A lot of search engine optimization professionals are incorporating PR tactics into their optimization strategies these days, and there’s a very good reason for this trend: the search engines are placing premiums on authentic earned media.
The very nature of earned media has evolved, however. In addition to pick up in the mainstream media, earned media credibility also occurs when content generates social shares and develops high-quality website traffic.
So, as we are writing press releases and other content intended for online publication, it’s a good idea to be thinking about how to encourage social sharing and to keep readers on the website page posting your content. And to achieve these objectives, first and foremost, it’s crucial to attract readers that are truly interested in the message topic.
Thinking like a marketer when it comes to outcomes
This means we need to take a critical look at the press releases and other content we’re publishing, with an eye toward garnering reader attention, holding it on the page, and inspiring some sort of action such as social sharing or clicking through on links we serve.
These types of outcomes aren’t traditionally found among the intended outcomes of a campaign, but these are the sort of things the digital marketing crowd pays close attention to, because of the importance of these factors to everything from search engine rank and social buzz to lead generation and conversion rate.
And let’s face it. If we fail to grab reader attention, hold it and inspire the reader to take some sort of positive action, the press releases we send out and the blog posts we publish won’t be seen. Content that is overlooked by readers does not generate any of the positive signals that search engines are looking for that ultimately increase the visibility of a message, and also improve the rank of the corresponding website.
Put the audience first.
What is coming next may surprise you, however. Instead of picking apart the the structural mechanics of the press release, I believe it’s important to spend a little time thinking about the overall message and the focus. We have to do a better job of presenting content in our readers’ context, not within the brands messaging framework.
How do you build that audience context into messaging? A good way to start is by answering the following questions pertaining to the announcement you’re drafting:
- What are the problems are opportunities the readers want to solve or harness?
- How does what you’re promoting improve their lives or make it easier for them to do their jobs better?
These are the sorts of questions we need to be asking ourselves as we start to build our message strategies. If we fail to incorporate the audience’s point of view into our messaging, our brands are going to feel out-of-touch, inaccessible and uninteresting.
Forget SEO tactics. Focusing the message is job one.
Another problem I see often in press releases is jumbled messaging, with angles and themes piled haphazardly on top of one another. The release may start off talking about a partnership or a new product, for example, but then all of a sudden it veers off into a discussion of business strategy, a new hire or the upcoming product pipeline. It starts to read like a late-night infomercial. But wait! There’s more!
Content that has too many topics jammed into it presents a number of problems for both the readers and for search engine.
Readers lose interest when the content fears away from the topic in which they were pursuing more information.
And search engines have a hard time understanding what the content is about when it involves too many themes. That causes problems for them when it comes to indexing and categorizing the content and ultimately serving up to interested searchers.
Simply put, that once thousand word press release containing three months’ worth of announcements is probably doing the issuing brand more harm than good. Important resources were expended in the writing and distribution, but because it’s so long and so unfocused, readers are dropping off the pages, they’re not sharing the content and search engines frankly can’t make heads or tails of the meaning. The content doesn’t have a fighting chance. Before long, it will sink under its own weight, all the way down to the graveyard of boring stuff at the bottom of the interwebs.
This slide deck offers some additional insight into developing content designed to attract, engage, and hold audiences and encourage interaction. Included in the deck are some tips for structuring the content and tactics you can employ that will make it easier for your readers to understand and scan your press releases, blog posts and other written content. If you want to drill into this topic even more, scan the copy in the SEO section of our blog.