SEO Press Releases: How to Write them and Where to Submit Them
SEO press releases can bring you first-page visibility for your keywords very quickly. Sometimes, you can take over multiple spots on the the first page of Google for your keywords.Here’s an example of how one of my SEO press releases took over 5 of the first 10 spots (half of the page) on Google. This screenshot was taken in February of 2008. The press release was distributed four months earlier in November of 2007. Note that seven competing companies are paying for Pay Per Click ads to show up on page one of Google for this search term! The cost-per-click for this company’s keywords can be as high as $5 or more per click.
Why I Created This Hub
I created this hub for two important reasons. The first is that many traditional marketing and PR firms are stuck writing and publishing press releases the 'old' way. They are not taking advantage of the search engine optimization potential that could help their client's increase the visibility of their press releases in the search engine and improve the position of their websites in the search engine results page. As a marketing professional, I don't like knowing that clients, even if they are not mine, are not receiving all of the value possible for the the price they are paying for press releases.
The second reason is that writing and submitting press releases is a marketing tool that even small businesses can afford to do in order to gain more visibility online and strengthen the position of their website in the search engine rankings. As someone who bootstrapped a business on a shoestring budget, I have a great deal of passion for entrepreneurs with great products and services but little capital to promote themselves.
Why Publish SEO Press Releases?
There are plenty of benefits of SEO press releases if you do them correctly:
- Backlinks from credible news sites which increases the ranking of your website or blog for your keywords
- Visibility in search engines
- Ranking in Google News and Yahoo News for your keywords
- Tens of thousands of headline impressions across hundreds of blogs, websites, and news sites that run RSS headlines
- Potential media coverage
- Can help your new website escape from the “Google Sandbox” quickly
Here's an entertaining video about how press releases work in today's online world:
Press Releases in Plain English
Why In The Heck Should You Believe Me?
Good question. There is so much crap out there on the internet, we've got to really be discerning about who we believe. I’ve spent 2 years researching press release submission sites, doing tests on scores of SEO press releases, testing the results of different PR distribution points, and analyzing the results. I’ve spent hours on the phone with people from the major players in PR distribution.
I’ve played with different writing styles, made mistakes, pushed the limits of linking and promotion to find out just how far I could go before having a press release rejected. After all of this, I’ve developed a formula that works consistently.
There are two critical pieces of getting results with an SEO press release:
- Writing the release
- Distributing the release
Doing either of these ineffectively can and will undermine your results. This hub will cover everything you need to know about writing and submitting SEO press releases.
What is an "SEO Press Release?"
An SEO press release or 'search engine optimized' press release is first and foremost a way to deliver news of new events taking place within your company. However, it is written in such a way that it will rank well in the search engines for your keywords and provide your website with important backlinks that will also help boost it's position in the search engine rankings.
Aren't Press Releases "Old?"
I kind of like the fact that most people don't realize how valuable a press release can be because it means more opportunity for me and my clients!
Some people think press releases are some old and boring marketing method from the past. That's because they were! Today's press releases are a lot more fun. They can include video, links, pictures, social media buttons and more.
An Example of an "Old" Press Release
An Example of Today's SEO Press Release
SEO Press Release Writing Step One: Identifying Keywords
Before you write the very first word of your press release, you must know which keywords you are optimizing for. A keyword or keyword phrase is a term that your visitors search for when they are looking for solutions that your product or service solves.
If you’re a writer working with an SEO company, be sure to get the keywords from the SEO company before starting. If you’re writing for your own site and haven’t yet chosen keywords, I recommend WordTracker for choosing keywords. Though WordTracker is a paid service, they also have a FREE trial version that will give you a good idea about which keywords to optimize for and which ones will bring you the best results.
I highly recommend watching this video tutorial to learn how to use Word Tracker more effectively:
Quick WordTracker Tutorial
Optimize For Long Tail Keywords
Long tail keywords are those that are less competitive and less searched for, but collectively generate more total searches than your general, highly competitive terms.
Elements of A Press Release
There are 5 technical parts of a press release:
- About the Company
- Press Contact
Title: Include the keyword phrase in the title. The title should not exceed 100 characters.
Summary: Give a synopsis of the press release in 1-2 sentences using 1-2 secondary keywords. The length of the summary should not exceed 240 characters.
Body: Writing subjectively and in the third person, give the details of your news. Length should be at least 300 words and include 1-2 quotes and 3-4 keyword phrases.
About the Company: In 2-3 sentences, give your company’s ‘elevator pitch’ writing in third person. Include a link to your homepage in the summary (preferably in anchor text.)
Press Contact: Designate one person who will consistently be the media contact for the company. This can be anyone in the company, including yourself. Gather the name, address, phone, email, and website of the press contact – many press release publishers will not accept your submission without contact details. If you are optimizing for your name, you may want to include your name as the press contact.
Step 2: Optimizing the Title
There are two things to think about when creating a title and these two things can contradict each other.
- Positioning your search term
- Creating an irresistibly-clickable title
While you’ll want to try and do both with the same headline, you often need to sacrifice one for the other. Though this goes against convention, if you have to choose, pick keyword over clickable.
You may be thinking… “What!?!? Did she really just say that?” Yes, I did. And I’ll tell you why. I’ll also tell you why you’ll want to create a second headline that you’ll use when submitting your press release to certain viral distribution points.
Why You’d Want to Sacrifice Uber-Clickable for Keywords
- The title of the press release often becomes the title tag on PR distribution sites and the title tag is a very important part of what helps a page rank for a search term.
- The title of the press release is going to be in big bold letters on the search page. If a user searches for “women’s recovery retreat,” they should instantly realize that this result is relevant.
Many of the distribution points that I use allow you to upload your releases, but don’t really syndicate them across mass audiences. Google comes around to crawl these news sites regularly and indexes new pages, thus making them available for search.
Creating a Second Irresistibly-Clickable Title for PR Web
PR Web is useful for pushing press release titles out to massive numbers of viewers. Instead of just sitting on a server waiting to be found, the headlines are syndicated on thousands of websites and blogs that offer RSS news feeds to their readers. In this case, you’ll want the title to really capture the reader’s attention to invite them to click. Because the title gets massive exposure it's better to create a catchier headline when you submit a press release through PR Web.
Step 3: Optimizing the Summary
Most press release distribution points will ask for a summary of your press release. You’ll want to include some additional keyword phrases in the summary that are different than those in the title to maximize exposure for these phrases.
Why Optimizing Throughout the Press Release is so Important
Search engines will pick out parts of the press release that include the searched keywords to use as the summary in the search engine results:
Step 4: Optimizing the Body of the Press Release
After reading the last section about how search engines find the text for the results page summary, you’ve probably realized the importance of optimizing the body of the press release for keywords.
The following image shows an image of this press release in its original Word Document format. Just about every single element of the press release is crafted in this format for a very specific reason.
Optimized Parts of an SEO Press Release
Step 5: Writing Your Press Release
Press releases have a definite flavor, style, and premise that differs from other types of published media. In this section, we’ll talk about:
- Press release topics
- Parts of a press release
Choosing Press Release Topics
Many clients that I talk with wrongly assume that they don’t have anything newsworthy to talk about. Yet after digging for just a few minutes, I usually uncover a wealth of great topics to write about!
Your news doesn’t need to be earth-shattering to be newsworthy. There are plenty of things happening in your business or on your blog that can be considered newsworthy:
- New product/service/program
- New published report/e-book/interview
- New strategic partnership or hire
If you think about it, you can probably take some of the things you are already doing and turn them into newsworthy press release material.
Let’s say that you observed by looking at your blog stats that readers that come to your blog from social media sources tend to stick around longer than from direct search engine traffic. At this point, it’s just an observation. But if you were to create a 1-2 page report on your findings and offer it as a download on your blog – it becomes news of a new published report!
If you challenge yourself to produce one press release per month, you will likely start thinking differently about how you conduct your business. Knowing that you will need to produce a monthly press release will force you to come up with lots of new material and developments for your business that can only improve your value to your target audience.
However, it is important that your press release have newsworthy value. Since they are so easy to submit, a lot of junk is being distributed and is diluting the value of press releases. If we want press releases to continue being viewed as high quality material, we all have to do our part in making sure that we are publishing on topics that are valuable.
In the past, a press release was sent to the media to provide journalists and editors with topics to write about. Today, press releases are published on the web and often viewed by the end user, as well as traditional journalists and new media journalists (bloggers).
Because your target audience will likely be the reader of your press release, it’s important to provide a message that will resonate with your audience. However, the release must be written in a way that does not make it appear completely obvious that you are talking directly to your target audience.
Always write the press release from a third-person perspective, never in a first-person perspective. The press release should seem very objective.
Getting Rid of “You”
One mistake that I see a lot of companies make when they send me press releases to review is to include the word “you” in the press release. Using the word “you” in a press release can cause your press release to be rejected for “too much advertising language.” But that doesn’t mean that you cannot advertise – that’s the whole point of the press release! You just have to word your “advertisement” more subjectively. Here’s an example:
“You can find dozens of recipes for meatballs and upcoming restaurant events by visiting our website at...”
Press release publishers will often reject such a directive statement. Instead, you’ll want to phrase this sentence like this:
“Meatball enthusiasts can visit... for a variety of meatball recipes and information on upcoming Meatball House events.”
Quoting People in SEO Press Releases
The place for blatant self-promotion is in the quotes! The text residing inside the quote can be as subjective and self-promotional as you want. Quotes can be the powerful sales tool in a press release. When I write press releases for clients, these quotes are part of the sales strategy. I write the quotes myself in order to flow with the entire message, and then let the client approve them – not the other way around.
Another purpose of quotes when using PR Web is to serve as an attention grabber and a summary to entice visitors to read the entire press release. The reason this works with PR Web is because of a feature called “Quotables” that randomly pulls quotes out of the press release and enlarges them as an inset in the body of the press release.
Example of PR Web's "Quotables" Feature
Things to Remember About Quotables:
- This feature is only available with a $120, $200, or $360 PR Web upgrade.
- If you have 3 different quotations in your press release, it will randomly select one quote to feature and then randomly select another quote with each page load. If you have one powerful message in your quotes, you may want to make this the only quote in the press release to give it more visibility.
- Quotables only pulls what is between two quotation marks. Don’t cut a single thought in half with the name of the person being quoted. This works great on paper, but it looks ridiculous when the Quotables feature picks it up.
"However,” explains Houston, “we're not operating a resort. Every moment of the 3-month program is designed to achieve the center's ultimate goal; to help residents develop the life skills and habits of a sober lifestyle."
(The word “However” was picked up by Quotables)
- Quotables will pull anything in quotes – even if it’s just a single word that you have placed in quotes for a completely “different” reason. If you need to use quotes around a single word, use ‘single quotation marks.’
Mark Houston Recovery was heralded as an innovative "outside the box" alcohol and drug recovery center in last month's issue of Treatment Magazine for its personal approach to treatment.
(The term “outside the box” was picked up by Quotables)
Where to Submit SEO Press Releases
I've published the second part of this tutorial, "Where and How to Submit SEO Press Releases" on SlideShare. This slideshow will show you where – but more importantly how – to submit your press releases to various press release distributors to get the most benefit from your press release.
My business partner Tara and I also created our own press release submission site where you can submit free press releases or submit SEO press releases for a minimal $6 upgrade. After using press release submission sites for years, we created this one with all of the feautes that we wanted in a press release site.
Every press release submission service has its own little quirks and oddities that you want to be aware of before submitting.You can use the slideshow as a reference guide, flipping to the slide you need during the submission process.
Eight Tips for Creating Killer Press Releases
I've talked about some of the "technical" aspects of writing an SEO press release. This video shows you how to create a powerful message to make your press release appeal to humans, not just search engines:
- How to Write a Social Media Press Release
Muhammad Saleem writes at Copyblogger about some ideas for getting the social media community interested in your press release.
- How to Find a Story That Journalists Will Bite Your Hand Off For
Amber McNaught, a former journalist, explains how to write a press release that stands out from the crowd.