SEO 104: Press Release SEO Final Exam

September 20, 2010

Welcome to the final edition (for now) of our SEO Q&A mini-series.  If you haven’t yet, I recommend taking a few minutes and reading through the previous posts: SEO 101, SEO 102 and SEO 103.

If you’re the impatient type, feel free to go straight to the Final Exam.  Otherwise, continue on to our final batch of Q&A culled from our free webinar series.

Should we host the full text of our press releases on our website or simply link to wire release?

Many of our clients host a copy or version of their release on their own website along with distributing over the wire and I don’t see anything wrong with doing so.  However, I would recommend publishing your release on your site at the same time as you distribute over the wire.  This can be easily accomplished using an online newsroom.

Also, some SEO savvy companies have experimented with publishing significantly different versions of their releases on their site in order to provide search engines with varied content to digest and perhaps be relevant for different searches.  You could try changing headlines, keywords, writing style, release length or a combination of all of the above and see how your releases perform.

When optimizing our releases, should we focus on more commonly used (and competitive) keywords or focus more specific keywords that may see more targeted searches?

This is a difficult question to consider in a vacuum.  To truly answer it, you will probably need to coordinate with other people, departments or agencies that you work with and see if you can come together to gauge the relative value of different keywords to your business.

For instance, you can look at your web analytics or search marketing tools to see which keywords drive the most conversions.

Or you can look at reputation or brand related keywords and use SEO analysis tools to determine roughly how much work you’d need to do to make a dent in the rankings.

You could use tools to guestimate which keywords are sending traffic to competitors and try to catch up with their rankings.  You could even see which articles and blog posts are consistently cited by journalists covering your field and see if you can outperform them with fresher or better data.

The trouble is, you’ll probably want to work with whoever you need to in order to do or some of these tasks, weigh the apples against oranges, consider your goals and take a direction based on you or your team’s own judgement…but that’s the fun of it!

Our press releases often open with a standard company introduction.  Is this bad for SEO performance?

Possibly.  Conventional SEO wisdom dictates that search engines give greater consideration to text higher than text further down.  The first 100 words are of particular importance and can possibly be used as your meta description, even if one is already provided.

I would recommend moving your company introduction down to the company profile or About section of your releases.

Should I always include my company name in the headline?

Press releases distributed over the wire are sent through various platforms such as the AP, Dow Jones and Bloomberg which automatically scan headlines for company name mentions, so if you are concerned at all with being properly classified and indexed across the board you should definitely incorporate your company name into all your release headlines.

That doesn’t mean your headline must start with your company name though.  The first words of your headline are arguably the most valuable keyword real estate in your release, so consider incorporating your most important keywords here if you can.

Okay, you’ve made it through the entire course.  Now it’s time for your final exam (no cheating!).  Please let us know how you did in the comments.


Twitter Tips Result from our What to Expect When You Tweet Your Press Release Webinar

August 20, 2010

We often post a recap of our webinars, hoping to offer the wisdom shared to those who couldn’t make it.  On Wednesday,  we staged What to Expect When You Tweet Your Press Release, and explored the ups and downs of using Twitter to supplement press release efforts.

Then we got lucky.  Our friends over at 451 Marketing in Boston did a fantasic recap of the webinar in their blogpost, Tips for Promoting Your News Via Twitter.   For that, we say thank you, Team 451, you saved us some work!

For those who want to access the webinar in its entirety or check out a PDF of the presentation, both are available in our webinar archive.


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.


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


Black History Month: Media & Public Relations Best Practices

February 5, 2010
In recognition of Black History Month and in celebration of their continued partnership, Business Wire and Black PR Wire will launch their 2010 Minority Leadership Series.  This event series will be used to showcase the best of multicultural services and practices used by business professionals in the US.The inaugural event for the joint partnership is a webinar, Media & Public Relations Best Practices. This 90-minute session will provide insights for optimal success in public and media relations practices, from the corporate, small business and government perspectives.

Webinar panelists include:
  • Racquel White, director of media relations, Coca-Cola North America
  • Althea Harris, Esq., public information officer, U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA)
  • David Rudd, vice president, The Axis Agency
Bernadette Morris, president and CEO of Black PR Wire, will serve as the moderator.  The webinar will be co-presented by Raschanda Hall, global media relations manager with Business Wire.

To register log on to www.BlackPRWire.com or www.BusinessWire.com and check out the events page.  You may also follow the conversation or ask panelists questions by tracking and including the #bwbprw hashtag on Twitter during the webinar.  For more information on the Media & Public Relations Best Practices Webinar, please contact Celine Elveus at 1-877-BLACKPR.

Expert XBRL Panel to Discuss Guidance for Successful Filings at Business Wire Webinar

September 16, 2009

More than 400 companies have now filed their first XBRL exhibits with the SEC, and there are important lessons to be learned from this first wave of filings.

Business Wire has assembled an expert panel to discuss these lessons and other tips for successfully transitioning your company to XBRL.  This hourlong webinar, “XBRL Update: Guidance for Successful Filings,” will be held on Thursday, Sept. 24 at 1pm ET.

The panel will be moderated by Michael Becker, Business Wire Vice President, Global Disclosure and Financial Reporting Services, and includes:

Don’t miss this opportunity for valuable insight on the XBRL creation process, best practices, recommendations and next steps for current and first time filers.  Register for “XBRL Update: Guidance for Successful Filings” today.

For more information on XBRL, visit XBRL U.S. For more on Business Wire’s XBRL products and services, visit the XBRL section on BusinessWire.com.

Business Wire PR Peeps Poll: More Than a Third Optimize Press Releases for Search Engines

May 7, 2009

Do you optimize your press releases for search engines? 

That was Business Wire’s 1-question poll for April, and we’re pleased to announce promising results:   34% of PR peeps polled say they optimize their press releases for search engines. 

Bravo!  That’s more than we expected.

Right behind the enlightened third, an almost equal 33% say they do NOT optimize press releases for search.  Twenty percent said they optimize “sometimes” and 12% “don’t know what it means” to optimize a press release for search engines.

Those of us catering to the public relations industry find these results heartening.  Press Release Optimization is a new concept and our educational webinars  suggest that the level of understanding is often shockingly remedial.  

As we said in a previous post, our clients tell us  they “don’t have time” to optimize their press releases for search engines.  That’s a shame.  One of the biggest pay-offs for doing so is better online traction through increased search engine results and sharing.

If you need help optimizing your press releases, check out the archived webinar on exactly that topic by Business Wire search pros Maria Van Wambeke and Michael Toner.  Watch for another Press Release Optimization webinar by our dynamic duo this summer.

aprilchart

To those who participated, thanks for taking the poll.  And how about helping with the next one?  What do you value more when measuring press release traction?

Business Wire PR Peeps Poll for April 2009:

Do you optimize your press release for search engines? 
 
                     207  Yes 34%
                     202   No 33%
                     123    Sometimes 20%
                       75      I don’t know what optimize your press release for search engines means 12%
607 respondents via Twitter and Business Wire webinar polls.  Poll conducted April 1 – May 5, 2009.

Postcard from a “Hired Hand” at the Berkshire Hathaway Tweeting

May 6, 2009

A few days later, my head is still spinning from attending the 2009 Berkshire Hathaway shareholders meeting last weekend.

As announced here last week, eight Business Wire staffers joined CEO Cathy Baron Tamraz in Omaha. Playing off the western theme, “Warren and Charlie’s Wild West Show” us “hired hands” sold playful collectable posters with Buffett on horseback, Munger slinging a lasso and Cathy riding the range with Buffett.  All proceeds benefit CASA of Douglas County, Neb., Court Appointed Special Advocates, a charitable organization that provides a voice for abused and neglected children within the court system, and were matched by Business Wire. CASA: your check is en route.

hiredhands2We were lucky to score front row seats at the Qwest Center for the Q & A and shareholders’ meeting.  I guess it pays to be a “hired hand.”  For an excellent recap of the  Q & A, check out the “play-by-play” by Omaha World-Herald reporter Joe Ruff.  Joe:  Well done. 

Meanwhile, we made our own headlines with Cathy, one of only four female Berkshire CEOs, being interviewed by Fox News as well as the BBC for a future documentary.  Cathy suggested in a CNBC segment that Buffett would “calm everybody down”–and that’s what happened.  Buffett and Charlie Munger were both optimisitic about the future.  All my bosses make me proud!

Live tweeting from the meeting and our “follow @businesswire” Twitter contest was a successful experiment, with hundreds of new, targeted followers joining our Twitter bandwagon over the few days it ran.  Leigh Fatzinger of Seattle won the poster set and provided us an interesting case study on Twitter, which we’ll share with you at a future webinar.  Leigh:  your posters are en route (after we find a tube to send them in).  Read more about Twitter lessons learned in a separate post.

For more on the Business Wire/Berkshire Hathaway Tweeting, take a look at our Twitpic feed. Please excuse any typos committed along the way.  That happens.  And thanks to our staff, shareholders and all of you for joining us.


Twitter Lessons Learned at the Berkshire Hathaway Meeting

May 6, 2009

Last weekend’s Berkshire Hathaway tweeting provided us a great communications laboratory with several lessons learned.  Talk about a case study in multiplatforms and social media.  Here’s what happened:

Last summer, Leigh Fatzinger of OMV in Seattle began following Business Wire on Twitter.  Like many companies, we jumped on  Twitter, but nobody really owned the feed and updates were few.  It’s different now, but then, no one actively tweeted, so Leigh “unfollowed” us.

OUCH. That’s like saying:  “Take me off your mailing list.”

Leigh Fatziner of Seattle

Leigh Fatzinger

But it’s OK.  On Thursday, April 30 at 9:16 AM Central Daylight Time, we posted our plans to tweet live from the Berkshire Hathaway Annual Shareholders meeting.   In that blog post, we invited people to follow us on Twitter. Those who did would be entered in a random drawing to win a set of  collectable Warren Buffett posters available only at the meeting.

On Friday, May 1, at 1:58 PM, Lauren Linscheid in Business Wire’s Seattle office touted the blog post, “How Tweet It is to Attend the Berkshire Hathaway meeting,” in an email blast.

Leigh saw the email.   “I thought that was a really good headline,” said Leigh, “so I clicked on it and read all the way through to the bottom and learned about the contest.”  At 2:49 PM, Leigh began “following” us again.

On May 5, we picked Leigh’s name randomly from the 243 new followers we harvested from the contest.  We searched him online and tried to call, but the phone number we retrieved was faulty. At 11:20 AM, we followed him on Twitter and sent him the following direct message:
“Leigh, Monika Maeckle from @businesswire here.  Trying to reach u re: Warren Buffett posters u won.  Please call @ 210.527.9100. Gracias.”
I was concerned about doing this via email or Twitter because I thought Leigh might think it was dumb “You have won!” spam.  But Leigh called me within 10 minutes, we had a great conversation, and we are sending him the posters as we speak.
This is a great example of how Twitter works as one cog in the marketing wheel–which in this case utilized a press release, several blog posts, multiple emails, Twitter posts, lots of hyperlinks all around–and the good ol’ fashioned telephone.  It also illustrate other lessons.
  1. The headline is really important.  Just like a press release, what you choose to put in the ‘tweet spot’ matters–even moreso when you only have 140 characters.
  2. It PAYS to experiment.   The drumbeat of social media is: you must participate to understand.  It’s true.  We had no idea how this would turn out.   In this case, it worked.
  3. There are no silver bullets.  All these  tools, tactics and platforms work together.  This has come up repeatedly in our webinars.  People want a single, one-size-fits-all answer.  Not gonna happen.

So…Leigh.  Congratulations to you!  And thanks for helping us learn a bit more about how to use Twitter.


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