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.


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.


Google Algorithm Changes Reward Best Practice SEO and Pay Off for Press Release Visibility

March 15, 2011
Matt Albers, Director of Web Services

by Matt Albers, Director of Software Engineering, Web Services

In an effort to find more high quality sites for its many users, during the week of Feb. 24th, Google rolled out their Panda update (aka Farmer).

This update was said to touch nearly 12 percent of all Google search results in an attempt to weed out or de-value content farms and “low quality” sites.  Wired.com offers more in depth coverage with Google engineers Matt Cutts and Amit Singhal weighing in on specifics about the change.  If you’re an engineer like me, you’d already heard complaints in the tech sector for a while now.

So how did this change affect the visibility of your press releases?  We’re glad you asked, because in the case of Business Wire, we’ve noticed a positive change.  That’s correct: since Google tweaked their indexing algorithm, Business Wire has seen an increase in traffic, and higher rankings for our client’s press releases.

Meanwhile, according to Sistrix, a German search research company, our competitors have not fared as well, some losing nearly 70% of their keyword rankings.  In addition, our rival says they lost 20% in traffic, showing a Hitwise graph of search clicks.  But look closely and you’ll see the only site on that graph trending UP is Business Wire.  Yes, quality rises to the top.

We don’t know specifically why some press release services were dinged.  We can only confirm that Business Wire was not affected negatively by the Panda update based on our analytics analysis.  Why the difference?  I suspect it’s because we’ve been following “best practice”, “white hat” SEO for years.

Business Wire has been known for excellence and customer service for 50 years now, and we have deliberately avoided SEO gaming, allowing our highly vetted content to speak for itself.  As an engineer and Director of Web Services, you can bet I place a high value on technology, but good decisions and people behind them are what really make a difference in the quality our clients enjoy at Business Wire.  It turns out taking the high road and considering long term over short term success results in excellent SEO outcomes for us and our clients.


BW Fun Fact: Business Wire Has Been Adding Multimedia to Press Releases for More Than a Decade

March 14, 2011

In 1997, Business Wire introduced the Smart News Release (SNR), which allowed users to embed photos, audio, video and other multimedia into press releases. Not only does multimedia help a press release stand out to reporters or readers, but it also increases the reach of a release in search engines. Although often overlooked, Google Images receives a huge amount of search traffic and can actually drive readers back to your release. Our research has found that releases with multimedia receive 1.7 times more reads than those without.

Back when we first introduced SNRs, clients would often provide us with hard-copy photos, which were then scanned by Business Wire editors to be made available in high resolution to media and web viewers. Today, we distribute hundreds of releases with multimedia every week.

Check out what some of our experienced editors have to say about how best to submit multimedia and best practices for writing photo captions.


Importance of Writing Good Headlines Magnified as Attention Spans and Space Decrease

February 3, 2011
Free “How to Write A Good Headline” Webinar to Offer Headline Writing Tips
by Monika Maeckle, Vice President, New Media

Gawker rolled out its redesign this week, provoking an echo chamber of speculation on what it means for blogs, Twitter and new media in general, and the blogosphere in particular.

One theme was constant in the online nattering:  headlines have never been more important.

With our miniscule attention spans, a firehose of content, and search engines that systematically weigh the first 70 characters of any content page, headlines today carry an unprecedented burden to deliver readers.   And with Twitter and Facebook referring so many pageviews, we no longer enjoy the luxury of the lead paragraph to tell our stories.

The headline stands alone.

“Headlines on websites—particularly those found on news websites with content heavy homepages—carry a very heavy load,” wrote Jake Brooks, Chief Strategist and Project Director of Hazan+Company, in a February 1 blogpost. “For these types of sites, the difference between 10,000 pageviews can rest entirely on the quality of the headline and how well it sells a story.”

No kidding.  And when it comes to press releases, a great headline can make the difference between your carefully crafted news release flying high or detouring to the delete heap.

If you can use some help with headline writing, please join us February 16 for a FREE educational webinar on How to Write  a Good HeadlineRegistration is free.

We’ll look at headlines from both sides of the aisle–from the perspectives of readers and robots.   Our guests will be veteran journalist Terry Scott Bertling, niche/products editor at the San Antonio Express-News; and SEO-meister  Greg Jarboe, President of SEO-PR.

Hope to “see” you there.

How to Write A Good Headline
Wednesday, February 16, 2011
10 AM Pacific/ Noon Central/ 1 PM Eastern
FREE
Register Now

 

 


The 50-40-10 Rule of Optimizing Press Releases

January 28, 2011

The 50-40-10 Rule of Optimizing Press Releases

Have you ever wondered how much energy you should put towards optimizing your press releases?  If so, please consider adopting my 50-40-10 optimization technique for your next press release (it’s great for blog posts too, by the way!).

So what does 50-40-10 mean?  50-40-10 is a technique for allocating your time and energies efficiently when optimizing releases.  Take a look at the graphic below for a visual breakdown.

Here’s how it works:

Spend about 50% of your time optimizing your headline. These days, we are inundated with information and being compelling from the outset is often crucial to getting your message heard by an audience of journalists, bloggers and newsreaders that have no shortage of articles to read at any time. Your headline is also the most important element in your release from an SEO perspective as it serves double duty as your Title tag and headline in search results.

Dig deep to craft a headline that incorporates important keywords while also conveying your key points and hopefully even grabs the reader’s attention from the start.  Here are a few recent release headlines I love that also performed quite well:

LinkedIn Says Most Overused Buzzwords Are “Extensive Experience, Innovative and Motivated”

NBA Bans Basketball Shoes by Athletic Propulsion Labs Based on League Rule against “Undue Competitive Advantage” That Increases a Player’s Vertical Leap

With your headline written, now spend the next 40% of your time optimizing the body of your release. While ensuring that your release continues to deliver on the promise of the headline, repeat your most important keywords or related words multiple times.  Also be sure to link to key webpages using relevant anchor text closely matched to the content of the destination page.  Use your body optimization time to find the balance of readability and optimization.

Finally, use your last 10% to optimize your multimedia elements. I recommend allocating a significantly smaller amount of time for this because there are no headlines, links or body copy to deal with here.  Simply write unique and compelling descriptions of each attached photo or video multimedia element.  Incorporate relevant keywords into each description, give each element a unique file name and you are done.

Give this technique a try next time you optimize your press release and let us know how it goes.


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 39,769 other followers

%d bloggers like this: