We’re all familiar with the original purpose of news releases: disseminate important news to media outlets with the goal to secure coverage and drive awareness.
While this goal remains, we’re now squarely in the era where a brand’s search results and website traffic are equally as important as the number of impressions their latest media hit secured. Media relations and SEO go hand-and-hand and by following a simple checklist, you can ensure that you optimize your news releases for search so that they help reach your ranking goals, drive traffic back to your website and ultimately boost your pipeline and customer engagement.
The 8 Essentials for Your Releases
As you look to your media strategy, particularly heading into 2018, keep in mind these eight ways that you can optimize your news releases and media relations wins for search:
Focus on the content. A key part of your content strategy is identifying what keywords you want your brand to rank for in search. While you want to include those keywords as often as possible in your content, quality content and readable content should come first, followed by content optimization. Finding natural ways to integrate your keywords into your news releases will help with search and ensure that your readers make it all the way to the end of the piece.
Write a blog post for your website. An easy extra step that can help in the long run involves adding a synopsis of the news release to your blog. If you have a newsroom on your site, this would be in addition to posting the full news release. Remember to use different copy to avoid being penalized by Google and include a link to the news release on your internal site, as well as to an external source that covered it. While it might seem redundant, your blog likely gets more traffic than your newsroom and cross-linking in multiple places helps Google identify how the news release fits into your overall website.
Pitch your news to relevant influencers. In addition to your usual media list, identify social media influencers who would be willing to share a quick social post about your topic. We use Nuvi to help determine who is talking about the industry and topic and to identify their reach. Just like with reporters, it’s important to nurture relationships with social media influencers prior to sharing your news.
Don’t forget the wire. In 2013, Google made changes to its algorithm that negatively impacted news releases shared through wire services. This was primarily to cut back on the immense amount of spam masquerading as news. The change, however, led many brands to re-think their wire distribution strategy all together. Fortunately, distributing over the wire can be beneficial if done in the right ways. For example, it’s important to remember that Google rewards natural content. Therefore, including too many keywords or links back to your website can ding your content. Instead, pick two or three links to different pages on your website, along with your most important keywords, and weave them into your news release in an organic way.
Update meta descriptions and title tags. Adding meta data and title tags to your content is important to ensure that your content is indexed properly. The title tag is what appears in the blue link in search results, so it helps you control what audiences see. This guide from Search Engine Watch provides good insight into how to write your meta data effectively.
Sponsor the news release on social media. Beyond posting on your brand’s channels, consider paid sponsorship on your social channels. This can help the news release gain more exposure, ideally leading to more clicks, more shares and more traffic back to your site. You can also encourage your employees to share on their channels to drive even more traction. This article shares more details on how to amplify your earned media across channels.
Consider video to help share your news. According to Hubspot and Animoto, 4X as many consumers would prefer to watch a video about a product than read about it. That’s huge! For bigger news, product reveals, etc., video could be a great addition to the traditional news release to demonstrate your company’s thought leadership and could get more eyes on your content. You can also add your video to YouTube, where you can link back to your news release in the video overlay and description.
Add images and tag appropriately. Images are critical to driving attention to your release, and there are several steps to follow to optimize images for search:
- Include a descriptive file name to help Google identify the context of the image. We are all guilty of uploading images with the default file name, such as “IMG_01,” but taking an additional step to rename the file and include specific details can make a big difference.
- Confirm that your image is scaled and sized appropriately. Large images can negatively impact your site’s loading times, which are important for your SEO, so you’ll want to ensure that your image is uploaded as the smallest file size possible.
- Add alt text and title text. Include your SEO keyword and image description in the alt text to ensure that if your image can’t be displayed for any reason, your visitor isn’t missing out on the context of the image.
- Include keywords in your image captions. While you won’t include a caption with every image, it can help with with optimization as well as readability.
Don’t Forget to Measure Your Success
Once the news release has been distributed and you’ve given the content a week or so to gain traction, measure your success by looking at metrics such as search traffic, impressions, number of online and indexed pick-ups, social media shares and impressions, website traffic and conversions. With a combination of strong content, a few technical additions and a little luck, your news release has a much stronger chance of ranking in search engine results.
I’m lucky to work with a talented team of media relations professionals each day and following the steps I mentioned above help amplify the media placements they secure for our clients. Learn more about how we’re helping clients find the intersection between public relations, content and digital here.
Kristen James leads Pierpont’s digital practice and helps clients grow their online presence to reach new audiences and create stronger connections with their customers.