Press Release SEO: Post-Penguin Updates

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Google’s 2011 Panda update decreased the SEO value of syndicated content, which lowered the rankings of many press release sites. This in turn diminished the SEO value of links from these sites. Google’s 2012 Penguin update has had additional effects on lowering the rankings of over optimized sites and links, including over optimized releases.

However, lower SEO value for press releases does not mean no SEO value. They remain an important publicity and SEO strategy, and continue to be recommended by marketing and search engine professionals. But getting good SEO results from them does require playing by the new rules. Here are a few tips for getting better SEO results from post-Panda press releases.

1. Talk to the Human User

Google’s new algorithms are designed to better simulate how human beings interpret language. This makes it imperative to write with the human user in mind and not sound like you’re just talking to a computer.

Writing to the human user starts with market research. Define your target demographic as precisely as possible, using categories such as location, gender, age, education, profession, income, buying habits, and interests. The better you know your audience, the better you can speak to their needs.

Follow up by comparing your market research with keyword research to find where your audience congregates online and what keywords interest them. This puts the keywords in the context of human users, instead of the other way around. The latter is a mistake Internet marketers often make when they target irrelevant keywords.

2. Put the Story First

Writing to human users also means putting the story first in your release. In today’s social media context, the most effective type of press release is one focused on a story that benefits your audience by entertaining them or informing them about something relevant to their needs and interests.

An example is a story that builds on a popular current news item of interest to many readers. For instance, when the Giants won the Super Bowl, it created a great opportunity for salsa dance teachers to capitalize on popular interest in Victor Cruz (and in fact some did). Similarly, the Olympics create a marketing opportunity for any product that can be associated with an Olympic athlete or event, so for an example a shoe company might do a release about how a gold medalist wears their brand and what benefits they get from their selection.

3. Use Natural Language for Content and Links

Writing for human users also means using more natural language for content and links. Keywords are still important, but Google’s latest updates penalize what they categorize as “over optimization” of keywords.

Under current rules, single keyword phrases should be emphasized more sparingly than SEO experts once recommended. Target keywords should still appear in the title, subheadings, and body of the piece, but should not be repeated excessively. Instead of repeating the target keyword too often, one or two related keyword phrases should be included to indicate the context of the target keyword.

Keyword phrases should also be used more sparingly in links from and to your release. Using the exact same keyword phrase for every link, once recommended by many SEO consultants, can now be interpreted as over optimization. Don’t use the same keyword phrase to link to your site or release more than once from the same place. Use a variety of phrases for links, including natural reference phrases without keywords, such as “read more.”

Natural links should go to a variety of pages on your site. Don’t always link to the same page of your site in all your releases.

Finally, natural links are natural in number. Link to your site from 1 to 3 times in one release. Do not link to your site more than 3 times.

4. Seek Quality Links Over Quantity

Google’s updates have also sought to discourage unnatural syndication tactics. It’s better to link from a few quality sites than a lot of low-quality sites. This approach contrasts with syndication methods that generate links from as many sites as possible without concern for relevance or quality.

Quality links include links from more professional PR sites like PRWeb. But press releases should also be distributed to key sites in your market niche, not just press release syndication sites. Your distribution network should include social media sites.

5. Write Original Content

Last but not least, Google’s new rules place a premium on original content instead of syndicated reprints. This means that if you intend to syndicate on any scale, you should create multiple versions of your press releases rather than syndicating the same one everywhere. Just changing a single paragraph or two is no longer enough to pass the original content test. The best practice is to find multiple story angles for the same topic, which underscores the earlier emphasis on putting the story first. A good, original press release should be like a good news story with an original slant on its topic.

write by lewis

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