1. Don’t use jargon!
Regardless of SEO, you need to tell your story for your customers. Find out how your audience is searching for you and your competitors via search engines. Use these terms in your release.
Tip: Can’t stop the jargon train? Try the old fashioned way—ask someone outside of your industry to proof your release. If they don’t understand it, change it.
2. Use key words
This is especially important in your headlines. An example of what I deem a great headline—Google Big Daddy Searchquake About to Rock Your Ranking? Go ahead and type this headline in Google, it comes up as the top ranking and makes for an easy search. (Important keywords: Google, Big Daddy and ranking) While there are many tools out there, try using a keyword search tool to make your life a little easier. (Know your keywords before you write even one word of your release!)
TIP: While a difficult task, ensure that keywords are not too far apart from one another in the headline.
3. Hotlink and bold critical words (and phrases)
A simple, but extremely useful habit. Just as important as using keywords, bold other critical (or secondary) words and phrases in the release and include a link to additional information. Hotlinks are useful for both consumers and journalists. Links offer the reader a choice to explore for additional information.
TIP: Another simple best practice. ALWAYS include the http:// portion of the URLs in your release or the link will not be clickable when published.
4. Research free SEO tools
I don’t know about you, but I’m still learning about SEO. Therefore, I rely heavily on trusted experts and free tools to learn more. Try out these SEO tools (if you don’t like them, try a search of your own and share what you learn in the comments, below).
5. Use anchor links
Include anchor text links with your keywords. Using anchor links increases your chance of driving viewers back to your Web site.
TIP: Make sure at least one of the keywords links to a page on your Web site other than the homepage.
6. Optimize first 250 words
The first 250 words of your release are essential to both your overall search results and it’s also about the time you will lose a reader if your content is not interesting. You want your release to be “clickable”—meaning someone wants to click on the release to read more. Practice the basics of press release writing. Make sure tips 1-5 are incorporated into the first 250 words!
TIP: Always write your releases in third-person perspective.
If you’re reading this my bet is that you haven’t mastered SEO tactics. That’s okay. I must often remind myself that writing is an evolving skill. Just as it took time to hone your press release writing skills, so too will it take time to learn SEO.
TIP: Set up a learning schedule for yourself. I currently read one new article about SEO each day.
8. Engage customers, journalists and bloggers
Do you rely heavily on behind the scenes, third party or Internet-based research? Try something new (or old) and take it to the streets. Ask your customers, industry bloggers and beat reporters what they search for. Not only does it give you credible feedback, but reminds your community that you value their feedback.
TIP: Send out a personal email or call your favorite customers, journalists and/or bloggers to get their opinions. It’s an investment in your future (and theirs).
9. Write great copy
As a PR professional, incorporating the use of SEO only forces me to be a stronger writer and improves my overall content. Brush up on your writing. You’ll thank me.
TIP: Don’t include a date in your release. It makes your information seem outdated and ultimately hurts your credibility.
10. Be newsworthy
Be the content that intests your audience NOT that which interrupts them. I can’t stress this point enough, if you don’t have a good story to tell, no amount of SEO will help you. What is the impact of your information? What is your news angle? WHY DOES IT MATTER TO ME?
TIP: Ask yourself before writing the release, “why would my mother, brother or aunt care about this?”