How to Use PR to Improve SEO Results

If you want to improve your search engine optimization (SEO) results (or squeeze out a competitor in page ranking), a properly leveraged PR program could be just the boost you need.

Relevant keywords. Link building. Delivering fresh, quality content. These tactics top the list of requirements for a successful SEO strategy – and a well-executed PR program can deliver on all three with just a little extra effort and planning.

Use these tips to make get the best SEO results from your PR program:

  1. Choose Keywords Carefully. Keywords should not be approached as an after thought once a release is written. If you have a list of keywords already in use for SEO campaigns, deliver the list to your PR writer, if not, do your homework and come up with a laundry list of relevant keywords that can be leveraged across all communications. When brainstorming keywords, consider which terms your target audience is likely to use when searching for your type of products or services. Free tools like Google’s AdWords Keyword Tool or WordTracker, will provide useful search volume data that can help you refine your list. Eliminate words or phrases that cannot deliver significant website traffic due to insufficient search volume and consider cutting any popular terms that put you in competition with 1M+ search results. Try to create a list of 10 – 15 targeted keywords that can be leveraged repeatedly in your press campaigns over time. (Note: your actual list may be shorter or longer depending on the size of your company, scope of offering and SEO budget).
  2. Be Aware of Keyword Placement and Frequency.  Each press release should be optimized for 1-2 keyword phrases. Include keywords in the title, subtitle and first paragraphs, but don’t over stuff your press release with keywords. This practice will dilute the effectiveness of your media communications – remember ultimately, humans, not bots, read press releases. Ideally in a 500-word press release, your chosen keywords should appear 2-4 times.
  3. Include a Call to Action with Hyperlink.  Search engines favor sites that have a high number of inbound links from other popular sites. Press releases can be a very effective way to earn those inbound links. News distribution sites that copy content from newswire feeds often convert full URLs into hyperlinks. Use this to your advantage by making sure that every press release distributed across the wire includes a call-to-action with a full URL link to your site (not an embedded hyperlink). Also, be sure your PR person asks journalists to include inbound links in any feature news stories (To be successful, you may need to get creative and provide a reason to include the link, i.e. come up with a special or exclusive offer for the publication’s readers). This strategy won’t always yield results, but it’s definitely worth a try – just a few links from top tier publications can do wonders for your SEO program.
  4. Add Images and Video.  Multi-media can give your company added visibility in search engines and make your press releases more shareable. To get the best SEO results, add descriptive titles that include your chosen keywords to all embedded images and videos. News distribution services charge extra for the inclusion of multi-media, so you may want to strategically plan which press releases are worthy of the added cost or stagger your distribution of multi-media releases throughout the year.
  5. Create an Online Newsroom and RSS for News Distribution.  Search engines, especially Google, love blogs for the fresh content and highly structured data. If you don’t already have an online newsroom, consider adding a blog style newsroom to your website. By posting releases to your site and distributing through RSS, you can get even more mileage from your PR program. Be sure to choose a SEO friendly blog platform and include tags for your keywords with each post. Bookmark and share each post and provide sharing tools so that others can easily do the same.
  6. Make Headlines Tweet Friendly. Keep your press release headlines short (less than 70 characters, if possible) to improve tweetability or consider adding suggested Tweet text at the end of your release to make sharing of your news easy for readers (and be sure to include a shortened URL that links back to the full-text release on your site).
  7. Automate Distribution of News Across Relevant Channels. By using a news distribution service like BusinessWire or PR Newswire, you will be able to extend the reach of your news and get pickup of full-text press releases (complete with keywords and hyperlinks to your site) on thousands of downstream sites, including Internet portals, search engines, websites, financial services and database systems. Choose the level of distribution service based the relevancy and newsworthiness of the communication you are distributing. For instance, you may want to consider lower cost “online only” distribution options when the primary goal of the release is to aide SEO efforts (as may be the case with a media alert announcing the availability of a company sponsored informational report), while a larger distribution would be more appropriate for a press release that is likely to earn your company feature news stories.
  8. Keep a Steady Pace.  Ideally companies should aim to distribute a minimum of 2-3 releases per month to help boost SEO results. Understandably, it can be difficult for smaller companies and start-ups to keep this pace. Having a back up strategy in place can help fill news gaps when they occur. Momentum releases (that package multiple smaller news items into one communication) or media alerts (that publicize events/information vs. news) can keep your SEO-friendly PR program afloat despite a slump in media-worthy news.
  9. Measure Your Results.  Web analytics are essential – if you don’t already have a web traffic-monitoring tool, get one. Google’s free web analytics offers a wealth of information on the origin of website visitors and keywords. Use this information to track the progress of your efforts and identify areas for improvement.
  10. Be Patient.  Neither PR nor SEO are about instant gratification. Often it takes months to see results and this is especially true for smaller or new companies. Set realistic expectations from the beginning and give the program a minimum of 6 months to deliver measurable results.
  11. Make Adjustments.  SEO isn’t a one-time event. Search engine algorithms change regularly, so the tactics that worked last year may not work this year.  Keep up with SEO best practices and make adjustments as algorithms change to ensure the best results. SEO requires dedication and a long-term commitment but the pay-off will be worthwhile for those that keep with it over time.
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