Traditionally, press releases have been used to reach media contacts in hopes of getting your news published. Optimized press releases are the new guys in town. They are keyword-rich marketing tools, distributed online and designed to simultaneously reach traditional media, social media and consumers directly, as well as generate inbound links to your Website.
As the industry shifts toward inbound marketing, optimized press releases are becoming more common. However, as the concept is still fairly new, there will inevitably be some companies that offer optimized release distribution, but may not generate the results you're hoping for. Here are some questions to keep in mind when evaluating optimized press release distribution services:
1. How does the system recognize keywords?
Including keywords in your release is the cornerstone of an effective optimized press release. Make sure that you choose the keywords your release is tagged with, and that the system doesn’t just pull out the most frequently used words in the release for you.
2. How does it handle anchor text?
Those keywords mentioned above should appear several times in the release, and at least one time, each keyword should be hyperlinked to an applicable page on your Website, creating an anchor-texted link that will give your site credibility for this keyword, and also generate qualified site traffic. These are essential to an optimized press release (that's an anchor-texted link) — so make sure that the system is capable of including them.
3. How many Websites will my release go out to?
Clearly, the more, the better. The more sites it goes out to, the more people will see it.
3a. How many of those Websites render the anchor-texted links?
Not all sites will recognize hyperlinks. Make sure that a good number will, or else your
efforts will not be rewarded.
4. What are the reporting capabilities for results?
A good release distribution service will provide you with reports that show all of the sites that picked up your release, how many people accessed it (and preferably weed out the real people from the search engine spiders, or else this number will be skewed), what kind of media it was sent to (if you sent it over a wire also) and how people found your release online.
Outside of talking to the release distribution itself, it’s worth a bit of extra research on your part to see what people are saying about the company in forums and social networks, to make sure that the company is reputable and handles its customers well.
Internally, it’s a good idea to keep track of a few things to see how your site is performing, both before and after the release is sent. For example:
- How did your site rank in search results for the keywords used in the release before you sent the release? After?
- How many inbound links did your site have before the release was sent? How many new inbound links did the release generate?
Laurel Miltner is a Consultant at PR 20/20, a Cleveland-based inbound marketing agency and PR firm. Her favorite color is green. She tweets as @laurelmackenzie.
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