How to Improve the SEO of Your Next Press Release

The goal of any press release is to garner attention from the right people—the media, potential customers, and even investors—depending on your goals. But with nearly 2,000 press releases[1] getting distributed every day, it’s important that your client’s press releases stands out among the rest. One of the ways you can do that is by optimizing their press releases with high-value SEO keywords.

For most PR professionals, SEO know-how isn’t necessarily in their core job description. SEO usually has more to do with growth marketing or content marketing, than publicity. But SEO is becoming more of a priority for many companies, and the best marketing agencies[2] and PR firms are taking note.

When you’re writing your next press release[3], having a solid understanding of SEO can help you get better results for your clients, and even help you catch the attention of more media.

What’s So Special About SEO?

SEO has been around since the early 90’s, and what started as a trendy marketing strategy is now a must-have for many brands. But what exactly is SEO?

People tend to overcomplicate it, but the general idea is actually pretty simple. SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization, and it’s all about getting search engines to view a website as an authority on a particular topic. When a search engine believes that a certain website is highly credible, it shows the website on the first search engine results page.

As a result, more people will see that website when they input a specific search term, which translates into more organic traffic, and ultimately, higher sales for the company. SEO has been shown to be an effective alternative to many paid methods for garnering web traffic, like Google ads. And when done correctly, SEO can save companies a significant amount of time and money in the long run.

Can SEO Really Help Your Clients Get More Exposure?

While some companies benefit more from SEO than others, a large majority of businesses are able to successfully increase their traffic using SEO alone. The key to understanding if your client is SEO-friendly, is based on their niche.

SEO works best for companies that fall into a high search, low competition category. For example, say you have a client in the B2B SaaS space, and they’re known for selling lead generation software. It’s going to be difficult for the company to rank for such a broad search term, especially because they’ll be competing with multi-million dollar lead generation software providers, like Hubspot.

The client would have a better shot at ranking highly for a narrower, but still related term, like, “lead generation for small businesses” or “affordable lead generation software.” The way you can determine if your client has high search, low competition keywords is by doing keyword research, which we’ll talk about in the next section.

Here’s an example of SEO in action—the next time a technology reporter is compiling an article about the best affordable lead generation software that small businesses should purchase, your client’s company will be front and center, and are more likely to make it into the story.

3 Ways to Improve the SEO of Your Press Releases

You might be surprised to learn that over 90% of websites[4] don’t get any organic traffic from Google. So even if your clients don’t have their own internal SEO strategy, you can still give them an SEO boost by optimizing their press releases for SEO. Most notably, the three biggest factors that will influence SEO credibility are the keywords you use, the format of the press release, and the backlinks you include.

1. Know your keywords

Google and other search engines rank web pages by crawling them for certain key terms. So it’s important to know what your client’s customers might be searching for in order to find their website. To determine the right keywords, it’s best to use a specific SEO tool[5] to do your research, but the idea is pretty straight forward.

In your press release, make sure you’re using these keywords strategically. They should be in the headline of the press release, any subheadings, and even in the image caption. Google and other search engines specifically crawl these areas of text in order to pull keywords and use them in the ranking algorithm. However, be careful not to overuse them. A good rule of thumb is to use your keywords no more than five times within your press release (or any piece of content).

2. Think about format

Most press releases follow a similar format—headline, subhead, intro paragraph, description of the news, and a quote from a company executive. But when you’re writing a press release with SEO in mind, it’s important to understand the format that is preferred by search engines.

Generally speaking, search engines have a much easier time crawling content and finding keywords when the content is scannable. That means using bullet points, numbers, lists, and subheads that break up the text. Avoid writing blocky paragraphs, and instead, try to use shorter, more condensed paragraphs. If you choose to use pullout quotes, add your keywords there, as well.

3. Use links strategically

The last major element to SEO is backlinking. In a press release, there are a few areas where you’ll commonly place your links—in the introductory paragraph and in the boilerplate, with maybe one or two throughout the main text. But using backlinks behind your client’s keywords in their press releases will help them rank higher for those terms.

After you’ve determined your client’s main keywords, identify the links that correspond best to those terms. Ideally, these links would be landing pages that the client wants to drive traffic to, and that has some sort of sales funnel attached to it. For example, if your press release is announcing a new product line, link to the product landing page behind one of their keywords, rather than their home page or a recent blog post. 

Final Thoughts

You don’t have to be an SEO expert to optimize your client’s press releases for better search engine rankings. By implementing just a few key principles, you can help your clients build up their SEO credibility over time, and get more media attention from your press releases.

Author bio: Hailey Friedman has led growth for startups in San Francisco and around the world, and writes about her wildly successful marketing and lead generation tactics on her blog Growth Marketing Pro. Today, Hailey is Head of Marketing at Improvado, a tool built for marketing and analytics leaders to unify all their marketing data into a single source of truth. She’s also the President of the San Francisco Bay Area Chapter of Badass Marketers and Founders, a highly curated Facebook group and community of over 15,000 professional marketers. Connect with Hailey on LinkedIn and follow Growth Marketing Pro on Twitter.[6][7][8]

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