When was the last time you wrote a press release that got a great response? If you're like most people who write press releases on a regular basis, it's probably been a while. These days, it's so easy to float a press release online that everyone is doing it. The problem is with so many releases online, it's getting harder and harder to get noticed. Years ago when I was first in the business, I'd be able to write a release, push it online and in almost all cases, the media would call me or my clients for a quote or an interview. That's simply not true anymore. If you're eager to get more exposure for your next release, here are some helpful tips that should get more eyes to your release and, hopefully, get the media to call you, too.
Keep in mind that besides pushing the press release online, you'll want to make sure that it's search engine friendly. Here's how to do that:
No anchor text links: If you're not familiar with anchor text it's the text in press releases that's linked to an external source, namely your website. These are also referred to as hyperlinks. You should have at least two anchor text links in your release.
Too many links: This is where you need to be careful. Anchor text links are great, but too many of them can really kill your SEO.
Don't link to throwaway words: Often I see anchor text that's linked to common words like website, contact and other fairly generic terms (see below my list of the most overused words, these count, too). Ideally you'll want to use keywords for these links instead of just common terms everyone has in their release. Why? Because using anchor text in keywords can really help to ramp up the SEO value of your release. It's one of the best ways to optimize a press release.
Jargon and industry language: One of the quickest way to lose a reader, customer, or possible media interview is to use a lot of jargon in your release. Many business owners and authors like using jargon in releases because it tells the reader that they "know their stuff" - however, this simply isn't true. Jargon is confusing and unless you're interested in only pulling in media and readers who understand these terms, you shouldn't use them. If your target is the consumer market, you'll want to use terminology everyone can understand.
Long headlines: Most newbie press release writers love long headlines but the problem is, search engines don't. When you're writing a release you really want search engines to spider (also called indexing) these searches so you can maximize visibility. The problem is that search engines don't index beyond 65 characters, and I find that most press release writers put their real punch, and often their keywords, towards the end which does nothing to help make your press release more SEO friendly. Ideally you'll want to put your keywords in these first 65 characters. How long should your headline be? Ideally between 115 and 130 characters in length.
Keyword selection: You've probably heard the keyword discussion before; finding and identifying the right keywords for your message is important. What keywords should you use for your release? Well, ask yourself this: What primary keywords answer this question: what is this release about? Pick those keywords and use them.
First paragraph of your release: This is another important place for your keywords. Whatever keywords you decide to use, per the paragraph above, use a hefty dose of them in the first paragraph. Why? Because search engines index (spider) the first paragraph of your release, but again, just the first 65 words so keep that in mind.
Finally, let's take a look at some of the most overused words when it comes to press releases: Groundbreaking, Cutting edge, Exclusive, Exciting, Innovative, Revolutionary. Now this doesn't mean you can't use them, it just means that you should use them sparingly and, as I already mentioned, don't use them as anchor text.
The idea behind writing a release is not just to write a good one, but one that will get seen and, if you're lucky, get picked up by the media. You may decide to play around with keywords and phrasing until you get it right, and when you do, you'll be glad you spent the time optimizing your release.