Press releases are traditionally used to get the word out about a newsworthy piece of information. However, as the public's shift to digital media consumption has skyrocketed, the press release has changed accordingly. One such benefit of this paradigm is that press releases, when written and structured properly, can improve a website's search engine rankings for target keywords.
Today, press releases are not only distributed to traditional offline media outlets. They are circulated to web-based news sources, bloggers, and major search engines and their corresponding news platforms. Examples include Google News and Yahoo! News. A well written and optimized press release that is distributed through a top newswire can drive a significant amount of instantaneous traffic to your website. But how does this increase search engine rankings?
Assuming you distribute your release through a reputable newswire, such as PR Newswire, Business Wire, or eReleases, you can include links to your website within the release. For example, if you own an online music store and are selling a new snare drum, you could use "snare drum" as the anchor text, which in turn links to a page on your website specific to that snare drum. Better yet, use the exact make and model of the snare drum as the anchor text, such as "Sonor Black Mamba maple snare drum." The more targeted the keyword, the higher your conversions will be. Plus it is much more realistic to rank for a specific key phrase than a more general term.
From my experience distributing press releases for clients, it is common to have a single press release syndicated on over 200 different websites. With the above snare drum example, that creates over 200 back links to your website that will help you rank for the key phrase"Sonor Black Mamba maple snare drum."
Below are some best practices when optimizing a press release for the search engines.
1. Keep the word count of your release between 400 and 600.
2. Focus on optimizing one keyword per press release. Focusing on too many keywords will dilute the value of each link.
3. Perform diligent keyword research. Make sure you select a keyword that is highly relevant to the content on one of your webpages. Ideally, you want to find a keyword that isn't too broad but also has a good search volume. Generally, phrases that are between two and four words work best. You can use Google's free keyword tool to perform this research.
4. Avoid linking to your homepage. You want to send traffic to a page on your website that is highly relevant to your keyword. This will not only improve your chances of achieving higher rankings for your keyword, but will also ensure that the traffic you generate directly from your press release converts at a higher rate.
5. Make sure to use your keyword in the article title and several times throughout the body. However, do not "keyword stuff," as your release could get penalized by the search engines.
6. If possible, include your hyperlinked keyword in the first paragraph of the release. The search engines give more weight to text towards the beginning of a page.
7. Do not use a free distribution service. You generally get what you pay for, and most free press release services have very little reach and often do not allow hyperlinking within the release. PR Newswire and Business Wire are the biggest newswires in the United States and provide the most extensive reach. From testing the various distribution services, Ereleases.com provides the most bang for your buck, as you get PR Newswire distribution plus your release gets pitched to their inhouse list of 100,000 journalists.
Press releases are one of the most cost effective ways to market your product or service. If you take a little extra time to optimize your releases for the search engines, you create the opportunity to generate not only instantaneous targeted traffic, but also numerous quality back links that can boost your website's search engine rankings.
David Smethie is a Senior Analyst at RD Legal Funding, LLC, a legal finance company based out of Northern New Jersey. He focuses on using the power of the internet to generate leads and improve brand awareness. For more information on post-settlement funding solutions, please call 800-565-5177.