SEO 103: Advanced Press Release SEO Questions From Our Webinars

August 12, 2010


Welcome to the third edition of our webinar Q&A series.  If you missed the first two posts, please take a moment to read SEO 101 and SEO 102 so you’ll be prepared for the final exam at the end of SEO 104.

Ready?  Here’s the third selection of questions straight from attendees of our press release optimization webinars.

Since your broad company keywords are not always the same as specific keywords for a particular press release (such as a product release) – which should you include?

Like many strategic questions, there’s really no right answer for this.  Every organization or agency crafting press releases or any other content on the web needs to weigh short term  vs. long term goals to determine their ideal mix.  If the short term campaign is the main focus, I’d recommend focusing keywords in the headline and top of release, while optimizing your company boilerplate to ensure your long term keywords are always present in your releases.

SEO is more a marathon than a sprint. Commitment is key if you want to win in the long term.

Is it possible for optimized releases to rank higher than another company or website that is currently “buying” a specific keyword through Google AdWords?

Sadly, it’s a common and strangely persistent misconception that advertising on Google AdWords has an effect on “organic” SEO rankings.  It’s simply not true.  Here’s a direct quote from a high level Google employee dispelling this myth.

“The most common misconception is that you have to pay Google to get listed in the organic listings.  Not true.  Google crawls web sites for free.  Another misconception is that the [AdWords] listings will help your organic search engine rankings.  Not true.  PPC has no affect on your “editorial search results.””

-Matt Cutts, Principal Engineer at Google, speaking with USA Today.

How do subheads factor into releases? Are they seen as headlines or body text?

Subheads are not included in the title tag and are thus seen more as body text within the release. That said, they are a great location to incorporate keyword phrases you can’t squeeze into your headline.

Do embedded images help with SEO?

Absolutely.  Optimizing images is a great opportunity to increase the reach of your news release.  Google Images receives a massive amount of traffic and users typically dig deeper into results to find what they are looking for, since image results can often be much more subjective than standard search results.

To optimize an image, make sure it has a clear file name which accurately describes the image and  incorporates a keyword as well.  Add a unique description for your image as well.  For more information, here’s a video from a Google Product Manager discussing some Image SEO best practices.

We currently host our press releases as PDF files. Is this bad strategy for search engine performance?

Without a doubt, I would recommend never hosting press releases solely as PDF files on your website.  While search engines are usually able to digest the text within PDF files, they typically rank very poorly in search results.  I believe that this is because search engines are constantly trying to provide the best experience and most useful information to all users, and different browsers and operating systems all handle PDF files in different ways.  That is confusing for the end user.  For instance, Internet Explorer may show PDFs in the browser, while Firefox might open up Acrobat, and Chrome might download it.

If you are required to provide PDFs of your press releases, please host a text version of your release as well or link to the wire version.  If you use our services, you can link to the EON hosted press release and know it will be online for the long term.

That wraps up SEO 103.  I hope you’ve been taking notes, because there will be a test at the end of the next post.  If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me via email or Twitter.


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.


PR Peeps Poll: What’s Your Biggest Digital Pet Peeve? Almost 40% said “All of the Above”

July 8, 2010

 

by Monika Maeckle, Vice President, New Media 

When it comes to online manners,  we’re an increasingly rowdy bunch.   That’s the takeaway from this month’s PR Peeps Poll, which asked professional communicators to weigh in on their biggest digital pet peeve.  

Top vote-getter?  Almost 40% said  “all of the above.”  Details, below.

 

PR Peeps Poll  What’s your biggest digital pet peeve?

57, or 24%–Inappropriate cellphone use

40, or 17%–Blue Tooth user who makes us think he’s talking to us

14, or 6%–Profanity and crassness in new media settings

32, or 14%–Texting while I’m presenting

91, or 39%–All of the above.

Six PR Peeps couldn’t resist adding their own digital don’ts–from bad grammar in emails and loud talkers to ALL CAPS MESSAGES (are you annoyed yet?) and the “complete lack of civility as we knew it.”

The poll coincided with our “Etiquette in the Digital Age” webinar presented by the ever proper Anna Post of the Emily Post Institute.    Apparently PR people are right in line with mass America, as Anna cited a survey that states 69% of Americans feel we are more rude  today than we were several decades ago.  Check out the video recap if you’re interested.   Please.

To those who participated, thank you–-and how about helping with our next PR Peeps Poll:  When’s the best time to send a press release?  Please let us know. 

234 respondents via Twitter and Business Wire webinar polls. Poll conducted June 1 – July 5, 2010


Press Release Case Study: From Press Release to Dr. Phil Show

June 22, 2010

 

by Monika Maeckle, Vice President New Media

A well-written press release, a heartfelt story, and a timely news hook  landed self-published author Jodi Bean on the Dr. Phil Show to promote her book and her cause.   How much did it cost?  Only $300.

Bean, of Alpine, Utah,  issued a press release on Business Wire’s Utah circuit on April 14  about her challenges raising a difficult adopted child from Belarus.   The story was especially compelling in the wake of the media furor over a Nashville mom who was vilified for sending her troubled adopted son back to Russia six months after his arrival because of violent behavior and psychological problems.

With help from online PR pro Janet Thaeler, Bean’s press release resulted in an April 30 story on the front page of the Salt Lake Tribune with the headline “Preventing failed adoptions: Prospective parents need more info on childhood trauma.”   Bean’s book, Love Lessons and her Finding Hope Foundation,  were founded specifically to address those needs.

Shortly after the front page placement, and following an email follow-up, the Dr. Phil Show called.  By June 10 Jodi Bean was being interviewed on national television. 

” The important thing was to link to the book, her other appearances and to her foundation. These built trust and gave her credibility,” says Thaeler, author of the book I Need a Killer Press Release, Now What??.   Thaeler inserted useful, relevant links throughout the press release.  She also detailed the press release case study in a recent blogpost.

Apart from great media placements, Bean relayed that she went from selling two-three books a week, to two-three books a day. 

“It was my first press release and it was really successful,” says Bean.  “I’m going to do another one.”  

We’re glad to hear it.   Do you have an impressive press release case study that involves Business Wire services? Email monika.maeckle@businesswire.com


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.


Upcoming Business Wire Events – June 11 Edition

June 11, 2010

Upcoming Business Wire Events

Join Business Wire experts in your area for media breakfasts, panel discussions and other insightful events. We bring local media members and industry thought leaders to your market to discuss today’s most relevant topics, from writing for SEO to marketing with social media. Best of all, Business Wire events are usually free of charge. Check out some of our upcoming events in your area:

Adding Video to Maximize Your Reach, Exposure & Pick-Up

Hosted by Business Wire Charlotte [Durham Event]

Join Business Wire in Durham for lunch and a panel discussion on using video to maximize your marketing communication efforts. Learn how integrating video into your marketing and public relations plans can enhance your SEO reach and provide real results. Panelists include: Valerie Aguirre, CBC New Media Group; Rachel Toole, MEDIAmobz; and Scott Sharpe, The News & Observer. This event is free for all attendees.

Wednesday, June 16 at 11:30 a.m. ET
Sheraton Imperial Hotel
4700 Emperor Blvd., Durham, NC 27703
To register: Please RSVP to Angela Haysworth at 704-347-1590 or email angela.hayworth@businesswire.com

Adding Video to Maximize Your Reach, Exposure & Pick-Up

Hosted by Business Wire Charlotte [Charlotte Event]

Join Business Wire Charlotte for breakfast and a panel discussion on using video to maximize your marketing communication efforts. Learn how integrating video into your marketing and public relations plans can enhance your SEO reach and provide real results. Panelists include: Joe Carleo, Advanced Language & Media Services; Corrie Harding, WCNC-TV; Jason Silverstein, ACBJ/Bizjournals.com; and Rachel Toole, MEDIAmobz. This event is free for all attendees.

Thursday, June 17 at 7:30 a.m. ET
Maggiano’s
4400 Sharon Rd., Charlotte, NC 28211
To register: Please RSVP to Angela Haysworth at 704-347-1590 or email angela.hayworth@businesswire.com

Adding Video to Maximize Your Reach, Exposure & Pick-Up

Hosted by Business Wire Florida

Looking for new ways to reach and engage your audience?  Would you like to add value to your news & generate interest for your campaigns? Join us as our experts discuss the power of video & the benefits of including a visual element to your press releases. Speakers include Rachel Toole, Sales & Marketing Consultant for MEDIAMobz, Rick Christie, Breaking News Editor for the Palm Beach Post and Doug Perry, Executive Producer for Digital Content for WPBF-TV. This event is free for all attendees.

Tuesday, June 22 at 11:30 a.m. ET
JM Family Enterprises, Inc.
111 Jim Moran Blvd., Deerfield Beach, FL 33442
To register: Please RSVP to Claudia Perez-Bonilla at 954-474-8833 or email claudia.perez@businesswire.com

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


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