Jun 25, 2013

How Does PR Newswire Optimize Press Releases?

We’re hearing this question a lot, so we thought we’d take time out from our regular programming to dig into how PR Newswire has created the best platform for hosting press releases in the business, and to discuss some of the elements that go into optimizing a big site like ours, as well as granular pieces of content like press releases.   This is the first of a three-part series we’ll be running this week.  Check back tomorrow and Thursday for discussions about what you can do to improve press release visibility, and how distribution of press releases factors into the visibility equation.

SEO vs press release SEO

When it comes to press releases and SEO, there are two sides of the coin to consider:  web site SEO, which is concerned with building visibility for a website for specific keywords used by Internet searchers, and press release visibility, which focuses on optimizing the visibility of the specific message.

That said, the two are not mutually exclusive. Good PR messaging can definitely be incorporated into the successful SEO strategy.  The credibility of earned media is beneficial to not just a brand’s reputation, but for the brand website as well.  And, as you’ll see below, the two work hand-in-glove to display online content to its best advantage.

Press release optimization on PR Newswire’s web site

 Search engine traffic is the primary driver of visibility to the press releases on PRNewswire.com. More than 60% of the traffic to the press release section on our website comes directly from search engine queries.  We know this traffic is vitally important for our customers who issued the press releases, and we want to do everything we can to ensure that press releases are seen in relevant search results.

The PR Newswire web team is continually updating and fine-tuning our website according to Google best practices and other guidelines from major search engines.  In recent months, we have implemented a host of updates, including:

  • Configuring metadata to meet search engine requirements, i.e. optimized title tag, meta tags, canonical tags & meta keywords
  • Maintaining fast page load speed
  • Adding microformat/structured metadata tagging for Google, Facebook and Twitter
  • Optimizing user experience through methodological testing

Our approach ensures that every press release hosted on our web site is effectively optimized for search in terms of how the content is hosted and presented to search engines, and content from the release (company, geography and descriptive elements from the headline and body) is embedded within the underlying page structure. 

13 pagerankWhile we never stop testing and updating our web site, we’re satisfied that we’re on the right track – PRNewswire.com has the highest page rank in the commercial newswire industry and we lead our peers in traffic, unique visitors and page views.

Keeping up to date with SEO practices

Given the speed at which search engines update their algorithms, maintaining good SEO practices requires the practitioner to abandon old, outdated tactics the search engines no longer value.  For this reason, PR Newswire does not invite customers to provide keywords for use in the meta-keywords field within the HTML code of the page hosting their press releases.  We get a lot of questions about this, because some of our competitors still encourage their clients to submit keywords for inclusion in this field.  While this tactic may have been useful 5 to 7 years ago, it’s actually something that can be damaging if done incorrectly these days.

Google is on record as noting that they no longer use this field when ranking web pages.  And some of the best minds in the SEO space stridently advise against over-utilizing this field.  So we don’t.  We do populate this field with data from the release itself, adding a layer of information but also insuring that there is no discrepancy between the on-page content and the data in the meta keywords tag.   

Related reading:

25 Ways to Get Penalized in 2012

Google Penguin Update Recovery: Getting Better At Keywords

What’s important? The content on the page. 

In fact, the search engines are now very good at evaluating on page content – meaning the content that humans see when they look at the page — and are no longer relying on the underlying HTML code of the page.  Instead, they are looking at content almost as humans do, ascertaining meaning and evaluating related content on the page.  That’s why, for example, you will see that we surround your press release with other information, including other announcements from your company, as well as industry news. This is best practice, from both the search engine and user standpoints, and it’s one reason why our website ranks higher than other news competitors who do not do this.

Coming tomorrow:  Your Role in Improving Search Engine Visibility of the Content You Publish 

Author Sarah Skerik is PR Newswire’s vice president of content marketing, and is the author of the e-book “Unlocking Social Media for PR.”  Follow her on Twitter at @sarahskerik

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