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Five ways to make SEO work for you today

Five ways to make SEO work for you today

It all started innocently enough. The first web crawler appeared in 1994 to index the burgeoning number of web pages appearing on the internet, but it wasn’t until 1998 when Google launched PageRank that incoming links were used to measure where websites would appear on its new search engine. Shortly thereafter ‘link juice’ and search engine optimization joined forces. Press releases became a prime generator of backlinks to websites, and some SEO practitioners began using releases solely for the purpose of boosting search engine ranking. Over the years Google – and other search engines – made algorithm changes and issued penalties for keyword stuffing and over-optimization of anchor text. In August 2013 a Google algorithm change resulted in the search engine completely disregarding embedded links in press releases and requiring news distributors to add a ‘nofollow’ tag to each link.

So where does that leave us as PR practitioners? Is SEO in press releases dead? No, of course not. Here are five ways you can use SEO to help make your news more visible – the natural way.

1.       Write (and link) for relevance

Think about the audience you’re targeting with your press release and always write your content with them in mind. Marketwired helps by giving you access to social intelligence so you can see what matters to your target audience. When you see how they discuss your type of product or service you’ll be able to incorporate some of the same phrases in your communications. The same type of relevance goes for anchor links. Use them sparingly and only as what they link to directly relates and adds value to the content in your release. Because of the ‘nofollow’ tag on those links, though, they won’t directly boost SEO, but they will drive people to your web page or social channel.

 2.       Build visibility without links using co-occurrence and co-citation

Co- citation refers to the similarities found between two webpages, based on a third-party webpage that successfully mentions the first two webpages in a correlation with each other. Similarly, co-occurrence refers to the association of some particular phrases – or more specifically, important keywords – that come in close proximity to each other. With this in mind, if you write your press release using the same phraseology that’s in other related online assets, Google will use that association as an important search engine-ranking factor. But make sure you don’t force the phrases – remember, always think about what’s in it for the reader and keep your writing natural.

3.       Expand your linking horizons

Today there are many more places for you to link to from your press release than your website or blog. Think about social sharing sites like Google+, Facebook, Pinterest, YouTube and Instagram. These sites offer creative ways to support the content in your release. They add interest, broaden the exposure of your message and can even spark story ideas among influential journalists or bloggers. Overall, linking to social sites will improve user experience – the factor Google and other search engines are most concerned about.

 4.       Use social media to amplify your press release and build your brand

Don’t create press releases in a vacuum. Think about the different ways you can communicate your message and strengthen your brand. Distribute your release and then tweet it. Find out where your influencers hang out and what they talk about. When you’re ready, join the conversation – but only once you can add value. Getting the right people excited, engaged and talking about your brand has always been one of the best ways to improve brand recognition, expand your customer base and drive more sales. And that contributes to greater search engine visibility. Marketwired’s recently created a white paper called “6 Best Practices for Influencer Marketing” that gives you helpful tips to reach and engage your brand influencers.

 5.       Take advantage of multimedia

Add photos, infographics and video clips in your press releases. These assets not only attract attention but bring your messages to life and increase pageviews. If you name your multimedia image files with words that directly relate to the content in your press release they also help boost the search engine relevance of your release. And of course you can make them work even harder by posting them on social sharing sites as well as on your blog and website.

While SEO as we knew it took a hit, we have more tools and online channels than ever before to spread our messages and boost brand visibility. There will always be more search engine algorithm changes but they won’t affect press releases’ power to launch content and drive social sharing as long as we continue to deliver quality, relevant content to our audiences.


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