Guide to SEO-Friendly News Releases: Download It Today!

SEO Tips for Press Releases - SHIFTWhether or not you choose to put out a Social Media Release, I am quite sure that you want your news to rank well within Google. 

In today’s search-centric culture, if you don’t show up on the first or second page of results, it is almost like not being online at all.  As Kami Huyse and Geoff Livingston noted during their recent NewComm Forum session, “The 1st page of results on Google may as well be your company’s homepage.”

That’s where Search Engine Optimization (SEO) principles come into play.

While the SHIFT team has always tried to stay abreast of SEO techniques for publishing client news, like most agencies we wound up with a few in-house experts.  It was high time we shared the wealth more broadly internally – and more broadly still, with our fellows in the PR industry.

So here’s the latest PDF from SHIFT Communications, for your copyright-free use.  A handy guide to SEO for press releases

This knowledge was collected and collated from across our internal experts, with additional tips provided by both our friends at the wire services and an outside SEO consultant or two.  However, SEO is a complicated business, so, Your Mileage May Vary.

Like the brilliant David Armano of Logic + Emotion, and the inimitable Chris Brogan, I often wonder if I’m giving enough back to the community.  So I truly hope you find this stuff useful.  (And hey, before ya go, if you do get some value from PR-Squared, don’t forget to subscribe!)  Thanks!

Posted on: April 30, 2008 at 10:21 am By Todd Defren
16 Responses to “Guide to SEO-Friendly News Releases: Download It Today!”


  • Tina says:

    Very useful and impressive source!

  • Curious about the “sat above the fold” piece. To my knowledge, Search Engines don’t know what is above the fold and what’s not. How does this work?

  • Dee Rambeau says:

    Great post Todd,
    Interesting thing about SEO and press releases is that it still comes down to the basics.

    1. Do your keyword research
    2. Write your releases well…using that research
    3. Use a wire service to distribute the release
    4. Have a website or MediaRoom that “autoposts” that release off the wire or at least lets you post it dynamically using a CMS…which generates an html page for that release that is individually indexable
    5. Have RSS feeds that update because of that post…even more…have categories of news with their own RSS feeds
    6. Have social tag ability on that release/page

    Six steps for easy SEO for PR pros that don’t have time for more than that.

  • Mike Volpe says:

    @David Weiner

    Ahhh… the anchor text debate wages on!!!!!

    Your link (from 2006) indicates that Google is telling people they are going to reduce the importance of anchor text. This is different that that actually happening, or happening in a big enough way to make a difference.

    This link is to the “SEOMoz Ranking Factors Survey” from 2007 which surveys the top SEO minds in the world to determine the most important factors for SEO rankings.

    “Anchor Text of Inbound Link” ranked #2 by importance on the list of positive factors (botton left of the page from above link), meaning that all of the top SEO experts think it is an extremely important factor in determining rank. In fact, “anchor text of inbound link” was determined to be of “Exceptional Importance” and there was a “High Consensus” among the 37 experts surveyed.

    Also, all the news about Google Bombs (even more recent ones) indicate the strength of anchor text as well.

    Let me know next time you are in town and we can debate more over a beer. :)

  • Excellent material. Thanks for sharing it with us!


  • Great post Todd! It was very helpful. I really like the points you made about putting the keywords in the subhead and repeating them in the first couple of paragraphs. It’s definitely something to remember. Thanks!

  • Kami Huyse says:

    I had some great results using several of these techniques with a press release I did for a client last year – getting some number one results for several weeks. Thanks for sharing this. I will bookmark it for a seminar that Lee Odden and I are doing in a few weeks for PRSA. Gotta love those delicious pages. Oh yes, that was another technique that you shared with the community at large. Thanks Todd.

  • David Weiner, PR Newswire says:

    I agree with Mike. Every press release should be naturally SEO’d as far as language is concerned (and use the denisty tools BEFORE you send it to legal!!!). Go after the long tail, not the blockbuster words. Develop and implement the complete strategy with all of your assets across all of your departments (not just PR, Marketing, and Advertising … why not HR and Sales?).

    Keyword density is important to optimization but putting too many keywords in a press release can backfire and render your press release as SPAM. The search engines are constantly evolving and the best constant approach is consistency of message including and across other mediums. Anchor text has ‘depreciated’ by search engines like Google for years … this post is from 2006:

    Todd – I enjoyed working with you all on this … see you soon!


  • Thank you, Todd. I’ll share this with my class.

  • Simon says:

    Good stuff Todd,

    I’m actually just preparing a press release for next week. I’m sure this will come in handy for many. Thanks!

  • Mike Volpe says:

    Good stuff Todd. I would point out for additional detail and clarification that there are really two SEPARATE uses for press releases in terms of SEO. Each is important, and your guide covers elements of both. But I think understanding the differences can help people be more effective.

    FIRST, you can optimize the press release itself so that when people search they will find the press release (on your website or on your wire service of choice’s website). An example of this would be if you search for “Website Grader Award” in Google, the first two results are one of our press releases (written by our friends at SHIFT).

    To do this, you should pick relatively “long tail” keywords and use them in the title of the release, the subtitle of the release and throughout the release as well. For this example, we used the phrase “Website Grader Award” in key places in the press release itself.

    I am not a big believer in the 2-8% keyword density. I have not seen any actual data that proves that range is accurate. My advice is to write a release for human consumption and use the words often but not according to a mathematical formula.

    SECOND, you can use press releases to build SEO authority for your company website, so that when people search, they will find your company website in the results. An example of this would be when you search in Google for “Internet Marketing Software” you find HubSpot’s own website (not a press release) at the top of the results.

    To do this, you put links in your press release back to key pages on your website, using anchor text that matches the keywords for the different web pages of your website. This does not help the press release rank higher or get more visitors, but it does help your own company website rank higher and get more traffic. For instance, in many of our press releases, we link back to using the anchor text “Internet Marketing”, which helps us rank for terms like “Internet Marketing Software”.

    For anyone who wants any more information about SEO and Internet Marketing, there is a free SEO 101 Webinar coming up. The webinar is designed for people that are in marketing, but do not know anything about SEO. You can register at this link:


    Mike Volpe
    VP Marketing

  • Dan Schawbel says:

    Just saw this and really enjoy it. I tweeted it and everyone say’s its a great resource.

    Thanks for sharing.

  • Thanks for this Todd–downloaded and printed! (Sorry, environment). Also, you are too modest, I think. You’ve given back so much through the SMNR, your blog, and Twitter. I’ve learned a ton from you and I know many others who have as well.

  • collin says:

    Thanks for this resource. I learned several things on my first read!

    A definite keeper.

  • Shannon Paul says:

    Thanks for the gift!

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