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.


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