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.


Press Releases and Branding: Build Your Brand for Better SEO

April 19, 2011

With two billion active users and 130 million domains on the web, indexing the torrent of information is a challenge for large search engines and impossible for individuals. One way to distinguish your company or organization is to build a trusted brand within your niche. Press releases, done well, can play a role here.

Search engines have learned that brands are important to people making decisions in an information surplus environment and are seeking indicators of quality. Understanding how search engines judge and evaluate brands is imperative to building the trust that results in visibility.

So what makes a search friendly brand?

According to SEOMoz and Search Engine Journal as well as our own research and experience, top search “Brand” indicators include:

Company Name, Product and Service Searches   If people are searching for your company, product or service by name, it tells search engines you’re known within your niche. Measure this by checking search referrals on keyword variations of your name with tools like Google Analytics. Compare the data with what Google reports on their keyword tool. Make sure to always use your company name in press release headlines to increase brand exposure.

Media Coverage  Press release campaigns that boost coverage work double duty as a media relations tool, and by providing content to search engines, lifting brand value.

Brand Name” Links   If you see a link on a webpage to CNN, you probably know that click is going to take you to news on CNN.com. If search engines see a large number of brand links relative to keyword links in context, it may lead them to assume your brand is strong. These clicked-on links are viewed by search engines as votes of confidence.

Social Pages   At the least, your company should have a registered presence on the main social networking sites: Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.   Even better, lock down your company name across the social web. Try a service like Knowem.com or better yet, interns.

Online Reviews   Check review sites such as CitySearch, Angieslist or Yelp to see if reviews exist for your company. Try to respond if appropriate. Set up Google Alerts and Twitter alerts to monitor for new reviews. Search engines often aggregate reviews from many sources on their “place” pages and positive reviews can be a good brand indicator, especially for local businesses.

Partners & Customers    Well known brands usually don’t exist in a vacuum and have public partnerships as well as testimonials on their websites. Partnerships and customers that make you proud should be prominently displayed in a descriptive manner digestible by search engines. Think Apple & AT&T… or Apple & Verizon.

Offices and Storefronts    Most established brands have offices or storefronts of some kind. Make sure yours are current and prominently listed on your sites in a way that can be digested by search engines.

Local & Business Directories   Once your locations are listed, make sure to let the search engines know by adding or updating local listings directly to Google, Bing & Yahoo. Don’t forget the countless local business directories. GetListed provides links and advice for some top national directories.

Overwhelmed?   Start by taking inventory of where your brand stands with search engines by collecting what you know. From there, determine strengths and weaknesses and where to focus your energy. Remember, search algorithms are opaque and complicated. Experiment and measure what you can to see what works.

With sustained effort, your brand is bound to benefit. Good luck building your brand!


Use Google Trends to Find the Best Time to Send Your Press Release

June 3, 2010


It’s the age old question.  As long as companies and PR practitioners have been sending releases, everyone has wanted to know when is the best time to send my release? In fact, one of our most popular blog posts took this question on three years ago.

Everyone still wants to know because there is really no true right answer.  Hindsight is 20/20 and it’s easy to research the past and give an armchair opinion, but until Google starts mining data directly from our minds (Google Thoughts anyone?) predicting the future will continue to be a difficult endeavor.  However, with the power of free tools and site search it’s become relatively easy to get a read on the present and measure short term opportunities.

Here’s my basic premise: using tools like Google Trends and site search on the major press release distribution sites like Business Wire to gauge the amount of competition, you can increase your chances of catching a wave and contributing to a hot story.

Sometimes the trends are obvious.  You can tell from this chart that Father’s Day trends upwards as the holiday approaches (it’s June 20th in the US this year).

Searching headlines on Business Wire shows only a handful of Father’s Day related headlines so far in May and June.  To me, this looks like a great opportunity for interesting Father’s Day stories to get the jump on the trend.  If I were creating such a story, it might be a good idea to get it out now or keep watching the wires and distribute it just as things start to pick up.

Read the rest of this entry »


Social Media ROI in Cincinnati

May 14, 2010

On Wednesday, May 12, PR and marketing professionals from the Greater Cincinnati area attended our event, “Social Media ROI: Being Seen Is Not Enough.”  Our expert panel consisted of:

The panel addressed an audience of around 36 people who came to The Phoenix on a rainy morning to hear them discuss topics related to the adoption, uses, benefits and pitfalls of social media. Moderator Michael DeAloia got the ball rolling with a short PowerPoint presentation, then asked the panel to define social media and took off from there.  Each of the panelists was asked if there was a key metric they would consider for measuring ROI for social media.  Daniel Lally feels that it depends on what your strategy and goals are, while Krista Neher takes a different approach:

Later, the panel was asked to explain what they felt was the business rationalization for the use of social media. After James Pilcher discussed using it to confront business/branding problems, using the infamous “Comcast Technician Sleeping on my Couch” video as an example, an audience member asked whether stories like Comcast’s were why some companies are reluctant to start using social media:

There’s a genuine upside to getting into the social media sphere, as Pilcher demonstrated with a story about how Procter & Gamble is using social media strategies to combat negative stories, and their customers are helping:

The panel covered other topics, ranging from whether Google is still the most important outlet on the internet (a unanimous “YES”) to how social media is changing journalism to whether social media is here to stay.

The entire event, with all the questions and answers, will be available for download on Monday. Check back here or on our Twitter feed for updates.

Be sure to look for upcoming Business Wire events both in your area and online, and follow the #bwevents hashtag on Twitter for live updates from our events and webinars.


Nielsen Search Results Show Google Still Leads the Pack

April 28, 2010

Nielsen published their latest data on US Search Providers today, showing Google far ahead of all competitors with a healthy 65.7% of all search traffic, representing more than 6.3 billion searches in the month of March.  The next closest competitor, Yahoo!, had 13.4%.  Guess that makes our recent SEO Tip Jar advice on making sure your release gets into Google News even more relevant!


Why Your Release Might Not Make It In to Google News

March 24, 2010

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For many companies and agencies distributing press releases, appearing in online news outlets such as Google News is a significant benefit and often an important part of their PR or SEO strategy.  And from their perspective, getting in may seem quite straightforward when using a wire service such as Business Wire:  Write the press release, Send the press release, Appear in Google News!  What could be easier?

Well, what you may not know is that we do many things behind the scenes to deliver our content in a way that best complies with standards and rules laid out by Google and monitor performance to ensure the vast majority of our releases make it in to Google News.  On top of that, there are 18 reasons Google News may provide to us detailing why an individual release still doesn’t make the cut to reach their news index.  Some of these reasons are quite technical and are handled automatically by our world class technical team, but others vary based on the actual content of each individual release.  In this edition of SEO Tip Jar, I want to give you some insight into why Google News may reject your release and what you can do to best ensure that it doesn’t happen to you.

Before I get into it, please note that even if your release doesn’t make the cut for Google News, which in and of itself is an exceedingly rare occurrence, you will still be indexed by Google and available in the standard or “universal” search results.  Also, you can find the full list of rejection reasons in Google’s support section.  Of the 18 reasons Google may give, we tend to only see about five with any frequency.  Without further ado, here they are, in order of most common to least common:

“Article disproportionately short” /  “Article is too short”

Google does not give an exact word count to qualify for this criteria, but in my research this is most likely to occur when a release is less than 125 words.  However, I have seen instances when this reason is given in error as well with releases as long as 700 words.  In any case, these two errors constitute about 50% of the total errors we see, so be sure to make your releases at least 125 words to maximize your chances of inclusion.

“Page too large”

This is the most straightforward error in Google’s system.  Any page larger than 256KB may be flagged with this error, and most of the offenders tend to be very detailed and lengthy earnings reports with large tables and lots of text.  These releases are still indexed and available in Google Finance, which is usually the more appropriate and valuable venue for discovery.

“Title not found” (Title too short or long)

This is a deceptively named error, since it really means the title/headline of your release is too long.  According to Google, “…the title is required to be between 2 and 22 words, inclusive,” and headlines that don’t match this criteria are flagged with this error.  So be sure to check the word count in your headline and keep them relatively brief!

“Article Fragmented”

This error is very rare and only seems to occur on advisory releases with one sentence paragraphs or a very large number of bullet points.  It occurs when “The article …appears to consist of isolated sentences not grouped together into paragraphs.”  Avoid this error by ensuring the first paragraph of your release has at least two or three consecutive sentences.

Key Points

So if you want to best ensure your release gets into Google News, be sure to do the following with each release:

  • Write at least 125 words
  • Keep your headline between 2 and 22 words
  • Start your release with a three sentence paragraph


Social Media for Crisis Communications

December 9, 2009

PR practitioners — the good ones — know that having a crisis communications plan in place for their companies or clients is a key part of best practices.  And, as with pretty much every aspect of communications today, social media is making an impact here as well.  Thomas Crampton of Ogilvy PR’s 360 Digital Influence recently moderated a panel discussing both the effect of social media in creating a PR crisis, and the use of those same tools to manage, mitigate and recover.

As an indicator of how quickly things change in the web and social media worlds, take a look at slide 17, which shows “Search” as a factor in spreading buzz in hour 24 of a crisis.  That was accurate at the time this panel was conducted; as of Monday, with the announcement of Google real-time search results, “Search” has moved from hour 24 to hour 1. 

The implication here is pretty clear:  If you aren’t out in front of potential (or actual!) bad PR, someone else will be, and they’ll be doing it online where the results are searchable.  Dialogue and transparency are crucial, as is an official statement from your company that reaches customers and potential customers everywhere.

Check out the whole slide show for some more insights and a great framework for creating your own crisis communications plan.


Five Tips for More Search Friendly Headlines

October 29, 2009

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:
977image1
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:
977image2
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.


Why You Rank Where You Rank: New Report from SEOMoz.org

August 31, 2009

To create the latest edition of their now biannual Search Engine Ranking Factors report, SEOMoz.org conducted a survey of more than seventy top SEO experts from around the world and compiled the results on a single information rich webpage.  The report is an essential read for anyone even slightly concerned with how their company’s sites rank and where they should focus their efforts to improve performance and I highly recommend reading it.

Interestingly enough, three of the top five factors from 2007 have simply bounced around this year’s top five.  Perhaps things don’t move quite as fast we think they do in the world of search?  Of 2007’s top factors, only domain age has dropped off the map in terms of importance, moving from the top five to barely a factor at all, with the more sophisticated measure of trustworthiness taking up the slack.

Here’s how the top five shape up:

1. Keyword Focused Anchor Text from External Links (#3 in 2007)

While Google’s official opinion of SEO practitioners seems to range from ambivalence to antipathy, optimized anchor text is clearly a more important factor than ever.  Descriptive anchor text (think “free press release podcast” rather than “click here“) acts as a signpost to readers and robots indicating what they should expect at the tail end of each link.  There’s no time like the present to start being more mindful in the words you choose for your hyperlinks.  In the case of press releases, Business Wire clients can use our keyword tool within the Press Release Builder to discover and optimize for relevant and frequently searched keywords in news searches.  Other popular tools include the Google AdWords keyword tool.

2. External Link Popularity (#2 in 2007)
3. Diversity of Link Sources

The more links the better!  Building links from a wide range of quality sites can be very effective to help you climb the search mountain and outrank competitors.  This is a marathon, not a sprint.  A sustained linkbuilding effort may not always pay immediate dividends, but should reap rewards over time.  A periodic press release distribution can be a key component of your campaigns.

4. Keyword Use Anywhere in the Title Tag (#1 in 2007)Much like anchor text, page titles benefit greatly from the inclusion of keywords and phrases that are important to your company.  Though not mentioned specifically in this section of the report, it’s widely considered a best practice to ensure your keywords are also within the first 60 or so characters of your page titles to ensure they show up to readers on Google, Google News, Yahoo!, Bing and elsewhere.  Also worth mentioning is that your release’s headline will also serve as your page title in the world of press releases.

 

5. Trustworthiness of the Domain

Trustworthiness refers to a site’s mozRank, which is a “10-point measure of global link authority or popularity . . . very similar in purpose to the measures . . . used by the search engines.”  The trustworthiness of a domain casts a wide net of influence across its rankings instead of a narrow range of search keywords.

Personally, my main takeaway from the report is that how you link and where you get links are as important as ever in helping you to achieve your search goals.  As always, press release distribution can be an essential component of your marketing-pr mix.  Where else can you create compelling and keyword rich webpages, links with custom anchor text, and push your message out to a broad mix of authoritative sites?


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