Historically, press releases were meant to facilitate communication between public relations and the media—informing journalists about major events, such as launching a new product, winning a prestigious award, or announcing leadership changes.
Now, it’s become an industry staple that no public relations representative should be without, albeit in a different way than it was decades ago when print was still king.
If a business wants to ensure that their releases will be picked up by the press or read by the public, it needs to be SEO optimized for major search engines.
What You’ll Learn
- How a press release should be structured
- How to write an SEO press release
- Best tools to use for an SEO-friendly PR
With nearly 30 million companies in the US alone, there’s an inestimable number of press releases being circulated each day, considering there are only 50,000 journalists who can read them. So, capturing the attention of your target audience is not going to be a walk in the park.
In this guide, we’ll break down what “press release SEO” is, why you should take it seriously, best practices, and the top SEO tools organizations are using to generate measurable results.
But, first, let’s go over some of the basics.
Anatomy of a Good Press Release
Irrespective of industry or business type, every good press release must include these four elements:
When crafting a press release, you want to ensure you’re getting the right message across to readers early in the copy. Remember—press releases should be easy to read and concise, not exceeding 400 words.
That’s why a well-thought-out, engaging headline is perhaps the most important aspect of your press release. A good rule of thumb is to incorporate active verbs.
This is one of the easier parts of the press release writing process. It should provide readers with a brief description of what they’re about to read without giving away the whole story.
You need just enough information to pique their interest, so make sure it’s no more than paragraph long.
The first official paragraph of your press release needs to cover the 5W1H rule—Who, What, When, Where, Why, and How.
It should showcase the main highlights of the story so that your audience can get a clear understanding of your releases’ message within the first few sentences.
This short paragraph typically comes at the tail end of the press release. Here, you’ll add some important details about your company’s background, as well as contact information to make it easier for potential customers to get in touch with you.
How do You Write an SEO Friendly Press Release?
To help lift the veil on SEO, here are a few press release SEO best practices that you can use to help boost your release’s search engine performance:
Keep content relevant and readable
While SEO is great at enhancing the visibility of online material, the reality is that even the best SEO won’t get readers to interact with content that’s not newsworthy or interesting. That’s why it’s vital that you create content that will resonate with your readers from the outset.
Before you start writing, ask yourself—what’s the “secret sauce” my readers need in order to find this announcement compelling? What pain points is this press release addressing? What question is it answering?
This is especially crucial because Google along with other search engines have built algorithms specifically to rank content that best answers user inquiries higher. Plus, content that generates more engagement measured in click-through rates, shares, tweets, and more also gets a sizable boost on search engine results pages.
Choose your keywords wisely
The best SEO friendly press releases require careful keyword selection. This involves a fair amount of research on your part.
To begin, find out some of the key topics that your release focuses on. And again, you want to put yourself in the shoes of the searcher. What terms or phrases will they use to find your release online? Think niche and avoid going for keywords that your competitors are already well-ranked for.
Your main key phrase might be very competitive, like “dealer management software” or something slightly less competitive like “truck dealership management software solution.” The second key phrase is considered a long-tail keyword, which is less competitive since it’s more specific.
While long-tail key phrases aren’t as competitive as primary key phrases, they shouldn’t be overlooked. In fact, when used in conjunction with one another, they can lead to more total searches than your highly competitive terms.
Include an attention-grabbing call to action
One of the most common mistakes that users make when crafting their press releases is not adding a call to action. By leaving this key piece of the press release puzzle out, your readers have no way to follow up on the content they just read.
Once they’ve finished reading your release, they are more familiar with your news, which is precisely when you need to capitalize on that moment with a call to action.
To guarantee good press release SEO, we recommend adding a hyperlink to some good anchor text that contains a relevant keyword.
The more sensible the placement of this call to action, the more SEO success you’ll have. For example, you could place a link to a blog towards the end of a paragraph that detailed new website features in your press release.
Add multimedia and social media links
To really get your press release in front of more readers, you’ll need to utilize multimedia. Including images and videos in your release is a surefire way to increase visibility as it will inevitably be indexed by multimedia search engines like Google Images.
Another reason why multimedia is a must-have is that press releases (or any piece of content for that matter) with videos or images increases the probability that your piece will get shared on social media. With a growing number of users getting their news from Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, this is an element you don’t want to overlook.
In the example below, you can see what a great job McDonald’s does including keywords, attention-grabbing call to actions, and social media links.
Top Tools for Creating SEO Friendly Press Releases
Ensuring your press release gets picked up is not for the faint of heart. To make life a little easier for you, we’ve picked out some of the top tools you can use to ease the process:
If media coverage opportunities are what you’re after, then HARO is the tool for you.
Short for “Help a Reporter Out,” HARO connects journalists with knowledgeable sources. This not only helps journalists meet demanding deadlines but also enables brands to effectively tell their stories.
Journalists seeking assistance will list their needs and then roughly 80,000 identified experts are quickly notified of the impending media opportunities.
A premiere media monitoring solution, LexisNexis Newsdesk offers businesses spanning corporate communications, marketing, and legal professionals, a 360-degree view of relevant news and business insights.
Experts can track key events that can impact their companies, create dynamic data visualization reports using SOV, sentiment, geolocation, and even share critical market intelligence data across their entire organization.
SEMrush is one of the first and best keyword research tools on the market today. Beloved by public relations professionals everywhere, this resource allows you to analyze rankings, advertisement content, backlink profiles, and even keep a close eye on competitors.
You can even see how your site ranks for keywords, and how they compare with competitor terms. SEMRush even goes so far as to assess your entire SEO strategy and then give you pointers on how to drive more traffic to your site.
Use this tool and you’ll be able to set up projects where you can watch specified domains for changes in metrics. These metrics include accessibility, crawlability, metadata violations, URL rating, as well as the number of keywords your domain is ranking for.
You also have the option to be alerted daily, weekly, or monthly via email notifications for backlink status and overall domain health.
Founded in 2004, Moz’s dashboard can help you track, measure, and improve your website’s onsite and offsite SEO to attain greater online visibility. There’s even a comprehensive collection of paid and free SEO tools you can choose from, including:
- Moz Keyword Explorer: Keyword research tool that offers suggestions, SERP features, and up-to-date search volume data.
- MozPro: Performs SEO site crawl checkups, page rank and competitor tracking, and SERP feature tracking.
- MozBar – Free Google Chrome extension that delivers instant metrics for SEO purposes.
Do Press Releases Work for SEO?
As you can see, when implemented correctly, the short answer is YES!
Despite an onslaught of naysayers saying that the press release is obsolete, the truth is that it remains a valuable tool for today’s public relations professionals. In fact, it’s considered one of the more cost-effective options that companies can use instead of paid advertising.
But, when trying to build your business’ reputation by securing media coverage, simply writing a press release isn’t going to give you the results you want.
Perfecting an SEO strategy requires plenty of skill, patience, and creativity. By following the above press release SEO best practices, we can assure you that you’ll be off to a great start in improving the online performance of your content.
Just remember to keep the reader top of mind with everything you publish, and you’ll be good to go!