well. Great content combined with skillful optimization will yield the best results for your PR campaigns.