Jun 20, 2013

Updated: Optimizing Online Press Releases & Other Content

It’s impossible to write about search engines without referencing change, and this post is no exception.  We’ve updated the advice we’re offering for optimizing press releases and other content for maximum online visibility.

There are some important changes, including:

  • An increased focus on creating content that is useful.  Search engines are putting a lot of emphasis on whether or not people like a piece of content, as gauged by the amount of time they spend reading or watching it,  whether or not they share it socially and any other actions taken on the page, such as clicking on embedded links. If content doesn’t generate these kinds of activities, it doesn’t matter  what keywords were used in the headline.   
  • Abandoning our old “Headline, Lead & Link”  tactic, which advised using an important keyword in the headline and lead sentence, and then linking from that keyword in the lead to a related page.   In today’s world, that would be over-doing it.  Instead, write naturally, and use anchor text VERY sparingly, and link from a related phrase, not an exact-match keyword: e.g. use “car insurance for teenagers” instead of “car insurance” in copy about insuring younger drivers.
  • Emphasizing interaction, such as including a distinct call to action within the message, as well as employing tactics to encourage social sharing.  Getting your audience act, not just read, is crucial.

The nature of some of the advice may surprise some.  It’s not technical.   In fact, the emphasis the SEO crowd are placing on the value of authentic earned media plays right into the hands of the PR team.    Search engines are placing extremely high value on credible earned media – and that’s right in the public relations department’s wheelhouse, and happily, the updated tactics revolve around great writing, clear messaging and telling a fantastic story.  

Related reading from SEO authorities Wordtracker:  10 Shameful SEO Mistakes emphasizes the move toward useful and interesting content, and away from mechanical SEO tactics.

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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