November 5, 2010

8 ways to write better Press Releases

As highlighted in previous posts, the rise of social media use in public relations and the misuse of more traditional tools has led some to relegate the latter (including email and press releases) to the museum of dust. Yet, an optimized press release is still the most potent ways to get your message seen on search engine page 1.

But what does the “optimized” attribute really mean?

Here are simple guidelines for writing a press release that ranks well. In essence, think search engine optimization (SEO):

  1. Keep the title short. Google will only display 70 characters (23 words for Google News). Not too short, or you won’t convey meaning and keywords. Not too long or you will bore, get cropped and loose SEO effect. Goldilocks titles rule.
  2. Search and use keywords. When you’re writing a press release, you need to use the exact words your targeted audience will search for. You can use Google’s AdWords search tool for this or one of several available commercial tools such as WordTracker, SEMRush, Wordze … The picture above shows results for “Press Release” and the number of searches for each.
  3. Write for humans. Press release free. Free press release. Writing a press release. Press release how to. Hmmm, not very engaging, is it ? ;o) Besides, Google will punish you for cramming too many keywords into a text. But hey, I got 4 keywords in ;o)
  4. Keep the text short. Mail, mobile and social media may have gotten us closer than ever before, they have also slashed the attention span we devote to individual items. Free press release aside (see, I did it again ;o) most distribution services charge a fixed amount up to a certain size then more and more as the text gets longer. Also, two 400 word press releases are way more efficient SEO-wise than one containing 800.
  5. Include links. You will keep your text short by providing more information on your website. When your press release is read and passed along, people will click to documents hosted in your virtual press room. Every click adds traffic. And if journalists or bloggers include these links in what they write about you, your ranking will greatly benefit from these inbound links. Name your links. Google reads link names. “Click here” doesn’t rank as well as “Augure’s virtual press room”).
  6. Follow the Inverted Pyramid writing style. Place the most important information first. Also place at least one important link in this first part. Google only display a few lines of text, make sure the first link is in there.
  7. Get rid of jargon and buzzwords. Your competitors use them as well, so you’re not making a difference. Or they’re not, and they’re actually sending out meaningful information to your client base. They rank very badly in search engines. Your readers don’t have a single clue what they mean. Really. This tag cloud of most overused buzzwords is revealing. Also read David Meerman Scott’s Top Gobbledygook phrases.
  8. Provide contact info, not just a link to a contact form. Humans will be reading this and might want to get in touch personally.

Will this post rank #1 for the search keyword “Press Release”? Definitely not. There are much older and better known PR blogs out there that have discussed similar subjects. But it will certainly rank way better than if the rules hadn’t been followed. Press releases have much lower competition and yours can easily rank at the top.

If you have other tips and guidelines, please share them in the comments.

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