When’s the last time you sat down and strategized SEO for your upcoming news and press releases? For most of the companies we work with – from large corporations to start-ups to foundations – the answer is somewhere between, “Well, not recently,” and “Umm, what?”
We get it. With everything else that needs SEO, news releases can sometimes be pushed to the back burner. They might even seem to operate so smoothly, moving from an obvious step one to step two, that you didn’t even know they could benefit from SEO.
Here’s a cardinal rule though: Anything related to your business that can pop up as a search result needs SEO.
SEO is how you blast your way to the top of Google, leaving your competitors to wallow in your dust. It’s how you make sure that what you have to say about your brand is right there for everyone to see, scrolling not required. Without SEO, your latest and greatest exploits – news that deserves to be bragged about – might not appear every time that it should.
Today, we’re going to talk about ways to fix that. We’ll be covering:
- How press releases impact branded searches (company, product, persons)
- How written content affects SEO
- A then and now look at press releases
- Does it make sense to house press releases on both PR websites and your own website?
How press releases impact branded searches
If someone is already searching for the name of your company, one of your leaders, or one of your products – and uses the specific name, not a generic search term – is a press release helpful?
Absolutely! (As long as you follow our content guidelines shared below.)
Depending on the search, there’s definitely some level of brand awareness in play, which is great. This doesn’t mean that the searcher has the most up-to-date information though, or that there isn’t still an opportunity to wow them with your latest breakthrough.
After all, you don’t know why they’re searching for you, but you do know what story you want to share with them.
Your news or press release is your chance.
It allows you to share a tailored message with searchers, deepening their understanding of who you are and what you do. For example, maybe you’re a software company and that’s why someone is searching for you online. Do they know though that you just won an award for your AI technology? Or that your CEO just published a book?
A news release, optimized to show up as a top search result, tells them that in bold, bright letters. Now they have further reason to be interested in or excited about your company, and they still haven’t even clicked through to your website.
If they do click through to your site, they might only be interested in your homepage or your blog and never even click on your news page. That means they’d never know about your new level of awesome if it wasn’t for it being in the search results.
How written content affects SEO
Content is key when it comes to SEO for a couple of reasons:
- Poorly written content means that Google has to struggle to figure out the point of a press release and won’t know when it should be displayed in the search results
- Nothing turns potential customers away faster than grammatical errors, poor formatting, and overall dismal writing. The faster people leave your site, and the fewer people linking to you, the lower Google ranks you
So, what does great content mean specifically for press releases?
- The most important piece of your release is your headline. This is the first thing that Google searchers are going to read. It can either encourage them to click through, entice them to read your description and then click through, or turn them away because it seems boring or irrelevant to their lives. Make your headline powerful, clear, and concise.
- The 2nd most important piece of your release is your first two sentences, and sometimes just the first five words of the first sentence (depending on how quickly someone makes judgments). Generally speaking, these are the only two sentences that are going to show up in the search result description. This means that they need to tell your story. What do you actually want people to know? Do you want them to know the background of your company? Or do you want them to know how you’re changing the world? Use your words wisely. If you want to get even more technical, Google usually shows up to 160 characters.
- Bold or italic fonts matter for human readability, but don’t interest Google. These fonts won’t tell Google to pay attention to anything, or help the search engine find your keywords and key message. They might make a difference for human readers, but they don’t affect SEO.
- Don’t abuse hyperlinks. Using 1-3 is fine, more than that is probably overkill, and more than 10 is probably hurtful. Google might see it as spam, and even if it doesn’t, you’re now trying to tell people that everything in your press release is equally as important as everything else and deserves their attention. In other words, the more hyperlinks you have, the lower their value.
How the press release – SEO partnership has changed
In the beginning, press release links were a pretty great way to impact SEO. However, as with everything, that meant that people then started abusing the system, writing press releases for every tiny thing they could think, and Google got wise and started penalizing sites.
What does this mean now? It means that most PR sites only have nofollow links, which can’t be used to boost the SEO of your website.
Wondering what the point is then? It’s just like we shared in the beginning of this post – press releases help boost brand awareness and allow you to tell the story that you want, the way that you want. In this way, they boost SEO indirectly. People see a press release, read it, and then either click through to your website or search for it organically. Either way, this boosts your traffic and (hopefully) sales.
Ka-ching! Hello, higher SEO and better rankings!
So is there a point in sharing my release on a PR site, or should I stick with just my website?
In a way, it’s six of one, half a dozen of the other. If your website has high authority and good overall SEO (you can check out Google Search Console to see how you’re doing), then something on your site is probably going to be displayed highly in the search results.
If your site needs some work in this area, but there’s a well-ranked PR site that you can post your release to as well, that might make more sense.
What if someone searches and the release pops up on your site, and then right underneath it is a result from the PR site? Don’t sweat it. No, people aren’t going to click through to both, but this does put more Google real estate in your control, always a bonus.
Does that mean you should try to get your release published on 200 different PR sites? Absolutely not. People don’t want to see too much duplicate content, so there isn’t a return on investment in this case. If you want to share it in more places, do some research into sites that are interested in your specific field. Then send it to them and ask if they’ll share it. If they say yes, this is great, because the people visiting that site are probably your key audience.
What about sharing on LinkedIn, Facebook, or Twitter? Go ahead! This can help with awareness and might even help Google realize that your release is an important piece of content.
Go and do great things
There you have it. While you shouldn’t expect magic from your news releases, they can help SEO and there are ways to optimize them. If you’d like to know more about SEO, check out our top four B2B SEO secrets. If you have any questions about anything, we’re always ready to help.