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December 15, 2010
Getting Press Releases Read on the Web
 
Website magazine is an excellent means of keeping up with ever-developing opportunities for creativity on the Web. It's available on a quarterly basis for free, or monthly for a $44.95 subscription. A subscription provides access to all issues and that would be helpful for the current issue, which has an article of optimizing press releases for the Web, but which we can't link you to because we don't yet have a paid subscription.

In any event, the message is that "publishing effective news releases online requires a three-pronged optimization approach that consists of search engine optimization (SEO), conversion optimization and editorial optimization." With all three accounted for, a newly issued press release can be quickly discovered by search engines and "have a dramatic impact on your online visibility."

Writer Christine O'Kelly emphasizes the use of strategic keywords. "The most heavily weighted factor that determines for which keywords a press release will rank is its title. Placing your primary keyword phrase toward the beginning of the title tends to have the strongest impact on ranking for those keywords. However, the title needs to reflect the news angle and be written with clickthrough in mind, and not only keywords."  A summary of your announcement is "the second most heavily weighted SEO factor. The summary is an ideal place to introduce one or two additional keyword phrases while elaborating on the news angle introduced by the title." Well-chosen keywords can net you a "significant number of backlinks" from sites that distribute press releases.

Press releases should be optimized for clickthroughs. "Online press releases are essentially landing pages for your business designed to drive traffic," O'Kelly writes. "Optimizing for clickthrough helps you achieve that conversion goal." She suggests using multimedia features like "images, videos, logos, file downloads and links to other Web properties and assets (to) allow readers to become immersed in your message through a variety of senses. When given the opportinity, make use of as many multimedia options as your press release distribution site allows." For those of you who know web design, display your new product (if that's what you're announcing) in an iFrame. And include a call-to-action in the release—send viewers to your website to download a free ebook, or to read full details about the product, or to subscribe to your mailing list for more tips and information on it.

Finally, write your press release to convince Google, your "virtual editor," that it's a valid, useful press release. Have "a valid and clearly stated news angle" about a product from your company, not someone else's (that would be an article, not a press release.) Include a tight summary high up. (Too many releases are run-on masses of type.) Write in the third person and attribute claims that can be interpreted as opinions.  For example, O'Kelly counsels, instead of opinions like "the best real estate software on the market," used attributable facts like "...deemed the best real estate software on the market by XYZ magazine." 

In short, write press releases for the Web like they should be written anyway. Have something to say or sell, organize the release with the most important information up high, and write tightly and concisely. Godspeed out there!

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Doug Bedell has a background in journalism and PR and is the owner of Resource Relations LLC in Central PA, focusing on organizational and crisis communication. He’s the community manager of SimplyFair.net, a social network on fairness. On the Web, Doug’s at www.ResourceRelations.com. On Twitter, he’s @DougBeetle.
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