Press Releases Aren't Dead - But Here's How They've Changed

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The press release isn't dead - but how to write a press release that gets noticed has changed: again. Press releases are owned media and controlled by your brand. Press releases aren't just sent to the local media, they are also released online. While search engine algorithms once penalized press releases for being over-SEO strategized, today you need to craft a press release that stands out online and doesn't get ignored.

Press Release = Company Statement

Press releases began quietly showing up again on Google search engine result pages (SERP): Reuters recently reported a "little-noticed change in the way Google selects search results has allowed company statements to top the list of news links shown when users search for information on businesses." This means your press release (aka company statement) is now treated as news by Google, and can compete in search results with news stories for this prime location. 

A well written, SEO-friendly press release can improve a brand's online visibility and help them rank higher in search results. Here are five ways to optimize your press release for digital search.

5 Ways to Optimize Your Press Release

1.  Improve Your Visuals

Search engines and people love visuals. But search engines can't read an image, so be sure to label your image with ALT text and a description that is meaningful and relevant to your press release. Readers love and engage with multimedia images, making it more likely they'll read and remember your news.

Make your press release more readable and memorable by adding one or two visuals to your content:

  • photos and videos
  • logos
  • book covers
  • headshot
  • product shot 
  • quotes 
  • stats
  • infographics

Color adds punch to your press release and makes it standout. Visuals are a smart strategy to get your press release noticed.

2. SEO 

Just a couple years ago, Google penalized press releases for being SEO robots and using techniques like keyword stuffing. Writing SEO-friendly press releases means following SEO best practices to improve the ranking and searchability of your release:

  • keywords and synonyms (search engines are smart enough to recognize synonyms)
  • conversational tone using understandable language
  • links to important and relevant web pages
  • ALT text to describe an image to search engines
  • text formatting signals to search engines that content is important: bold, italics, underline, and bullets are cues for key points and relevant information

3. Headlines and Tone

Press releases are treated as news, and require a slightly professional tone and language, yet at the same time you must speak to your target audience naturally, in their language. People and search engines dislike jargon and robot-like writing, and reward natural writing by reading and ranking it. 

Your press release headline is more important than ever. Your headlines and subheadlines should

  • use keywords
  • be relevant to your news
  • be concise
  • grab attention

Formatting headlines is important for people and search engines: using larger fonts and bolding indicates that headlines are important information.

4. Links

Assume your press release is being read online, and add links to relevant websites and stories. Press release best practices indicate each release should only have a few links, so make sure your content links to the most relevant webpages and don't link-load.

If the press release is being distributed by a PR agency, there should be a link to the agency to lend authority.

5. Social Sharing

Include social sharing links in your press release so readers can share news they care about on their social networks. Search engines pay attention to social sharing and give a higher rank to press releases that are shared. 

A press release can improve your brand's visibility and drive more traffic to your website. Strategic, SEO-friendly press releases increase the chances your press release will be seen and read by both people and search engines.