Upcoming Event: Best Practices for Online Press Releases

January 3, 2011

Upcoming Business Wire Events

Start the new year right — sign up for our upcoming webinar, “A Successful Online Press Release: From Start to Finish.”

Join Market Motive Online PR Professor Greg Jarboe and Business Wire Product Manager Joseph Miller to learn cutting-edge practices for the modern optimized press release. This workshop will cover current best practices of the online PR process: creation, distribution, and measurement. You’ll learn headline creation techniques, SEO, strategy, and multimedia best practices. Then you’ll be shown step-by step wire distribution processes and timing, and finally explore how you can measure success of your online PR campaigns. Online press releases are a powerful and often-misunderstood marketing channel for getting the word out and the links in. Join us on January 11th to learn more and keep your skills up to date.

The hourlong webinar will be held on Tuesday, Jan. 11 at 11am ET/8am PT. Go here to register.

For more upcoming local Business Wire events or to see what’s coming up in our award-winning webinar series, visit http://www.businesswire.com/portal/site/home/business-wire-events.

Follow Business Wire events on Twitter! Hash tag #bwevents


Great Free Keyword Tools For Your Press Releases

June 18, 2010


In this edition of SEO Tip Jar I want to show you some free keyword tools that can start using today to supplement your press release and online content creation efforts.  Keyword tools are an excellent resource to help you optimize for search, generate new ideas, gauge the relative popularity of different keywords among searchers or even just learn some new words.   I’ve divided this post into two sections:

Keyword Generation Tools which give you ideas and statistics based on keywords you input

Quirky Keyword Tools which might seem a little out there at first but can help you look at related words in different ways and maybe even give you a few ideas.

Without further ado, let’s dig in to the tools!

Keyword Generation Tools

Wordtracker’s Free Keyword Suggestion Tool is the granddaddy of online keyword tools.  Wordtracker was started way back in 1997 and uses a database of search terms culled from popular “metacrawlers” Dogpile and Metacrawler to supplement its keyword suggestion engine with data on search volume.

Wordtracker’s tool is designed to give you keyword ideas and usage is simple.  Just enter a keyword and click the button.  You’ll receive the top 100 related keywords in order of search volume.

It’s worth noting that since search frequency data is not provided directly by Google, Yahoo or Bing you should probably look at the numbers to gauge relative popularity rather than a precise estimate of the traffic you may be competing for.

If you are a data geek and want even more numbers surrounding these results, you can also try SEOBook’s free keyword tool (registration required) which borrows suggestions from Wordtracker. If you want even more results you’ll need to subscribe to their paid plan which is $59 per month.

Wordstream’s Free Keyword tool is a relative newcomer but provides a bit more features than Wordtracker.  First off, Wordstream lets you put in more than one keyword at once.  This lets you more easily gauge popularity of different terms.  Second, and most importantly, Wordstream will provide you with a full list of matching keywords via e-mail rather than limiting results to the first 100.

Another difference between the two services is that Wordstream keywords are ranked with relative frequency rather than hard numbers, although this might actually make it easier for people to put all the keywords you generate in context.

They also assert that their keyword tools draw from the widest dataset, although the results returned seemed quite similar to Wordtracker in my limited tests.

Wordstream has another tool called the Keyword Niche Finder that aims to give you segmented result sets for niche keywords based a single keyword that you enter. enter.

Since the groups generated are likely to be seen as similar by search engines as well as news consumers I can see this tool being very useful for conceiving and building topic themes for, say, a related series of press releases, marketing messages and social media topics working in conjunction.

Google’s AdWords Keyword Tool is a favorite of many wordsmiths since it pulls recommendations and data directly from Google.  As the name suggests, this tool is designed to help Google AdWords advertisers and tends to show you very broad keywords with the most search activity by default (top recommendations for my keywords make sushi and learn Japanese were sushi making and Japanese sushi).  These recommendations and data provided can be useful for anyone crafting online content if you’re willing to mine through the results.

Here’s a tip to find more targeted keywords with the AdWords tool: sort by Global Monthly Searches from low to high and work your way up the list until you find a sweet spot of targeted keywords with significant traffic.  You could also supplement your research with Google Trends for even more data.

Quirky Keyword Tools

Sometimes you just need to take a more different look at things.  The following tools can help you spot trends and relationships among all the words floating around the web.

SEOMoz’s Popular Searches tool simply displays popular searches and topics from Google, Yahoo, Technorati, Amazon, eBay and elsewhere.  All of this data is available scattered around the web, but it’s great to have it in one place.  You can also search the archives to see what’s been popular as far back as 2007.

If you are looking for a hook to a hot topic, SEOMoz’s tool can be a great place to go and get a feel for what’s hot across the Internet.

Quintura is designed as a visual search engine aid.  The site shows related keywords in a tag cloud style design when you perform a search.  Each keyword is clickable and leads you on a web search, making it both a helpful general research tool and keyword visualizer.

VisualThesaurus is not entirely free, but you can perform a few searches before the app starts asking for your credit card information.   Among visual tools I’ve looked at, the clean display and comprehensive depth of word trees presented by VisualThesaurus really make it stand out.  My searches for common words like make produced vast trees of related words and terms.

Last but not least is Soovle.  This tool grabs the search auto-complete results from various popular websites and displays them all in one place.  As opposed to the Popular Searches tool, which tells you what’s hot now, Soovle can be a novel way to find out what searches related to the keyword you enter are the most popular in the long term among many searchers.

Do you have any experience using these or other keyword tools?  Did I miss any great ones?  Please let me know by commenting below or sending a message to @EONpr on Twitter.


Seven Traits of Highly Effective Press Releases

May 6, 2010

For this edition of SEO Tip Jar I wanted to look at hit releases and see what attributes they tend to have in common.  My methodology was simple and straightforward.  I defined hit releases as those getting the most release reads (or page views) and took the top 10 releases on EON: Enhanced Online News for each full month so far in 2010.  I looked at 40 releases in total.

For each release, I counted the words in the body, the date and time of release, whether the release included a photo, and so on for a total of seven main traits.

The “Average” Hit Release

Across the board, these releases were an average of 642 words, with the longest being nearly 1500 words and the shortest being just over 250 words.  The word counts were quite evenly distributed as well, and there didn’t seem to be any word count exceptionally more likely to hit than another.  In total, 58% of releases were over 500 words.

The most common day of the week to release was Thursday, which was the date of choice for 22.5% of releases.  Tuesday and Wednesday were close behind with 20% of releases each and Monday and Friday were slightly less likely at 17.5%.  Just one lonely hit was released on a Saturday and no hit releases premiered on Sundays.

Moving on to the best time of day (rounding to the nearest hour), 10am and 12pm ET were tied for the most frequent, each with 12.5% of releases.  Additionally, 40% of all the hits were released before noon, 35% between noon and 3pm, and 25% from 4pm onward.  It looks like news consumers tend to be early risers, so get your release out during the workday if you can.

Traits from Top to Bottom

  1. 87% of releases included at least one link in one form or another in the body of the release, with many of the top releases containing quite a few very descriptive links.  If your company happens to be a holdout in the release linking game, I hope this may persuade you to start adding descriptive links to your press releases.
  2. 73% of releases incorporated some special formatting within the body of the release, whether it be bold, italics, underlining or an embedded image.  In today’s xhtml world, special formatting can be an excellent way to emphasize key points of your releases, break your content into distinct sections  and provide cues for ‘skimmers’ to gather meaning as they quickly scan content for relevant information.
  3. 68% of releases had a subheadline.  This stat was the most surprising to me.  The subhead seems to have an unclear role in press release SEO, since it’s not really the headline and not really the body either.  While the robots digesting releases may not pay it much mind, it’s clear that the subhead offers valuable supplementary guidance to readers as they consider whether to continue on reading a release and possibly even share that release.
  4. 58% of releases included the company name in the release headline (Ex. Company X releases XYZ app).  Of course, this also means that 42% didn’t include the company name and still performed quite well with readers.  There is very little real estate available within your headline and if it is more than 22 words you might not make it into Google News.  With this in mind, consider the goal of the release and campaign when making your choice.  If company branding is a chief concern, including the name is probably a good idea.  However, if the focus is more product or service focused, for instance, maybe the company name should take a back seat.
  5. 35% of releases included a photo or video, with the vast majority of those including a photo only.  It’s safe to say that much fewer than 35% of all releases include multimedia, so it’s clearly a good idea to include multimedia in order to help your releases stand out.  Product photos, charts, infographics, company executives, high-resolution logos . . . the list of possibilities is nearly endless.
  6. 23% of releases encouraged social sharing or engagement within the body of the release, typically Facebook or Twitter.  All EON releases already offer social sharing chicklets covering all major social networks, so it’s not absolutely critical to give them additional emphasis within your release.  However, if social engagement is a priority or your release is geared towards “sharability”, why not give readers a bit more of a push?
  7. 5% of releases, just two, had any special characters in the headline.  So perhaps adding special characters in headlines is not a good idea.

Have a burning SEO question? Drop us a comment or talk to Joseph on Twitter @EONpr to get it answered in the next SEO Tip Jar!


Why Your Release Might Not Make It In to Google News

March 24, 2010

seotipjar-header-v11

For many companies and agencies distributing press releases, appearing in online news outlets such as Google News is a significant benefit and often an important part of their PR or SEO strategy.  And from their perspective, getting in may seem quite straightforward when using a wire service such as Business Wire:  Write the press release, Send the press release, Appear in Google News!  What could be easier?

Well, what you may not know is that we do many things behind the scenes to deliver our content in a way that best complies with standards and rules laid out by Google and monitor performance to ensure the vast majority of our releases make it in to Google News.  On top of that, there are 18 reasons Google News may provide to us detailing why an individual release still doesn’t make the cut to reach their news index.  Some of these reasons are quite technical and are handled automatically by our world class technical team, but others vary based on the actual content of each individual release.  In this edition of SEO Tip Jar, I want to give you some insight into why Google News may reject your release and what you can do to best ensure that it doesn’t happen to you.

Before I get into it, please note that even if your release doesn’t make the cut for Google News, which in and of itself is an exceedingly rare occurrence, you will still be indexed by Google and available in the standard or “universal” search results.  Also, you can find the full list of rejection reasons in Google’s support section.  Of the 18 reasons Google may give, we tend to only see about five with any frequency.  Without further ado, here they are, in order of most common to least common:

“Article disproportionately short” /  “Article is too short”

Google does not give an exact word count to qualify for this criteria, but in my research this is most likely to occur when a release is less than 125 words.  However, I have seen instances when this reason is given in error as well with releases as long as 700 words.  In any case, these two errors constitute about 50% of the total errors we see, so be sure to make your releases at least 125 words to maximize your chances of inclusion.

“Page too large”

This is the most straightforward error in Google’s system.  Any page larger than 256KB may be flagged with this error, and most of the offenders tend to be very detailed and lengthy earnings reports with large tables and lots of text.  These releases are still indexed and available in Google Finance, which is usually the more appropriate and valuable venue for discovery.

“Title not found” (Title too short or long)

This is a deceptively named error, since it really means the title/headline of your release is too long.  According to Google, “…the title is required to be between 2 and 22 words, inclusive,” and headlines that don’t match this criteria are flagged with this error.  So be sure to check the word count in your headline and keep them relatively brief!

“Article Fragmented”

This error is very rare and only seems to occur on advisory releases with one sentence paragraphs or a very large number of bullet points.  It occurs when “The article …appears to consist of isolated sentences not grouped together into paragraphs.”  Avoid this error by ensuring the first paragraph of your release has at least two or three consecutive sentences.

Key Points

So if you want to best ensure your release gets into Google News, be sure to do the following with each release:

  • Write at least 125 words
  • Keep your headline between 2 and 22 words
  • Start your release with a three sentence paragraph

A Look At EON From An SEM Pro’s Perspective

March 17, 2010

Ben Plomion heads up SEM Valet, a Search Engine Marketing firm that builds pay-per-click (PPC) campaigns for its clients, so he’s a guy you can trust to know his stuff.  Following a recent meeting, Ben took a look at EON: Enhanced Online News for its possible value in building backlinks to clients’ websites and being part of an online marketing or PR campaign.  Take a look at Ben’s thoughts and let him — and us! — know about your successes with EON.


Getting the Most Out of Your Headlines: All Things Press Release Podcast

March 4, 2010

Great press releases start with great headlines.  More and more press release writers are learning that a great headline is not only about being catchy, but also about applying SEO best practices in order to maximize your  reach in search engines.

In this edition of  the  All Things Press Release podcast, our EON Product Manager Joseph Miller gives us some strategies and tips we can apply to get the most out of our headlines out there in the wild world of SEO.

Please take a listen and let us know what you think.

If you like what you hear, subscribe via RSS or iTunes. You can enjoy all our podcasts by clicking on the All Things Press Release tab at the top of this page (third tab from left).

Have ideas for a future podcast?   Please let us know. Email blog_group@businesswire.com or connect with us on Twitter at http://twitter.com/businesswire


Pew Survey: Multi-platform Approach Calls for News That’s Portable, Personal, Participatory

March 1, 2010

It’s the multi-platform approach.

In an enlightening survey rich with statistics, the Pew Internet and American Life Project announced the results of their “Understanding the Participatory News Consumer” study today.   Among the fascinating stats culled from the telephone survey of 2,259 adults 18 or older is the fact that almost half (46%) said they get their news from four – six news platforms each day.

Only 7% said they rely on a single source for news.

In addition, 33% of Americans access news from their cell phones, a statistic that jives exactly with our recent (and admittedly less comprehensive) PR Peeps poll that showed 30% of 297 polled use their mobile devices to monitor news and press releases “all the time.”

“In this new multi-platform media environment,” say Pew survey authors, “people’s relationship to news is becoming portable, personalized and participatory.”  They then cite the following metrics:

  • Portable: 33% of cell phone owners now access news on their cell phones. 
  • Personalized: 28% of internet users have customized their home page to include news from sources and on topics that particularly interest them
  • Participatory: 37% of internet users have contributed to the creation of news, commented about it, or disseminated it via posting on social media sites like Facebook or Twitter. 

The lesson for PR practitioners? Don’t rely on any one platform to get your news found, seen and shared. 

We’re feeling pretty timely around here, having rolled our mobile and social platforms into ALL Business Wire English language distributions in 2010.  For details, contact your local Business Wire office.


SEO Tip Jar: Tools to Track Your SEO Success

December 21, 2009

seotipjar-header-v11

Within the PR world, 2009 would probably be considered the year of Social, but for many it is also the year where SEO went from yet another random acronym to a high priority for clients and agencies alike.  For many web savvy PR practitioners, press releases now serve double duty as both a communication tool and an SEO tool.  But now that you are actively trying to make an SEO impact, how are you tracking the results?

Business Wire users may already be familiar with our Press Release Measurement features included in our NewsTrak reports, but in this edition of the SEO Tip Jar I want to introduce you to some free and paid reporting tools that can supplement your existing efforts by helping you track your historical page rankings for specific URLs and keywords on your own sites.  These tools will likely evolve as we enter the era of more real-time and personalized search, but as long as measurement is important they will continue to be some of the best indicators of SEO success.

SEOMoz Rank Tracker
URL: http://www.seomoz.org/rank-tracker
Cost: Free to monitor up to 5 rankings, $79/month to monitor up to 50 rankings as part of SEOMoz Pro account

The SEOMoz Rank Tracker refreshes rankings weekly by default and can update more frequently with manual requests.  It also includes very pretty historical graphs and can export historical data to CSV for use in Excel.

This tool is only available for limited use as a standalone utility, but is well worth it as part of the SEOMoz suite of web-based tools and resources.

Raven SERP Tracker
URL: http://raven-seo-tools.com/features/serp-tracker/
Cost: $79 as part of package of tools.  Monitor up to 1,000 keywords.

Raven’s SERP (“Search Engine Result Page”) Tracker works in much the same way as the SEOMoz Rank Tracker, but automatically tracks across each major search engine (Google, Yahoo, and Bing) rather than having to add each search engine individually.

It also provides historical data as charts and CSV format for easy export.

Raven’s SEO suite also offers a large number of tools and resources that help you with your SEO efforts.

SEO Rank Monitor
URL: http://www.seorankmonitor.com/
Cost: $19/ month, monitor up to 100 keywords on a single domain

This standalone web-based tool features the same sort of functionality as the SEOMoz and Raven tools, and also features Google Analytics integration.

SEOBook.com Rank Checker
URL: http://tools.seobook.com/firefox/rank-checker/
Cost: Free Firefox plugin, requires SEOBook.com account

Unlike the other tools I’ve mentioned, this free Firefox plugin runs within your web browser rather than a dedicated server, so you can only collect data from a single computer.  It doesn’t produce any fancy graphs, but does feature CSV export for the Excel set.

Also, with its myriad of customizable options this tool is probably geared more towards the geekier among us.

All of these tools feature either free options or free trials, so what are you waiting for?  Get started tracking your site’s rankings today.


Delicious New Ways to Find Niche Story Ideas

November 11, 2009

A tried and true technique in the world of public relations is to hook your news to a popular story.  Many experienced PR practitioners are great at this, but in today’s media world, narrowly targeted and easily accessible ‘hit’ stories are often overlooked.  However, building off these hits or using them for PR inspiration can be easy if you know where to look.

Take this page on delicious.com, for instance.  If you are an experienced Delicious user, you can gather a lot of information on what to expect simply from the URL: http://delicious.com/popular/publicrelations

Delicious.com Screenshot

Translated into plain English, this page is composed of recently popular web pages that have been tagged with ‘Public Relations’ by Delicious users.  One article that immediately jumps out to me is the AdAge piece about PR Managers converging on Marketing.  Perhaps we can reference it or build off of it in a future press release, webinar, blog post, or newsletter item.

You can browse Delicious’ popular listings for any relevant tag and find inspiration and topics that people are interested in right now.

Another great place to look is Tweetmeme.com.  Tweetmeme collects and categorizes ‘tweets’ across Twitter to determine what webpages are getting popular or have been popular in the last day or week based on the number of ‘tweets’ and ‘retweets’ including the same webpage.  You can either browse by category or search based on keywords, but be sure to select ‘Top in 24 Hours’ or ‘Top in 7 Days’ to see the most popular stories.  Below is a recent screenshot of the Technology News category.

Tweetmeme.com Screenshot

Other useful aggregation sites include Digg.com, Reddit.com, Mixx.com, and Newsvine.com along with countless others focusing on different niche and vertical markets.


Five Tips for More Search Friendly Headlines

October 29, 2009

by Joseph Miller, EON: Enhanced Online News Product Manager, Business Wire San Antonio

I recently wrote a post that covered some key search engine ranking factors and how they apply to your press releases.  Today I thought I would dive into one of those key factors: the page title.  In the context of press releases, your headline serves double duty as your page title and is thus the most important signpost for steering searchers and readers towards your content.

Using these simple tips can help you get the most out of your headlines and reap benefits for your organization.

1.  Give ’Em What They Want
When crafting your headline and release, it’s important to think like a searcher.  Look at past release reports or your web analytics to see what keywords tend to bring readers to your unique content and build on that.  If you don’t have access to your company’s web analytics, try to request a report from your web team with top search referral terms.

2.  Emphasize Your Most Important Keywords
Once you have some quality keywords to choose from, pick one or two that are most important to you and focus your headline on those.  You don’t have a lot of room to work with, so don’t try to work too many keywords into your headline just for the sake of it.

3.  Keep It Brief
Speaking of room to work with, Google generally displays only the first 63 characters (letters and spaces) of release headlines in search results, so make sure to get your key information across as concisely as possible.  If you are going to go beyond the limit, always make sure that your headline reads well when truncated.  That’s how searchers will encounter your news. If it doesn’t make sense, they are much less likely to click through and read the rest what you have to say.

Here’s an example. This is how the headline of this release from 977music.com reads on EON: Enhanced Online News:
977image1
And here’s how the title reads, as displayed in Google search results.  Note that the headline’s been shortened, but it still conveys key information:
977image2
4.  Choose: Descriptive or Catchy
It can be very difficult to be both descriptive and catchy at the same time, and both techniques have their benefits.  Descriptive headlines may be more relevant to more people and tend to work in more keywords for SEO, but catchy headlines might be better ‘linkbait’ and more likely to be shared via social networks or blogs.

5.  Keep At It
Search engines like Google and Bing are here to stay and securing your place in search results is an ongoing effort.  Incorporating press release SEO techniques can provide both short term benefits and serve as part of a long term strategy to build your presence in search.

For more press release optimization tips, visit EON: Enhanced Online News.


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