Press releases are one of the most organic ways to build backlinks and to gain better SEO ranks. Press releases, often called PRs, can add a lot more value to your organic search efforts and help obtain better organic traffic to your website—when done right.
In this blog, we will talk about press release SEO, all the best practices, and a quick checklist to optimize your everyday press releases. Having said that, one needs to be very careful in over-optimizing a press release for SEO, as Google can penalize you for this.
I will divide the best practices for optimizing a press release into the 3 sections below. Please note that these steps should be followed carefully before a press release goes out to the public, as you will have limited control then, specifically in cases where you are working with a PR distribution partner like PR Newswire.
• Before Drafting a Press Release
• While Drafting a Press Release
• After Drafting a Press Release
Step 1 – Before you Start Drafting a Press Release
Important points to consider:
1. Create unique content for each press release.
2. Publish the press release on your website at least 2-3 days before submitting it to external press release websites.
Select the right keywords
Let’s start with the basics. Selecting the right keyword is fundamental for all SEO efforts—I will soon talk about keyword research process in another detailed blog. For now, let’s look at how marketers can select the right keywords for press releases.
What is the theme of the press release? SEO professionals know that Latent Semantic Indexing or LSI plays an important role in how search engines extract different meanings from the same keyword and rank different web pages accordingly. Try using an effective tool called to get ideas for this. For instance, “Apple” has multiple meanings/associations, as depicted below.
What industry does this press release target? Will my keywords matter to the relevant industry and target group?
What kind of words do people search? (Try searching the same words and observe the kind of results shown by Google – if they do not show the right results, change the word.)
Is it focused on specific geographies or specific platforms?
Avoid aiming for keywords that your competition is already well ranked for; instead, try positioning your content and keyword around niche topics and areas. Google recently confirmed that 15 percent of searches we see every day are new. Thus, there is a new scope every day.
Ideas from other tools
Auto Complete: Try Google auto-complete in search bars; it shows the most prominent search queries for each keyword you try.
Google Trends: This is a wonderful tool to find out the search trend for each keyword. It provides a region split with up to 5 years and also compares multiple terms.
Keyword Planner Tool: This is a built-in tool in Google AdWords that can help you understand keywords, associated volumes, and much more.
Step 2 – While Drafting a Press Release
Before we jump into this step, let’s look at the anatomy of a press release. On a broader level, it can be categorized into a logo or image, headline, body, Related Reads, About Company, Signature, and Safe Harbor. Here’s an example to find out more.
Focus on headline of the press release
Most of the websites distributing your press release will define the headline as the H1 tag. Since search engines consider H1 tags when evaluating a website, it is important to optimize the headline. Here are some suggestions:
1. Include a targeted and relevant keyword in the press release headline.
2. It’s a difficult practice and may sound a bit impractical to PR professionals, but it works! Try limiting the headline length to 60 characters, since the search engines display up to 60-65 characters in search results. If the headline length cannot be limited to the specified characters, ensure that the newsworthy part is in the first 60 characters.
3. Ensure that the headline is concise and relevant to the news being shared.
4. Try to include a sub-headline. Incorporate additional keywords/phrases not included in the headline in 1 above.
Introduction is of the utmost importance
While accessing a web page, search engines crawl from top to bottom. Since the introduction section is at the beginning of the press release, it is advisable to optimize it by including targeted keywords. Keywords that are important from a business and SEO standpoint that could not be included earlier in the headline may be included in your introduction section.
PR professionals can also try to add schematic variations into the paragraph. For example, in the first few sentences of the press release, you can use language like “Executive of a Consulting Firm” as a variation of “New CEO.”
Body section SEO
Structure, Content, & Length
1. Create precise content relevant to the press release headline.
2. Focus on the most important message at the top.
3. Maintain a word count between 500-800 words for the press release.
4. Maintain a structured flow and use additional sub-headings in the content, if required.
5. Content of every press release should be unique to avoid penalty from search engines and press release directories for duplicate content issues.
6. Include photos, videos, and other multimedia whenever possible.
7. Make the plain text stand out with formatting (bold, italic, underlined, or bulleted text).
1. Only those keywords that are relevant to the press release should be included. Usage of targeted keywords rather than generic terms is recommended.
2. Include important keywords in introduction, sub-headings, and first body paragraph.
3. Try including 1-2 relevant keywords as early as possible because when crawling pages, search engines access the content from top to bottom. So, important keywords that are placed higher in the press release body can be easily crawled by the search engines.
4. The allocation of the keywords in the press release body should look natural. Include broad match keywords if exact match keywords cannot be included.
Anchor text inclusion
1. Anchor text in the press release body should refer to links that are relevant to the content and topic of the press release.
2. Avoid giving open-ended anchor text, like “Click here” or “Do more.” Instead, be specific: “Watch video of management discussions on Q1 results.” Having similar text links will make the process look natural.
3. In addition to linking to the home page, also link to internal pages of the website that are relevant to the topic.
4. Only include unique links (avoid using the same Anchor text & avoid targeting the same URL more than once in the article).
Step 3 – After Drafting a Press Release
About company/signature section of press release
1. Include the exchange, stock symbol, and International Securities Identifier Number (ISIN), or similar numbers based on your country regulations.
2. While publishing the press release, create unique content for the About Company/Signature section, and use the same for press release submissions to external websites.
3. Whenever possible, the About Company/Signature section should have one hyperlink to the home page with the anchor text of “Your Company Name.”
Using images & logo in press releases – SEO tips
1. Using targeted keywords in the Image ALT tags helps to increase the SEO value of the images being used. The ALT attribute needs to be defined within the <img> tag, which is used to define the source of the image within the HTML page. The ALT attribute must be defined for every image present in the press release. (This should be implemented on your website and those websites that allow editing of the press release code)
2. Optimize the image file name to include a relevant and targeted keyword. Optimization of file names by including a relevant keyword should be done before the image is uploaded.
3. Include an image caption to describe the image and its relevance. (This should be implemented on your website and those websites that allow editing of the press release code)
Learn More: Image SEO alt tag and title tag optimization
Checklist to Optimize Press Releases for Search Engine Optimization
|Before drafting the release||
Did you come across a different strategy to optimize a press release? please let me know your thoughts in the comments section below.
Read more about creating a SEO Strategy from scratch – 13 Steps For Building An Effective SEO Strategy
Disclosure: We may receive compensation for links to products on this website.
Neeraj is a Tech Marketer with 9+ years of experience in B2B Sales and Marketing. At StepToInbound, Neeraj writes about Website, Search, Social Media and Marketing Automation practices.