Where do you hide a dead body? On the second page of Google. (I’m here all week folks.) Search optimization for press releases doesn’t get quite the buzz that it did a few years ago, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t still important. You’ve gone to the trouble to craft your release, so it makes sense to make sure people find it. This handy PR SEO checklist will help.
1. Select the target keyword or phrase for your release
The Google AdWords Keyword Planner can help you identify terms that are generating traffic. You’ll also want to take into account how much competition there is for each word or phrase and which topics are currently trending. You may be better served going with a longer tail phrase with less traffic, and less competition.
2. Write a compelling headline that includes your keyword phrase
The headline is the single most important thing you will write, so it is worth spending some time on it. Although it was written for blog posts, this headline analyzer, can help take yours from good to great.
3. Use a variation of your keyword phrase in the subheading
Your subheading should really draw the reader in, further clarify what the release is about and make them want to read more. You don’t want to repeat your key phrase exactly, so use a variation that might also get search traffic.
4. Use your keyword phrase in the first paragraph
Search engines consider a keyword’s placement in content when ranking pages, so it is important to get your keyword in close to the beginning of your press release.
5. Use the keyword phrase and variations in the body sparingly
You absolutely do not want to over stuff your content with your keyword. It should be used in the body of your release, but only when it is natural and flows well for the reader. Using several variations is a great tactic for avoiding over stuffing and helping your content rank for more than one term.
6. Include (and test) relevant links
If you are linking to your own content, be sure to link to specific pages that are relevant to the news and not just your home page. It is also very helpful to link to third party pages, like studies or expert commentary, just make sure that these links open a new window. As with keywords, too many links will hurt your ranking, so use them thoughtfully.
7. Include an image
Images in press releases are great for increasing reader interest and improving SEO. Make sure that the image file name and alt tags are relevant to your keywords.
8. Don’t forget the boilerplate
Make sure that the boilerplate at the end of your release is up to date and that it contains the most important information about your company and a link to your website.
9. Practice good on-site SEO
If your press release will be posted on your own website, make sure that SEO best practices are followed. Use a relevant meta description that includes the keywords and make sure that H1 and H2 tags are used where appropriate.
10. Promote your press release
One of the most important things you can do to improve search optimization for your press release is to promote it. Use a press release distribution service as well as your social channels to reach the widest audience possible. Think about the relationships you’ve developed with influencers and see if you can get them to comment or share. Content that is widely read and shared ranks.
There’s no black magic in SEO for press releases. Always write for the reader first and think of search as a background consideration. If you make sure that you’ve covered these basics, you’ll give yourself the best shot at landing on the first page.