Press Release Optimization – Don’t Become a Victim of Over-Optimization

Search engine optimization (or “SEO”) is a constantly evolving target. Over time, business owners and professional marketers learn what works (and what doesn’t) to boost their ranking with the search engines, and the search engines adjust their ranking algorithms to try to deliver the most relevant results to their users.

But in the quest to make sure that press releases perform as well as possible with the search engines, there is a risk of doing too much – of “over-optimizing” those releases. Here are some tips to avoid becoming a victim of that problem.

Write For Your Audience (not for Google). The most important rule of thumb is to make sure you’re always writing for your ultimate audience, and not letting the desire for search engine rankings lead you to put out press releases that won’t be received well by the people who actually read them.

Link Appropriately. The ultimate goal of your press release is probably to generate more business. This means that you’ll need more traffic coming to your website, and you’ll also want that traffic to be of a higher quality. For example, getting 100 new visitors to your website won’t be worth much if none of them are truly interested in what you have to offer; on the other hand, getting 15 or 20 new visitors might be extremely value if they’re already prequalified and likely to become purchasers.

The most direct way a press release will bring that quality traffic to your business website is by readers clicking a link in the press release to come to your website. By using an appropriate number of links (no more than a few), and making sure the links lead to targeted pages on your website, your press release will have maximum effect.

Leverage the Core Value of Press Releases. While press release optimization may (or may not) help with your search engine optimization efforts, it’s always important to remember why you are doing press releases in the first place.

The essence of press release optimization is to build awareness of your company and the message you’re looking to get across. You also want your press release distribution to lead to other websites, bloggers and media outlets picking up and helping redistribute your message. These core values are, again, best utilized by always writing with your audience in mind.

Avoid Over-Optimization. Sometimes a company will reason that if providing a link or two in a press release (and using a few targeted keywords in connection with those links) is good, then doing even more of that will be better. After all, the thinking goes, if two links in a press release distribution will bring a certain number of new visitors, wouldn’t 10 or 15 links bring even more visitors?

Unfortunately, Google (and likely the other search engines) view this type of activity as an attempt to manipulate the search engine algorithms, and these types of press releases get penalized within a search engine results.

One way to make sure your press release efforts are viewed by Google and the best possible light is to use a “nofollow” tag for every link that’s in your press release. Using this tag tells the search engine that deep linking is not intended to pass any value to the target website – which makes it clear that you aren’t trying to boost your website’s ranking through these links.

By following these few guidelines you’ll make sure you don’t become a victim of SEO over-optimization.

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