How to Use PR for SEO [Video + Summary]

In our final installment of our Search Engine Strategies San Jose interviews, Jason Billingsley is joined by Dana Todd, CMO of Newsforce, a PR firm specializing in SEO optimized press releases and paid placements for press releases. Dana and Jason discuss how retailers can use press releases to boost their SEO.

Can’t see embedded video? Click to view Interview with Dana Todd

Here’s the lowdown:

Retailers are perfectly matched for news and editorial exposure, so make sure you’re hitting this channel as much as you can (Linda reminds you to sign up for HARO, a mailing list for reporters and folks who want to Help A Reporter Out.) This low cost editorial exposure can have bigger payoff than an advertising engagement.

With some creativity and savvy, you can create trending stories around particular hot items.
For example, you could tie a featured product to a non-profit or human interest story – like a health monitor for diabetes. Or recession stories – like 10 Things That Can Save You Money Going Back to School. (Don’t forget green products). These are what journalists (and bloggers) are looking for.

You want to create content that can be deployed out there that tells a story – preferably a series of releases/stories. Think about the conversation you want to start, what attitudes are you trying to change?

Dana speaks about “emotionalizing” a story: an example is preteen vs. young men’s back to school clothes. They carry different emotional themes, different stories. You can create a story/dialog around going from childhood to the tween-age, and how clothes play into that. This emotionalized story now changes the game, rather than looking for commodity clothes and searching for the lowest price, a customer will seek out your store that carries the clothes that make the (young) man.

To optimize a release for search engines, you want to use keywords in the headlines, and work them into the body also, just like you would optimize on your site. It’s a good practice to have a landing page specific to the press release as well. You should also keep a copy on your site, but optimized with a different title and slightly different body copy than the ones you send through the wire services to avoid the duplicate content filter.

Should a retailer be looking at a traditional press release or to a social media release? The social media release is just a press release that includes a bit more social media goodness like Digg This buttons and video (click here for a PDF template of a social media press release). It is not a story. It’s still appropriate for dialogging with a blogger or journalist but it’s not what a human being wants to read. So go ahead and use one for your journalist contacts, but for a direct to consumer press release, you would create a more engaging story and put it out on a general wire.

(Linda’s note: sometimes press releases that have potential to do well with consumers, like this release from comparison engine SHOP.com’s Back-To-School shopping features are not written for consumers – they’re too corporate. The release is full of e-comm market-ese like “using SHOP.com’s proprietary universal shopping cart” and “robust online shopping destination.” If this release was targeted to parenting magazines, for example, it should be written much differently, and include quotes from real moms who found the perfect outfits quickly and easily (and saving gas to boot!) rather than a word from the VP of Marketing.)

For more information on press releases, Dana recommends Lee Odden’s TopRank Blog, Greg Jarboe’s SEO-PR blog and Brian Solis’ PR2.0. (Linda adds Michael Brito’s Britopian blog as another helpful resource, Britopian specializes in online conversations).


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