Seek and Ye Shall Find: The News Release

March 25, 2015

By Neil Hershberg, Senior Vice President, Global Media

The primacy of the news release in the editorial ecosystem has once again been reaffirmed.Google adjusted its algorithms last September to include news releases among the authorized news sources used in gathering its “in the news” search results. Google’s decision had escaped notice until Reuters recently spotlighted the silent shift in search strategy: http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/03/11/us-google-news-idUSKBN0M729A20150311

Simply put, news releases may catapult other sources to earn top ranking in searches focusing on specific companies. The impact on corporate issuers, news consumers, and media organizations promises to be profound in many ways.

Sonic Earnings in Google News

Corporate issuers stand to be the major beneficiaries; companies are now able to convey their message in their own words, unfiltered and without interpretation by others. Their official statements will play a larger role in shaping subsequent conversations, based on heightened visibility.

The biggest challenge for the PR industry is to not abuse the privilege. Following rampant efforts to game the system and artificially elevate search standings, Google introduced various initiatives, i.e. “Hummingbird,” to clamp down on the outsized presence of news releases in its search results.

Google’s release rehabilitation decision provides PR and IR professionals with the opportunity for redemption.

News consumers also stand to benefit on multiple levels. Company statements are an authoritative source of information; they remain extremely popular with many audiences, including investors, product enthusiasts, and peer group professionals.

The renewed prominence of the news release provides users with a direct and simple pathway to this invaluable information resource.

“The goal of search is to get users the right answer at any one time as quickly as possible — that may mean returning an article from an established publisher or from a smaller niche publisher or indeed it might be the press release,” a Google spokeswoman told Reuters.

An unintended consequence of Google’s action is the potential diversion of traffic away from sites operated by news organizations. Industry analysts have noted that Google’s “in the news” modules are a major driver of traffic to news sites, which may see some user slippage.

The reality, however, is that most readers are anxious to get a kaleidoscope of opinions and perspectives; they will likely seek out editorial coverage from trusted third-party sources to supplement the core release.

Bottom line: the news release is more vital than ever, at the very center of the discovery process.

Business Wire NX Distribution Technology

Click here to share this big news with your Twitter followers:  http://ctt.ec/09eu9


Google Update Emphasizes Editorial Coverage in Mobile Search Results

March 4, 2015

Last week Google started rolling out a change to mobile search results that includes a stronger emphasis on fresh news articles featuring the company, or term searched.  In this update, Google now puts the information that persuades customers the fastest right into the top half of search results.

Blog 1

The role of Mobile in the Conversion Funnel
A 2014 study from Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) Council and NetLine Corporation found that 62% of B2B buyers use mobile devices to seek out content to stay abreast of industry changes and 60% use them to find solutions to existing problems.  The IDG Global Mobile Survey 2014 shows that 86% of decision makers and executives use tablets for business-related research while 72% used mobile phones.

Given the increased reliance on mobile devices in the purchase cycle, communication and marketing professionals must be aware of how their company and content appear in search results. The better placement this material receives, the better chance for sales and marketing conversions.

The Role of Coverage in the Conversion Funnel
In 2014, Nielsen and InPowered studied how editorial coverage stacked up against other types of corporate marketing content such as branded content and user reviews. In each instance, editorial coverage showed to be more effective at increasing awareness, increasing brand affinity and purchase intent.

blog 2

Previously, Google search results looked like this image on the left. As you can see, Google included, when possible, a knowledge graph within the search results to provide a wider range of context to the search term.

Google now utilizes a carousel to present recent articles, videos and more on a particular topic. This format allows the search user to receive a wider array of more useful recent information, while the results appear in a clear, concise manner and fit within the size limitations of the device on hand.

We are excited to see additional emphasis on editorial coverage, without pushing other important search results farther down the page.  Of course, just like all Google updates, it’s key to remember that this change is still rolling out and will most likely evolve based on user search behavior, but we’ll continue to monitor and update you on changes as occur.


PR Debate: Google vs. Facebook: Which Platform Should You Really Care About?

December 22, 2014

By Hannah Kelly, Business Wire Paris

The changing face of the news coverage and visibility scene

It’s the hottest debate in 2014: SEO for discovery or social sharing for impact?

2014 started off innocently enough.  First Google Hummingbird made major changes regarding news release visibility.  Then midway through the year Facebook launched FB Newswire, to increase the visibility of news.  Suddenly it was clear.  Facebook and Google were directly competing to see which service was more effective at surfacing a story and driving action because of it.
google vs facebook
Fact:  Both Google and Facebook are hungry for your news.

Recently, Parse.ly investigated data from around 8 billion page views of approximately 200 news sites with the results that 38% of referrals were generated by Google and 26% by Facebook.  While this statistic may not help Google overtake Facebook in the race to win the visibility war, it does providing an interesting opportunity for communicators.  If your published news piece can generate visibility on both Google and Facebook, you can generate more than 50% of your inbound traffic with (relatively) little effort.

However, the type of news that is sought after by these sites is slowly shifting. In both cases, Google and Facebook first relied on algorithms to determine which news to surface.  Unfortunately, this caused a plethora of misleading articles by less trustworthy “media outlets” to rise to the top.   These algorithms were adjusted greatly on both platforms this summer when Google and Facebook users revealed that they crave “real news” vs. click bait.

In an effort to continually refine results, these algorithms are continuously updated to reward authenticity and engagement. Google’s most recent changes to  Google Penguin, Penguin 3.0, on October 17, 2014, focused solely on overcoming link schemes that manipulate the ranking of a webpage (and the news story hosted there).

So what does this mean for your news?
As more and more refinement is done to ensure only high quality news is surfaced when searched on Google or on social networks, there are a few things today’s communicators can do to make sure their news is not only seen, but shared.

  1. Be descriptive in your headline

The more descriptive the title of your article, the more likely people are to read it, visit your page, and thereby increase your page ranking. News releases are known for their relatively long ‘uninteresting’ titles – but now the tables have turned. Readers know exactly what to expect from your release, which comes as a great relief after having spent significant time browsing through articles only to discover that they are not quite what was promised with the first click.

  1. Write a concise, accurate article

Now that your title has drawn readers in, the idea is to hold their interest. Long rambling paragraphs will not do this. Keep your information as succinct and on point as possible – engage the audience through a direct approach. To give you an idea, the ideal length for a news release is no longer than an A4 page.

  1. Contact information

This is crucial. If the reader has any further questions, they will want to contact you. The worst possible thing to happen at this stage is to struggle to find any method of contact. Include your Twitter, your Facebook, your Google+ – all and any possible ways of getting in contact. Not only does this ease contact between your company and the reader, but it also allows your news to be shared back with direct links.

News releases, especially those distributed by a commercial newswire such as Business Wire can help your distribution reach, and engage and activate audiences on both Google and Facebook platforms. Every news release jumpstarts a range of actions from coverage to sharing, each that directly impacts visibility within both Google and Facebook.  Business Wire’s wide distribution circuits, unique journalist lists and most of all, our “share” tools allow you to publish and share your articles within seconds. With over 50 years in the industry, we can help you tailor your distribution effectively, thus greatly increasing your traffic growth.


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.


What We’ve Learned: A Round-Up of Tips, Tricks and Tools from Some of the Top Public Relations and Marketing Conferences

November 20, 2013
by Meghann Johnson, Sales Manager, Business Wire Chicago

Curious about SEO in the new age of Google Penguin and Hummingbird? Interested in the very latest content marketing best practices?

We were too, which is why Business Wire recently attended a wave of industry conferences including Search Engine Strategies, PubCon, AdTech and the Internet Summit, all to uncover the latest and greatest tools, tips and techniques for public relations and marketing professionals to meet their business goals.

And even though we learned a lot, there was one discussion on the top of everyone’s mind – how social media engagement impacts SEO. The number one point reiterated at every conference is that while an individual piece of content may no longer generate increased SEO, social media interactions can impact the ease in which content is found. The better the content, the more engagement it receives, the easier it is to be found. The lower the quality of the content, the fewer interactions it receives, the harder it is to be found. It’s that simple.

Below is a cheat sheet we created to help you navigate Facebook, Twitter and Google+.  We also pulled together supporting articles that provide additional insights and tactics you can use.

Facebook

Your target audience should no longer be thought of as “consumers”. Instead, think of them as “participants” in your brand conversation. Courtesy of Daina Middleton http://tinyurl.com/lmtr4m7

Developing brand personas are increasingly popular for marketers who want to better understand their target audience. We love these simple steps from marketing expert Heidi Cohen http://tinyurl.com/nxw6je6

If you’re doing Facebook advertising, focus on the newsfeed ads vs. those on the right-hand rail. These tend to get more click-thrus and engagement. Note: They are more expensive as well, but the pay-off may be worth it for your brand.

With Facebook’s recent algorithum changes users will be introduced to content based on their activities. For example, users who view more photos will be presented with more photos in their newsfeeds. Smart marketers should test different format types to determine which resonate best for their audience.

When adding links to press releases it’s important to practice SEO co-citation, or linking to relevant sites other than your own. This helps your news gain authority as a meaningful resource for more information.

Testing your website? According to Jakob Nelson, just five users can uncover 85% of usability issues http://tinyurl.com/mhr8emm

Twitter

Think visually! @Twitter introduces pictures and videos to the newsfeed http://tinyurl.com/nuzfgyt #contentmarketing #prtips

Journalist can’t cover your story? Send them a pre-scripted Tweet instead! #prtips

Follow weekly #trends on #Twitter to see how your company can participate and engage in the conversation

#Retargeting is important for today’s search-driven society, but ensure you have the right goals in mind http://tinyurl.com/kq76z4j

Marketing on @Twitter? Be sure to check out new lead generation cards to drive users to YOU http://tinyurl.com/qafwzjc

Companies using Twitter will continue to be indexed by search engines, a great plus for gaining more #visibility and #SEO

Good #stat: 50% of retweets occur in first 18 minutes of being published so make sure content is attention-grabbing @MarinSoftware

Google +

Companies who use Google+ will get indexed faster by Google than other social media sites such as Twitter. http://tinyurl.com/p7fhq6g

Adding multimedia to Google+ is a great way to boost visibility and search optimization for content.

YouTube now requires all commenters to have a public Google+ account, weeding out some posters on the popular site and boosting Google+ membership. http://tinyurl.com/kstylq7

Google+ is an inexpensive way to host conversations among audiences and can be recorded for later use.

Even with Google’s recent algorithum changes, press releases can still drive meaningful traffic to a company’s website, blog or social media sites and boost viewership across these channels.

Check out this cool infographic from @Brafton media on how to combat the Google Penguin http://tinyurl.com/qxzpyuw

What do you think of this list?  Was it useful to you? As always, you can contact us directly to learn more about any of these topics, and stay tuned to the BusinessWired blog for other interesting updates.


Covering Your Bases on The Big Issues This Election Season

May 25, 2012

by Danny Selnick, VP, Public Policy Services

by Danny Selnick, Vice President of Public Policy Services, Business Wire DC

The upcoming presidential election and national political conventions are looking to be a contentious time.  No doubt this will be an interesting election cycle where also the entire House of Representatives is up for grabs, as is nearly one-third the Senate.

So will the president (incumbent or newly elected) have a Congressional majority that can push along and support legislation that’s near and dear to him? Or will the country have a divided Congress that will keep it in political gridlock? The stakes are huge with political and economic and even global ramifications. Not even the pundits can agree. But one thing’s for sure, professional communicators with some interest in the outcomes will need to get the word out. The question is, with what strategy?

No longer can public affairs communicators rely solely on getting their message out to traditional media. They must also reach out to grass-roots supporters, influentials and voters by using social media — and use it effectively in creating powerful networks and communities. Additionally, communicators must use powerful search engine optimization tools to make sure their news is seen.

Let’s not also forget that the United States Supreme Court will be handing down its decision on the constitutionality of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Should the Court let the Act remain as is, not much will change and the law that was enacted two years ago will continue to be implemented. There will be those organizations and state governments that will remain opposed, but they’ll have to abide by the ruling. However, should the Court rule against the Act, no one really knows what will happen. Dismantling what has already been in effect will not be easy, and the Republican Leadership (including Mr. Romney, as well as those even at the state level) will have to come through on their promise of a better plan.

In sum, public affairs/corporate communicators and government relations professionals should be working on their messaging and thinking about the tactics to reaching all their key audiences. One more very important point to mention is that the American public (and voters) is not homogeneous. Far from it. Communicators need to remember to include messaging to the Hispanic community (that has been growing in numbers, power and importance) as well as to African-American, Asian-American and other groups.

Selnick is Business Wire’s Vice President for Public Policy and LatinoWire Services and developed specialty targeted services that are designed to reach any organization’s key audiences — from the media to decision-makers … to getting your message in front of the public that goes online looking for news.  The Public Policy Wire also includes Issues-Focused Lists that reach beat reporters by personalized email — including Health Care and Presidential Campaign.


It’s All About Marketing and PR Convergence with Our New Smart Marketing Page

May 8, 2012
For professional communicators today, there is a growing understanding that PR and marketing efforts must work in unison to be most effective.  For example, the cost of the keywords that marketing bids on in their advertising outreach can be reduced when PR successfully gets those same keywords embedded and issued/posted/shared in their audience engagement efforts.

With press releases, we know that multimedia enhances click-thru rates and improves audience engagement.  When public relations leverages existing marketing assets, it reinforces brand messaging and helps marketing achieve the multiple touch points needed for audiences to act.  Both marketing and PR ultimately engage many of the same audiences by the very nature of how content is found and shared online.

For PR practitioners, this provides an opportunity to show how they can cost-effectively and measurably complement and boost the overall marketing impact.  As you build your next press release, work with marketing to develop and use common campaign keywords, add SEO-relevant, measurable touch points such as links from press release content deep into the organizations website, include “buy this” buttons and add multimedia visuals and videos, all driving measurable traffic, revenue and engagement tied to shared campaign objectives.

The launch of our new Smart Marketing Page provides a tremendously cost-effective new platform to achieve marketing/PR message unity that is measurable.  It helps PR grab a larger share of the marketing voice by pushing out press release and multimedia content via the powerful Business Wire news network to media and online audiences across the country, deep into your industry and around the web.  It also posts to our EON: Enhanced Online News platform, all designed to provide easy audience engagement and SEO-boosting exposure.

The Smart Marketing Page gives marketers a branded platform that is SEO friendly with assets that are easy to share, allowing for the inclusion of polls, multimedia galleries and custom branding.  It provides both with valuable multimedia tools and measurement metrics to evaluate and adjust campaigns against marketing objectives.

Check out the Business Wire SMP and see for yourself why we’re so excited about this new platform. Then contact your local BW account executive to get started.


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