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SEO Press Release Metrics: Analyzing the Reach and Value of Your Online PR
How do you know whether your online press releases are "working?" How can you tell whether they are effective? As a promotional strategy, there is no doubt that online press release distribution is effective. But its effectiveness must be measured. The campaign must be tracked in order to know that you're leveraging its potential, and improving your process for better results down the road.
To fully appreciate the importance of grading your press releases' performance, it's worth remembering why you're distributing them in the first place. Sometimes, it's easy to become so immersed in the process that we lose sight of our goals.
Here are seven of the primary goals of press releases and the corresponding methods in which to measure them:
Press Release Goal #1: Keyword Visibility:
One of the great benefits of press releases is that they have a tendency to appear in the search engines quickly and rank well for keywords that are in the title of the release. This way, when your target reader (customers, journalists, bloggers, etc) is searching for those keywords, they are likely to be exposed to your press release.
How To Measure Keyword Visibility of a Press Release
Ideally, you want your press release to appear in the organic search results or in Google News when someone searches for a particular keyword. Keep in mind that in order for this to happen, those terms you want your release to appear for must be in the title and summary of the release. In order to measure your keyword visibility, do a search in a variety of search engines for some of the key phrases that appear in your title and summary and see where your press release is ranking.
Press Release Goal #2: Online Saturation
Keep in mind also that Google and Yahoo are not the only search engines. A "search engine" is any site that people use in order to search for and find content. The more places that your press release is published; the more ways people have to find it. People hang out in many places online. They may have their own favorite sites that they search and may find your press release within searches of their favorite sites.
How To Measure Online Saturation of a Press Release
To measure the online saturation of your press release, do a title search in quotes in Google or Yahoo or your favorite search engine. This will show you the number of times that your press release title was displayed -- either as a result of the press release being republished in its entirety or as a result of the headline being displayed on an RSS newsfeed on a website.
A press release report that measures search results shows how online saturation can be measured.
Press Release Goal #3: Inbound Links To Your Website
Within your news releases, you should be including links that point to your site with the proper anchor text. Doing so increases your site's inbound link profile, and improves its search rankings for your keywords. Ideally, you will want links to your site embedded in keywords that you want your pages to be rank well for (these are called anchor text links). The more times the press release is republished in full (with anchor text links) the more you strengthen the significance of your site for those keywords in the "eyes" of a search engine.
How To Measure Inbound Links to Your Website From Your Press Release
There are a number of tools - some free and others paid - that will display the number of links pointing to your site. Some will also show you the domains from which the links point. BacklinkWatch, BlueBacklinks, and Yahoo Site Explorer are good, basic (and free) options.
Press Release Goal #4: Social Media Exposure
Search engines are fantastic for presenting content to people when they're looking for information around a particular keyword. With social media sites like Twitter and Facebook however, content has a way to get in front of eyes even when people are not specifically looking for items around your topic. With social media, people subscribe to people in order in hopes of discovering new content that other's found interesting or useful.
How To Measure Social Media Exposure of a Press Release
After promoting your press release via your favorite social media sites, do a search for your keywords to see if and how many times your press release appears. The more people share it, the more mentions you'll find of it. When sharing your press release via social media, consider using a URL shortener with click tracking like bit.ly or Google's link shortener. This will tell you how many times people clicked through to your press release using the link provided on the social media sites.
Press Release Goal #5: Brand Building and Reputation Management
People may not be searching for your company name to discover your products and services (after all, they don't know who you are yet). However, once they do find you and consider buying from you, many potential customers and clients will do their due diligence by searching for your name online. If someone searches for your name, what will they find? No news is not necessarily good news. It may give the sense that you're not established or not influential in your niche. Press releases optimized with your company name in the title or summary help to fill the search results with powerful, positive sentiment about your company.
How To Measure Brand Building and Reputation Management Value of a Press Release
Conduct a search for your company's name or your name in Google and see what those checking up on you will see when they do their research on you. In order to increase the positive search engine results from press releases, be sure to include your company's name in the title or summary of the release as these are the most influential areas to optimize in terms of determining which keywords your press releases will rank for.
Press Release Goal #6: Conversions
Press releases are no longer just "alerts" for the media sent in hopes that they would reprint the message -- today's press releases are published online and are in front of the eyes of your target audience. The days of boring, bland, text only press releases have been replaced with full color, image rich, multimedia rich "web pages" that can convert those customers.
How To Measure Conversions from a Press Release
Ideally, you should have an analytics package that displays traffic patterns and visitor behavior on your site (Google Analytics is a good tool for this). This is how you'll know whether your online news releases are sending traffic, and what visitors are doing once they arrive. Are they "bouncing" from your landing pages? Are they downloading a free special report? Are they opting into a newsletter or buying a product? Each of these actions can be tracked.
Press Release Goal #7: Media Mentions
We're starting to get into some crossover here with social media mentions and search engine saturation mentions. But there are never enough ways to track and monitor your exposure on the web. Media mentions (mentions on blogs, websites, forums, online discussions, online magazines, etc) may or may not include the full title of your press release in the mention. It's possible that they may not even link to it. But it is likely that they will at least mention your name or your website or some part of the press release (such as an ebook title, product name, webinar name, etc) -- so you'll want to do some hunting for those mentions as well.
How To Measure Media Mentions from a Press Release
One of the best ways to ensure that you're alerted when someone posts about you is by setting up a Google Alert for your name, your company name, product names, book titles, etc. Google Alerts is free, takes just minutes to set up and will alert you to things published online almost instantly. SocialMention is another great tool -- their tagline: "Like Google Alerts but for social media." SocialMention also measures strength, sentiment, passion, and reach of the mentions.
Measure and Remeasure
Being able to measure whether your news releases are working is clearly important. It is equally important to establish a baseline against which you can compare future results. This is the only way to determine your progress over the long run. Are your press releases designed to convert readers? Are they helping you build a stronger link profile? Are they creating buzz in the social networks? These and other key details are impossible to know unless you have something against which you can compare them.