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9 Press Release SEO Questions Answered

This post was written by Laurie Mahoney, Product Marketing Manager for CisionWire, Cision’s new press release distribution service, and Brandon Andersen.

Thank you to those of you who participated in last week’s webinar “SEO 101 for Press Releases”. We had a great turnout and a lot of great questions that we were unable to get to during the webinar.  We wrote a previous SEO 101 Q&A post that addresses a lot of questions that we received last week.  Please check that one out after this one.

Q. Can you discuss how keyword competition figures into optimizing press releases?  I imagine that lots of people search for NBA Basketball, aren’t there an equally large number of results competing for that term?
~Jeff N.

Keyword competition is a major factor in selecting the keywords that you wish to target in your press release.  In your example above, NBA Basketball would indeed have a lot of competition and a high number of search results (over 71 million).  The key is to focus your keywords to something a more specific.  Your business probably isn’t just about NBA Basketball.  Let’s say that your company sells NBA Basketball tickets.  Try focusing on keywords like “Chicago Bulls NBA Basketball tickets” that better target your audience and your offering.

Q. We save releases on our website as PDFs.  Do search engines search PDF documents?
~Holly P.

A. Believe it or not, most search engines DO search PDF documents, as well as Word and PowerPoint documents that are posted to the web.  However, since a lot of on-page SEO cannot be done for these types of documents, I would recommend that you post your press releases online in HTML.  Simply posting them online with some basic on-page SEO will do wonders in getting them to rank higher than a PDF.

Q. What do you think about posting press releases on LinkedIn Group sites?
~Mark N.

For this question, we are bringing in the big guns, Cision’s social media manger Andrea Weinfurt.

In general, it’s not a good idea to push your own content in a forum where it’s not appropriate. With LinkedIn Groups, the focus is usually discussion and engagement among people in a particular industry.  Most people join these groups as places to find thought leadership and use it as a resource for engaging with other industry experts, not as a place to sort through press releases. If everyone started posting them, the releases would most certainly lose their impact and the discussion on these groups might become secondary to everyone pushing their own content. Posting a press release on a LinkedIn Group might be frowned upon unless it’s completely relevant to the current discussion. Before posting any release, it’s probably good to establish yourself as an active participant in the discussion.

Q: If you’re more of a B2B type of company, how important is SEO relative to a consumer company?
~Tracy D.

A. SEO is just as important for a B2B type of company as it is for a consumer focused company. At the end of the day, you still want the person who is making the buying decision to find information about your company. Optimize for the keywords that they are most likely to use to search for your product or service.

Q. What about niche-specific press releases? How do you do SEO for those niche markets that are not consumer-focused, but medical and medical-specialty specific?
~Sue R.

A. SEO works much in the same way with niche-specific press releases. Since you may not have any “consumers” per se for a medical press release, focus your keywords on what you think Medical Professionals, Doctors or Patients would use to find your release. Keep in mind that just because you don’t have someone buying your product doesn’t mean that you don’t have consumers. Try to think of them as “consumers of news” instead.

Q. Does Google determine results differently for Google Web than for Google News?
~Jay F.

A. Great question and YES they do differ!  Google News returns results that are more current but maybe less relevant than Google Web search.  Google News also classifies its articles into categories, such as Business, Sci/Tech, etc. and geography based on each article’s content, and is more likely to display local, trusted sources in its results.  The two big keys to getting picked up in Google News: Be timely, and be a trusted source.

Q: Do tags affect Google results or are they only valuable on searches on CisionWire.com itself?
~ Jay F.

A. Tags assist on CisionWire.com as well as on the news section of Google (Google News) if you use CisionWire or a Traditional Web or Wire distribution service. Google and some of the other search engines request specific tags from these distribution services to categorize your release into such categories like “New Product Announcement” or “Acquisitions” so they know what bucket to put your news into. The editors at these distribution services choose the tags that are most relevant for your release based on the content.  If you tag your release with relevant terms and relevant categories, it can only help your press release’s visibility.

Q: Can you clarify that search engines just search the first 22 words in total or just the 22 words in the headline? I’m confused about how far down they search in terms of subheads and the first paragraph.
~ Mark N.

A. Search engines use the first 22 words of your headline to create what is called the Release tag for your press release in the search results. If your headline is longer than 22 words, it will cut off the rest of your headline. If your headline is less than 22 words, it will start to take from the subhead of your release or 1st paragraph.

Q. How do press releases fit in to the duplicate content problem?  I mean, you want PR’s to get picked up and distributed, but if the search engines find it over and over, doesn’t that hurt you?
~Veronica G.

A. Search engines try to index original content, which means that pages with nearly identical content will not show up as high in search results.  Instead of showing all of the duplicate pages with the same content in search results, search engines will try to figure out which one has more authority or is the original source of the content and only return that one in results.  Creating quality deep links to your website that are relevant to the press release will show search engines that you are the source of the press release and that your release is on topic.

Do you have a press release SEO question of  your own?

Please check out our Facebook Discussion board, where we are answering your questions now.

Want more?

The webinar, “SEO 101 for Press Releases” was the first in a series that we will be presenting on press release optimization.  You can find and register for future PR Webinars on our website.  Also check out the related links below for more SEO tips.

About Brandon Andersen

Brandon is the Director of Marketing at Cision US. In his role, Brandon leads Cision’s US marketing team and develops strategies for engaging marketing and PR professionals. He is a host of the popular Cision Webinar series, and blogs about everything from inbound/content marketing tactics to future trends in communication and technology on Cision Blog. Find him on Twitter @brandonchicago

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