99.5% of press releases aren’t optimized for the Web. Are yours?

While online marketers are racing to adopt today’s newest social media techniques, many are missing opportunities in a tested, traditional marketing channel: press releases.

Press releases?

Absolutely. Traditional press releases are designed to be picked up by journalists and turned into articles. Most people think of online press releases the same way. But with just a little work, they can also become a powerful way of improving your company’s ranking in search engine results.

Search engines like Google use links from authoritative sites as a key factor in determining the rankings of their results. Since press releases are published on many authoritative sites and can include lots of links back to your site, they’re a great opportunity to improve your site’s search-engine rankings.

Very few marketers are taking advantage of this opportunity. Data we collected from over 11,000 press releases show that 99.5% of press releases aren’t optimized for the Web.

How do you make sure you’re press releases are optimized?

Here are a few tips:

First, make sure your releases include links back to your site. When press releases are published by wire services and news agencies, these links will drive potential customers back to your site. More importantly, the links will give you credit with search engines and improve your ranking in their results.

Second, when you publish links, make sure you’re linking from relevant keywords. For example, if your company sells custom built homes, the links back to your site should go from keywords like “new homes” and “custom built homes.”

Linked words are important because they help search engines determine what your site is about. When you link from descriptive phrases like “custom built homes,” you’ll improve your rank in the results that users get when they run searches on those terms.

One last link-related tip: Make sure you put links to your site near the top of your press releases. News agencies and wire services tend to break press releases into multiple pages when they publish them on the Web. You want to be on the first page because that’s the one that counts the most with the search engines.

Link structure is the key to optimizing your press releases for search engines, but don’t forget the basics.

Be certain to include your company’s contact information, e-mail and Web address in the press release. When reporters find your press release, make sure they know how to get in touch with you.

Also, don’t forget to include an “about your company” section. Many people who look at press releases are used to scanning for this particular section of the release to learn more about the companies or organizations mentioned. Make it easy for these people to find what they’re looking for. There’s no reason not to.

This might seem basic, but it makes a difference. With the right tweaks, you can turn your press releases into powerful online marketing tools.

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