80% of Press Release Headlines Too Long for Google, According to New Study

February 14, 2012

by Amy Yen, Marketing Specialist, Business Wire Dallas

Are you optimizing your press release headlines? For the second straight year, our friends at Schwartz MSL Research Group have put together a study on the SEO of press release headlines using data from Business Wire releases. As we’ve previously noted, Google only displays roughly 65 characters in their search results and therefore releases with headlines 70 characters or under are best optimized for SEO.

For this year’s study, Schwartz looked at the headlines of more than 16,000 Business Wire press releases from 2011. Of those, only 19.5% of all releases had headlines with 65 characters or fewer and just 23.7% were at 70 characters or fewer. This suggests that the great majority of press releases do not have headlines fully optimized for search.

The average headline length is 123 characters, which is the same as last year’s results. The study also looked at buzzword usage and completed a geographic headline face-off to determine which cities hosted the SEO-savviest press release headline writers. You can download the full report here.

Check out more press release optimization tips here. You can also read up on why your press releases might not make it into Google News.


BWELA 2011: 7 Key Takeaways from BlogWorld Expo 2011

November 7, 2011

By Amy Yen, Marketing Specialist, Business Wire Los Angeles

BlogWorld LA 2011BlogWorld Expo is a daunting place to be. There are more than 150 sessions featuring more than 250 speakers over three days, not to mention the fact that the whole place is basically teeming with really smart people with really interesting ideas about absolutely everything. So, trying to sum up all the takeaways from the conference is a pretty ridiculous task. Seriously, try reading all the great tweets under the #BWELA official hashtag, which has attracted more than 36,000 tweets and more than 280 million impressions thus far.

Nonetheless, keeping in mind that the following does not even begin to cover all the great information and insights from the conference (& is in fact limited to the sessions I was personally able to attend), I wanted to share some of the takeaways I got from the show:

  1. This is the era for inquisitors. More than anything, BlogWorld was about reminding this audience of communicators of the important role they play during this changing time for business. Keynote speaker Amber Naslund talked about this not being the “era of experts,” but rather the “era of inquisitors, of people who ask questions, who are willing to be curious.”
  2. Time to drink the Google+ Kool-Aid. Although business or brand pages aren’t available—yet—speakers Chris Brogan & Guy Kawasaki say you can still be using the platform professionally now, by representing your business using your personal page and developing relationships. Use tools like Find People on Plus to find people with similar passions & use Circles to control what messages you’re sending to what groups. Chris Brogan’s #1 piece of advice for Google+ is to improve your About profile, using a good picture and including links to your website, blog and other social profiles. Finally, remember the all-important fact that Google+ remains the only social network currently being indexed by Google.
  3. Mobilize your website for user experience. By 2013, half of all web traffic will be from a mobile device. Your priority when it comes to mobile should be a mobile website, which should be a much more condensed, simplified version of your desktop site. Focus on what your customer really needs to be able to access on the go. Keep navigation simple and make sure to cross-platform test across different phones and test phones several years back, as people are still carrying those. Load time needs to be fast for people access information on their phones.
  4. Blogger relations remain a largely untapped opportunity for brands. According to Technorati’s 2011 State of the Blogosphere study, two-thirds of bloggers surveyed say they blog about brands. Less than half classified their interactions with brands as favorable or very favorable. Less than a quarter say brands provide value or are knowledgeable about their blog. 60 percent say they feel bloggers are treated less professionally by brand representatives than are traditional media. Meanwhile, blogs continue to outpace other social media as well as traditional media in terms of generating consumer recommendations and purchasing. Blogger relations thus represents a major opportunity for brands.
  5. Quality content is more important than ever in a post-Panda world. Speaker Shane Ketterman described “quality” content as content so compelling, it engages you in a topic you weren’t even interested in. Following Google’s Panda updates in 2011, having quality content & putting your content on a quality site is more important than ever. Design elements—from ad radio to breadcrumbs to optimized images—are also more important in a post-Panda world. Ketterman also recommended an interesting SEOMoz article presenting a theory that Google assigns value to passion, emotion and authenticity in content.
  6. Facebook engagement is more important than ever in a post-EdgeRank world. The fact is, brands rarely show up in Facebook users’ newsfeeds…unless they’ve engaged with brand. Speaker Dennis Yu recommended brands respond to every post on their page, whether they are asking a question or not. Responding indicates a two-way relationship to Facebook, which increases your EdgeRank. He also pointed out that most brands advertising on Facebook link to an external site, but that eliminates the all-important social aspect of the ad (where your friends can see that you’ve liked the ad or a brand in their ad).
  7. Have a plan to capitalize on success. Everybody knows to have a back-up plan in case everything goes wrong, but several speakers talked about having a plan in case everything goes right. Make sure you are able to capitalize on unplanned visibility: have your branding, contact information and links already in place on content.

Social Media Press Releases, Like Color TVs, Have Been Coopted: They’re ALL Press Releases

November 1, 2011

by Sandy Malloy, Senior Information Services Specialist

Sandy Malloy, Senior Information Specialist

The term “social media press release” surfaces from time to time to describe a release crafted especially to appeal to the tweeting/blogging/posting crowd that comprises its purported target audience.  On its face, there is nothing wrong with this concept.  We advise crafting Google-friendly, keyword-rich headlines to make sure search engines can find press releases.

But using a separate label and special (sometimes truly ugly) formatting to create a press release specifically for sharing misses the point.  That idea may have had merit when introduced five years ago, but it now seems as dated as hailing color TV or air mail.    Today, EVERY press release should serve as a “social media press release” (search-engine-friendly and easy-to share press release) if the person crafting it does the job properly.

Business Wire recently revamped its news display to encourage and facilitate sharing.  Many of these features  enhance the social media value of releases without making them unreadable by a person with a normal attention span.  The most significant enhancements from a social media perspective are the prominence of sharing icons for popular sites (Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook) and the ability to share photos and videos as discrete assets.

Below we’ve listed basic tips for building effective, web-friendly, news releases that will be found, seen and shared.  Take a look:

  • Create a short but descriptive headline
  • Put the most important information in the first paragraph
  • Don’t just tell, SHOW–include multimedia
  • Know the audience you want to reach
  • Be clear about why that audience should care

I recently reviewed videos submitted by public relations students for Business Wire’s College Video contest on The Future of Public Relations. Even though the students acknowledged the importance of social media, some speculating on future technological changes, an important thread emerged from their presentations:  effective press releases rely less on technology than on the personal connections that the press release content makes with the audience.

At its best, a “social media press release” makes that connection so those reading it feel compelled to pass it along.


PRSAIcon 2011 Recap: Eight Key Takeaways, From Storytelling to Link Tracking

October 19, 2011

by Amy Yen, Marketing Specialist, Business Wire Los Angeles

Business Wire at PRSAIcon 2011This week, Business Wire was once again a proud sponsor and exhibitor at the 2011 PRSA International Conference, aka #PRSAIcon. Our conference team had a great time meeting so many of our amazing clients in person and learning the latest about the always changing PR industry. We tweeted updates on our @businesswire feed throughout the conference of interesting lessons from many of the keynotes and sessions. Here are eight key takeaways:

  1. PR is about storytelling. It was only appropriate in Orlando, home to the most magical place on earth, that the unofficial theme of the conference was storytelling. Opening keynote speaker Soledad O’Brien of CNN talked about storytelling being more than a statistic. You have to find the character behind the statistic & tell the story with their passion. The closing keynote speaker, Joe Rohde from Disney, talked about compelling stories coming from the interruptions in expected patterns. “We don’t have time for things we think we already know.”
  2. Video and visuals make for compelling storytelling. YouTube is the number two search engine in the world behind Google. Video makes for great content and is not as expensive as it’s perceived to be. (After all, every phone is a camera.) It’s also a good idea to get your executives on video talking about your brand . . . it helps qualify them as spokespeople for journalists.
  3. Customer service is the new black. Like it or not, part of PR is now customer service. In fact, thanks to social media, PR people are often the first to hear about the problems. There is still a level of awe right now if you just reply when your customers try to talk to you.
  4. Media training is not just a C-suite sport anymore. Keynote speaker Chris Brogan talked about how everyone is on some kind of media these days, so everyone should be trained. Soledad O’Brien discussed media training from a journalist’s perspective, saying passion and emotion can’t be trained. Ultimately, what people relate to is the authenticity and passion behind the messaging points.
  5. You can’t ignore Google+. Chris Brogan pointed out that you have to care about Google+, if only because it’s the only social network currently being indexed on the top two search engines in the world. Every PR professional should at least be conversational about it. Additionally, Google+ profiles can help with personal online presence since it ranks so highly on Google. Optimize your title and introduction and include links to all your other sites and networks, as those appear in your search results.
  6. Empower your employees on social media. If you’re terrified to give control to others in your organization, you will not be successful in social media. Train them and have a social media policy so you can be. Your policy should be short and understandable without legal assistance and should be in every new hire’s packet when they start.
  7. If it can be searched for, it can be optimized. Keyword optimize your blog posts, landing pages, press releases, online newsrooms, multimedia and social content. In press releases, optimize in the headline and subhead, include links and a call-to-action. For photos and other multimedia, optimize the file name of the file you are uploading, include alt text and captions.
  8. We are all fighting for budgets. PR should get credit for the leads it generates. Set goals before your campaign so you can track conversions with tools like Google Analytics. Track traffic with tools like Google URL builder, which tags your URLs so you know where your link clicks are coming from (press release versus AdWords versus Facebook ads, etc).

At the conference, we also announced our new partnership with Critical Mention, which will provide clients with access to Critical Mention’s real-time television and radio monitoring platform. As an introductory promotion, Business Wire clients who subscribe with Critical Mention for 2012 will receive the remainder of 2011 at no charge.

We’d also like to congratulate Elizabeth Rowland at Strat-igence, who was the winner of our iPad Giveaway. And thanks again to PRSA, the speakers and all the attendees for a great conference!


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: “businesswire.com” + Your Company Name.


Press Releases and Branding: Build Your Brand for Better SEO

April 19, 2011

With two billion active users and 130 million domains on the web, indexing the torrent of information is a challenge for large search engines and impossible for individuals. One way to distinguish your company or organization is to build a trusted brand within your niche. Press releases, done well, can play a role here.

Search engines have learned that brands are important to people making decisions in an information surplus environment and are seeking indicators of quality. Understanding how search engines judge and evaluate brands is imperative to building the trust that results in visibility.

So what makes a search friendly brand?

According to SEOMoz and Search Engine Journal as well as our own research and experience, top search “Brand” indicators include:

Company Name, Product and Service Searches   If people are searching for your company, product or service by name, it tells search engines you’re known within your niche. Measure this by checking search referrals on keyword variations of your name with tools like Google Analytics. Compare the data with what Google reports on their keyword tool. Make sure to always use your company name in press release headlines to increase brand exposure.

Media Coverage  Press release campaigns that boost coverage work double duty as a media relations tool, and by providing content to search engines, lifting brand value.

Brand Name” Links   If you see a link on a webpage to CNN, you probably know that click is going to take you to news on CNN.com. If search engines see a large number of brand links relative to keyword links in context, it may lead them to assume your brand is strong. These clicked-on links are viewed by search engines as votes of confidence.

Social Pages   At the least, your company should have a registered presence on the main social networking sites: Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.   Even better, lock down your company name across the social web. Try a service like Knowem.com or better yet, interns.

Online Reviews   Check review sites such as CitySearch, Angieslist or Yelp to see if reviews exist for your company. Try to respond if appropriate. Set up Google Alerts and Twitter alerts to monitor for new reviews. Search engines often aggregate reviews from many sources on their “place” pages and positive reviews can be a good brand indicator, especially for local businesses.

Partners & Customers    Well known brands usually don’t exist in a vacuum and have public partnerships as well as testimonials on their websites. Partnerships and customers that make you proud should be prominently displayed in a descriptive manner digestible by search engines. Think Apple & AT&T… or Apple & Verizon.

Offices and Storefronts    Most established brands have offices or storefronts of some kind. Make sure yours are current and prominently listed on your sites in a way that can be digested by search engines.

Local & Business Directories   Once your locations are listed, make sure to let the search engines know by adding or updating local listings directly to Google, Bing & Yahoo. Don’t forget the countless local business directories. GetListed provides links and advice for some top national directories.

Overwhelmed?   Start by taking inventory of where your brand stands with search engines by collecting what you know. From there, determine strengths and weaknesses and where to focus your energy. Remember, search algorithms are opaque and complicated. Experiment and measure what you can to see what works.

With sustained effort, your brand is bound to benefit. Good luck building your brand!


Friday Fast Links: March Madness, Wire Service SEO and More

March 18, 2011

What do you know about your wire service’s SEO practices?

How big are the opportunities for brands and social media during March Madness? (A Google search for “March Madness” + “social media” returns nearly 2 million results.)

On the off chance you missed Rebecca Black blowing up the internet this week, you missed a great lesson on how to turn bad PR into good PR.

Eight tips for writing press releases that journalists will read. I think they’re just about in the right order, too.

The Canadian Investor Relations Institute reinforces the widely disseminated press release as the anchor of successful IR. Are they ahead of the US in setting standards?

If you need help building your online newsroom, register for our free webinar.

Do you or your company have a blog? A recent Minnesota court case has some interesting free speech implications for bloggers.

There are a lot of ways to sell jeans. Is this one of them? Takes edgy ads to a whole new level.

Have a great weekend!


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