You’ve created the perfect press release, replete with groundbreaking information, a defined audience and a snappy headline that’s sure to grab the reader’s attention. All set for distribution, right? Sure, providing timely, relevant information to journalists and bloggers is still the single-most important aspect of a distributing a press release. Yet, without considerations for SEO (Search Engine Optimization), you’re only ensuring that your release will be distributed, not discovered.
To start, you’ll need to embed links into the body of your press release. Embedded hyperlinks are the foundation of SEO. To add a link in Microsoft Word, simply highlight the word or phrase you’re hoping to target, and hit Ctrl+K (or Command+K on a Mac) on your keyboard to bring up a dialog box where you can insert the URL. Once in place, the hyperlinks should turn blue and be clickable to the URL of your choosing.
How to perfect your release for SEO is the million-dollar question — and answers are apt to change, as search engines reconfigure their algorithms to hone in on new elements. However, there remain a handful of best practices that should be considered for every press release distributed over the wire. Read through the following SEO tips to find out how to get the most out of your hyperlinks.
- Making Headlines. The content of your press release remains crucial to Search Engine Optimization. As such, try to include your company name and the release’s most important keywords within the headline, preferably pithy enough to fit within a single Tweet (140 characters), for the best SEO results.
- Importance of Introductions. In the body of your release, the first paragraph is the most important for SEO purposes; it should include the most relevant embedded keywords within the first 150 characters of your release. These keywords often target industry-specific phrasing, related companies, products and industries.
- Be Specific. One of the most common mistakes in selecting keywords for embedded links is trying to target them too broadly. In selecting words like “software” and “technology,” you may think you’re giving your release a wider appeal; however, you’re only diluting the SEO value and potentially falling short of reaching your target audience. Specificity will help your release stand out as unique.
- Code with Care. In cutting and pasting hyperlinks into Microsoft Word, be sure you’re not including redirect coding in the URLs. Links through search engines like Google and Yahoo can often include unnecessary coding that could jeopardize the functionality of your embedded link. It’s best to navigate to the desired target page, and then copy and paste the URL from the navigation bar in your web browser.
- Landing Links. Although not as critical as it used to be, linking to websites with full text in their URLs can improve SEO. For example, links that go to www.yoursite.com/your-release-headline-spelled-out-here  should score a higher SEO than simply www.yoursite.com/releases . Also, try not to link to large audio or video files (often ending in.mpg, .avi or .mov) — these links can take a long time to load and users may abandon the release if they are made to wait too long.
- Don’t “Over-Optimize.” Note that embedding the same word over and over will not improve the SEO on your press release. Furthermore, if you have too many links — generally speaking, a 400-word release should not have more than 10 embedded links — there are downstream sites that can construe the text as SEO spam and prevent the release from posting.
- Have a Back-Up. There are still some widely read sites that only post a release in plain-text. If you have an embedded link that is critical to your content, provide a spelled out URL in parentheses directly after it or somewhere else in the text. This will ensure that all of your readers have access to the link.