Lee Odden

Optimizing News Content for Search Engines


The buzz about SEO in the public relations industry has grown tremendously over the past 2-3 years. Press releases in particular, have been the easy target for promotion as candidates for optimization. With the growing use of Google and Yahoo News, optimizing press releases have been an easy way to gain prominent visibility in the short term and in some cases, long term visibility in standard search engines.

As both a SEO and a PR practitioner for companies ranging from startups for Fortune 20 corporations, our Online Marketing Agency is tasked with educating audiences in both industries. For example, at public relations conferences, I’m the SEO guy talking about optimized PR. At search marketing conferences, I’m the PR guy talking about using PR for SEO. Our Account Managers like Jolina Pettice and Mike Yanke do the same thing with clients.

The continuing convergence of public relations and SEO is inevitable. Neither is based on pay to play, ie advertising. Editorial visibility in offline and online publications is “earned” as is the top ranking of a web page on search engines like Google, Yahoo and Microsoft Live.

Public relations practitioners have significantly warmed up to well documented possibilities and opportunities to extend their effectiveness for clients through implementing search engine optimization into their programs. However, the reality is that PR doesn’t have control over all of a company’s digital assets and web properties.

While corporate public relations may not be able to influence their newfound SEO knowledge and enthusiasm across a company’s web content, there are several areas readily available in most cases.

The most common web site content areas under the influence of PR, at least from a content management perspective, include: press releases, online newsrooms, re-published media coverage, videos, podcasts, images, webinars, white papers, newsletters, in some cases a blog and routine announcements and media communications.

The first step is to take inventory of the digital assets you have to work with. For PR organizations, that means developing keyword glossaries relevant to categories of information and then train those individuals in the organization responsible for publishing news content, to reference the keyword glossaries when making decisions about titling documents, keywords within the copy and linking between pages.

The types of news content to optimize varies by site but often includes:

  • Press releases
  • Online newsrooms
  • Corporate blogs
  • Special reports / white papers
  • Archived email newsletters
  • Archived webinars
  • Archived podcasts / Internet radio shows
  • Interviews where keywords are included in media relations training

There are entire programs organizations can implement that leverage news content optimization independently, or ideally, in concert with the optimization of an overall company web site.

To learn more about optimizing news content, be sure to check out the PRSA Digital Impact Conference, June 9 & 10 in New York. Keynote speakers include Josh Bernoff of Forrester and David Carr from the New York Times. I will be presenting on a session “SEO for News Content” that goes into the details of how public relations content producers can optimize content specific to news audiences: journalists, bloggers and direct to consumers.

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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. I’m considering implementing press releases and whitepapers into my online marketing mix. More people are talking about the effectiveness of their seo press release campaigns.

  2. Avatar Stephanie Cox says

    I’m trying to use more social media to help my business. My next step is adding links at the bottom of each blog post, to help promote. Great post!

  3. Excellent articles, there aren’t many SEO and PR practitioners around, at least no in the UK, this article was excellent, I am adept at SEO but not at PR, it gives me and indication of how I can work on rudiments of PR to make my SEO more effective.

  4. Optimised press releases are also becoming an increasingly popular form of online marketing among Irish marketers. Online press release distribution has the same benefits as the traditional form of press release alongside the added benefit of increasing a website’s visibility. A Win Win situation.

  5. Lee – although I agree that SEO and PR are becoming increasingly intertwined I see PR having a much more significant connection with social media, especially for companies hitting that scene. Would you agree with that?

  6. i so wish i could go to this conference!!!!!

  7. Edward, social media does seem to have a lot of opportunity for PR because it’s an opportunity for engagement and relationships. SEO tends to be more direct marketing oriented. I think they work well together though, with the right strategy.