Tag Archives: Search Engine Optimization

SEO: Tips on how to improve your search engine rankings

Search button on virtual screen pressed with fingerSo you’ve recently started your business and have been working hard to promote it. You’ve created a website because it is 2017 and without one your company wouldn’t survive for long in today’s social-mobile world.

But perhaps your website isn’t doing as well as you expected according to what you are seeing on the analytics tool you installed on your site. Traffic is flat, perhaps nearly non-existent. Why aren’t more people visiting your site? You have a great offering, and you’ve put a lot of good content on the website to get people interested in what you do.

The problem is that if people cannot FIND your site then how are they going to learn about your product or service and convert into prospects that you can close over time?

So then the real question becomes how do you improve your search ranking so people can find your site?

Focus on keywords

Keywords are one of the most important parts of a search engine optimization (SEO) strategy. You have to choose the right keywords that are most relevant for your business and then you have to rank high enough for them to be found by people searching for your particular offerings. For instance, if you offer fish sitting services in Topeka, Kansas, then you may want to focus your attention on “Topeka fish sitting,” “Fish sitting in Topeka,” and “Topeka fish experts” to be found by anybody looking for a fish expert who can watch over the fish while the owner’s away on vacation.

You can also use Google Keyword Planner to help figure out which keywords are the best for your site. This free tool will show you the popularity of certain keywords so that you can choose the best ones for your website.

If you are using WordPress to manage your website there is an SEO plugin that you can use to manage your SEO efforts and assign keywords to each page. The correct placement and frequency of keywords is vital to your website’s ranking. For instance, it is important for your keyword to be in your page title. This is one of the first things people (and search engine algorithms) see when looking through search engine results. You should also include the keyword in the URL of a given web page. It is much more efficient to have a specific URL rather than a random one assigned by WordPress.

Backlinks are golden

Links are an absolutely critical component to an SEO strategy? Why? Having a large number of links pointing to your website from other websites related to your primary offering makes you look more relevant and important to Google on that topic. Think about our fish sitting example. If Fish Friends, a popular blog on all things related to fish ownership, has written a blog post about your business in Topeka that includes a link to your website, then the search engines will interpret that to mean you are a valued resource to the topic of fish ownership and fish collectors.

To get other sites to link to you, you may try submit your blogs as guest posts or contact websites directly asking if they are interested in sharing your links (also known as link building). The more of these backlinks you can get, the better your chances are of rising in the organic search engine rankings.

[Note, however, that it is important that the links are from a credible source because Google will disregard any links coming from non-related sites, such as link farms or other sketchy sites.]

Don’t ignore internal links

Internal links are also important because it allows you to easily use your own site to your advantage. You can add links to previous content you have written that is relevant to what you are writing about now. You can also redirect them to your homepage or your other important pages (e.g., ones that you are trying to rank higher on).

Create good content

In the SEO world, content means written text. When writing blogs, you should create smart, sharable content that also includes your necessary keywords with no more than around a 2% keyword density (i.e., 2% of all words in a blog post can be the keywords which you are optimizing). If you’re not sure about the density, just read the whole text on the webpage and if it seems like there’s a lot of keywords, there’s a good chance the search engines will think so too. Fortunately, many WordPress SEO plug-ins (Yoast comes to mind) will let you know when your page is well optimized. Whatever you do, avoid ‘keyword stuffing’ your webpage as most search engines will flag you for it, which will in turn suppress your organic search rankings.

Keep your site current

This may seem like a no brainer, but make sure your website is current, full of fairly fresh content. If your website has been sitting without any significant updates then the search engines will assume you’re site is DOA. Instead, make sure to keep your site updated and full of relevant information to your products/services. You can do this by blogging weekly and putting deep links to other webpages on your website.

Index your site

Lastly, make sure your site has been indexed! Most of the time your site will be indexed by search engines automatically, however sometimes this may not be the case. Indexing is when search engines keep record of your site. There are many different ways to index your site. For help on the many ways to do so, check out this article.

Improving your search ranking is vital to growing your business. Follow these tips to help optimize your search rank, so that you are able to hold up to your competitors.

About Lauren Usrey: Lauren is a student at the University of Texas at Austin and a marketing communications intern at Manzer Communications. She supports clients with social media, blogging and tech PR activities. Manzer Communications has offices in Austin, Denver and Houston and provides digital marketing and PR services for tech companies seeking rapid, sustained growth. Some of the services provided include content marketing, social media strategy and ad buys, email marketing, and media relations.

 

How many words should there be in a press release title?

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The title of a press release is the most important element of a press release. Why? Because it’s the most effective way to hook a busy reporter in hopes of gaining some serious publicity for your business or nonprofit.

Knowing how important a title is, it should not come as a surprise that it often takes as much or more time to create an effective title than any other part of the press release, including the body.

So how many words should you have in the title of your next press release?

Here are some of the factors to help determine the appropriate number:

  • Pound for pound: the title carries most of the weight of your release. A good title can communicate as much as 70% of your press release.
  • Set the hook: the effectiveness of your title allows you to hook a busy reporter or editor, getting you one step closer to the publicity you seek.
  • SEO: a press release title can help your search engine optimization goals, and the length of a title for search engine indexing purposes need only be 60 characters long.
  • Readability: a long title can certainly include more information but it may discourage readers from reading it, which is the goal of a title.
  • KISS: the general rule-of-thumb in coming up with a strong title is to keep it simple, with shorter words for the idea to get across quickly.
  • Action verbs: it’s always easier to eliminate fat by using action verbs, which are stronger at capturing a reader’s attention.
  • Technical jargon: try not to get too technical in your title if you plan to reach out to media professionals outside of niche trade journals.

So now that we have established some of the factors playing into how long a press release title should be, you are no doubt wondering what IS the ideal length of a title.

Funny thing is, there is no one right answer. I like to say that the ideal length of a press release title is the absolute fewest words it takes to communicate your core message.

As a rule of thumb, it’s better to keep your title to one line, which effectively limits it to fewer than 10-14 words, depending upon the number of characters in each word. Ideally, a title will not exceed 10-12 words and 80 characters with spaces. That does not always work, however, as some announcements are simply too hard to capture in so little space. Fear not, a long title will still work as long as you add enough hard-hitting content on that first line to hook the reader.

The point made above about how search engines index titles up to a maximum of 60 characters means that if you plan to use a keyword in the title – and you should – then you need to place the keyword inside the first 60 characters. Failing to do so would be to miss out on an effective way to improve your website’s search engine rankings.

Last Tip: When coming up with your ideal title, write up to five different versions of it to see which one does the best job in the least amount of space. Don’t forget to run it by your colleagues before deciding on a winner.

About Dave Manzer: Dave Manzer founded an Austin PR & marketing agency for startups and emerging-growth businesses in 2009. Dave Manzer specializes in highly integrated PR & marketing strategies that help companies in technology, healthcare and professional services reach their goals in brand awareness and revenue growth. To contact Dave directly about the PR over Coffee blog, please email him at dave(@)davemanzer.com.

How Google’s Latest Search Algorithm Update Impacts Press Release Distribution

It’s happened yet again, and it will continue to happen. Google has updated their link schemes document. So at this point you’re probably wondering: “what does that have to do with my business?” In the simplest of terms, every so often, Google makes changes to its search algorithm and the way it ranks content online. If you want your content (and, more importantly, your website!) to be found on Google, continue reading to find out why you should care.

When the latest Google update happened, the people in our industry had a momentary freak-out, as it seemed to doom press releases for providing SEO (search engine optimization) value using the wire – as opposed to online distribution websites which have become a popular SEO strategy in recent years.  As more details emerged, we realized that the update wasn’t a death sentence.

Now, I am BY NO MEANS an SEO expert. I do, however, often talk to and read things written by people who do know their way around the SEO world, including Business Wire’s own SEO experts and web developers. Here are the things I’ve learned during my quest for knowledge about Google’s recent changes.

The latest update included language that specifically points to press releases, among other things. This time, the language PR people should specifically be interested in is as follows:

“Creating links that weren’t editorially placed or vouched for by the site’s owner on a page, otherwise known as unnatural links, can be considered a violation of our guidelines, including…links with optimized anchor text in articles or press releases distributed on other sites.” “Creating Links for the sole purpose of SEO on a press release is unnatural. Links should be placed on a press release to enhance the user experience, add information, and be relevant to the content.”

An example of keyword stuffing that they provide is:

“There are many wedding rings on the market. If you want to have a wedding, you will have to pick the best ring. You will also need to buy flowers and a wedding dress.”

What that means is that Google will penalize people who use anchor text to link to content through press releases, especially those distributed on outside websites (such as wire services, like Business Wire). You can see why we were worried.

Before you sprint away from wire distribution services, as I said before, this is not an entirely bad thing. The core purpose for press releases (and wire services) is to provide relevant content to those who are looking for it. For example, let’s say you send a press release to a journalist at the Austin American-Statesman, and he writes a story using content within your release. In the text of the release, you included anchor text linking back to your website or blog, which the journalist visited to get even more information to use in his story. His article was an online piece, so he also linked back to your website because he found the information there helpful. Because his link was an outside referral to relevant content, Google sees it as valuable, and therefore, will make it available for search. This external link can also add SEO value and can aid in the ranking of your website. That, my friends, is an example of a legitimate way to build links that point to your website. The goal of earned media should always be the ultimate goal of PR people – to influence others to talk about you and share your message across their networks.

So, what can you do to ensure that your press release is not going to hurt you in the long run?

  • Always provide content that is good quality, relevant and useful to audiences who are going to benefit from it. The more relevant your content, the better chance for it to be shared. The more often your content (and links) are shared, the more value Google will give to your links and website(s).
  • Add a ‘nofollow’ tag to anchor text link, so that Google will not give any SEO value to that particular link. The link will still be a functioning link to your content, but this is a way to avoid the negative fallback of including anchor text. When you use Business Wire, we will automatically do this for you, so you don’t have to learn anything about HTML coding.
  • Do not stuff your press release text with links – a good rule of thumb is 3-5 links per release, or about one link for every 100 words.
  • Lean towards writing the text of your press release for people, instead of writing for the search engine robots. It is widely being communicated that Google now prefers natural language text over copy that is clearly written for the ‘bots.
  • While you should be aware of the risk, do not be overly afraid to include anchor text within your release, as long as it is relevant and maintains the flow of the release. Suggested anchor text can be your company/client name, social media handles, or event names. And once is enough! Do not link to the same thing multiple times.
  • If you are distributing the release outside your owned online properties, make sure to do so with a legitimate and reputable service. There are many distribution options out there, and not all of them will benefit you.
  • From a friend who does SEO at Cabela’s: Use http://www.removeem.com/ratios.php to discover and remove potentially penalizing links that point to your site. Simply type in the URL of your company or client to find out if there are ‘over-optimized links’ that could cause Google to penalize you.
  • Consider adding multimedia to your press release. This will dramatically increase the chances of your release getting looked at, thus starting the natural content discovery process.

This doesn’t change much in the overall scheme of things. PR people need to continue to do their job, which is communicating relevant messages to their key audiences.

In closing, I’ll point back to Matt Cutts, head of the Webspam team at Google, who said in a recent Q&A on nofollow links, “Don’t forget about users other than search engines.” Reaching those “other users” are your most important goal!

To read more from Business Wire on the subject, check out this blog post written by our SEO specialist, John Leung, and Marketing Specialist, Fred Godlash.

About Our Guest Blogger:
Erica Schuckies is an account executive for Business Wire, located in their Austin office. She works with both private and public companies, as well as Public Relations and Investor Relations firms, to distribute their messages to key stakeholders across the globe. She has a background in Public Relations and Marketing Communications, as well as experience in the non-profit and sports/events sectors. Erica is a board member for the Public Relations Society of America Austin Chapter, as well as a regular attendee of PR Over Coffee.

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