5 SEO Tips for PR Professionals

Last night I attended Boston’s March Social Media Club Event in Woburn, Massachusetts. The topic of the evening was “The Search for Results: Social Media and Search Marketing” which was presented by a panel that consisted of:

  • Amanda Watlington, Owner of Searching for Profit
  • Greg Jarboe, President and Co-Founder of SEO-PR
  • Sherwood Stranieri, Director of SEO at SMG Search
  • Thom Brodeur, Senior VP, Global Strategy and Development for Marketwire
  • Andrew Komack, Founder and President of KoMarketing Associates, LLC

Amanda led the panel through several SEO related topics including SEO’s importance in social media marketing strategies, as well as some of the tools and techniques that SEOs use for optimization. The panel discussed different points of view on the topics and strengthened their message with interesting case-study stories.

Towards the end of the evening, the panel separated and joined the audience for small breakout sessions on more specific topics. The session I joined was led by Greg Jarboe and was geared towards SEO and press releases. The primary take-away from Greg’s talk was a 5-part formula for success with online press releases using SEO. The formula was laid out as follows:

Step 1: Do your keyword research.

The importance of keyword research was stressed several times during the event. Your keywords should always be nouns or adjectives. People never search for verbs. Its also important to craft “keyword phrases” rather than using a single keyword. If you can construct a keyword phrase that can be broken up into multiple phrases, your release will have a lot more impact with the search engines.

Step 2: Actually USE the keywords!

This step raised a chuckle when mentioned because it seems so obvious. You’d be surprised to learn how many people go through the process selecting keywords and then don’t use them or use them properly. Always be sure to include your keywords in the title of your release as well as in the lead paragraph.

Step 3: Add a link to the client site in the release.

Online releases need to be written for bloggers and regular readers in addition to the traditional media folks. Adding a link to the client’s site gives the reader the ability to seek out additional information about the topic in the release. Be sure that the link points to a relevant page on the client’s website and not just to the homepage where the reader is left to hunt for the proper page themselves. Those who are familiar with the concept of the social media release will already have this step down and have taken it even farther.

Step 4: Use a search engine friendly wire service.

Not all news wire services are search engine friendly. In addition, those that are search engine friendly not might format their releases in a way that makes all the major engines (Google, Yahoo, Microsoft Live Search, etc.) happy. Take time to discover which services are set up to give you the best results in each search engine. Greg recommended the NASDAQ owned PrimeNewsWire outside of Marketwire, PRWeb, BusinessWire and the others we are most familiar with.

Step 5: Measure the results.

Measurement is definitely a hot topic and a tough nut to crack on the social media side of things, but there are several things that are immediately measurable on the PR side of the house. As always, count your clips. Enough said. Beyond that you should start counting the blog results from your release. Have people started writing about your client on their own as a result of your efforts? One really valuable exercise that might not be easy to pull off is gaining access to your client’s analytics program. You might need to bribe your way into the IT department, but the data being collected about your client’s site can contain a wealth of measurement data as a result of your press release efforts!

Overall it was a good session that yielded several great nuggets to take away. As a PR professional, you owe it to your clients to stay up to date with the ins and outs of basic SEO techniques. Attending Social Media Club events are just one of the many ways to keep up with with the flow.

What tips do you have that could be added to formula?