As “new media” transforms news, the press release has always been a source of heated debate in the communications field. Some say press releases are dead, while others say they are the strongest tactic for SEO efforts available.
For years now there has been a consistent gap between public relations professionals and search engine optimization professionals in the area of the press release. Shockingly, many public relations agencies are still not using SEO to their advantage, while many SEO professionals are too focused on page rankings to open their mind to public relations.
However, this gap is closing, and despite rumors that press releases are a dying tactic, they are not going anywhere. Their role in communications is simply shifting. If executed correctly, they can be both useful and relevant to your target audience.
Five tips to a quality SEO-friendly press release:
Use keywords up front. Google will use the headline to fill out many critical HTML fields such as the title tag, description tag and H1 tag. In short, the words you choose here will determine what Google searches will result in your release. Use keywords, and make it engaging!
For example, let’s compare two releases.
EMR Resource EMRapproved.com Launches New Online Research Tools and Directories
If we search “EMR resource,” a relevant keyword for the client, the release comes up six times on the first page.
“Study: A form of PCOS associated with 50% reduction in pregnancy chances with IVF”
If we conduct a similar search, for example, the first few words of this release: “Study: a form of PCOS” not only are they not relevant to the keywords for that release, but the release only comes up once in the first 50 search results.*
Get to the point. This has always been true in PR. Put the important information at the top. Readers don’t want to read through your entire release to get the facts. This is even more important when your press release is mainly being distributed via the Internet because many sites will clip your release so that readers may only see the beginning.
Anchor links. Use links from important text, normally keywords, to relevant pages on your site. Make sure you have links not just pointing to your homepage, but also to deeper pages within your site. This tactic not only provides more information to readers, but also builds links to your site—a critical factor in medical search engine optimization.
Make it newsworthy. Make sure we keep the press release—the most important tool in public relations—a respected and relevant practice. Make your press release newsworthy. Most sites will have human editors reading your releases, and they will reject releases that are not newsworthy. Do you have a new product, service program, research or partnership in your organization? You have a reason to write a press release.
Incorporate social media. Whether you post the actual press release link to social media or just use it to get the message out—use it. People are listening and they will talk back. Of course, there are some industries where social media doesn’t make sense – for example, you may not want to invest in a social media campaign for your retirement home. But there aren’t many! So make sure you consistently incorporate social media each time you have an announcement, Medical social media marketing is really giving its profits
*The second release is about three months older, which contributes to the discrepancy in results.
Updated: October 4, 2011