The number of different uses to which we can put a press release has increased vastly over the years. Once, a press release served the admirable purpose of communicating with the trade press. Now, it also acts as a direct customer communication method; thanks both to your own Web site and Blog and to the myriad Web sites that re-publish your release with little or no editing.

As a result, our press releases are now visible to customers in a way that they once never were. A quick search on Google for most companies will show up several pieces of PR material that they have originated on the first page. (Genuinely massive companies might have to wait until page two or three).

And this is great. However, the people searching for your company name will have already found you in the first three listings in all likelihood. So, other than reinforcing the fact that you aren’t a cad or a bounder, there isn’t a huge amount of benefit in this.

The real benefit comes from the long tail search terms. In order to ensure you get this benefit, you need to write such search terms into your copy. To do this, you analyse your customer base and the press release content to decide what phrases someone might search for online then include them prominently in your copy or, preferably, headline. For instance, if one were promoting memory tokens to the medical industry, a potential customer might search for the phrase, ‘memory tokens for medical device and pharmaceutical OEM's’. And here is the result. You will see that a press release I wrote using this method shows up as the first four search results. This is vastly more effective than simply trying to make every press release show up at the top of the search listings for your key search terms.

The only thing to bear in mind is that you might want to produce one headline for any outlet that will re-produce your content directly (including your own Web site and blog) and another for attracting the attention of journalists. For a journalist, your headline serves to make them open the e-mail, which is very different. Sometimes, of course, this isn’t necessary.

For me, correct use of long tail search terms is the single most important thing you can do with a press release to optimise it for search engines.

PS – Anyone who can guess the long tail search term this blog post is optimised for wins one of Insights into PR and Marketing’s famous no prizes

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