Lee Odden

Press Release Optimization and Blogger Relations

This session moderated by Andrew Goodman of Page Zero Media, is near and dear as press release optimization and online PR are big pieces of TopRank’s internet marketing consulting practice. This session included: Greg Jarboe from SEO PR, Sally Falkow of Expansion Plus, and Nan Dawkins of Red Boots Consulting.

First up is Greg Jarboe of SEO-PR who starts off by relating a metaphor for press release optimization as a shortcut. People initially looked at news search SEO as a shortcut tactic into search results. But the search engines have devalued links within press releases. However, there are opportunities and they are not shortcuts.

Classic model of communications was Pavlovian. “Who says what in what channel to whom with what effect?”

The problem with traditional public relations is that the “middlemen” (newspapers) are losing their jobs. So if you’re in PR and trying to push your message to the same old channels, you’re missing an audience.

NY Times, LA Times and San Jose Mercury News have all cut jobs. So if you’re promoting stories the old way, good luck.

News search engines reverse the classic model of communications. Start with what the consumer is interested in. “Who seeks what in what channel from whom with what effect?”

The public as well as the media use news search engines daily. According to Pew Research Center, the audience for online news has jumped from 2% to 31% of Americans and the audience for nightly network news slipped from 42% to 28%. 75% of journalists search the internet for previous stories on their subject.

If you don’t have a news search engine strategy, you’re missing out on a significant trend.

People search differently on news search engines as they do on regular search engines. How can you find queries that are specific to news? Google News suggest, Yahoo News suggest.

Yahoo News, AOL News and GOogle News in top news sites. Yahoo News is by far the biggest. As such, your press releases should be optimized for Yahoo News and Google News should be secondary.

According to Outsell, knowledge workers in businesses trust press releases more than trade press as sources of information.

The hard part of news release optimization is not the optimization, it’s measurement. The ideal is to track leads from clichthrough conversions.

Case Study Southwest Airlines:
SEO PR was able to track $3m in ticket sales to press releases. Describes the issues of using language in optimization that was consistent with the corporate message that was in contrast to what consumers search on. He overcame the objection by sharing keyword research.

New York Times is starting to optimize story titles for search engines.

There is a press release SEO workshop being held by Incisive Media on Friday.

Next up is Nan Dawkins of Red Boots Consulting. Half of clients are non-profit and half are corporate.

Online news comsumption is big and growing. 50 million Americans are going online daily for news.

Technorati is tracking 50 million blogs. Bloggers are avid consumers of online news but most don’t consider themselves as journalists.

Blogs act as a watchdog for mainstream media. Blogs are often sources of news for mainstream news. Example: “Dell Hell

Journalists follow blogs. Increasingly blogs and news are grouped together.

Blogs appear in the results of some news search engines. Google News says they don’t index blogs, but they do and appear next to mainstream media. The bottom line is that blogs can help you dominate news search results. Blogs get coverage in news search as well as regular search results.

Once a blog covers a source, it will often cover that same source again.

A way to get into Google News is to get covered by niche blogs. Don’t assume that politically charged or low ranking blogs are not in Google News.

Topix shows blogs. AOL News does not include blogs unless they have a podcast.

Establish a blog outreach program. 50% of bloggers write about companies once per week. Only 21% report regular contact from companies they write about.

– Create a target list. Identify bloggers that match your topic. Search Technorati tag search.
– Use BlogPulse to qualify them and find what “neighborhood” they belong to.
– Develop relationships. Be familiar with the blog. Do not send unsolicited press releases.
– Be honest and transparent. Never offer to pay. Product tests and reviews can work well.

Although blogs are effective at getting into news search, they do not replace optimized releases. Do both.

Last up is Sally Falkow from Expansion Plus.

She cites an interview with Matt Cutts of Google. “There’s no point in doing SEO stuff unless you have enough content and reputation in the community to be a contender.”

In order to reach where your audience is, you need to go onlne.

Online Media Relations.

Old model: Company to wire service to journalists to media.
New model: Company to wire service to (simultaneously) to news, company web site and to target audience.
Or this model: Get your news on a trusted site that your target audience is already exposed to.

– Research what keywords your audience is searching on
– See what web sites are appearing for those searches
– Engage in media relations with those web sites

Target other new media sites that pick up RSS feeds
– Use the social media press release
– If you send out press releases, be sure you are using a RSS feed
– Syndicate your content

Case study:
Skin lotion company that started creating an audience for the phrase “shielding lotion”

Researched online media that rank well for relevant phrases and engaged in media relations with those web sites.
– Created a news page using RSS on the client web site.
– Distributed articles

Resulted in “shielding lotion” going from non-existant search demand to becoming the most popular related phrase.

For full coverage of the Search Engine Strategies conference, be sure to visit Search Engine Roundtable.

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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 B2B marketing topics including content, search, social media and influencer marketing. When not at conferences, consulting, or working with his talented team, he's likely running, traveling or cooking up something new.


  1. Avatar Igor M. (BizMord Blog) says

    Lee, thanks for doing this thing. I am sure people who are not attending the SES San Jose appreciate every word you and other bloggers type.

  2. Thanks Igor, it’s fun to do and I hope it is helpful interesting.

  3. Hey Lee, great summary! I was there as well…

    I’m part of the Socialmediaclub.org and the whole movement on SEO PR and new press release templates. I think you’re participation in the forum would be huge and very welcome!

  4. Hi Brian, thanks for the comment. I am actually involved with the new media press release thread at Google groups and have visited socialmediaclub.org a few times. I’ll register today. I believe I saw Chris Huer here at SES too.

  5. Avatar Claudia D'Arcy says

    And now, two years later, the marketers releasing have a mechanism to distribute thier information to the top bloggers in the blogosphere. They are finially getting the importance of bloggers!

  6. I’m seriously puzzled why so many people think that optimizing a press release is “easy”…unless they mean that just throwing it out there through a third party tool is easy…to which I guess I would agree…but I don’t call that optimizing WELL. For me, the measurement side is hands-down the easy part…I guess it’s because most releases that end up on Google news, presumably done by SEO companies, do not take even 50% advantage of the basic free opportunities that exist right within the release–image file names, anchor text, title keywords, lots of things that just slip by not because the brand would be compromised in any way, but because the optimizer has no savvy in presenting the release in an SEO-smart way for client review.

    Also puzzling…why does every SEO wrench monkey on the web spew Googlisms nonstop, which most of us oldtimers know, just ain’t so. Like the above quoted gem about how blogs don’t get factored in…I know a million more such gems that also ain’t so.

    And as for getting ink, I wouldn’t knock it. That is more doable than ever right from a web release launch…and getting ink gets you (surprise!) mnore searches! Getting ink is the original social media, and it works better than ever. My releases get top slot every time and usually stay there for freaking ever. I have actually taken them down from PRweb just to stop them from showing any more (at the client’s request, of course), just to allow a new release a chance to shine for a while. The feeds, which I adore, make them immortal anyway, because I optimize for the feeds themselves. That’s right, research the industry feeds a little before the launch. It’s quite easy to do by searching [industry] + “feed” + other relevant test-headline qualifiers.

    Hmmm…I guess what I’m saying is, I’ve been doing this too long. I’m grumpy and old and know too much for my own good. As for the Matt Cutts quote about SEO, I say it’s bunk. SEO is good for any site that can gain financially from being visible at the top on Google for their best keywords…period. I’m sure if I were Matt Cutts I might say the same things he says…because he’s actually being paid great money to spout those precious, adorable Googlisms.

    The true difference between a “blackhat” and a “whitehat”: intelligence…and spin.


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    […] Press Release Optimization and Blogger Relations – SES San Jose (includes Sally Falkow) […]

  5. MSCO Blog » Blog Archive » 15 Minutes Of Fame says:

    […] To be effective, PR must be rethought. No binders of clips. No talk of “getting ink.” Only a singular focus on how to drive media coverage to Google searches and websites and quickly into qualified leads. Everything from the brand to the message to the website to the sales team must be tightly orchestrated and connected to make PR more than a gimmick. The problem is, this is almost unheard of. Does the PR firm know the sales organization? Have they ever even met a living, breathing salesman? Do they know what salespeople do? Do they care? No. No. No. No. […]