Press release SEO: link like you mean it

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Photo courtesy of Bitterjug via Flickr

Photo courtesy of Bitterjug via Flickr

As PR professionals continue to make their press releases more Web-friendly with multimedia content and search engine optimization, they are coming up against a challenge: attracting attention online requires that your content be outwardly focused, and the nature of a press release is to be inwardly focused on the company, its products, etc. At least, until now.

Smart communications professionals have always broadened the scope of their releases to attract journalists’ interests. (The piece I’m linking to here is three years old but right on topic; when linking up a press release, don’t be overly concerned with the age of the content to which you’re linking. Even in our fast-changing world, old doesn’t always mean outdated.) One of the better releases I received as a journalist came from someone representing a home builder; it pitched the resurgence of walkout basements in home design as a trend piece into which the builder’s offerings were a natural fit. In essence, the release did my job for me: it came up with a premise for a story with broad appeal that I could pitch to an editor, rather than asking me to do a story about Home Builder X.

Now that press releases need to be written for the Web, meaning jargon-free and ready for the consumer, the onus to write them from a big-picture viewpoint is only growing. It’s generally accepted amongst search engine optimization practitioners that linking to relevant content is one of the best ways to rise up in search results. That means press release writers should be linking to blogs, social sites and other online content wherever possible. 

To some, it seems counterintuitive that a press release about a product or service should link to a lot of outside sources. But the fact is, that’s the best way to get a search engine to recognize the release as a valid, interesting piece of content. To get your release noticed, it helps to link like a writer with a broad base of interests and varied references. Also, it’s only possible to cast a wide net with your links if your writing itself is similarly wide-angled. Try inserting outbound links into a typical press release. It just doesn’t work.

It’s almost as though search engine algorithms are forcing us to be more authentic. How can you widen the scope of your releases?

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