PRWeek asks: What is the Impact of Panda 4.0 on Today’s Press Release?

July 2, 2014

By Serena Ehrlich, Director of Social and Evolving Media

Earlier today, PRWeek tackled a topic on the minds of communication professionals around the globe – the impact of Google’s Panda updates on the press release.

logoSmallIn this piece, they ask experts from newswires and agencies alike whether this change will kill or enhance the press release.  Every respondent agreed – the press release is not dead.  In fact, thanks to this change, which effectively removed low quality content from mingling with high-level content, PR professionals have a terrific opportunity to reach and activate key audiences.  Today’s PR pros are in fact seeing greater success and visibility within key audiences with highly targeted, well-written, multimedia enhanced news.

Read more about Panda 4.0: Good news for content, bad news for link-stuffing at PR Week.  Curious on the best ways to craft a release in 2014?  Check out our free guide.


Business Wire Establishes New Standards for SEO with the 2014 Guide for Press Release Optimization

January 8, 2014

As we enter into 2014,  we are still receiving a lot of questions about how SEO should be used with a press release. One of the biggest misnomers we hear is that you cannot use any links in a release and that keyword research is not applicable anymore.  In an effort to clear up some of the confusion with SEO best practices for researching, writing and distributing a press release, Business Wire has put out a new guidance report titled “A Guide to Press Release Optimization.” The download is available for free and will answer all of the questions regarding press releases and SEO for 2014.

Business Wire PR and SEO in 2014The press release guidance report shows the major changes that have occurred with the press release including updates from Google that have redefined how the release is written. Additionally the report discusses best practices moving forward including future SEO and social trends in 2014. The guide is structured chronologically as a reference that will walk you through all of the steps of a press release from research and planning, through writing content, and into final distribution and measurement.

The idea is to have a standard that professionals in the communications industry can use as a guide when developing a press release for the New Year. All of the ten tips include examples and strategies including many free tools that are available to all professionals.

Tips include:

  • How to research and learn the behaviors of key constituents
  • Complete overview of the latest algorithms, and how to benefit from these updates
  • Recommended  press release layout improvements
  • How to properly use links
  • What you need to know about press release keywords and key phrases
  • The importance of high quality content
  • The role multimedia plays in increasing discovery and action in 2014
  • How to use social media strategically
  • Using a responsive design webpage for mobile
  • How to choose the proper news distribution method

The report can be downloaded, for free at http://go.businesswire.com/guide-to-press-release-optimization. Click this link to share it with your Twitter followers:  http://ctt.ec/4v0K3

Google Hummingbird

Need more incentive to download our report?  Business Wire will select, at random, 18 people who downloaded our guide to receive a hummingbird of their own!

We want to hear your comments. Let us know what you think of this guidance report and follow us on twitter @businesswire.


Tips, tricks and advice for today’s PR, IR and Marketing Professionals

October 19, 2013

By Serena Ehrlich, Director of Social & Evolving Media

What a week!  There were so many great news pieces, platform changes, tips and more that we had to commit an entire blog to sharing them with you.

Below please find this week’s top stories for public relations, corporate communications, investor relations and marketing communication professionals.

Social Platform + Search Engine Updates

Media + Research

Tips, Tricks and Best Practices

Did you find this list useful?  Did we miss anything?  If so, please share below, we are always looking for compelling information we can share with our audience!


Editor’s Corner: A Heads up on Headlines: 4 Rules for Maximizing News Visibility

October 7, 2013

Guest Post: Zara McAlister & Ciaran Ryan/Toronto newsroom

Headlines are like first dates. If you don’t peak your suitor’s interest early, he or she might take a fake phone call in the middle of dinner and claim their house is on fire. It takes time and effort to keep your date interested. The same goes for headline writing. A title should grab your audience’s attention and give an idea of what’s to come.

Follow these four tips to make your headline count:

Make it Short

The best way to appeal to a journalist is to write like one. Journalistic headlines are short and punchy, around five to six words and no more than 10. Columbia School of Journalism advises its budding journalists to use action verbs.  Humour is fine, but avoid clichés like the plague. That’s a good rule of thumb. Slang is also a no no.

Keeping a headline short isn’t just about looking good. Databases such as Yahoo! will cut off lengthy headlines. Your Business Wire editors will accept four lines of a headline or 264 characters.

Put Your Name on it for Google’s Sake

A headline that includes a company name helps to ground a news release in search engines and adds traction. A release with the headline, “Lab Develops Time Machine” is vague and misleading. What lab is it? Instead of leaving your reader hanging off a cliff of suspense, drop your company name in the headline. Something like “ABC Lab Develops Time Machine,” gives credit where credit is due. This release is more likely to pop up when a journalist or investor plugs in your company name to a search engine.

According to a 2010 PRWeek Media Survey, 95% of journalists use search engines to research a story. Google recently launched a new search algorithm dubbed Hummingbird. Hummingbird looks at your search query as a complete phrase and not as a collection of individual keywords. Having a detailed headline will make your release more searchable.

Think Before you Link

Hyperlinks belong in the body of the release, not the headline. Google’s algorithm searches for blocks of text that look like a typical headline. So headlines that contain hyperlinks to a company’s website for instance may confuse the algorithm into thinking it’s a random block of text, preventing the headline from being included in Google News. Same goes for Yahoo! and CBS Marketwatch which may not recognize hyperlinks in headlines.

Follow the Rules

Punctuation and grammar matter. If you don’t believe us, take a look at any online forum, newspaper comment field, or a friend’s Facebook status. You will likely find someone correcting someone else’s grammar.  Journalistic writing is simple, straightforward and grammatically sound. Do the same. Avoid flowery, jargon laden headlines.  And watch out for common mistakes, such as unnecessary periods at the end of headlines.

Style is also important. Your company’s news may be so exciting that you want to scream it from the mountain tops. But please, step away from the caps lock button. IT’S NOT YOUR FRIEND!!! All caps conveys an aggressive tone, much like shouting at your audience. That’s a big faux pas to avoid.  Your headline should not have anything in common with the social media musings of a teenager on the subject of Justin Bieber’s present fall from grace. So keep your headline title cased. Associated Press (AP) style dictates capitalizing principal words and prepositions that are longer than four letters, and maybe think twice about adding that exclamation mark.

These are four simple rules every writer should follow to ensure the best news visibility and engagement possible.  Have any other tips to share?  Let us know!


Editor’s Corner: Best Practices for Using Links in Press Releases

March 21, 2012

by Sera Gonzalez, Senior Editor, Business Wire Dallas

by Sera Gonzalez, Senior Editor, Business Wire Dallas

With the advent of XHTML, additional knowledge is only a click away. Embedded hyperlinks turn ordinary text into doorways of information. Business Wire tracks link click-throughs, showing the link text, URL, which version of the release and how many total clicks it has received.

As an editor, I’ve seen releases with no links at all, making it difficult for readers to easily find more information. I’ve also seen releases so full of links it was impossible to determine what information was important. Finding a balance and knowing how to optimize link usage is vital for press release writers.

When considering hyperlinks in text, the writer has two options: the URL and anchor text.

A URL in the text is like this: www.businesswire.com, which works well for short URLs and at the end of boilers, linking to company home pages. Though most of the internet is XHTML compatible, there are a few sites that still post in plain-text. In these instances, a link will not be active in the body unless it is written out. Instead of saying, “Click here,” say, “Visit www.businesswire.com.” Full URL links are also useful when linking to social media sites: http://facebook.com/businesswire and http://twitter.com/businesswire. Readers see your handle and can type it in if they already have those web sites open. Registration URLs for conference calls, webcasts and trade shows help a reader easily keep the link for future use or send to colleagues.

Sometimes URLs for frequently shared pages can be really long and should be hidden from readers. These cases call for anchor text, like Business Wire, instead of writing out the URL. These links are like the icing in your release; leading your reader to more information. For names in releases, an anchor text link to the person’s biography – which commonly includes a photo – works perfectly. You also can use anchor text in product announcements, referencing a page with videos, photos, reviews or purchasing information. Anchor text links also boost SEO for your release. For example, if you wanted your release to rank on Google for the keyword “Business Wire,” you would make sure that phrase appears in the headline, first paragraph and as anchor text, Business Wire.

Make hyperlinks work for you. Lead your reader to places beyond your release, to further the understanding of your product, personnel and company. Also keep in mind that not everything needs a hyperlink; too many and your release can look like spam and discourage readers. The link is yours.

With 31 bureaus around the world and more newsrooms than all of our competitors combined, Business Wire is proud to provide local expertise and superior service, backed by the most accurate editors in the world. In Editor’s Corner, we ask some of our best to chime in on how to get the most out of your press release, based on their years of experience in the industry.


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.

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 (http://www.google.com) 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: “businesswire.com” + Your Company Name.


Send Your Press Release on a High Quality Site

May 17, 2011

Conversations around Google’s Panda update have continued nonstop since Google announced the change in late February.  At the time, Google stated that the change affected 11.8% of their search queries.

That means that one out of every eight-and-a-half searches returns a different result from pre-Panda days–which could work for or against your website.   Third party data from companies around the world suggests some websites have been horrifically effected while others have emerged unscathed.

Losing sites are claiming traffic deficits of 20% – 90% or more.  Since Google’s update was so profound for many sites, the company has issued advice on “building high quality sites” in the form of questions which form part of the Google mindset.

As we’ve stated previously, Business Wire’s performance has improved since the Panda update. In this article, we’ll take a look at some of the questions posed by Google and how Business Wire stacks up.

Would you trust the information presented in this article?  Is the site a recognized authority on its topic? Would you recognize this site as an authoritative source when mentioned by name?

The Business Wire brand is synonymous with press releases and wire services.  We celebrate our 50th anniversary October 2, our website has been online since 1996 (it’s come a long way), and we can count a significant number of the Fortune 500 among our current and former clients.

Does the article provide original content or information, original reporting, original research, or original analysis?

Press releases are new news by nature.  Every day we push out hundreds to thousands of press releases with new information about companies and organizations.

Would you expect to see this article in a printed magazine, encyclopedia or book?

It’s no secret that press releases often provide ideas, sources or supporting facts for news stories across all mediums.  As journalists are expected to do more and more with fewer resources, the value of press releases to the story process is only increasing.

Does this article have an excessive amount of ads that distract from or interfere with the main content?

Press releases hosted on BusinessWire.com never contain advertisements.  We don’t want anything on the page to compete with client news.

Does this article have spelling, stylistic, or factual errors? How much quality control is done on content? Was the article edited well, or does it appear sloppy or hastily produced?

We have teams of editors around the world that prepare each and every release we receive from our clients, including proofing for grammar and spelling.  In addition, we distribute releases that are written by professional communicators with expert level knowledge or access to key personnel at their companies and clients.

Branding and search are converging.  Take a deep look at the advice in Google’s post when you are considering how to distribute your news, or even how to improve your company’s websites.  Where you distribute your news is more important than ever.


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