Lee Odden

Tips on Press Release SEO

Many search marketing tactics come and go, but one channel of promotion that has steadily evolved is the practice of optimizing press releases for search engines. While it’s true that the future of the traditional press release has been up for debate over the past few years, wire services and the web sites they syndicate content to continue to produce results for the clients of savvy public relations professionals and online marketers.

Yahoo News is still more popular that MSNBC, AOL News or CNN. Being able to rank well on the most popular online news web site as well as Google News simply by optimizing and distributing a press release offers attractive benefits at a nominal cost.

In the course of prepping for an upcoming public relations workshop where I’m speaking on a panel about press release optimization, I thought I’d do a review of the top wire services. Part of that presentation also includes press release optimization tips from industry friends that work at the newswires, where thousands of press releases are distributed daily.

I thought I’d share these tips with Online Marketing Blog readers that will not be in San Francisco this Friday.

Sarah Skerik – Vice President, Distribution Services – PR Newswire

Write a pithy (80 character or less,) descriptive headline that includes important keywords. Don’t be coy with this important real estate. Utilizing important keywords in the headline, and then again in the lead (and throughout your message) reinforces the relevance of your message for those important terms.

Remember that SEO is really the art and science of being found by your audience. For that reason, you have to use the language they use when searching for or discussing topics related to your product or industry. Put more simply – don’t use jargon!

Joe Beaulaurier – Interactive Marketing Manager – PRWeb

Link your strategically important search keywords to deep relevant pages in your site, not the front page. Use your keyword links to connect the strategically important keyword terms in your press releases to the most relevant deep pages within your site. If they don’t exist, create appropriate deep pages (aka landing pages) and place content on them that is specifically relevant to the keywords. For instance, if you are selling bicycles and are linking the words “mountain bikes” from within your press release, be sure to link to the page that details your company’s mountain bike offerings.

Laura Sturaitis – Senior Vice President, Media Services & Product Strategy – Business Wire

I think my best tip for clients on the topic of optimizing their press release for search and social media, is to begin to think of the press release not just as a media relations tool, as it has been historically, but instead to view creating a press release as compiling a mini web page on the news or topic being written about.

If you think of a press release like this from the very moment that you open your Word document to start writing, you immediately begin to write it differently, for example:

  • You use formatting like bold, italics, bullet points, short headlines and subheads that not only makes the page easier to read online, but also enhances SEO.
  • You insert a company logo for branding and embed photos, graphics and video links in your press release to show what you are writing about in pictures, graphs, sound & motion, rather than simply trying to describe it in words…very web friendly.
  • You incorporate links from your targeted keywords in the press release, not only to have your release rank for those keywords in the search engines, but also so your press release can operate as a portal to additional information on those topics, driving traffic to your website and hopefully to landing pages utilizing the same keywords.

The beauty of thinking of the press release in this way is that when these things are considered at the outset in writing the release, you can then measure how successful your release has been not only by how many news stories or blog posts were written about it, but also how well the release ranked in the search engines and how well it drives traffic, sales, or other actions from online visitors to your website.

I often say in the world of user generated content, the people in the best position to deliver meaningful, relevant content are professional communicators and the press release can be a powerful tool to do this because of its extensive reach online not only as a media relations tool but now as a direct-to-consumer communication via search engines and other online reach.

Kevin Dill – Product Manager, Social and Multimedia Products – Marketwire

Many people believe that SEO involves just researching and improving upon press release keywords, phrases, META tags, etc. There are other ways to search engine optimize the press release for additional search engine pickup or search engine visibility (SEV).

Add an audio link such as a podcast or product announcement into your press release. If you have an RSS feed associated with your releases, you can direct Apple iTunes to pick up the audio automatically and include it in a freely available channel on iTunes.com. With 70 million iTunes subscribers, why not? There are also several audio aggregators on the web which spider audio links and make them keyword searchable.

Consider choosing a newswire which will allow “external” multimedia content hosting. For example, YouTube for video or Flickr for photos. These sites are spidered by the major search engines as well as being searchable “social” directories within the site. YouTube is the third largest search engine.

Now you have created a press release which is truly “optimized”. You have taken your multimedia elements and integrated them into large compartmentalized sites for expanded availability. You will get additional search engine pickup of your content external to normal press release distribution channels as well as additional presence in popular searchable portals.

For posts on the topic of press release optimization and online PR tactics, be sure to visit:

Do you have press release optimization and distribution tips that you’d like to share? We’d love to see them in the comments.

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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. @ Lee

    Great post, I deal with the PR industry a lot, and with some of the firms you mentioned. Its great to see a compiled list of tips for optimizing press releases with input from the firms themselves.

    Keep it up!

  2. It’s a good, under-used resource, but the bottom line is to just learn how to blow peoples’ minds, in general, and then you won’t have to languish in a queue competing with other Press Release junkies.

  3. Hi Lee,

    Great post once again. I wonder how you do it sometimes, you could easily take this topic and stretch it over three or four posts easily. PR is certainly a lost art, most marketers just cut and paste the same company block, make up irrelevant quotes, and call it a day.

  4. Avatar Joe Beaulaurier says

    @Lee – Thanks for assembling these tips here. It’s an honor to occupy a space in such a great group.

  5. Thanks for the comments guys and thanks to Sarah, Joe, Laura and Kevin for the tips. I am not sure all of them are technically SEO tips but useful nonetheless.

    On an unrelated note, do I see OMB near 10k subscribers??? Hopefully we can finally break that barrier this week. Only 37 to go!

  6. Interesting Article. Thanks.

  7. Hi Lee – Good stuff. Re: your “further reading” section, in the spirit of fairness I’d suggest you add Brian Solis’s excellent response to Jarboe’s “meatball sundae” post. Here’s the link: http://tinyurl.com/ysl4d2.

  8. Todd, I agree. Been added.

  9. Thank you for sharing these great tips. We have a guest contributor lined up to write on this topic next week. We will be sure to link to this post.

  10. Hi Lee,

    This is a great post highlighting the importance of press releases for SEO. I don’t know if more and PR folks/agencies are getting savvy with this. I would also like to recommend a post I did about how to select key words for press releases.


  11. This is such a helpful post! Often times people don’t realize how effective press releases can be for SEO, but it’s important that they are done right. The suggestions that you provide will not only help those who have thought about doing a press release but just don’t know how to do it, but also help people like me who wish to improve upon existing techniques.

  12. Avatar Leah Harrison says

    Great topic and very relevant. It is a perfect topic, as we enter into a new year. Thanks for putting these tips together-you just made my job easier.

  13. Excellent article Lee! We operate a PR distribution service for the hotel and hospitality industries and will reference your article with our clients. As you know, one of the key elements of Press Releases and SEO is the widespread syndication of content and we see many clients use this method successfully by distributing well planned releases rich with keywords and links that are extremely relevant to their native content.

  14. Lee,

    Thanks for the great tips! Having them all in one place is even better. I would like to suggest a site with further valuable information. JamesBrausch.com has great ideas, resources and advice for all areas of internet marketing.

  15. great tips, well done.

  16. I have used some of these tips and they worked pretty well for me. I am glad I stumbled onto this blog of yours.

  17. Thanks for the tip Lee!

    The compilation of tips is also cool!

    Definitely gonna help me in Press release!

    Nikki Lee

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  19. Great article. Have you heard of PRNewsExpress.com? It is a new press release distribution site that offers SEO optimized press release distribution service. The site delivers SEO-optimized press and news releases via news sites, search engines, social media sites and blogs.

    Check it out


  20. I am thinking of submitting my articles to pr sites but I’m still trying to find out the difference between article sites and press release sites?

  21. Matt, press release distribution sites are news sites. Press releases attractive more attention of journalists, radio, newspapers than articles. I advise press release sites such as http://www.pressreleasebureau.com and others.


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