Tips for Effective Searching: Knowing your Defaults Results in Better Google Search Engine Results

October 13, 2011

by Sandy Malloy, Senior Information Specialist

Sandy Malloy, Senior Information SpecialistIn our recent post on free tools for monitoring your press releases, we encouraged users to revisit their Google Alerts settings.  This valuable service was established years ago.  Lots of us signed up then and have never looked back.  We hope you’ve updated your alert settings and are getting better results after a quick check-up.

The same is true for ad hoc searching.  Nonchalant typing of a phrase into the Google search box can be tempting, but a few thoughtful tips can help you get the most out of the search experience.  Here’s a few to get you started.

1)  Know your defaults.  It’s good to know your faults, but when it comes to searching, it’s even more important to know your defaults. Many of these can be changed to improve results.

For example, a search on Google Web ( defaults to “everything.”   Sounds comprehensive, right?

Not necessarily.  An automatic blanket search can have drawbacks.   The information you are seeking often gets buried beneath higher-ranking but irrelevant pages.  You  may be better served searching individual Google content areas such as news, images  or Web separately.  Also, try Advanced Search (discussed below).

The order in which results are displayed can also affect your results.  The default sort order is “relevance.”  This type of sorting  works great for non-news websites.  For news, sorting by date is often better.

Unless you specify otherwise, Google will suppress apparent duplicate content.  Again, for some types of searches, that’s fine.  If you want to find a company’s website, it’s usually the first result on the page and you don’t need anything else.  Or you may want to know that a piece of news appeared and don’t care which version of the story you see.  But what if you want to see how widely that story was disseminated?  Google will show you one version of the story unless you override duplicate suppression.

2)  Searching for exact phrases is a common strategy, but did you know you can use quotes around your phrase or dashes between the words for exact matches?

If you don’t, Google will search that combination of words in any order and not necessarily next to one another.  That can result in weird returns such as this recent search for stories about Fire Prevention Week.

I added no quotes or dashes. The third result: “The State Police forensic team, State Fire Prevention and Control, A week after the fire, owners Mike and Jim Frazee said they plan to rebuild their .…”

For common combinations of words (e.g., “Barack Obama”) it’s not that critical to be more specific.  But combinations of common words can spit out irrelevant results that nevertheless rank high because all the words are present.

3)  Make Advanced Search your friend.  It will allow you to put in phrases without worrying about the format (see #2 above), combine words and phrases (hint:  a phrase using a dash, e.g. fire-prevention-week, can be used as a “word” in the advanced search form) and even allow you to narrow your search using other parameters such as source name or domain.  The domain option in Google Web is a great way to find information from non-commercial sources.  For instance, you can find health-related information coming from educational (.edu) or government (.gov) sources, or nonprofits (.org)  In News, I like to specify my time frame as well.

Business Wire’s Inclusion in Google News Archives Means Press Releases Live Forever

June 9, 2011

Google News operates on a 30-day window for news content, meaning that when you do a standard search on Google News you are almost never going to find anything older than a month.

But did you know that Google News also works with news partners such as magazines, newspapers and wire services to archive historical news content?

Business Wire recently worked with Google News to submit data feeds of our past releases to be included in their searchable news archives.  The result is Google News users can now search as far back as the 1990’s and find hundreds of thousands of client press releases.

So if you’re a Google News fan or just looking for another way to search past Business Wire releases, take a trip down memory lane today by visiting Google News archive search and searching for: “” + Your Company Name.

Friday Fast Links

February 25, 2011


SEO 102: More Press Release Optimization Questions from our Webinars

August 2, 2010

This is the second edition in my mini-series on SEO basics based on questions we’ve received in our ongoing webinar series on press release SEO.  In this post I address five questions that are a bit more advanced than those I answered in SEO 101, the first post in the series.

Should we embed a hyperlink in a press release distributed through wire services or put the URL in parentheses?

For wire releases on services like Business Wire, releases can be pushed to a wide range of syndicating sites using a variety of methods and technologies on all ends of the process.  Because of this, it’s often recommended to include both a hyperlink and URL in parentheses to ensure maximum reach across all audiences.  Don’t just take my word for it though, check out this Hubspot study on press releases that recommends following that link strategy.

Should keywords used throughout the release be linked to the target webpage every time within the release or just the first time?

Only Google really knows the answer to this one, but it’s widely regarded that the first link from a keyword to webpage on a page carries the vast majority of importance with search engines.    As long as you don’t go overboard multiple links within a release is not a bad thing, but it’s not necessary.

If you link too many times it might even look suspicious to the search engines.

Is it bad to use bullet points in the first paragraph of a release?

I recommend not using bullet points in or as the first paragraph of a release if at all possible, especially if getting into Google News is a priority.  Too many bullet points may cause the Google News robots to flag your release and reject it from the index.

Can I optimize my company boilerplate?

Absolutely.   Your boilerplate is part of your release’s body text in the many eyes of search engines.  Periodically optimizing your boilerplate with one or two strategic hyperlinks to key pages on your site is a great way to squeeze a little more performance out of all of your releases.

Should I use common misspellings or typos as keywords?

Using misspellings as keywords is quite popular in PPC advertising such as Google AdWords, but when it comes it press releases with their intersection of journalist, news and general consumer audiences, typos are typically frowned upon and eliminated by editorial staff.

In addition, search engines are continually getting smarter about spotting and correcting typos and the effectiveness of exploiting typos at all will probably wane over time.

That’s all for SEO 102.  You’ll be getting your diploma soon, but in the meantime please let me know via comments, e-mail or Twitter if there’s any questions you’d like answered.

SEO 101: Questions From Our Press Release Optimization Webinar

July 26, 2010

For this edition of SEO Tip Jar I culled some questions from last week’s webinar on Press Release SEO presented by Alison MacDonald, Raschanda Hall and  yours truly.  We’ve held this webinar a few times now, and some questions keep coming up.  In that vein, I thought I’d start a mini-series answering your basic press release SEO questions.  Here we go!

What does it mean to optimize your press release headline?

When you are talking about search engines and your press release, optimizing headlines means incorporating your most important keywords. Keywords being the words or phrases you’d like to rank well for in search engines. This is not a simple task, as your headline should also be compelling to your target audience and convey the content of the release.

Since search engines heavily factor page titles when determining rankings, optimizing the headline is the single most important task within press release optimization.

What is a deep link?

A deep link is a link, be it on a press release, blog post or webpage, to somewhere other than your company’s homepage.  For example, a link to Business Wire’s webinar archive rather than homepage. Typically, your homepage will receive the lion’s share of links and highest search ranking for broadly relevant terms, but it’s important to link to pages within your site to help unlock their ranking potential.  These pages often address specific audiences.

What and where is the title tag?

The Title tag is part of the HTML code that makes up a webpage.  Depending on the browser you are using, you’ll often see the Title in action on the top of your browser or tab window.  The title tag is also used when displaying webpages in search results.

Don’t fret.  You don’t need to know HTML to add a Title tag to your press release.  Your headline will become your press release’s title and is automatically inserted into the Title tag.

What does SERP stand for?

SERP stands for Search Engine Results Page.  This is the page of results served up by search engines like Google, Yahoo and Bing when you search for something.  It is typically composed of both organic and paid search results, as illustrated below with an image from Google’s SEO guide (pdf).

What is rich text?

In the context of online press releases, rich text is copy within your press releases that is formatted with styling such as bold or italics.

How many words should comprise my press release headline?

There is no hard limit for the number of words in your headline, but if getting into Google News is a priority, you should make sure headlines contain fewer than 23 words to be within Google News’ guidelines.  In addition, Google SERPs often limit titles displayed to roughly 67 characters, so you should limit your headline  67 letters and spaces if at all possible.

That’s it for now.  Please let me know via comments, e-mail or Twitter if there’s any questions you’d like answered.

Want Your Release to Fit In? Use These Words!

June 30, 2010

— by Phil Dennison, Senior Marketing Specialist

About a year ago,  we wrote about gobbledygook phrases — words that are used over and over in press releases and other marketing materials, but serve little purpose other than cluttering up your news. We included a link to the HubSpot Gobbledygook Grader, developed by David Meerman Scott, where you could evaluate your own copy for that kind of language.

A year later, Adam Sherk has taken a new look at overused buzzwords in press releases. Sherk developed a list of 75 phrases, then searched the PRWeb archive using Google to see how frequently those phrases were used.

I thought it would be interesting, since Sherk limited his search to the PRWeb site, to see how often those phrases have appeared in Business Wire press releases over the last year. Below is a list of Sherk’s top ten most-used phrases, ranked by their frequency in Business Wire releases, and compared with the ranking in PRWeb releases.

Rank               Buzzword          Mentions on Business Wire       PRWeb rank
1                  leading            168,000                           2
2                  best*              102,000                           3
3                  leader              96,400                           1
4                  largest             21,900                           6
5                  innovative          75,900                           7
6                  unique              65,400                           4
7                  solution            56,500                           5
8                  exclusive           25,600                          10
9                  award winning       24,200                           9
10                 innovator              866                           8
*Note: My search excluded the phrase "Best Buy," as Best Buy is a Business Wire user and would have skewed the results.

Interestingly, the top three buzzwords were the same, just ranked in a different order. In fact, all of the top ten were pretty consistent, with the exception of “innovator,” which does not seem to be a word favored by Business Wire users. At least not in the last twelve months.

Since these words are so unlikely to add any value in describing your own company, service and products, one wonders why they’re used so often. Certainly, they’re unlikely to be the terms that consumers or reporters use to try to find your news online. Rather than continue to clutter your press releases with these kinds of phrases, you’re better off concentrating on using the proper keywords to improve your search results.

Use Google Trends to Find the Best Time to Send Your Press Release

June 3, 2010

It’s the age old question.  As long as companies and PR practitioners have been sending releases, everyone has wanted to know when is the best time to send my release? In fact, one of our most popular blog posts took this question on three years ago.

Everyone still wants to know because there is really no true right answer.  Hindsight is 20/20 and it’s easy to research the past and give an armchair opinion, but until Google starts mining data directly from our minds (Google Thoughts anyone?) predicting the future will continue to be a difficult endeavor.  However, with the power of free tools and site search it’s become relatively easy to get a read on the present and measure short term opportunities.

Here’s my basic premise: using tools like Google Trends and site search on the major press release distribution sites like Business Wire to gauge the amount of competition, you can increase your chances of catching a wave and contributing to a hot story.

Sometimes the trends are obvious.  You can tell from this chart that Father’s Day trends upwards as the holiday approaches (it’s June 20th in the US this year).

Searching headlines on Business Wire shows only a handful of Father’s Day related headlines so far in May and June.  To me, this looks like a great opportunity for interesting Father’s Day stories to get the jump on the trend.  If I were creating such a story, it might be a good idea to get it out now or keep watching the wires and distribute it just as things start to pick up.

Read the rest of this entry »


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 45,062 other followers

%d bloggers like this: