An SEO press release often ranks well quickly for reputation management purposes, but sometimes fades with time as the timeliness of the release fades. A well-structured, compelling press release that is naturally shared and talked about can serve your purposes well.
Step One: Know Your Keywords
There are four steps to press release SEO process. We are assuming you are writing an SEO press release for online reputation management or just so it actually ranks where people can see it.
First, know your keywords. The keyword is what people will be entering into a search engine to find products and services. You’ll need to have primary and secondary keywords (or key phrases).
Primary Key Phrases
This is your main key phrase. Whether it’s a brand name, a product, or a service, this is your number one key phrase. It will be placed differently than other less significant key phrases. The main key phrase might be very competitive, like ‘travel SIM card’ or something slightly less competitive like ‘prepaid china SIM card’. The second key phrase is less competitive because it is more specific (long-tail keyword).
Choosing key phrases deserves a book of its own, but we won’t go into a lot of detail here. Let’s assume you know what your primary key phrase will be.
Secondary or Long Tail Key Phrases
(The awesome) Chris Anderson wrote a book called The Long Tail, arguing that successful commerce lies in less known, more obscure products, of which less sell but for which more people search. The Long Tail concept applies to key phrases as well. Less commonly used Long Tail key phrases are not as competitive as primary key phrases, but many exist, and together they can generate more total searches than your general, highly competitive terms. Here’s an example of how the Long Tail works as related to products.
Keep the Long Tail in mind as you are writing your press release. You will want to sprinkle in these terms. To find Long Tail key phrases, we suggest using the Google AdWords Keyword Tool. You can enter a key phrase, and it will return many relevant similar key phrases.
Note that the competition is HIGH for all the above. There are a lot of sites competing for these key phrases. However, when you sort by Competition, you can also view the LOW competition similar key phrases, it might look something like this:
So while your primary key phrase may be a brand name, or a competitive product or service, your secondary key phrases can be Long Tail; in other words, LESS searched, and fairly easy to weave into the body of your press release. These Long Tail or secondary key phrases can have overlapping words with your primary key phrase, or be semantically similar.
Parts of an SEO Press Release
There are five parts to press release SEO:
Include the primary key phrase in the title. If possible, the words should be towards the beginning of the title. Keep it around eight words if possible. This is where you want to place your primary key phrase, or a semantically similar version of it.
Summarize the press release in two or three sentences. Include the primary key phrase and possibly a secondary key phrase.
Write the body of your press release. Place your primary key phrase in the first sentence, if you can. If not, then place it soon after. You’ll be weaving key phrases into your document in a balanced way, but don’t ‘spam’ the press release. Spamming is also known as ‘keyword stuffing’ and it’s a practice search engines frown upon, and that can diminish the strength of your release – so go for keyword balance. Other aspects Google specifically frowns upon are written up in this excellent piece by Tom Foremski.
There is both science and art to writing a good SEO press release. As an online reputation management agency we're keenly interested in the who we are writing for. On one hand, you are writing the press release for people, so it needs to be written so that it reads naturally. On the other hand, few may see it if the search engines aren’t impressed, so you are writing for the ‘Google Bot’ as well. Finding that perfect balance between writing for people and machines is what separates the talented from everyone else.
About the Company
This is the third-person summary of the company: a good place to put a relevant secondary key phrase.
This is where the media contact for inquiries goes.
Step 2: The All Important Title (Tag)
When your press release shows up online, the Title will be inserted into the Title bar of the web browser as the ‘Title tag’. Your press release will be converted to HTML (so browsers can read it) when it is put online (you don’t have to do it, it happens automatically). The HTML tag ‘Title’ is the tag that tells search engines what your press release is about. If you are curious, it looks like this to a browser:
Again, you don’t need to format it that way because it will be done automatically for you by the press release distribution company. But you should know that the title of your press release should have your primary key phrase in it, because it will become the Title tag when it makes its way online. The Title tag is the most important tag for search engine optimization. It is the first place search engines look when trying to figure out what your press release is about.
Step 3: The Summary
The summary should have your primary key phrase in it, as well as one or two secondary key phrases. If it sounds contrived having too many key phrases in it, default to only one. If the key phrase still doesn’t read right, you can adjust it slightly. Search engines are smart, so they will know what you mean. But try to keep it as close to the original key phrase as possible.
Step 4: The Body of the Press Release
Keyword Usage in a Press Release
The example below is a press release created to weave keywords into it, such as ‘china’, ‘sim card’, ‘travel’, ‘prepaid’, and other terms.
The illustration below shows an overlay of the key phrases search engines see most often in the press release example. Note that not only is the primary key phrase ‘prepaid China SIM card’, but secondary terms are strewn throughout that support that phrase. The word China is used 13 times, but not always in the same way.
This is a good example of how a key phrase doesn’t need to be exactly the same each time it’s used in a press release. You’ll note there are many variations of the phrase in whole or in part throughout the release.
Key Phrase Sprinkling
The illustration below shows how primary and secondary key phrases are sprinkled throughout the body copy. The search terms ‘china sim card’ and ‘chinese sim card’ are effectively the same key phrase and are supported by key phrases such as ‘sim card’ and ‘china’.
How Keywords Affect Search Results
The illustration below shows the first page of Google News search results for the search term ‘prepaid china sim card’.
The above referenced press release has a link embedded in it. The anchor text (the words you click on with the link ‘under’ them) is ‘Prepaid China SIM Card’.
The link is high in the body copy, in the beginning of the first paragraph. Tests show that links higher in body copy perform better than links further down. Try to keep your link, or links, high up. As a rule of thumb, place three or fewer links in a press release.
Note that the Headline for the destination is also ‘Prepaid China SIM Cards’. By putting the key phrase in the press release, then linking to a page with the same key phrase, the writer has affirmed for search engines that the link is about ‘Prepaid China SIM Cards’, because that key phrase is resident on both ends. This link is used for SEO purposes (Search Engine Optimization). The synchronization between the words in the press release, the anchor text, the link, and the headline of the target page at http://www.holidayphone.com/payg-prepaid-sim-card-china.html are all aligned.
In the online reputation management world, press releases are considered ephemeral. They’re about news, and news ages quickly. Search engines know this and tend to push a good press release up in search results. If people click on it and read it, the release can have more longevity. The art and science of writing a good SEO press release comes into play here: it has to be noticed by search engines to be read by people. At the same time, it needs to be compelling enough that people will not just click on it and then click away. Ideally, you want people to stay and read the press release for at least a minute or two before clicking on a link in it, or worse – going back to Google, Yahoo, or Bing and doing another search. When people leave a page and click on another search result it is called a bounce, and can diminish your press release in search results.
So write a good, compelling release, but keep our robotic search engine friends well fed, too.
Long tail image source: Chris Anderson, Longtail.com.