Tag Archives: SEO

PR in China: Does Your Brand Translate?

Click to access our free white paper on media in China.

Click to access our free white paper on the media environment in China.

It’s surprising that so many companies use English when communicating within China, even though the official spoken language of China is Mandarin, and the official written language is Simplified Chinese.  It’s not hard to imagine the negative effect this language disconnect has on campaign results,  and the reason is simple – most Chinese journalists and consumers use internet search as their primary research tool, and they are searching in their own language, even if they speak English.  Any communication not in local language will not be seen.  Think of it this way – if you are searching for a computer do you type in “Lenovo” in Google or Bing, or do you type in 联想?  The same logic applies to users and consumers within China.

Don’t forget the SEO angle

Another point to consider is your target audience will most likely be using search terms that have to do either with a problem or a solution.  To be included in results, your keywords will need to address at least one.   If you have key words or phrases in your release or documents in English instead of Simplified Chinese, your communication will not show up in organic search results.

Just as your keywords are carefully thought out and researched, the translations should be researched just as thoroughly.  In most Asian languages, the keyword itself differs from the rest of the world.  Your product names and technical terminology should be in widely used characters – creating your own “Chinglish” term may be catchy, but unless you’re a name brand with a large advertising budget you will not get the results you wish.

Branding in Chinese

Lenovo's Chinese homepage displays the brand in both Chinese and English.

Lenovo’s Chinese homepage displays the brand in both Chinese and English.

Even your company name should be in Chinese.  Decide upon the proper characters you will use during your branding process.   If you have a local PR, branding agency, or local marketing support, put this into their hands, and listen carefully to their suggestions.  Once you decide upon the characters for your company name, stick to them going forward.  If you change them for any reason, it will require a full re-branding.  Lenovo’s Chinese home page is a very good example.  The English brand is there, along with the characters they chose for local branding.

Where to get help!

There are several agencies and consulting services outside of China that will do all the research and character creation for you.  These services can be pricey, but if you are serious about successful communication in China, they are an excellent investment, and will give you the best ROI.

If you do not have the resources for a branding consultant or agency, find a good translation service that you can trust to accurately translate your company terms.  The best ones will give you several suggestions for you to choose from, and perhaps even do some research for you.  If you do not know of any services, PR Newswire will be happy to give you some recommendations.  Next, you’ll need to check trends on each of the suggestions and pick the one that matches your needs best.   There is a free keyword index on index.baidu.com that you can use to check trends on specific keywords, but the Baidu paid keyword tool is the one I prefer.   I find the results to be more accurate due to the wider search results.

Once you have your product, technology and company names in Chinese characters, then you can start working on your marketing and communication materials.   That doesn’t mean you can’t still use your English brand names and technology terms – it is acceptable to use both the English and the Chinese characters for company name and keywords on your website and your printed and online marketing material.   For press releases that will be posted on third party news sites, as well as paid advertorials, use Chinese only for best ROI results.

Following these steps will help you increase your visibility and return on your brand’s investment in the important Chinese market.   Whether your audience is B2B or communicating in-language will dramatically increase your online visibility.

学一门语言,就是多一个观察世界的窗户。To learn a language is to have one more window from which to look at the world.

Author Colleen Pizarev is PR Newswire’s vice president of communication strategies and works with our clients on crafting global communications campaigns.

An SEO Expert’s View of Public Relations

The pyramid of media influence.

The pyramid of media influence.

We spend a lot of time in the PR space thinking about how to optimize our press releases for maximum search engine visibility, and I’m one of the purveyors of that sort of information.  Ask me about  press release headline writing best practices, and be prepared to strap in for at least thirty minutes while I babble happily about keyword placement, headline length, reader drop off rates and how these factors can ultimately impact the results your message generates.

But let’s face it: fine-tuning press releases and other  content individually, piece by piece, for max visibility is a bit shortsighted, because it ignores some bigger opportunities – specifically, the opportunity to help the brand’s web site (which has a lot more gravitational pull than the odd press release, blog post, backgrounder or tweet) build rank and visibility.

How PR can positively impact SEO

In reality, a good PR campaign that results in media pick up, relevant industry blog posts and social buzz can have a profoundly positive effect on crucial web site rankings.  And those web site rankings play an important part in lead generation — and ultimately sales.

“A few years ago, I launched a website called FindHow, and we gave it a full-court press from a PR standpoint. In the first month of FindHow’s existence, it surpassed 15,000 unique visitors and eventually grew to around the 100,000 uniques (editor’s note: unique web site visitors) mark. After about five months, the Public Relations effort had resulted in a total of around 18,000 links to the site, primarily because of prominent media mentions that boosted the site’s credibility and aided word of mouth.” – Ted Ives,Public Relations for SEO.”

The quote above is an SEO expert’s take on PR results.   In my many years of experience with PR Newswire (eighteen, to be exact), I know that plugging PR into the brand’s SEO strategy is something many – heck, most – public relations departments overlook.    In most cases I’ve seen thinking about SEO starts and ends with the optimization of a particular message, with the goal of getting the press release itself to rank in search engines.  In reality, we should be thinking about how to help our brands’ web sites rank, not individual messages.    PR sells itself short when the focus on results is too narrow.

Integrating PR & SEO

To get a good look at how the results a good PR campaign can integrate (and improve) a brand’s SEO program, you can’t do better than to read the first of the series on PR and SEO just published on Search Engine Land.  Author Ted Ives (@tedives) (the aforementioned SEO expert) lays out a new view of PR in the series,  offering perspective on how brands can more fully capitalize upon media pick up and other public relations outcomes to effect business outcomes.

Results & effectiveness – the benefits of integrating PR & SEO programs

Understanding the follow on benefits of press release distribution and media mentions in the context of a brand’s web site and SEO initiatives can do a couple things for the PR department.  First, as you can see from the paragraph above, the SEO guys have measurement down.   They know where traffic comes from; they know which keywords have the best conversion rates.  If measuring results is a bugaboo for your PR department, cozy up your SEO team.   Chances are good they already know a surprising amount about the results your PR campaigns generated.

Secondly, integrating with the brand’s SEO program can lend real power to the messaging the PR department creates.  Keyword research is another facet of audience behavior that can (and should) inform the content strategy.  In addition to simply using the language of your audience, paying attention to larger keyword trends and usage patterns reveals what your marketplace actually cares about.  For a content creator, this information is golden.

The other two parts of the series focus on targeting and pitching journalists, offering good, solid media relations advice, tuned for today’s newsroom realities, and are also worth reading.

So next time you’re drafting a PR campaign, don’t limit your goals to simply generating reads for a press release or media placements. Working with the SEO team can increase the measurable results the PR team generates, and the business impact it delivers.

sarah avatarAuthor Sarah Skerik is PR Newswire’s vice president of content marketing, and is the author of the e-book “Unlocking Social Media for PR.”  Follow her on Twitter at @sarahskerik .

Common Themes from the Content & Distribution Track at SXSWi 2013

This year’s programming for South By Southwest featured an entire track devoted to the subjects of content and distribution.   The sessions in that track varied wildly from ultra-tactical (“How to Rank Better in Google and Bing,”) to the esoteric (“#CatVidFest: Is This the End of Art?”) Despite the wild array of subject matter and expertise that are the hallmarks of SxSW Interactive, common themes did emerge over the course of the conference, and communicators should take note.

Don’t forget we’re talking about human behavior.

In addition to the hundreds of panels devoted to the discussion of storytelling and other content tactis, the Interactive program also devoted considerable space to user experience design (“UXD”) and different aspects of psychology.  Why?  Because ultimately, marketing communications exist to influence human behavior.   Sitting in sessions that picked apart the psychology of habits, the social behaviors that drive the rapid spread of a meme across social channels or discussed how YouTube’s treatment of comments encourages troll-like behavior among those commenting on videos really drove this fact home.

The discussion of what makes media spread in the panel titled “Spreadable Media,” offers a profound example.  Think about it: we sit in front of our screens, and an avalanche of Tweets, Facebook posts, links in emails and other content floods our attention.  As human beings, we make specific choices about that content. What’s worth passing along, and to whom?  And in which channel?  And as part of what conversation?

UPDATE: The speakers have published a book titled (unsurprisingly) Spreadable Media: Creating Value and Meaning in a Networked Culture. It sounds like a good read. 

“If we just think in terms of going viral, we’re not treating the audience as having social agency or cultural effect,” one of the panelists (I didn’t catch which, though I captured the quote verbatim) noted. “We strip away the politics of what goes viral.”  Simply referring to a piece of media as “viral” in nature glosses over the choices that went into mobilizing the material, which means that we overlook the very mechanics of the message, and what caused it to resonate with the audience.  And I think that any marketer can agree, that is stuff worth knowing.

Content needs to be quality.  Everything else is a waste of time, and can injure your brand.   

There are myriad reasons why it’s important to be selective about what you publish – and that message was emphasized in a variety of sessions.  Quality content that’s useful to the audience generates the kind of engagement signals (e.g. time on page, click-throughs, shares) that search engines notice.  The same sort of quality content is that that is most likely to spread and augment your brand’s image and credibility.

It turns out that the downside to publishing content that doesn’t make the grade with the audience isn’t simply a waste of time.   Lightweight content that doesn’t deliver value to the reader will cause visitors to “bounce” (immediately leave) from a web page, sending a negative signal to the ever-vigilant search engines.   Bad content can also result an active departure from the brand audience, by motivating people to disassociate from the brand by un-liking or un-following social presences, or unsubscribing from an email newsletter.   Content for content’s sake is a bad idea.  It won’t trigger the human behavior you’re after, which in turn won’t result in the search engine ranking the brand desires.

Now that you’re back home and have had a chance to unpack – both your luggage and your brain – what were the theme that stood out to you at South By this year?

sarah avatarAuthor Sarah Skerik is PR Newswire’s vice president of social media, and is the author of the e-book “Unlocking Social Media for PR.”  Follow her on Twitter at @sarahskerik

Want to make your media spread?  PR Newswire can distribute your content — text, images, video and any combination thereof — to digital audiences both broad and narrow.

A look at the future of search with Google’s Amit Singhal at SXSW

Guy Kawasaki interviewing Amit Singhal at SXSW 2013.  Photo: Victoria Harres.

Guy Kawasaki interviewing Amit Singhal at SXSW 2013. Photo: Victoria Harres.

Today, Guy Kawasaki interviewed Amit Singhal, Google’s senior vice president of search.  Billed as a conversation about the future of search in mobile world, the conversation ranged into devices and other future Google projects.

To put the conversation in context, it’s worth repeating a fact Singhal dropped on the crowd in response to Kawasaki’s question “What really is on the internet?”

According to Singhal, everything is on the internet, and it’s sitting on more than 30 trillion web addresses, which in turn reside on some 250 million web domains.

The evolution of search

According to Singhal, who’s been with Google for 20 years and has a PhD in search, at the beginning, people didn’t expect search to work.  That’s changed entirely today – searches are growing increasingly granular and complex.  Additionally, people are searching all the time.  When desktop search volumes go down – at mealtimes, for example, and in the evenings – mobile search volumes increase.

How to gain search rank

Once again, the advice was simple – publish useful content that adds value.  However, Singhal made an interesting point – that search engine optimization is really about marketing your content to search engines – telling them what it’s about, and why it’s important.

When it comes to the mechanics of achieving rank, it’s important to keep something firmly in mind: A perfect search engine should know exactly what you mean, and give you exactly what you want, and that’s Google’s goal.  As Singhal said, search engines need to be comprehensive, relevant and fast.

Inbound links are one signal, but they use more than 200 other signals, including: on-page content, words in the title.

What’s in development now?

Google Now is one project Singhal mentioned, describing it as “… the things you need to know, just coming to you.

“The future of search would be bringing knowledge to the world in a completely multimodal environment,” noted Singhal.

He envisions Google Now as a perfect assistant – it’s by your side, you can talk to it and ask it things.  But it should also tell you things proactively, such as when traffic is bad and you need to leave a bit earlier than anticipated to get to your next meeting.

Other things on the collective minds at Google include the knowledge graph, speech recognition and natural language understanding, brought together, as Singhal says, to create “search magic.”

sarah avatarAuthor Sarah Skerik is PR Newswire’s vice president of social media, and is the author of the e-book “Unlocking Social Media for PR.”  Follow her on Twitter at @sarahskerik.


Content Marketing Like a Pro

Author Paula Henderson

Why is content marketing important? According to the company Media Whiz, It is the future of marketing and how you should be generating new business. I bet most marketers don’t think like a salesperson when writing for their respective audiences but if you use your content to win your customers, it will generate leads for your business.  As a salesperson, I often have to think to myself why I would want to buy a particular product or service. When posing that question, it’s easier to write with authority. Daryl Colwell, VP of Business Development for @MediaWhizLLC tells us to make our buyer the hero. “Produce content that informs your customers and improves their business, says Colwell.

Our VP of Social Media Sarah Skerik riffed on a quote from the movie Field of Dreams, saying “If you build it, they don’t always come.” In other words, don’t create content just to have content.

In Skerik’s workshop at the Online Marketing Summit Conference she spoke on making your customers your advocates and finding your industry rockstars by customizing your content to meet their needs. MediaWhiz also suggested using websites such as Answers.com and Yahoo Answers to find specific questions around a subject which will help you tailor your content accordingly.

More benefits for SEO writing:

  • Attracts Authority Signals (links, social shares) – improves SEO performance
  • Positions brand as authority on relevant topics
  • Increases conversion rates

-Educates users on topics that are difficult to understand.

While it is important to write with these SEO tips in mind, you’re not a computer so write for humans!

Top 5 tips MediaWhiz provided for Content Marketing:

1)    Know your audience: Write for a specific reader or customer. Know what they want and how/where they consume information

2)    Include images: Images will “pop” when content is shared

3)    Commit: Not a one-night stand. Establish an editorial calendar and publish often.  Give customers a reason to keep reading.

4)    Engage the right buyers with the right content. Write content for all levels of the sales funnel.

5)    Repurpose content. Turn blog posts into white papers; white papers into infographics, etc.

Follow the tweet stream at #OMSummit for ongoing commentary from the Online Marketing Summit this week.

Author Paula Henderson works for PR Newswire consulting our agency clients  in Los Angeles, CA.

SEO Tips for Developing Effective Messages

It should go without saying that if you’re publishing content online, you should be capitalizing on the opportunity to positively influence search engine rankings for your organization.   Each piece of content a brand publishes can (and probably should!) improve the search engine rank of the company’s web properties.

At the Online Marketing Summit this week, a number of speakers offered advice on SEO and content strategy, many of which are useful for PR.

A slide from the Andrew Delamarter's presentation

A slide from the Andrew Delamarter’s presentation

Create a keyword-driven editorial calendar.  

Andrew Delamarter, director of search at Huge, emphasized the importance of using keywords to direct content creation, suggesting that brands build keyword-driven editorial calendars.  In addition to aligning content production around target terms, this tactic also ensures that the content a brand publishes is broadly aligned with key themes.  It’s a good idea, and as he noted, it’s not technical. It’s storytelling.

Appreciate and attract authoritative signals.

Great content generates potent authority signals that search engines notice.  When people like and share content on social networks, the are driving high-quality traffic to the content.   Visitors that elect to click on your content upon the recommendation of a peer are generally spend more time on page and act upon the calls to action you’ve provided them.  These interactions with content indicate to search engines that the content is valuable.

“Offer incentives for readers to share content, ” advised Daryl Colwell of MediaWhiz. “Focus on the why not the what.  How will your content help your customers?”

Develop understanding of what content works in mobile, and mobile user behavior.

We act differently when we use mobile devices for search.  Our intentions are often different, the keywords we use are different, and the content we’re seeking is different.  Search gurus are predicting that mobile search will overtake desktop search within a year or two.  One of the most important things communicators can do is to build knowledge around your organization’s audience behaviors on mobile devices.   Communicators need to manage their communications at a platform and keyword level.

“Dark Traffic” – an important new metric

Driving social interaction is great, but it presents one difficulty – it’s tough to track.  URL shorteners, which are so frequently used to share social content – strip out referring data, and show up in your web analytics reports as “unknown” sources of traffic.  Delamarter suggested that communicators should pay attention to increases in the quantity of unknown traffic – it indicates more social traffic around your content, and that’s a good thing.

Search engines are continuing to tighten their algorithms in order to deliver truly relevant results to their users.   New signals they’re valuing include things like Klout scores (in the case of Bing) and citations (rather than simple links.)  From a strategy standpoint, the best search engine visibility benefits will be driven by the content your audience finds most useful – and that should be one communicators’ primary content goals.

Related reading:

SEO trends for 2013 & what they mean for PR

Search, Social & Content Marketing

Author Sarah Skerik is PR Newswire’s vice president of social media.

Content We Love: TheKnot.com Says “I Do” to Great Visuals

ContentWeLove“Content We Love” is a weekly feature written by a team of our content specialists. We’re showcasing some of the great content distributed through our channels, and our content specialists are up for the task: they spend a lot of time with the press releases and other content our customers create, proof reading and formatting it, suggesting targeted distribution strategy and offering SEO advice. In Content We Love, we’re going to shine the spotlight on the press releases and other messages that stood out to us, and we’ll tell you why. We hope you find the releases enjoyable and the insights gained from discussing them enlightening.

Something Old, Something New,
Something Borrowed, Something Blue

Forever is a long thing to plan for. Decisions about cake, about photography, about lighting… There are so many details when it comes to a wedding!

The same is true when it comes to crafting a great press release.

Bells sounded when I read the release about TheKnot.Com’s New Photo-Sharing Capabilities which included THREE images and perfect use of hyperlinking.


1) Visuals are important, whether to capture your wedding or showcasing your press release. They are shareable. They are relatable. They cause your readers to take notice.

* Case in point: check out the feed on prnewswire.com.  Which releases are you more apt to read? (Hint: probably the ones with the pictures!)

Looking to stand out like theknot.com? Want a press release that no one can forget? Include images with your releases!

Once the images piqued my interest, the hyperlinking sealed the deal.
I now pronounce you wonderfully linked!

2) Hyperlinking/anchor-text can seem daunting, but it is crucial for your visibility. Visibility? How searchable, viewable, is your release? The more visible, the more people can view.

Each link is a little meal for the search engine spiders, linking the press release to your website pages like a web. Bigger web = better visibility.

  • Here is the catch, if you link to the same website, it creates one line of ‘spider web.’
  • If you link to different pages on your website, search engines create a full web from the release to each of the pages.

So multiple pages linked = stronger web = great visibility!

*Beware of spamming your reader. Every sentence does not need a link. It should flow naturally. First mention of the company? Link. Mention the new product? Link. Find us socially? Link. Need an example? TheKnot.com showcases great hyperlinking!

When crafting your releases, don’t forget to say, “I Do!” for great visuals and linking.

Big thanks to TheKnot.com for uniting a great release with visuals and hyperlinks!


Author Emily Nelson is a Customer Content Specialist for PR Newswire. Follow her adventures on www.bellesandawhistle.wordpress.com or on twitter www.twitter.com/emilyannnelson.