Prior to the digital age, a successful press release was one that crossed the right desk at the right time. Nowadays, a well‐optimized press release can live on in cyberspace, garnering attention days, months or even years later.Under the guidance of search engine optimization (SEO) rules, public relations departments no longer have to leave their efforts up to chance. “Press releases used to be a one‐shot deal — you targeted media in hopes that someone would cover your story and that was it,” says Independent Communications Trainer Michael Smart. “But if you add SEO, you can have your cake and eat it, too. Now you can get coverage from the initial round of outreach and then again later anytime people search for your brand or topic.”Optimizing your press release with specific language, formatting and finesse is the best way to improve online visibility for your nonprofit's announcements. Smart says to consider these SEO rules when preparing your next press release:Think outside your brand name. Show up in more results by incorporating relevant key phrases that people are likely to enter in their search query. “For example, if you work for the Louisville Chapter of the Red Cross, you may want to include ‘blood donation Louisville’ in the lead paragraph of your release,” Smart says. “Choosing words that go beyond your brand name can help attract attention from wider audiences.”Use natural language. “Today, a Google engineer will tell you to optimize your writing for humans, not just for the Google algorithms,” Smart says. “Repetitive keyword phrasing used to work, but nowadays the people who code the algorithms want to return results that read clearly and make sense in English.”Avoid keyword “stuffing.” “Instead of repeating the same keyword phrase numerous times within the body of the release, create a more cohesive release by featuring your keyword phrase in your headline, lead and boilerplate instead,” Smart says. “Google recognizes when writers are trying to game the system and penalizes the repetitive format.”Remember, less isn't always more. “The rule of thumb used to be that releases should fall within the 400‐to‐600‐word range, but in some cases, Google seems to be rewarding the longer forms because they are more rare these days,” Smart says. “A higher word count also means you can include more relevant phrases to trigger increased exposure across search results.”Communicate first. “SEO's success used to be dependent upon accepting different metatags or manipulating phrasing behind the scenes, but that's not as important anymore,” Smart says. “Consider how your audience will use this information and what will prompt their need for it. Choose a pain point and answer that question with key phrases that will live on throughout online searches.”Source: Michael Smart, Independent Communications Trainer, Michael Smart PR, Alpine, UT. Phone (435) 612‐0156. E‐mail: email@example.com. Website: michaelsmartpr.com
Nonprofit Communications Report – Wiley
Published: Jan 1, 2018
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