Common press release SEO mistakes were the subject of my blog post yesterday, and in that post I paid a lot of attention to keywords (select search terms people use, not jargon) and linking (link from those carefully selected search terms, not throwaway words.) Today we’re going to go a little further into content optimization, into the essential connection between keywords, content, and your web site’s SEO objectives, with the goal of incorporating your organization’s SEO strategies into your content marketing and PR plans.
This discussion is not about optimizing a press release for the press release’s sake. Certainly, you can do that, and improve the visibility of a press release or other single piece of content. But search engine optimization is really about improving the rank of a company’s web site (or, more specifically, a specific page on that web site) for search terms the company has targeted. As developing content becomes more and more important to public relations, brand journalism and content marketing, we miss key opportunities to deliver real benefit in terms of search rank if we neglect to optimize the content we’re creating — and map it back via embedded links to relevant content on the web sites we’re promoting. The good news is that a program in which content like press releases, white papers, case studies, articles, blog posts etc. is duly optimized and linked will pay dividends for both the PR department and the web site team. As the company builds more authority for certain keywords, the visibility for discrete messages will improve.
Last Friday, Rand Fishkin of SEOmoz defined the importance and broke down the basics of mapping keywords back to web site content. The blog post on SEOmoz titled “Mapping Keywords to Content for Maximum Impact” includes video, and is a must-watch.
In it, Fishkin offers some key tactics, which I’m going to ennummerate below, and to which I’ll add PR-specific advice. The video in the link above is still worth watching, however!
- Establish a full list of keywords – and the target URLs to which they should be linked. Doing this in conjunction with your organization’s web marketing team will quite literally put your departments on the same page. So armed, you’ll know the terms your audience uses when looking for information related to what your organization promotes, and you’ll have a list of corresponding pages on your web site to which you should link to those terms from the content you publish.
- Target user intent. As Fishkin says, “..this means not just thinking about whether the page is relevant for the keyword, but thinking about, “What does the user want when he gets to this page?” We probably don’t think enough about user intent when we are producing press releases and other PR content. Keeping your audience desires firmly in mind and focusing on answering the questions they might pose as you develop press releases and other content will improve the value of the information you publish to your audience.
- Think about (and support) the conversion goal. What is the outcome you want to produce? Or, alternatively, if your goal for a press release is media coverage, is there a secondary call to action you can offer for customers and prospects? Press releases are widely read and shared. Failing to include a call to action for an interested potential buyer to follow means you could miss out on creating real bottom-line outcomes as well as diminishing SEO impact. After all, calls to action are links too, and search engines reward content that is widely shared.
- Organize the content you publish thoughtfully, keeping the objective of promoting key web pages in mind. It’s easy to develop content in support of a campaign. However, if that content isn’t linked in a relevant way to the organizations’ web site (and I’m not just talking about a “for more information visit” link) it essentially exists in its own little universe, and doesn’t do anything to influence site rank. Worse, it could siphon some search engine juice from key pages on your web site. Getting the content organized won’t be that difficult, if you acquire – and rigorously use – the list of target terms and related URLs mentioned in the first bullet point.
The good news is that most of what we’re talking about here is about getting organized – integrating efforts with other departments, committing to use search terms your organization is targeting in press releases and other content, and linking to the URLs on the web site that the organization wants to promote. Best of all, following these guidelines will improve the effectiveness of your PR program, increasing readership, message traction and measurable outcomes.