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
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.