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PRSA09: Top 10 SEO Tips for Public Relations

Posted on Nov 10th, 2009
Written by TopRank Marketing
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    Lee Odden Today at the PRSA 09 conference, it was a packed room for TopRank CEO (and author of Online Marketing Blog) Lee Odden who gave a presentation on SEO for Public Relations.

    He started by explaining why SEO is/should be important to PR Professionals.

    In a 2008 Journalists Use of Search Survey by TopRank, we discovered that 91% of journalists use standard search to fulfill a component of their job whether researching a story or locating a subject matter expert.

    With journalists writing for more channels and with less resources making your content visible within search is critical.

    Here are Odden’s 10 SEO Tips:

    1. Number one thing to do?
    Magic answer is that it depends on the problem.
    However, if you choose one item to tackle make sure your website is crawlable. If the site isn’t crawlable, then really nothing else you do in terms of SEO will matter.

    2. Understand and Optimize PR Tactics
    The content that is likely already being created as part of the PR campaign is low hanging fruit in terms of SEO.

    Optimize the following content with keyword phrases (or those terms that journalists might be searching) to help your content become more visible:

    • Press Releases
    • Letters to the editor
    • Online Newsroom
    • Media kits
    • Corporate blogs
    • White papers
    • Webinars/demos
    • Newsletters
    • Real world interviews published digitally

    In addition, Odden introduces the audience to the idea of Micromedia Optimization. Now that tweets and soon status updates are being integrated into the search engines, it’s important to optimize the content regardless of the channel.

    3. PPC vs SEO for PR
    SEO is long term, part of a content process and contingent on content and links over time.
    PPC is on-demand, pay to play and an alternative to natural listings. If you have something you need to draw attention to right now, PPC is perhaps the more viable option as you can have ads live within minutes.

    4. Keyword Research
    In order to optimize your existing content, a list of keyword phrases needs to be developed.
    Here’s how you build the list:
    1. Brainstorm phrases
    2. Import to a keyword research tool
    –Google Keyword Tool
    –Google Insights & Trends
    –Keyword Discovery
    –SEM Rush
    3. Find popularity and variations of the original keyword list
    4. Create a keyword glossary

    When creating the glossary, be sure to segment by popularity and category to ensure no important phrases are missed.

    5. Basics of OnPage SEO

    When optimizing a website, newsroom or landing page, don’t forget to include keywords in the following places:

    • Title Tags
    • Keyword Placement within content
    • On-page titles
    • Navigation links
    • Body copy
    • Keyword text links
    • Image alt text

    6. Get more from Press Releases
    Press releases can be more than a vehicle for distributing messages. If optimized, it can also serve to pull journalists (and even prospects) to the content hosted on a website or within a newsroom.

    To optimize your press content for search visibility, remember to:

    • Research and identify target keyword phrases
    • Optimize the release for 1-2 phrases
    • Include a Call to Action (link to landing page, so you can track activity)
    • Develop and Optimize Landing Pages
    • Post to Newsroom
    • Pitch to Media
    • Distribute via RSS
    • Leverage Wire Service Distribution
    • Measure Results

    Here are 7 tips specific to Press Release Optimization:
    1. Think up and to the left
    2. Optimize for people first, search engines next
    3. Use keywords in Title, Subhead, body
    4. Don’t obsess over keyword density
    5. Aim for a 500 word release to use target keyword 2-4 times
    6. Use keywords in links to company sites
    7. Add media: images, podcasts, video

    7. Newsroom Optimization Tactics
    Online newsrooms can be an added resource to draw journalists in, if it is optimized and can be found via search.

    To optimize your newsroom or to get one started, follow these tips:
    1. Consider using blog software to manage your newsroom, very search friendly
    2. Share/Save Bookmarks
    3. Leverage keyword categories
    Chronological archives don’t benefit the search engines or the user. No one wants to search through years of press releases – as opposed to clicking on a category of content like ‘SEO Tips’.
    4. Cross link from optimized content to relevant content on the website

    8. Link Building
    Links ‘electrify’ content in search and can significantly improve search rankings.

    Earn links with great content and by deploying the following:

    • Promote content socially
    • Link up with partners
    • Cross link internally
    • Embed links in releases
    • Social bookmark pickups of release content/coverage

    When creating hyperlinks, be sure to use keywords in text:
    Yes: Red Widget
    No: Click Here

    9. SEO & Social: Yin Yang
    SEO and Social Media can be very complimentary to one another, so if deploying both (or even parts of both) be sure to integrate for highest impact.

    Optimize Social Media for Search
    The role of SEO in a social media effort is to directly influence discovery of social communities or content via search.

    Link Building for SEO Through Social Media
    Indirectly, social content can boost links to website content, improve search traffic and online sales.

    10. Measuring & Selling the Value of News SEO
    After deploying some or all of the above, it’s important to tie back to results.

    There are are many different ways to attach measurement to the optimization of news content and here are a few to get you started:

    • Newswire service metrics
    • Web analytics for landing pages and websites
    • Google / Yahoo alerts
    • Monitor blog search engines (via RSS)
    • Press release landing page conversion tracking
    • Social media monitoring
    • Inbound links
    • Pickups on blogs
    • Pickups on other websites
    • Pickups on publications
    • Search Rankings

    Don’t think those will work? Odden recommends using the power of the competitors. Are your competitors receiving better social or standard search visibility? If so, that’s often a compelling data point for decision makers.

    What tips do you have to add for optimizing news content?