My favorite advice to tell our customers is to stand back and really get a good understanding of
how customers talk about your company and products. Then try to reach your customers using
the way they speak and think. You can’t change human behavior. Instead you need to change the
content to reach the people.
I would suggest that you march right over to the person in charge of SEO about any keyword
research they have done. This helps you determine what keywords your customers are using, and
then you can integrate those into your press releases.
Jerri: In integrating your press releases with the rest of your search marketing efforts, should
you include links in them?
Yes. You have to think of press releases as part of your content, not separate entities. It’s
absolutely fabulous to include the keywords that have been identified as productive for what you’re
marketing. And you can add extra emphasis to those keywords by linking them to corresponding
pages on your web site.
The best practice is to link your press release to a page on your web site that’s related to the keyword.
The search engine then infers that the keywords, press releases, and links are all related and relevant.
Be careful, though, because you can dilute your efforts if the keyword is linked to a page on the site
that doesn’t contain that keyword. For example, if your keyword is “hot dog” and you decide to link it
to a section on your page about hamburgers, reasoning that people who like one would be interested
in the other, you actually risk diminishing your audience. Linking to a page that doesn’t strongly sup-
port your message is a mistake, because search engines won’t make the connection, and your ratings
can suffer as a result.
The search engine will see the press release, see the link, and follow that to the web page to see that
there’s nothing related to the keyword. If the search engine doesn’t see something related, then that
page won’t get a powerful reciprocal connection.
This is where press releases can be really powerful. You send out a press release with links back to
your site and it’s widely distributed. The results will be links back and forth to your site. So the search
engines will see the connection and it lends credibility to your site. Web sites that have the highest
visibility are those that have hundreds of links back and forth. Here again, this is an opportunity to
strengthen your SEO because linking helps to build the overall authority of your site.
Jerri: You said there had to be a shift in the way that organizations think about using press
releases. Does there also need to be a shift in the way companies think about using SEO as
a means of gaining visibility for the message?
Yes. Writing a press release is where some difference in thinking comes into play. Headlines
are one area where you can gain a lot of mileage for SEO. Headlines are so important that the New
York Times is training their writers in SEO techniques so they know how to write headlines that are
search engine-friendly. Instead of the catchy headlines that most media organizations use, the practice
now is to use contextual headlines that are relevant to the subject of the press release and that contain
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