Posted to Ben Finklea's blog on January 13th, 2012

How to Optimize a Press Release: Off-Page SEO

There are two major areas of discipline in search engine optimization: on-page SEO, which includes keyword usage on your website’s meta data and actual content, and off-page SEO, which is how you connect your website with the rest of the Web. This post deals with the latter, with a specific off-page SEO strategy that has proven its worth.

Publishing online press releases can be a very powerful method for increasing your website’s organic search rankings, but the implementation of SEO best practices must be followed in order to squeeze every last drop of quality link juice you can out of every press release. Want a few expert tips or friendly reminders of off-page SEO? You came to the right blog. Here are 5 Ways to Search Engine Optimize a Press Release:

#1: Choose Appropriate and Engaging News or Topic

No one wants to read a press release about how your company just published one new case study or having Hawaiian shirt Friday, otherwise you will wind up with an online readership like the photo above. A wise man once said: "News is only newsworthy once; if the world knows already, it is not news."

Because of the online power of the press release, many companies are tempted to pump out press releases about nearly anything just to get the link juice and attention.

If you are a press release pusher, please refer to the old fable: The Boy Who Cried Wolf. You may lose your target audience’s attention and, in doing so, lose authoritative voice, if you continue to publish press releases that aren’t appropriate or engaging to them. Your CEO rearranged his office, who cares? Did your company add a new client? Unless it is an eye-widening or newsworthy client, this press release may not reach very many eyeballs.

Appropriate topics and news would be: new service or product launch, event announcement, company acquisition, hiring a top level all-star within your niche community, speaking engagements, conference keynotes and sponsorships, expansion of business or offices, and big company anniversaries and major milestones.

I’m sure I missed an appropriate topic or newsworthy event worth a press release. Let me know in a comment below.

#2: Create Relevant, Keyword-Rich Headline and Body Copy

If you’ve been writing online content for a while now, or just getting your SEO-legs underneath you, then this best practice will be a friendly reminder:

I cannot stress enough the importance of using keywords and terms in a press release headline and body copy. Don’t force it, of course, because human readers are very astute in knowing when they aren’t the intended recipient. With a little practice, you or your copywriters will find it easy to work in keywords and terms naturally.

Do not, I repeat, DO NOT use trending keywords that have nothing to do with your topic in your headlines, just to get ranked. For example: Dancing with the Stars website Would benefit from Volacci’s new Service: Google Analytics Consulting. Let’s be honest, who in America, is NOT googling Dancing with the Stars these days?!

Use the keyword as early in the headline as you possibly can, but if it doesn’t flow well, anywhere in the headline is better than nowhere at all. Try and use your keyword or term in the first sentence of the press release, as well as 3-4 more times throughout your body copy, preferably toward the beginning and end of paragraphs.

#3: Write Clear and Concise Content

If your press release reads like a technical manual on a car radiator, you have a problem. If your press release topic is appropriate and engaging, the content should be just as attention-grabbing. Avoid packing your press release with too much dry information. Be clear and concise about the news or event, and then wrap it up.

This suggestion is more for the optimization of human readers, rather than search engine spiders. Even though Google’s pets do enjoy clear and concise copy, getting human readers to click through to your website is the hardest part. Bad copy will send human readers clicking the back button faster than a cheetah on Red Bull. If you are publishing bad copy, follow the photo’s advice and ask someone to “send help!”

#4: Include Relevant, Authoritative Links

Everyone likes being popular, and every business likes having a popular website. In the eyes of Google, building back links (off-page SEO) to authoritative sites is a great way to increase your linking popularity, helping your website rank higher in Google’s SERPs. Publishing press releases with authoritative back links has been a successful off-page SEO strategy for high ranking websites.

When you are writing a press release, include relevant, authoritative links in the body copy in order to boost the search engine optimization of the content. Besides linking back to your website homepage or specific landing page, link to any and all relevant references your press release may make to other companies, brands, and news sources or stories. Why should you link to authoritative sites for press release optimization? I just did.

#5: Spread Your Message to the Masses

Now that you’ve crafted a perfectly optimized press release, now it’s time to shout it out loud online. Take action!

If you submit your press releases to authoritative publishing websites, you will enjoy seeing it pop up on Yahoo! News and Google News.

Here are four places that you should submit your press release to:

#1 - Your own website. Isn't this where you want traffic to come to in the first place? It gives you complete control over capturing leads and converting them into customers.

#2 - PR publishing websites such as MarketWire, PRWeb, Business Wire, and PR Newswire.

Volacci uses MarketWire, as recommended by our PR company, MediaFirst. All wire services provide the same capabilities, no matter what they claim. They all have search-friendly press releases, but MarketWire is solid and least expensive. All of the mentioned wire services have distribution deals with Google, Bing, Yahoo!, etc. and give press releases wide distribution - true international syndication - and are well-regarded. You cannot go wrong with any of them.

#3 - Many news websites allow you to submit your press releases to their news desk, which goes to their News Editor. Some will even let you post them directly ( is one site that lets you submit to editors).

#4 - If you happen to know of reporters and editors that cover your industry – the "beat" – you can email them (sans spam) the release at the time of the issue.

Bonus: The Benefits of Optimized Press Releases

Still hungry? Here is your just dessert on off-page SEO for press releases.

1. Increased Awareness\Visibility - A common dipstick in branding campaigns, increased awareness and visibility generated from press releases informs your target audience that you are “here” and making sweet news. It increases your brand’s authority in its niche market, and communicates with other thought leaders, industry analysts, and newsrooms that your company is moving the dial within the niche community.

2. Increased Traffic - With increased visibility and awareness amongst your peers, you should experience an increase of visitors to your website or linked landing pages. Use Google Analytics to track the traffic that the press release drives to your site.

3. Increased Conversions - As music to nearly any CEO’s ears, increased conversions are the end goal for nearly every online marketing campaign. If you publish well-written, search engine optimized press release that is engaging, the rest is simple math: Increase awareness/visibility + increased website traffic = increased conversions.

What you define as a conversion can differ significantly. Newsletter signup, profile creation, PDF white paper download, or contact us form completion can all be considered a successful conversion. It isn’t guaranteed that you will increase conversions with a press release, especially if your website looks unprofessional, but it does increase your chances of more business.

Thank You For Engaging!