Tuesday, August 31, 2010

How to optimise your press releases for search engines

The roles of the PR company and the digital agency are blurring all the time, particularly in respect of the use of Press Releases for SEO (Search Engine Optimisation). As you may have seen in a previous post, my view is:

If your PR agency is not thinking about the ways to make Press Releases more SEO friendly, then I suggest you need to reconsider your PR agency
But if you're either an in-house PR person or are looking to improve the SEO capability of your Press Releases, here's some pointers (assuming you already know how to write one)

  1. Keep your words to between 250 - 900 in number
    Although opinion differs from SEO consultant to SEO consultant on the precise number of words to use in a Press Release, there is a general consensus that focusing on the first 250 is the right approach and that there is minimal value in going beyond 900.
    (Note: a press release must also be at least 250 words to be listed on Google News)
  2. Ensure you have the right keywords in the content and in the right proportions
    Whether your Press Release is going on your own website, posted to news wires or has a different home on the web altogether, search engines can only index content to appear for the those search terms where the content actually contains the words. Keyword targeting has been around almost as long as the search engines have been and is well used by sites to create traffic from organic search results.
    However, avoid the practice of 'keyword stuffing', the act of packing as many repeated keywords into your content in the misguided belief that this will push your page to the top of search engines.... you will apparently eventually get penalised for this action.
    But how many mentions of your keyword is seen as 'stuffing' and how much is fair usage? The answer to this question is usually "it depends" or even "Who cares. Its a myth that Search Engines actually look at this stuff". Its even a question that is pretty hard to answer by those who focus on the mathematics of this stuff (which is essentially decompiling the Google search algorithm, so good luck to those people attempting this!) and each has a slightly different opinion on the subject. However the general advice is to write 'normally' and not create content that 'obviously' abuses the number of times keywords are mentioned. But this doesn't really help you if you are writing content that targets certain search terms and if you're looking for an actual figure.... many experts suggest that your keyword density ratio should be around 1 - 3% of total word usage.
  3. Hyperlink keywords back to your own site
    Many Press Releases are copied in entirety to some news sites and this includes embedded hyperlinks. These links all contribute to your SEO efforts and build traffic to your site.
  4. Ensure the target site(s) uses correct HTML code
    Does it utilise semantic code? Does it use your Press Release header as the page 'Title'? (As the page title is typically given more weight than any other text on the page).

As you can see, there are many ways to improve upon the tradional Press Release to help your Search Engine Optimisation efforts. However, if anyone has an further suggestions I look forward to hearing them and discussing their relevant merits.

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