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How to Write, Distribute a Press Release Online and Track the Way It Works Out

| Posted in category Analytics Online Press Releases

Recently Link-Assistant.Com announced the introduction of the universal search feature into Rank Tracker. One of the popular universal search blocks is News, and website promoters try to get their press releases into this section to pass over some link juice to their websites. This purely SEO purpose, however, doesn't exclude the original aim of PR writing – reporting on news, attracting journalists and bloggers.

In this post we'll discuss whether press releases are good for SEO and are worth the efforts and resources spent on their writing and distribution. We'll also show you how to track the effectiveness of your press releases.

Press Release Writing

If you write your press release for SEO purposes mainly, chances are you also want it to appear in the news block in the universal search results for the keywords you target. So you should take one of your keywords and put it naturally at the beginning of the title, into the summary and the body (as anchors) as well. Still, it's crucial to avoid keyword stuffing.

Anyway, a press release is a press release indeed if it revolves around newsworthy information, for example new product launch or an important product update, merger of two companies, quarterly earnings report, appointment of new CEO, etc. Texts that look more like sales copies won't be accepted by press release distribution agencies.

What is more important, a press release should not just report on your news, but it should be focused on the users' benefits. You've launched a new website? Write about the value it adds to your visitors.

A press release should be written in an understandable and not-over-excited way, so that journalists who look for some valuable content would fancy republishing it.

Both the SEO-friendly and journalist-appealing press release should:

• Be optimized for your keywords
• Be newsworthy
• Contain a catchy title and an attention-getting lead paragraph
• Answer the 5 w-s – Who, What, When, Where, Why. How component is also welcomed.
• Include a quote from CEO for additional prominence
• Feature contact and background information

As you see, writing a good press release will either require (1) some research on your part about how to do it and time to actually accomplish this task or (2) outsourcing press release writing services. In other words, you'll have to spend either time or money to write a decent press release.

Press Release Distribution

To hit Google news, press releases should be distributed through press release agencies syndicated by Google news.

Before using a PR distribution service with the intention to get to Google News, check if the service is syndicated by Google News. To do that, search for the PR distribution service name in Google News:

Yes, PRLog.org will plug you into Google News. The next image shows that Press Media Wire, for example, won't:

Distributing PRs you choose between paid and free services.

Free options

Submitting press releases for free is a trial-and-error process because publication is not guaranteed. You'll run several press release submission campaigns before you know what works for you.

But to help you... Ta-daa!

Here's the list of free press release distribution websites that work for sure:
PRLog.Org: one of the best free options. Your PR will get to Google News, there's an image and bold text option. Even though no links are allowed (except if you write the exact url in the body, e.g. http://yoursite.com ), you have enough opportunity to make your web PR readable by using bold font and adding images with descriptions. PRs go live at once or after a couple of hours. Images get to Google News listing, which draws extra attention to your PR:

Free Press Release: both free and fee-charging, instantaneous publication, [b], [i], [large] tags, no links in the free version
I-Newswire, Online PR News: these websites have both free and paid plans. However, free press releases are published as well. No html in the free versions.
PR Inside: photos and video can be included. Publication is prompt. No statistics within the account is not very handy: you can't see what you have already published and how it looked like. No html.
Free Press Index: both free and paid service. Instantaneous approval. [b] and [i], but no links in the free version. A funny thing about the title – the system allows featuring only "alphametrical characters". It means, for example, that there's no chance for Coca-Cola or Amazon.com to get into the title of its own press release because of the hyphen and the dot.

Do free press releases rock? Well, they are better than nothing, but...

Some experts say that free services are no good: if you pay nothing, you get nothing:
• You wait up to 72 hours to submit a press release with a free service with no guarantee that your PR will be actually published. From our experience, up to 70% agencies will fail to publish your piece of news, especially the ones that have paid options as well. Moreover, when you wait for a couple of days, it's hard to manage the actual time of the release going out.
• Most free services don't allow HTML, which reduces your SEO efforts.
• Even if published, your Press Release is unlikely to reach out of the page where it was located. Sometimes a permanent link is not guaranteed either.

Paid options

There's a variety of fee-charging press release distribution services on the web. According to Peter Pristipino, Editor in Chief, Website Magazine, "If you're a Fortune 500 then marketwire or prnewswire are great ways to go. If you're in the SEO-PR mindset, then PRWeb is the most popular choice. I've had good luck with PRleap as well."

When you use paid services or free services that are likely to publish your PR at once, consider the timing aspect. Experts believe that your press release gets better exposure to your target audience if it hits SERPs early in the day, early in the week for the location you target.

How to Track the Effectiveness of Online Press Releases

A press release is effective if:
• It lets your brand name rank high in Google News for the keywords you're after (1)
• It gets picked up by many other websites (2)
• It results in extra visitors/leads/sales (3)

(1) The way you check the first aspect is obvious: you go ahead and search for relevant Google News results.

(2) Tracking the second point – being picked up by other websites - is pretty much the same: you Google the title of your Press Release to see how many reprints you have got. If you submit your press release to a number of websites, make them at least slightly different (one phrase is enough). Then use the exact match search to track which distribution platforms are more viral.

(3) Checking if your press release brings you visitors will require the use of Google Analytics.

Option 1. Tracking the number of visitors from press release distribution websites.

If your press release is free of charge, it means there are now links to follow in the body of a PR, but people can click the home page of the corporate website in the company profile, or follow 'visit the official website' button. Thus, the source of traffic to your website can be monitored.
Here's the way how you can create a Press Release segment in Google Analytics to track the number of visitors coming from press release distribution agencies:
Choose My Customizations – Advanced Segments – Create new custom segment:

Then drag 'Source' from Dimensions – Traffic Sources, choose 'Contains' conditions and type in the name of the press release distribution website into the 'value' segment, e.g. prlog.org:

Then choose Test Segment to see the number of visits. Voila! Google Analytics reports on 9 visits from prlog.org:

Add all the other PR distribution websites to your list and monitor the traffic over time:

Option2. Tracking the number of visitors with the help of unique URLs

Paid press releases, i.e. press releases with links, create additional opportunities for traffic analysis. You can generate unique URLs for the links you embed into the press release body and track the number of visitors this particular link brings.

How to create links with unique parameters

One option is including a unique parameter after the url’s final slash, for example http://www.yoursite.com/?exm=prlog.

Another option is using Google URL Builder:

Following the wizard's steps, enter the markers for your URL. The example above shows how to create a URL that will help to track visitors who have clicked from your press release about new CEO submitted to Online PR News. As a result, you'll get the following link:

http://yoursite.com/?utm_source=press%2Brelease&utm_medium=online%2Bpr%2Bnews&utm_campaign=new%2Bceo

How to track a link with unique parameters in Google Analytics

Using Google Analytics, you can track traffic brought in by each unique URL. Go to Content (1) – Top Content (2) and type your unique parameter into the Advanced Filter (3) to get the number of pageviews:

And how do you track the effectiveness of your online press releases? What PR distribution websites worked good for you? Looking forward to your comments!



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