I’ve always been amazed at the increasing amount of companies looking for “SEO copywriters.” SEO, or search engine optimization, is important. But the content behind that SEO still needs to inform, persuade…and provoke buying decisions. After all, what good is attracting a few more readers to your site if it’s full of garbage?
I’ve always thought of SEO as a stand-alone practice as, well, soulless.
Others, I know, see it as some strange magic. After all, aren’t you tricking Google, the smartest company in the world?
Good copy and optimization can co-exist.
Here are some high-level tips on luring more spiders to your releases:
- Rustle up the smartest marketing minds you can find, brainstorm, and come up with key phrases you think people will be searching for. Note I said “phrases” and not “words” because the more descriptive they are, the more likely your release will be on the first page as opposed to the 30th. In other words, “security” isn’t going to get you anywhere. But “social media security” will: Google came up with only 3,450 hits on that. And “copywriting” yields 7.5 million hits. But “high-tech copywriting” yields a much more palatable 239 hits. I can deal with that.
- Validate those phrases by testing them on search engines.
- Set up a Google Analytics account. This program, among other things, shows you where your visitors come from and how they interact with your site. You can find out everything you need about this simple-to-use–and free–service here on Google’s Analytics‘ page.
- When writing the headline, make sure you include a top key phrase. Google places higher value on headlines.
- Pepper your copy with key phrases and hyperlink them to relevant parts of your website (not your homepage). Google spiders love hyperlinks. I don’t have a magic formula for the number of key phrases to use; everybody has a different opinion. Just don’t go crazy. The placement must look natural. Readers–the analysts, customers and reporters you’re attempting to reach–are smart. Don’t insult them by spamming them with out-of-place key phrases.
- Incorporate bullets, bolded text and subheads. This formatting attracts spiders. It also makes your copy easier to read. Don’t go overboard, though.
- Add “alt attributes” to photos. Google really doesn’t search for images. It searches for words. That’s why you should add descriptions to your photos.
- Make sure you choose a press release vendor that accepts XHTML formatting rather than just HTML. XHTML, in a nutshell, shows bold, formatted and hyperlinked text.
- Bonus Tip: Did you know that PDF documents can be optimized too? If you have an online PDF document, the same principals apply. In addition, when naming the file, make sure you put underscores (_) between words. For some strange reason, spiders love ‘em.
As soulless as it may be, press releases are as much about SEO as they are about press coverage. Keeping your company on a regular basis high up on Google and Yahoo! is essential in today’s information saturated world. Regular publishing of press releases is a good way to do this.
Let me also say I’ve seen plenty of releases–and other online marketing materials for that matter–that are supposedly optimized but written horribly. Language that doesn’t even inform in plain English let alone persuade. And content that is full of jargon and mushy corporate speak.
SEO can work wonders. But let me be clear: The most important thing about writing a press release is to attract people, not spiders.