In a significant report, titled ‘Search Marketing Benchmark Guide’, MarketingSherpa reported that online press releases, combined with organic search marketing (SEO), are one of the most effective Internet marketing strategies. As best-selling authors Jack Trout and Al Ries wrote: “PR plants the seed. Search marketing harvests the crop.”
Advertising clutter and information saturation have made traditional media less appealing to consumers, who prefer to consume news when they want it and where they want it. Not surprisingly, more and more savvy users are turning to the Internet for their daily quota of news. About 80 per cent of searchers and researchers get their news online today.
Remember, it’s not just your prospects, but even journalists are increasingly using news search engines.
98 per cent of journalists go online daily
92 per cent for article research
81 per cent to do searching
76 per cent to find new sources, experts
73 per cent to find press releases and rising...
On an average day, 77 per cent of the American adults go online
49 per cent use a search engine to find information
41 per cent get news
(Sources: Pew Internet and American Life Project)
Google News and Yahoo! News have the largest online news audience and an optimised press release in their news section can give a quick and ethical boost to your Search Marketing Campaign. You can expect to be on page one of their news search result pages for your keywords overnight.
There are many online news wire services such as prnewswire (www.prnewswire.com), BusinessWire (www.businesswire.com) and prweb (www.prweb.com) that will distribute your press releases to the trade media, online portals, news websites and to mainstream media houses. All major news search engines such as Google News, Yahoo! News, etc., incorporate press releases in their search result pages. Submitting your press release to these news wires gives it good chance of making it to news search engines.
Getting into the news search engines is just one part of the story. Making sure it ranks highly when someone searches for it requires good writing, good structure and well-targeted and deployed keywords.
The elements of a good online press release:
The inverted pyramid: This is the classic way to tell a news story. Structure the information in decreasing order of importance. Begin with the most important information – and, therefore, the most important keywords and key phrases – and end with the least important.
Deploy your keywords effectively: First, identify a set of at least three keywords or key phrases that you want to target. On news search engines, proper research and keyword selection are even more important than on traditional web search engines. Make sure you deploy these keywords in important areas such as the headline (this is top priority), summary, first paragraph, sub-heads, etc. Of course, you should not go overboard with your keyword deployment or search engines algorithms might penalise you for ‘stuffing’. Keep your keywords to a density of around 2 per cent of the total number of words in a page.
Structure it well: Start with an interesting headline and a short, crisp summary of your press release. Make your press release readable by giving sub-heads, bulleted lists, etc. Add a note about your company at the end of your release, with its website address, and contact details. Remember, you must first write for the reader and then optimise for the search engines. Do not write lengthy releases; instead keep it to not more than 300-400 words.
Use good linking practices: Link to important areas of your site from within the press release. For instance, if you are talking about a particular product or service, use it as anchor text to link to the relevant page on your website. Also, host the press release on your site and devise a good landing page for it and make sure you provide a link to it on the press release.
The bottom line
Good online press releases not only get you instant visibility across the Web, they can also translate into long-term rankings on traditional Web search engines. This happens because your press release gets linked by many topical and niche industry sites. And since your press release links to your website pages, it can bring lasting visibility for your site.
(Prashant Deorah is MD, Puretech Internet)
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