The press release has gone through quite an evolution over the past decade or so. Before the age of the internet, the press release was generally only seen by the press. Companies and their PR agencies would distribute the announcement and hope that it was compelling enough to warrant a story.
Today, the release plays a more dynamic role. The disruption of the web has splintered press releases into a variety of formats to serve different audiences and different purposes, including journalists, customers and industry analysts. Social media and company websites allow for direct communication and interaction with customers.
But there is one additional “audience” that should not be forgotten – search engine spiders, or web crawlers. These automated bots constantly scour the Web for content, and their findings are used to determine which websites are shown when an individual conducts a search using various keywords. If you anticipate that your press release will be posted anywhere online – on your website, through a newswire, or any media outlet with an online presence, then it’s important to consider the language used from a search engine’s perspective. Integrating key words, phrases and embedded links optimize their “findability” and rank within traditional search engines such as Google or Yahoo. In this case, the greatest targets for SEO releases are actually customers, not journalists. Many say that if you’re not on the first two pages of search results, then your company is losing the battle for online mindshare.
When drafting the release, ensure that your top keywords are included towards the front of the release, especially in the headline, subhead and boilerplate. Choose up to three words and repeat through the release – especially in the boilerplate. Search engines seem to pay more attention to the natural bolded words as well as the repeated words toward the top of press releases (first half).
It’s also extremely helpful to use those keywords as anchor text to link back to strategic landing pages on your Website, ensure that those pages are also keyword optimized as well. It’s important not to overuse each word or over link.
Also, be sure to include industry and product names and categories in place of generic descriptors such as, “the product,” “the solution,” and “the company,” throughout the release, without ruining the flow.
Press releases are a mainstay for public relations campaigns. By keeping search engine crawlers in mind when crafting the language within them, releases can continue to provide benefits for a long time.