Lee Odden

How to Choose the Best Keywords for Optimized Public Relations

SEO Tips for PR 4 The core of search marketing  is the mix of keyword phrases that people use to search for  information on the web. Part of the value of Search Engine Optimization is to identify what searchers actually enter in the search box. If optimization efforts can focus on the phrases that are equally relevant and in demand, there’s a resonable expectation that the optimized news content will attract more visitors of the right kind: journalists, reporters, analysts, bloggers and even end consumers.

Choosing the best keywords for news content starts with brainstorming using a mix of sources including the main topic of the content, talking to customers, analyzing competitor news content and topically relevant news that already rank wells. Effective keyword research generates a seed list of concepts from the brainstorming exercise and then proceeds to use keyword research tools to determine the popularity of those phrases as well as discovering related phrases in use.

google insights news
Screen shot of Google Insights for Search – Filtered by News Search queries in the U.S. within the last 90 days for the keyword “marketing” compared to the growth relative to the cateogy. Geographically specific interest metrics are listed as well. Leveraging such tools can be very useful for anticipating levels of target market interest for news topics.

Popular free keyword research tools include:

Popular paid keyword research tools include:

After generating a substantial list of keyword phrases, derivatives and permutations, it’s helpful to manage the keyword glossary within a spreadsheet and to organize the phrases according to news content categories and usage format.


The keyword glossary can also include indications of relevance, popularity and competitiveness. This mix of information at the keyword phrase level can help news content creators make better decisions about using words that target audiences are using when they search.

Keyword research is an iterative process and it’s important that once keyword optimization efforts begin, to monitor results. Ranking reports can be helpful when comparing the same site to itself over time, but not only for the location where the reports are being run. Web analytics software will show what keywords are driving traffic from what search engines to specific news content  hosted on your web site.

There are a host of additional metrics and analytics tools that are relevant for news content optimization including those provided by news wire services that distribute press releases via email, feed and content syndication programs. We’ll be covering news optimization analytics in the 10th installment of this series.

The feedback process of researching keywords and then measuring whether those optimization efforts produce the desired results using news outcome analytics is ongoing and should be managed like any other marketing effort with benchmarks and peformance reports.

Public Relations keyword research and content optimization shouldn’t be conducted in a silo. In fact, if a company is already actively engaged in a mature, productive SEO effort, there is ample keyword data to reference. News optimization is a bit more on the fly than standard SEO for lead generation/sales as it focuses on a mix of top level keywords relevant in the long term as well as opportunistic phrases specific to news topics as they arise.

Find out which keyword research tools our readers voted the best in this poll and of course, if you’re in need of professional search engine optimization services, be sure to visit TopRank.

This is post #4 in a series of ten, “Top Ten SEO Tactics for Public Relations“. Our next post focuses on the “Do’s and Don’ts of On-Page SEO for Public Relations“.

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Lee Odden About Lee Odden

@LeeOdden is the CEO of TopRank Marketing and editor of Online Marketing Blog. Cited for his expertise by The Economist, Forbes and the Wall Street Journal, he's the author of the book Optimize and presents internationally on integrated content, search, social media and influencer marketing. When not at conferences, consulting, or working with his talented team, he's likely on a beach somewhere doing absolutely nothing.


  1. Frank Reed says:


    I really appreciate the detail and sharing that you use in posts like this one. I have found that while keyword research is given ‘lip service’ by most it is really a bit an art and a science to make sure you are writing something that will generate buzz via the engines.

    The point of getting folks used to your offerings and to get a following of sorts is to allow yourself to get ‘freed’ up to write without as much concern for the keywords and more for the relevance of the content (which implies keyword rich anyway).

    Thanks for your work.

    • That’s great to hear Frank. I agree, it’s best to optimize for people first, not search engines. This is especially true with news content since most of the SEO value comes from pickups. No one wants to pass along content that reads “optimized”. Keyword optimization, as you say, should fold into good copy writing first and foremost.

  2. Hi, Lee.

    Great insights on the importance of good keyword research — and on how to conduct it.

    Many of our clients have been surprised to learn the terms that people use in searches are quite different from the terms the client firm uses in house to describe its offerings.

    The importance of finding the right terms to drive qualified traffic to a website can’t be stressed enough.

    Thanks for fighting the good fight!

  3. Thanks SEOBetty. It’s also an important distinction to make regarding the difference in audiences when talking about news content vs ecommerce content.

    Keyword phrases are a reflection of users: intentions, situation, context. Optimizing news content should consider the intended audience and the best match of their intentions to the information being published as news.

  4. I agree that it is important to implement your keywords into your site so it still reads well and makes sense to people as well as the search engines. When optimising I think people forget that people still have to read the content and if it does not make sense than no one will read it.

  5. Great stuff Lee. PR can really add results to a company’s SEO efforts. When iPressroom performs keyword discovery we start with working clients through preferred visitor scenarios that take into account the context of the prefered visitor’s search (i.e. – are they looking to buy something or just researching?). Similarly, a journalist is going to search differently than a customer – so all of these contexts play a critical role in determining what keywords to select. And finally, it is quite important for the client to be very clear in terms of who their preferred visitor is and use keywords that effectively generate traffic from those visitors as opposed to other (less perferred) visitors.

    Keep up the good work!