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!


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.


SEO Tip Jar: Tools to Track Your SEO Success

December 21, 2009

seotipjar-header-v11

Within the PR world, 2009 would probably be considered the year of Social, but for many it is also the year where SEO went from yet another random acronym to a high priority for clients and agencies alike.  For many web savvy PR practitioners, press releases now serve double duty as both a communication tool and an SEO tool.  But now that you are actively trying to make an SEO impact, how are you tracking the results?

Business Wire users may already be familiar with our Press Release Measurement features included in our NewsTrak reports, but in this edition of the SEO Tip Jar I want to introduce you to some free and paid reporting tools that can supplement your existing efforts by helping you track your historical page rankings for specific URLs and keywords on your own sites.  These tools will likely evolve as we enter the era of more real-time and personalized search, but as long as measurement is important they will continue to be some of the best indicators of SEO success.

SEOMoz Rank Tracker
URL: http://www.seomoz.org/rank-tracker
Cost: Free to monitor up to 5 rankings, $79/month to monitor up to 50 rankings as part of SEOMoz Pro account

The SEOMoz Rank Tracker refreshes rankings weekly by default and can update more frequently with manual requests.  It also includes very pretty historical graphs and can export historical data to CSV for use in Excel.

This tool is only available for limited use as a standalone utility, but is well worth it as part of the SEOMoz suite of web-based tools and resources.

Raven SERP Tracker
URL: http://raven-seo-tools.com/features/serp-tracker/
Cost: $79 as part of package of tools.  Monitor up to 1,000 keywords.

Raven’s SERP (“Search Engine Result Page”) Tracker works in much the same way as the SEOMoz Rank Tracker, but automatically tracks across each major search engine (Google, Yahoo, and Bing) rather than having to add each search engine individually.

It also provides historical data as charts and CSV format for easy export.

Raven’s SEO suite also offers a large number of tools and resources that help you with your SEO efforts.

SEO Rank Monitor
URL: http://www.seorankmonitor.com/
Cost: $19/ month, monitor up to 100 keywords on a single domain

This standalone web-based tool features the same sort of functionality as the SEOMoz and Raven tools, and also features Google Analytics integration.

SEOBook.com Rank Checker
URL: http://tools.seobook.com/firefox/rank-checker/
Cost: Free Firefox plugin, requires SEOBook.com account

Unlike the other tools I’ve mentioned, this free Firefox plugin runs within your web browser rather than a dedicated server, so you can only collect data from a single computer.  It doesn’t produce any fancy graphs, but does feature CSV export for the Excel set.

Also, with its myriad of customizable options this tool is probably geared more towards the geekier among us.

All of these tools feature either free options or free trials, so what are you waiting for?  Get started tracking your site’s rankings today.


How the Testy Topic of Tags Applies to Press Releases

January 30, 2008

What are tags and Why do I want them? Our first webinar of the year, Lost in MySpace?, hit a chord with clients. Almost 500 people showed up last Friday…and we’re STILL answering questions for those who attended.

The 45-minute presentation targeted those inexperienced in Web 2.0 and while we made some progress, it’s clear our clients are hungry for as much enlightenment as we can provide on how this organic landscape applies to press releases.

One of the thorniest issues seems to be user generated tags–NOT metatags, which are the coding on a webpage that helps search engines categorize the content for serving up to searchers. We had dozens of questions on tags.

What are tags and why should PR practitioners, marketers and even savvy small businesses care about them?

Fact is, Web 2.0 presents huge opportunities for your press releases to be shared, re-purposed, reformatted and reused–in other words seen and read–by the billions of people surfing and searching the Web. The more you embrace tools like tags, the more you facilitate that sharing and re-purposing, therefore increasing the chances of your press release being seen and your message communicated.

Tags help by making it easier for people to find, share and read the copy you so painstakingly have put together. Think of the Internet as this big, fat filing cabinet. In it are billions of documents or web pages. Consider your press release a web page–because that’s exactly what it is, once it slips from being a Word or Mac document to an interactive webpage hosted by Business Wire, EON Enhanced Online News, or posted on your website.

Continuing the filing cabinet metaphor, the press release is the document you’re going to file. How should you label it so you can find it later? How will others interested in that document find it? And, Mom was right: you’re judged by the company you keep. Think about the kind of content with which you want to be associated, because it will also come up when tagged like yours.

The tag is the the label you put on the page to facilitate finding, storing, and sharing of the content. The tag helps give your press release a life BEYOND that first news spike, since it facilitates the saving and sharing of it later.

For more press release tips, check out our delicious page. Also, leave us a comment with your take on tags.


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