The challenge for many PR professionals is that the landscape of the Internet is forever changing. The landscape, which focused primarily on mainstream media, is now spread across thousands of blogs, new media technologies, and oh, you still have to pay attention (promote) to the mainstream media.
Nowhere is this landscape shift more dynamic than in the area of the search engines. The search engines (SE) are constantly adjusting and refining the way clients’ content – including press releases, whitepapers, and news stories – shows up. To that end, we are always looking for more and better ways to get the word out the largest audience possible.
Over the years it’s become more of a challenge to know the best techniques for promoting news. Some of my favorite pointers include:
1. Quality content always wins –I know this a tired subject, but you need to focus on content that searchers care about. News for news’ sake will not bring traffic and will never become viral.
2. Syndication is key –The old adage “if you build it, they will come” was never completely true for a sales pitch. The reality is that you can have the best technology or service, but if no one knows about it, it’ll remain the best-kept secret in your industry.
3. Use links like they were gold – If you only have 3 links to put in a press release, what should they be? I usually recommend one link for the homepage using the brand as the anchor text and one each for product/service-related offerings using the specific product or service keyword as the anchor text. For instance, let’s say you’re Hootsuite. Anchor text for your first link (homepage) would be “Hootsuite”, and for your second it might be “social media management”.
4. Use rel=nofollow tag – The Google web spam team has made it very clear that any links in press releases or paid links should have the “rel=nofollow” code. This is a new development in how PR distribution services have been managed.
5. Use new media – Once the release or story goes out, the fun begins! You have been actively nurturing followers and connections across channels with interesting content, so now you can sprinkle client/company news in with your news feeds.
6. Track the results – Both Google and Bing have free Webmasters Tools functionality that provides much-needed information regarding the status of websites and their performance in the search results. If your website isn’t registered on both of these, do it now.
In short, you can ignore the “are press releases dead?” headlines that have been popping up of late. They’re not – but, like everything else in digital marketing, they have to adapt to a changing landscape to remain relevant.