Keyword research for PR: Optimizing press releases, outreach and more





Blog Date

May 27, 2024


UK, Manchester

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Keyword research for PR: Optimizing press releases, outreach and more

The Power of Press Release SEO

The press release remains an effective public relations tool to distribute news and start conversations. But simply issuing a release doesn’t mean you’ve engaged your target audience or successfully communicated your message. That’s where press release SEO comes in.

Aside from telling compelling stories about your business through clear, concise writing, it is critical to use search engine optimization (SEO) to optimize your press releases. Without focusing on press release SEO, your news will perform less effectively in search and will be less appealing and engaging to audiences.

In this comprehensive guide, I’ll share my insights on leveraging keyword research to take your press releases, outreach, and digital PR efforts to new heights. Whether you work in PR, marketing, corporate communications, or investor relations, you’ll walk away with a deeper understanding of how to maximize the impact of your news through strategic keyword optimization.

Identifying Your Keyword Portfolio

The first step in drafting any well-optimized press release is to identify your target audience and build out a keyword portfolio that aligns with the message you want to convey. While it may be tempting to get the substance of your release on paper first and fit your keywords in afterwards, the result often reads as stilted and inauthentic.

Readers can perceive when terms have been shoehorned into a piece where they otherwise don’t belong, and you should ultimately be writing for readers, not search engines. It’s much more practical to start by gathering the terms that should figure prominently in your release than it is to write without those terms already in mind.

The result will be a more organic and well-written (and therefore better optimized) press release that builds your company’s credibility as a news source. And it’s worth emphasizing here that this exercise is less about ranking for specific keywords than it is about choosing your keyword phrases intelligently and then using them to capture interest and build an audience—that should be the ultimate goal of a press release.

Categorizing Keywords for Maximum Impact

An important part of press release SEO involves segmenting potential keywords into separate categories. A keyword category is a topic, product, or story that people use search engines to find out more about. Initial keyword categories are easier to predict, provided that your press release is on a rather straightforward subject, such as the disclosure of financial results or the announcement of a new location.

For example, if you’re writing a press release for ACME Corporation (a fictional widget manufacturer) announcing its third quarter results, it’s easy to get a sense of what most of your readers will be searching for: “ACME third quarter results” or “ACME Q3 2023 earnings.” Good keyword categories for this release would be general ideas such as: “Q3 ACME,” “third quarter ACME,” and “ACME earnings.”

Of course, there are many other kinds of press releases that demand the use of different keyword categories. If your release is about a product or service launch, consider categories like “low-fee overdraft protection.” If it’s about an executive appointment, think about “new ACME CEO.” And for an acquisition, you might target “ACME acquires Widgeco.”

Once you’ve found these basic categories, you must also seek out a few good “niche” categories – search terms that a more select group of readers would use and that could earn significantly more clicks. These long-tail queries can take a bit of research, and it helps to think critically about who your audience is and what they want.

Leveraging Keyword Research Tools

Fortunately, there are several useful tools that take much of the guesswork out of keyword planning. As soon as you type something into almost any search engine, the autocomplete feature will instantly suggest potential search queries. This provides a quick and easy way to find out what people are searching for and how it’s related to your company or the story you’re telling.

The Google Ads Keyword Planner is another industry-standard SEO tool that can deliver millions of potential keyword combinations with highly accurate and objective data. While the platform was designed with marketers in mind, it remains an indispensable tool for all communications professionals.

The Keyword Planner can be useful in several areas of SEO research. You can use it to get related keywords, enter your landing page to get keywords specific to your company, and input your industry to uncover crucial “niche” keywords. Once you’ve got your long list of keywords, you can punch them into the tool to see exactly what the search volume is for each one.

When selecting keyword phrases generated by the Keyword Planner, keep in mind that the terms with very high search volumes are commonly entered, but very difficult to win. Many keywords are simply too popular. Setting realistic goals and expectations is a crucial part of any keyword strategy.

Crafting Well-Optimized Press Releases

Adhering to the tenets of good writing has become no less important in the age of the internet, as search rankings tend to favor pieces that are actually well-written and pass over ones that have been stuffed with irrelevant keywords. The first goal in constructing a release should be to tell an informative, concise, and clear story, even if that story is about your company’s financial performance.

With that in mind, let’s cover a few best practices for writing a strong, SEO-friendly press release:

Use Short, Declarative Sentences

For better press release SEO, you should write as if each word is costing you something. Especially for an earnings press release, where your readers will be clicking on your post seeking very specific financial information, there’s no better strategy than getting straight to the point. This kind of writing requires selective or minimal use of adjectives, especially ones that are overtly promotional.

Adopt a Journalistic Tone

The tone of your press release ought to be somewhere between editorial and academic, though it’s generally better to aim toward the latter. That said, while your press release should stick to the facts, there are ways of coloring your audience’s impression of them. For instance, if your company is undergoing a change in executive personnel, it’s advisable to use language that emphasizes progress, rather than drawing attention to potentially negative circumstances that led to the change.

Use the Inverted Pyramid Structure

Employing the inverted pyramid for press release SEO can help you create content that’s not only easily readable and scannable, but also search-friendly. By ordering your information with the most important details first and gradually transitioning to related context and supplementary information, you’ll ensure that your key messages are front and center for both readers and search engines.

Optimize Headline, Intro, and Links

Once you’ve crafted your press release, there are a few additional elements to optimize:

  • Headline: The key to optimizing the headline is to move imperative language to the beginning. Remember, the first line of your Google search engine result listing is going to be pulled from your headline, so you want that listing to compel readers to click through.
  • Intro: The first sentence or paragraph of your release should concisely summarize all the most important information. This “intro” becomes the description that appears below your headline in search results.
  • Links: If you want to link to a target web page in your release, that’s fine. But note that a press release shouldn’t include more than one or two links, and you’ll want to avoid keyword-rich anchor text, as Google has de-emphasized the SEO value of these types of links.

Embracing the Power of Visual Assets

Compelling images, videos, and other rich media have been shown to boost press release SEO. Including keywords or related search terms in the metatext for your images increases your chances of being found via Google Images.

Once you’ve found a relevant image to include—such as a logo or the headshot of a new executive—make sure it has a standard file extension name like .jpg or .jpeg and a title that includes keywords and effectively describes the image. You should also ensure any images used are compressed to improve page load times.

Choosing the Right Distribution Channel

At the end of the day, the reach of your release is dependent on the reach of the wire service you use to distribute it. What kind of distribution network does the wire service have for putting out content? Do they have local reach? How about national or international reach?

The purpose of issuing a press release is to put out high-quality content that’s going to reach the right people—which means that the wire service you choose will ultimately play a critical role in the success of your efforts.

Key Takeaways

Here are a few final tips for writing and distributing effective, SEO-optimized press releases:

  • Identify your audience: Create relevant keyword categories that describe what your target audience wants to learn from your release.
  • Focus on one keyword: Maximize your release’s optimization for a single keyword phrase, rather than several iterations that mean the same thing.
  • Craft an attention-grabbing headline: Use short headlines that feature your most highly targeted keywords.
  • Lead with the most important info: Write an introductory sentence or paragraph that concisely summarizes the key points of your press release.
  • Keep it clear and concise: Write with short, declarative sentences that state the main point(s) as simply as possible.
  • Leverage visual assets: Use compelling, relevant images and consider embedding Google Maps if you have physical locations.
  • Choose your distribution channel wisely: Consider the reach and optimization of the wire service you use to issue your release.

By incorporating these best practices into your press release strategy, you’ll be well on your way to maximizing the visibility and impact of your news. And as the digital landscape continues to evolve, the team at MCR SEO in Manchester, UK is here to help you stay ahead of the curve.

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