The Secret to an Optimized Press Release Headline

Search engine optimization (SEO) is an effective means of getting free traffic from search engines like Google, Yahoo! and Bing. Each has a slightly different algorithm or formula for ranking sites on the search engine results pages (SERPs), but there are a few general rules when it comes to writing press release headlines that can help you get into the top spots on the SERPs.



Keywords make the search engine world go around. Every keyword can lead to a page and each page will get a relevance score. When constructing headlines, make sure there are at least a couple of keywords that will signal what the page is about.

Signaling to both search engines and humans

The signal has to work for both search engines and real readers. The press release headline will be seen on search engines, and on press release distribution services. On the distribution services, the goal is for journalists to see the headline, read the press release, and hopefully find it so useful that they give it a media pick up, that is, run the story for the benefit of their own target audience.


Part of this signaling has to do with context. Keywords are not taken in isolation. Particularly with Google, they are looking for well-written articles, press releases and so on that use a range of keywords which serve as clues as to what the page is about.

Here’s a recent headline:

Cancer from cellphones? New studies say no need to hang up

The keywords in the article include:

  • Radiation
  • Brain tumor
  • Mobile phone
  • New rat studies
  • Food and Drug Administration
  • Possibly carcinogenic
  • If concerned, wear an earpiece
  • Text rather than phone
  • World Health Organization


All of these convey information about the studies and their results. They provide context for the headline and support it when it comes to the SERPs.

Choosing your keywords

You should do keyword research using the Google keyword planner for each release you plan to issue.

It will help you find keywords you need and plan your headline accordingly. It will also help you write the entire press release, using words that will support the headline.

Length of the headline

The headline should be no more than 42 to 60 characters. Characters include letters, spaces, and punctuation. Most search engines and press release distribution services have a cut-off point, so longer headlines are a bad idea because the essential information could be left out and confuse readers or not attract their interest.

Brand names

Brand names are a quick shortcut to grabbing attention provided that they are well-known and the headline suggests something new and newsworthy. Around 300 press releases are issued in the US alone every single day. It can be difficult to rise above this ‘noise’. But if you are consistently issuing press releases of real quality and value, you will start to develop brand recognition. This will make journalists more willing to click on your headlines and give you pickups.

Call us today to speak to one of our PR specialists: 1-800-713-7278

Anthony Santiago is Director of Marketing at Newswire. With over a decade of experience in PR, he helps ensure that clients understand the value of brand messaging and reach.

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