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+++ S P E C I A L R E P O R T +++
"Optimizing Press Releases to Show Up in Search Engines"
Marcia Yudkin,publicity and marketing consultant
 August 15, 2001
Getting invaluable media coverage is a process I described in my 1994 book, Six Steps to Free Publicity. Although a lot of the basics in the process of pursuing publicity remain the same, many of the finer points have changed since then. If you've begun using online publicity distribution services to disseminate your releases to the media, or even if you merely post press releases on your own site, you'll get a much greater publicity return when you modify releases so that they show up in online searches performed by your target audience.

The lightbulb went off for me when I was searching for very specialized software and came upon a press release for such a product rather than the company’s regular marketing copy at its Web site. Links in the press release led me to the software manufacturer’s Web site. It occurred to me that in addition to the audience of journalists, editors and producers who had opted to receive releases in their areas of interest, press releases could address the needs of a second group, the target market itself who were using search engines to find specialized products, services and information. I researched techniques that would make a difference in the findability of releases through search engines, and here are the steps that I discovered.

Search Engine Optimization for Press Releases

1. Decide on a keyword phrase that ties in to the product or service you are promoting and that people actually search for. You can research this conveniently at Wordtracker.com. For example, some authorities claim that “media release” is preferable to “press release.” Yet since more people search for the latter term, that’s the term I use for publicity purposes.

2. Place this phrase into your press release headline and repeat it around three times within the body of your press release. Make sure you also write out a properly formed link to your own Web site (i.e., write “http://www.mydomain.com” rather than “mydomain.com”) within the text of the release.

3. Unless the proper name of your product or service is already well-known, emphasize its generic description rather than its name. For instance, write “proposal writing software” rather than “PropWritePro.”

4. Likewise, substitute keyword phrases for pronouns like “it” or “its” to increase their overall frequency in the release.

5. Include a subhead, which in turn includes your keyword phrase, if your release goes on for more than three paragraphs. If you would normally finish off with a subhead like “About TurboHeadIsland,” where TurboHeadIsland is the name of your company, lengthen the subhead so that it includes your keyword phrase, for example, “About Proposal Writing Software Maker TurboHeadIsland.”

6. Post your release at your own Web site on its own page, linked from your home page, in addition to submitting it to your favorite press release distribution service.

An Additional Note on Press Release Optimization

Although these steps may appear simple, they are not intuitive or natural for anyone with experience in writing traditional press releases. Let's suppose you were launching a rental boat service in Truro, Massachusetts, which is on Cape Cod. Tourists would be much more likely to use "Cape Cod" as a search term than "Truro," so the former is what should be repeated. And particularly if you happen to know Cape Cod, if you were not consciously writing for search engines, you would probably use "Cape Cod" only once and then revert to "the Cape," which wouldn't help enough when people are typing in "Cape Cod boat rental."

Assuming you've chosen your keyword phrases wisely, enjoy increased visibility from Internet users finding your press release through search engines for months and even years to come!

Boston-based publicity and marketing consultant Marcia Yudkin is the author of a new special report, PR For the Internet Age, as well as of Six Steps to Free Publicity (Plume/Penguin), Internet Marketing for Less than $500/Year (Maximum Press) and eight other books. PR For the Internet Age includes additional advice on press release optimization, tips on seeding the Web with articles and case studies, an extended success story, 66 sample releases with commentary, and more. For more information, visit http://www.yudkin.com/printernet.htm or contact marcia(at)yudkin.com.

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