Writing Press Releases in the Age of SEO

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The press release is a format which is most strongly associated with traditional media formats such as newspapers, radio and television.
However, press releases have found new life and new purpose on the World Wide Web.
If you're in the internet marketing business (or really, any business, since the emergence of the web as a marketplace has made almost every business owner an internet marketer by necessity), writing press releases for the web can build backlinks to your site, generate traffic and of course, lead to coverage in traditional media and by websites which cover your industry.
The rules of writing press releases for print are still very much applicable to press releases written for online release.
The format is still the same and the basics of writing a PR for the web are the same.
If you're not familiar with the format at all, keep reading for a brief rundown of how press releases are written and how to get the most out of your releases by using SEO.
A press release always begins with a headline (actually, the media contact details sometimes come before this, though this may also be placed after the body of the release).
Your headline needs to be strong and compelling, conveying the main idea of the press release in a single sentence.
As you write your headline, what you're doing is trying to tell the whole story in the shortest possible form.
You may want to write a few alternate headlines and choose the best from them before you finalize and submit your release.
The first line of your press release also needs to capture the reader's interest.
You have a very short amount of time to engage the reader, so make the most of this.
If your headline and the first line of the body are strong enough to make them want to read further, you're halfway there.
Make sure that your release contains genuinely newsworthy information.
Not everything is news a new product launch or a new website can be news.
Changes in senior level company personnel can be news.
Starting your new business is also news.
What you shouldn't do with a press release is mistake it for a sales pitch or an advertisement; that's not what a PR is for.
You need to tell your story objectively in this format or risk turning off readers, especially journalists, editors and other media professionals.
The way to make subjective statements in a PR is with attributions.
These are quotes from a company spokesperson which can convey a more personal point of view again though, it's a mistake to make this an outright sales pitch.
However, attributions are a valuable way of putting a more personal spin on your release, something which does have an effect on readers and with a online PR, your readers include potential customers as well as members of the media.
Now as for making your PR SEO friendly, you'll want to make the headline a link to your site; you can also include a link at the bottom of the release, following the body and one link within the body of the release as well.
Don't overdo it with the links though, as this will be distracting to readers.
Your keyword use matters here too.
Use the same kind of SEO best practices as you would on your webpage.
Use keywords in your headline and naturally throughout the body of the release.
Don't make the mistake of packing your release with keywords; this can lead to it being ignored by search engines and makes it difficult to read remember to write for human readers first and search engines second.
A well written search engine optimized press release can do a lot for your business.
It can raise your profile, bring in new clients and give you some invaluable free exposure in the media.
Writing SEO press releases for the web is a skill well worth learning; or at least hiring a professional copywriter to do for you there are a lot of benefits to be had and the press release remains as valuable of a marketing tool, possibly more so than ever.
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