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.
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:
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:
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.
In a recent AdAge column, Steve Rubel of Edelman wrote an excellent essay on the increasing power of pull that led me to think about how our mix of push and pull services can serve public relations and marketing professionals in these ever-changing times.
There’s no doubt that the world of information dissemination is shifting. Previously dominated by Push (think Television, Radio, Newspapers, and Magazines), where information is relatively scarce and blasted out to wide audiences, we’re now operating in a vast mix of both Push and Pull (think Search, Permission Marketing, Twitter, and narrowcasting to niche audiences). In this environment, your organization’s major news announcements are still best served by reaching the widest relevant audience possible with a big Push, but sometimes whether due to budget or news content a Pull approach is wiser.
When approaching news and content creation from a pull perspective, it’s best to think from the searcher’s perspective. As Steve writes, “One way to think of it is that Googlers are looking for “how to get rid of roaches,” not necessarily for “bug spray.”” Think of all the topic possibilities this way of thinking can open up for you to create content surrounding your brand.
Your source for ideas is often right under your nose too, namely in your Web Analytics package. Whether you use Google Analytics, Web Trends, Omniture, or any of the other great services available, you or your web team likely has access to reports from search engines containing the keyword searches that led people to your site. If you notice certain keywords that lead to lots of visits, long visits, inquiries, or orders you can build on them!
One strategy may be to start with a blog post, use channels like Twitter to generate buzz, craft related press releases to publish on EON: Enhanced Online News for more exposure and SEO help, and give your campaign periodic boosts with wire distributions. Of course no news distribution service does that better than Business Wire. Just take a look at our Distribution Catalogue and then imagine the time it would take to reach out to the thousands of news outlets individually.
SmartBrief, the media company most well known for their vast network of excellent industry newsletters (disclosure: we have a partnership with SmartBrief), recently reviewed EON: Enhanced Online News after conducting an experiment with word-of-mouth and other promotions for their free viral marketing webinar.
Here’s an excerpt we’re particularly fond of:
We liked that EON does a lot of the painful stuff for you: Distributing the press release via RSS feeds for news hounds, consumers, and journalists. When you create the release, the Enhanced Online News service prompts you to tag it by industry, subject, geography and keywords so it can target your announcement to the most relevant readers possible.
New Rules Challenge Conventional Wisdom
While any answer is preceded by the disclaimer “That depends…,” we’ve counseled clients for decades to send their press releases “early in the day, early in the week.” Fridays were once considered a bad day to send press releases, presumably because reporters and others were skipping out for the weekend and wouldn’t see your copy. And for years we’ve told clients that embargoes are made to be broken.
But as Bill Maher says, maybe its time for New Rules. An informal survey of clients and colleagues suggests that in a global, 24-hour, everyday news and information cycle, adherence to calendars and clocks is relative.
One corporate communications pro at a large, public company told me her strategy for maximum bang was to send a release on Sunday to key reporters with an embargo which they must agree to honor or they don’t receive the release. “The combination of stories that hit at the same time the release is generally distributed increases awareness of the story, and likewise, increases pick-up by other outlets that day and often, into a second news cycle,” she said. Clever.
Alan Weinkranz, a tech PR pro who maintains a robust blog and who works frequently in Israel where the work week is Sunday – Thursday, suggested we be mindful of national and religious holidays in other countries. He added that in practical terms, timing often matters less than it once did since these days, since “it’s not about the coverage, it’s about the conversation.”
What do you think? When IS the best time to send a press release? Leave a comment below and let us know.
Want more? Listen to When’s the Best Time to Send a Press Release? addressed in the All Things Press Release podcast, below.
Like what you hear? Subscribe in iTunes.
You can also take a look at another post from us on this topic, Use Google Trends to Find the Best Time to Send Your Press Release.
The recent spate of product recalls–from pet food to peanut butter–has me thinking about the role of press releases in the universe of crises. I’m not the only one.
Google noted in its Consumer Packaged Goods blog recently that for the first time in six years, a product recall placed in the #1 and #2 positions in top gaining Google searches.
Noting that “breaking news fuels online searches,” (REALLY?) Google detailed what companies should do during product recalls in the context of online search.
The search giant’s #1 recommendation: “Ensure the official information is available by immediately routing searches to the press release and official statements the moment it is available online.”
The press release as foundation document will never go away. Hear that social media types beating the drum on the demise of the press release?
Those sharp enough to leverage that press release not only as media relations tools, but as search engine optimized, direct-to-consumer content pages will weather a recall better than those who don’t bother.
Meanwhile, savvy PR pros like David Muise of Full Spectrum Media seize the opportunity to take the offensive in distinguishing their brands from those tainted. Muise represents Life’s Abundance, an all natural pet food wholesome enough for people to eat.
On April 4, Muise ran a release on Business Wire and EON Enhanced Online News with the headline “Pet Food Recall Has Pet Owners Turning to www.HealthyDogsUSA.com for Safe, Holistic Dog and Cat Food Alternatives.” The story rated third most-viewed release on Business Wire that day and Muise’s NewsTrak access report reflected almost 1,000 views in the first 24 hours.
“My goal was to reach the consumer and let them know they could be educated and that they have options,” said Muise, adding that the press release distro resulted in more than 250 online requests for pet food samples. “The conversion rate on samples is between 65 and 70 percent,” says Muise. Dr. Jane Bicks, Life’s Abundance founder and a holistic veterinarian, was also tapped by scores of journalists as an expert on pet nutrition, which resulted in ancillary positive publicity and web traffic, “even though the press release had no hard news in it,” says Muise.
Recalls are challenging for PR practitioners and press releases will always be a great tool for managing such challenges. One company’s bad news may breed opportunity for competitors, but in a nod to Don Imus, we at Business Wire and EON: Enhanced Online News insist that clients be tactful. We reserve the right to refuse copy that is “blatantly opportunistic” as we do weekly, most recently with releases exploiting the Virginia Tech massacre.