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Writing an optimized press release starts with the right keywords

Bacon Chocolate Cupcake

Photo courtesy of http://www.52kitchenadventures.com

I love that PR professionals are seeing the benefits of writing optimized press releases.  Our SEO 101 for PR webinar continues to draw sizable audiences month after month, and we speak to clients every day who are interested in how optimizing a press release for search can make their release more visible.  We’ve also created a new webinar called Life of an SEO Press Release to help guide you from the process I describe below through an analysis of how well your press release performed.

We’ve also seen some new tools coming out that “analyze” your press release for keywords before you send it out.  I’m a fan of any tool that can help you optimize a press release, but these tools aren’t the key to writing optimized content.  And they do not take the place of proper keyword research.

Before you write, research

The key to writing an optimized press release is in the planning.  Before you write a word of your release, take a little bit of time to research which keywords would be appropriate to target in your release.  Use a keyword research tool like Google’s Keyword Tool to help you find the most relevant keywords that are specific to your content, but still have good search traffic with lower competition.  For example, if I’m writing a release about my new line of chocolate cupcakes flavored with bacon called “Bakin’ Bacon”, I can run a search on how popular the following keywords are:

  • Bacon flavored chocolate cupcake
  • Bacon flavored cupcake
  • Bakin’ Bacon
  • Bacon cupcake
  • Chocolate cupcake
  • Bacon chocolate cupcake

Which of these keywords should I target for my release? Looking at my results from the Google Keyword Tool, I can see that “bacon flavored chocolate cupcake” and “bacon flavored cupcake” both bring back an insignificant number of results.  So, I won’t focus on using those in the release. This quick analysis can also help you determine which angle will work best with the release.

Determine relevant keywords

Surprisingly, “bakin’ bacon” has a good search volume and very low competition (6,600 montly searches, and about 145,000 results).  Seems like it should be a great keyword, right?  Not quite.  When I run a search for “bakin’ bacon” the results are focused on baking bacon in an oven, and have nothing to do with bacon chocolate cupcakes.  We might be able to rank well for this keyword, but is it really hitting our target audience (men and women obsessed with bacon combined with delectable baked goods)?  Probably not.  Let’s find a more relevant main keyword.

Focus on keywords with high search volume and low competition

“Bacon cupcake” has a monthly search volume of 6,600 but brings back nearly 5 million results.  “Chocolate cupcake” has a monthly search volume of 201,000 and brings back the same number of results.  Between these two, you’re better off focusing on “chocolate cupcake”.  But we can do even better, since “chocolate cupcake” doesn’t describe exactly what is unique about my product – the bacon.

Looking at “bacon chocolate cupcake”, we have 720 monthly searches and low competition.  A search for this key phrase brings back over 3 million results.  Again, this a large field to be competing in, but we’re also getting credit for the keyword “chocolate cupcake” which has over 200,000 monthly searches.  So we’re actually hitting both keywords with one key phrase.  So now we have a main keyword to keep in mind when we begin writing our release.

Putting it all together

You’d be amazed how easily that main keyword will work itself into your content since it is top of mind as you write.  Plus, it will help your press release flow naturally and not sound robotic like press releases that have keywords added after-the-fact.

A lot of tools out there now analyze a release after it has already been written, and then suggest that you sprinkle in some keywords to help your release get found for that content.  The keywords become an afterthought.  But if you make your keyword selection a part of your planning phase before you write your release, you will create a better optimized and more natural sounding press release.

Join us on May 19th @ 1:00 CT for our new free webinar, Life of an SEO Press Release.

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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