In the list below of press release best practices 2018, we’ve focused on the most important points that will maximize the online benefits of any new press release that your company issues over the next 12 months. If you want to boost public awareness of your company, get top media publications to write stories about you, and develop a solid archive of online content that can be used by your PR and marketing teams, then keep reading…
1). Understand how Google views links within a press release
Links in Press Release must be No-Follow!
It’s impossible to talk about press release best practices 2018 without talking about the way that Google has fundamentally changed the way companies create and distribute press releases. Most companies assume that press releases can be a powerful tool for SEO – mostly because of all the links that can be embedded within an online press release. However, what this ignores is that some of the links embedded within those press releases might inadvertently penalize a company.
Google has actually released quite a bit of guidance about what types of links to include, especially when it comes to the difference between “do follow” and “no follow” links. The former tells Google that the link should count for search ranking purposes, while the latter specifically tells Google that the link should not be used for search ranking purposes. On the surface, then, it would appear that all links within a modern press release should be “do follow,” right?
However, Google has revamped its policies regarding links within a press release and now advises companies to make all links “no follow.” Thus, reputable press release providers such as NewswireNEXT will make all links “no follow.” And, in reality, you are only losing “Google juice” if you assume that all press releases will be published “as is” on a single website and nowhere else. But that shouldn’t be your primary goal – your primary goal should be getting journalists and bloggers to convert your press release into a story.
2). Make your stories newsworthy
Remember – the main business purpose of any press release is to attract the attention of media outlets, bloggers and social media influencers who might be interested in writing a story about your company. So, in 2018, you absolutely have to be focused on creating press releases that are inherently newsworthy. Imagine your press release being converted into a story in the New York Times or some other major newspaper, and then ask yourself: What is interesting, unique or newsworthy about my press release? Why should journalists care?
That’s why it’s so important to frame any new press release in terms of narratives already in the media, or in terms of long-term trends that people will recognize. That helps to connect all the dots. For example, think about a new product launch. Simply announcing that you have a brand new product is not very interesting to journalists. But what if you could frame that product launch in terms of a major new consumer or technological trend?
3). Use indirect SEO to boost press release performance
While Google specifically frowns upon any attempts to manipulate the system – such as by creating a press release completely stuffed with keywords and links back to your company, there are some “indirect SEO” approaches that are still very powerful.
For example, consider the headlines for press releases. The optimal length for a headline is 100 characters or less, and preferably, less than 80. As a result, try to use the first part of the headline to include a mention of your company and any keywords that are particularly relevant. When Google displays a press release in search rankings, it will typically only display 65-80 characters, so make sure the press release is able to stand alone and make sense even if it’s truncated in length.
4). Include multimedia assets with your press release
The days of press releases simply being a lot of text and a few links are now over. Instead, the trend is toward including multimedia assets as part of a press release. These multimedia assets can include either images or video, and should be journalist-friendly. In other words, it should be very easy for journalists to download those multimedia assets and use them as part of an online story.
Based on recent analysis of press release performance, it’s now clear that including multimedia can significantly boost how many people see and read your press release. In 2015, for example, 68% of the top 100 most-viewed press releases of the year included multimedia. Simply including an image (or an archive of images) can lead to a 1.4x increase in views, while including a video can lead to a 2.8x increase in views.
5). Be strategic with any links that you do include within a press release
We’ve already seen above that Google is not a big fan of excess links (especially “do follow” links) within press releases, so the best practice for link inclusion is to include no more than 2-3 links per 500 words. Since the average press release is 400-600 words, this means that – maximum – your press release should only include 2-3 links. You’re not stuffing a press release with lots of keywords, so you need to be strategic in terms of what to include.
The best option is to make one link a “BRANDED ANCHOR,” in which the keyword is your company or brand name, and there is a backlink to your company’s website. The second link can be an EXTERNAL SOURCE (such as a research study that supports the press release), another “branded anchor” (such as a specific product page) or just a generic “FIND OUT MORE” link that leads to a page with more information about whatever was included in the press release. That’s it. If you’re trying to include more links than this in your press release, then you’re doing it wrong in 2018.
The final takeaway
As you can see, there are several important points to keep in mind when issuing new press releases in 2018. As long as you’re creating natural, authentic stories about exciting developments taking place within your company and keeping in mind best practices for links, keywords and anchor texts, you’ll be Google safe in 2018!