Optimizing your online press releases will increase brand exposure, referral traffic, and search engine optimization. Here are a few guidelines that, if implemented, will make your press releases contain more SEO value and convert readers into leads.

1. Use direct links with natural anchor text.

Be sure that your chosen online wire service does not redirect links within your press releases to another server before sending them to your website. Wire services typically do this to track the visitor through a cookie that is tracked during the redirect. This is good for the wire service, but bad for you. Just hover over a link in your press release and make sure the URL points to the desired page on your website to confirm a direct link. Also, in anchor text, it's a bad practice to force keywords where they may sound a bit unnatural to the content of the article. Use keywords and phrases that are relevant to the article only.

2. Don’t use too many links.

Follow these simple guidelines when using links inside your press release. Use no more than one link if your press release is less than 250 words; two links for up to 400 words; three links for up to 750 words; and five links for up to 1,000 words. It's good practice to keep your online press releases under 1,000 words. Using too many links can make a press release appear 'spammy.'

3. Take advantage of multimedia attachments.

Press releases with multimedia typically have higher click-through rates. So, if your wire service allows multimedia attachments such as videos or pdf files then be sure to take advantage of this extended functionality. Here's a little known trick: don’t forget to optimize the filenames and titles of your multimedia attachments to your press release. This will boost the press release's SEO power. Again, use keywords and phrases that are relevant to the press release only.

4. Stick with this press release structure.

  • Title - Make sure the headline on your press release is 70 characters or less. Many publishers will use your headline as the page title, which is what search engines use to index the webpage. Search engines will remove anything after 70 characters and this may be crucial information that would otherwise motivate someone to click to read your press release.
  • Introduction - The introductory paragraph makes or breaks the story. Make it compelling and direct to the point. This is also where you want to include your first or only link within the article. Then your link will also appear in areas where publishers might use abbreviated versions like breaking news or category pages.
  • Body - Don't stuff the body of your press release with keywords. A good practice is to enter your keyword into a Google search and look at the 'related searches' at the bottom of the page. These are called co-occurrence keywords and using these phrases, or derivatives of these phrases, will strengthen the context of your article around your targeted keyword without having to use it over and over.
  • Boilerplate - The boilerplate is usually two to four sentences and appears at the bottom of all of your press releases. Always highlight the brand in this area and attach company facts or a one sentence elevator pitch with a link to the website and contact phone number.

5. Pay attention to these content do's and don'ts.

Always inform the reader of something new, interesting, and relevant. Always follow basic grammar rules and avoid the temptation to use bold or uppercase text. Always include a call-to-action in the release to guide the readers who want to know more to your website. Never write a press release to sell the reader something. Remember that the point of a press release is to be something that will be shared by the press.

Online press releases can be sent using paid or free services. The top solutions include Marketwire.com, Businesswire.com, PRWeb.com, helpareporter.com, PitchEngine.com, prlog.com, newswiretoday.com, or theopenpress.com. I suggest using paid solutions as they usually have relationships with the best publishers.