Posted April 10, 2007 8:30 am by with 1 comment

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Buying your way into natural search rankings with press releases

By John W Ellis


The concept of paid search marketing is not new for online marketing experts. By bidding on keywords, a website is positioned in a search engine’s sponsored listings. Anyone willing to spend the marketing dollars is able to compete.

Paying for space has long been the distinction between pay-per-click (PPC) and natural search rankings. However, recently with the new rules of Web 2.0 that line is being crossed. Now the two are blending together with press releases. New tools are providing marketing experts ways to pay for high natural rankings as well as sponsored search positions.

From its basic concept, press releases have not changed. It is still a way for companies to communicate to the public about news and events. It was, and is a way to get news and media outlets to mention your company.

However, the Internet has changed the way press releases are processed, read and distributed. Unlike the older system, press releases are not just going to a handful of journalists. The modern online press release is going to RSS feeds, search engines, social tagging sites, news feeds, as well as traditional journalism outlets.

The long term affect of a press release is much more important. Because there is complete control of the link and the keywords associated with the link, press releases are the best form of link building available. With the increased number of quality links, websites will quickly climb in search engine rankings.


To get the search engine benefit from online press releases, the attention must be given to the details. Optimizing press releases is a unique craft that consist of important visible headlines, compelling stories, proper structure and links. Mixing all of that together with targeted keywords can prove to be a difficult task. However, below are some general guidelines to push writers in the right direction.

Tips for great online press releases

  • Link building is key – The links are the single most important feature of press releases. Each time a press release is picked-up and published on a website, link-building is multiplying. This is the major source of increased search engine rankings.
      Link Guidelines:
    • Stay on target. Stick with the most coveted keywords and make sure the anchor text includes those words.
    • Search friendly links. By keeping the links short and “search-friendly”, the impact of link building will pay off when the press release is distributed across the web.
    • Not too many links. One link per a hundred words is about the right amount. Any more than that and the press release looks like spam or a link farm. Any less, then the press release is not getting its full benefit.
  • No sales pitch – Although not always an easy task, the purpose of an online press release is clearly not a promotion. The main goal of a press release: To increase search engine rankings. Editors do not want commercials; they want valuable information that will interest their readers. The financial benefit of the press release will come later, when users begin their search and the website is coming up high in search engine results.
  • Write from a third person point of view – Press releases are published on various news websites and in some cases off-line media. It is best to view the press releases from the reader’s point of view. Do not use words such as: us, we, your, and you.
  • Relevant landing pages – It is important for web content editors to make sure there is information on the site that corresponds to the event or news item in the press release.
  • Content – To increase search rankings the press release needs to be picked up by as many websites as possible. This is done through good stories and information.
  • Add targeted keywords to press release – Whenever possible, fill the press release with targeted search keywords. It is often easier to add keywords after the press release is written. Ideally, the closer the keyword is to the top of the press release, the better.

Keep the reader in mind first, not the search engines. If it does not read well with a specific keyword, then do not include it. Use words that customers use. More importantly, use words that they use in search engines.


What to look for in a press release distribution company.

The quickest way to get a press release distributed is through a wire service. These services provide instant distribution to a network of news services, such at Google News and Yahoo! News. There are a variety of press release distribution services available. Below are a few qualities to look for in a press release distribution company:

  • Editorial Staff – A company that will help you optimize your press release will maximize its reach.
  • Search Engine Presence – Does the company offer a direct feed into search engines? Since many journalist and web editors use search engines to find stories, having your story there makes that process easier.
  • RSS Feeds and Syndication – Allowing a webmaster a direct feed multiplies the number of times your press release will get picked-up, thus increasing search rankings.
  • Social Tagging – Having a company that will assist with tagging and bookmarking will help the press releases connect with more people and more websites.


What does all this cost?

As stated in the sub-title, “Buying your way into natural search rankings with press releases”, this all comes at a price. You have to pay a fee to be part of this distribution service.

The price for distribution varies from company and dependent on the options. The cost can be as low as $40 to as high as $300 for complex options, per press release.

Keep in mind the most important goal of online press releases: increase search engine rankings. The best way to get those rankings is through (1) very precise and targeted links within the press release and (2) large distribution. The route that is going to meet more of those targets at the best price is the solution for you. All other options are just icing on the cake and in some cases are not even that important. Do not get swayed by other options, at additional costs, that do not help with those two goals.


Act quickly

Like any search engine ranking “technique”, it is only a matter of time before this tool is watered-down by people abusing the system. It is important to get in early and often and make a claim on these new press release formats.

Search engine optimization press releases are a proven commodity. This not the familiar press release that so many communication managers and marketing professionals have grown accustomed to. Online marketing is evolving quickly and people are looking for more and more information and fresh content. By containing interesting stories, your press release will make web editors happy which will ultimately affect that your position in the market.

[This has been an entry for Marketing Pilgrim’s SEM Scholarship contest. Keep up to date with all entries and other marketing news by subscribing to our rss feed.]