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Using Press Releases to Drive Traffic to Your Blog

Believe it or not, there are quite a lot of similarities between blogging and press releases. Both generally involve periodic or episodic postings and blog posts can be oriented towards news or periodic items. Given this similarity, press releases are great companion pieces to blog posts. By their nature, press releases involve announcements and what a better way to announce your new blog posts than issuing a press release? While there are many advantages to using press releases to drive traffic and build buzz for your blog posts, consider the following guidelines to maximize the benefits of releasing press releases to accompany your blog posts.

Write to be Read

Many bloggers are laboring under the false assumption that press releases need to be corporate and boring. Nothing could be further from the truth. The reality is that many editors of newspapers and traditional media as well as online media regularly stall press release sites, looking for “news worth items” for them to write news stories on. Many of these media outlets, whether offline or online, actually just either excerpt comment or rewrite/summarize press releases for their own purposes. You have a captive market when it comes to promoting your blog posts. Do not blow this opportunity by submitting press releases that are boring or generic. They are not looking for boring press releases. They are not looking for corporate obviously self-promoting press releases.

A little empathy for editors goes a long way

You have to put yourself in the shoes of news blog or newspaper editor. What would they want to read? The bottom line is that they are looking for something that their readers would want to read. Human nature being what it is, controversy and drama sell especially well. Your job is to find an angle in your press release that not only plays up the value of the blog post that you are promoting, but also do so in such a way that it zeroes in on a dramatic or controversial angle. One way to go about this is to actually write your blog posts around such dramatic or controversial viewpoint. In addition to massaging your keyword targets into your blog post, you can also write your blog posts in such a way that it lends itself easily to a dramatic or attention-grabbing press release.

Remember the power of headlines

You will need to brush up on your headline writing skills or you would need to research your blog posts to focus on controversial topics. Regardless of what you need to do, the key is to focus on grabbing attention. Once you have written a blog post that has enough “spice” in it, you then need to write a press release that plays up the controversy or the drama in your blog post. Majority of the time, the most common way this is done is to draw up comparisons. Another approach is to appeal to fear. Similarly, you can build on an existing controversy regarding the subject matter that you are blogging about and weighs several questions that do not appear in the media so far. The bottom line is that whatever dramatic or attention-grabbing angle you come up with, it must be based on reality. You cannot lie and you cannot make stuff up. There has to be solid factual grounding. The facts must be there, but it is up to you to package them in such a way as to grab the attention of news editors.

Assessing “Newsworthiness”

When you approach any online or offline editor and ask them how they pick a press release for publication, 90% to 95% of the time they will tell you that press release must be “newsworthy.” “Newsworthiness” really is a subjective matter. What is news worthy to one editor is complete trash to another editor. What grabs the attention of one editor may be boring to another editor. Be that as it may, there are certain formulas that you can take advantage of to make your press release news worthy. Draw up comparisons by mentioning the top brand or top player in the category of content that you are blogging about and tie that in to your blog posts. Of course, the tie in must be natural. It must not be forced. It must not be fake. Creativity is extremely important here.

Write for Editors

The truth of the matter is that you are writing for editors when you are writing press releases. You are not writing for the end user but you are writing primarily to get noticed. You have to employ three key elements to get the attention of editors quickly and efficiently: 1) Use dramatic headlines. 2) Use short, choppy sentence structures to get your point across quickly. 3) Use subheadings to your advantage. Editors have to scour through hundreds, if not thousands, of press releases every week. Your press release gets the once over in the span of a few seconds. If you do not hook their eyeballs within a couple of seconds scanning your press release, then your release will be discarded.

Write to Ride Trends

Editors being humans tend to become lazy from time to time and lazy editors tend to rely on formulas. One of the most common formula used in media is to rely on trends. They are the types of lazy editors that tend to look for certain “trend” keywords that get their attention. Even if the press release is not that great or the content is so-so, they still give you the benefit of the doubt if your release has that “hot” keyword/theme they are excited about. Figure out the hottest trends and controversies that are present in the subject category that you are blogging about, and firmly emphasize them. Notice that we said “firmly” and not spam. News editors hate spam. Press release spam is when you use a hot trend keyword or a trigger word and repeat it over and over again. That does not work. You have to place the trigger word at the right natural place in the press release for it to look real and does not turn off the news editor.

Press Releases and SEO

Press release writing is actually one of the oldest ways blog owners and web publishers drive search engine traffic to their blog posts or blogs. This is quite a simple matter. What you need to do is to make sure that you write your press release based on your keyword targets. keyword targets, if you have read our previous guides in the series, fall into two main categories: Primary keywords and secondary keywords. Your press release must be a mix of your primary keywords and your secondary keywords.

Basic SEO tips for press releases

Normally, SEO press release writers put the primary keyword in the title. The placement has to be natural. It cannot be forced and it must make sense in the sentence. What makes this particularly difficult is that your sentence must also grab the attention of the news editor. Oftentimes, SEO and attention-grabbing headlines do not mix. Oftentimes they conflict. This is another area where your creativity is going to be seriously tested. In addition to the title, you should distribute your secondary keywords as subheadings or bullet points in the press release.

Focus on “natural” keyword densities

The primary keyword must be repeated in the body of the press release, but do not spam the keyword. It must repeat itself naturally and do not overly repeat it. While some SEOs say that there is a 1% to 2% threshold, this is not a hard and fast rule. The key here is that the press release must look organic and natural. It cannot be an obvious keyword spam press release. Not only will this fail to get the attention of news editors, but it will also fail to get the attention of search engines.

Boost Your SEO Effectiveness with Linked keywords

There are many free press release submission sites all over the Internet. However, not all of them allow you to link keywords and most of those that do put a “no follow” tag on the links. These make the links worthless in the eyes of Google and other search engines. What you need to do is to find press release submission sites that do not apply the no-follow tag and also allows for at least one link in the press release. Use linked keywords responsibly.

Avoid SEO link spam in your releases

Many blog owners and website owners looking to take advantage of the SEO power of press releases spam their press release with too many linked keywords. This makes your press release look unnatural and also really degrades the overall quality of the release. All this prioritized, what is the main keyword target for the press release and what is the main secondary keyword target and stick with those. In many cases, less is more. If you put too many links on one page, your overall value goes down. That is a basic SEO rule. There is only so much link value a page can pass. If you spam links on to one page, the overall page’s value goes down-dramatically.

Press Release Submission Tips

When submitting your press release, pay careful attention to the timing of your release. Depending on the geographic region or industry that you are trying to target, certain days carry more weight than other days. Normally, Friday is the worst day to submit a press release because when you submit during a Friday afternoon, there are fewer people around during the weekend to read your material. Mondays are normally okay, but many press release professionals consider Tuesday to Thursday good days for press release submissions. Again, you need to maximize the chances that news editor would read your release and publish it.

Where to Submit

There are many places online you can submit to. There are quite a huge number of free press release websites. Do not get too excited. Most of these sites employ no link or no follow policy. What this means is that links are not allowed in the press release, so the SEO value of the press release is nonexistent. Does this mean that you do not submit to those types of press release sites? Absolutely not.

Look past SEO value

Press release sites can still send you traffic if they publish it and some of their readers read your press release, like what you are talking about and then manually load your blog post URL and you got traffic. While it is true that any single free press release site may only send a sliver of traffic and there is really no way to track such traffics since the reader would have to manually copy and paste your blog post URL to their browser. You should not leave free traffic on the table. If there is a way to get free traffic and the cost of submission is quite low and it does not take much extra effort and by all means you should take advantage of this source of free traffic.
Consider the branding benefits

Another advantage of getting your press release published in as many places as possible is the plain fact that you are also branding. While direct traffic may or may not happen, you are still getting your brand out there. The more you brand, the higher the credibility you give in the eyes of your target audience. There are paid press release sites and these press release sites would allow you to link and they also e-mail offline or brick and mortar media context. While it is good to get some traditional media attention, do not hold your breath. A lot of the times, the only people that would really publish you, if you use a paid PR submission service, are online sources. That is perfectly okay since these sites would link back to you.

Think long-term

Your real target is to get published by high-authority online news websites that have high page rank and are considered “authority sites” by Google. Get enough of these and your blog’s search engine ranking should rise. Other press release areas to submit to include Yahoo! Groups for news. Yahoo! Groups for news editors are e-mail notification membership list that news editors subscribe to. The effectiveness of Yahoo Groups for press release submission can vary widely. It really depends on who picks you up and who decides to syndicate you. It truly revolves around what you have to offer. Focus on a really well-written press release that addresses topic that is of common concern.

Other Things You Can Do With Your Press Release

Press release is content. You have to always remember that. It took you time, effort and probably even money to write a decent press release. Do not discount its powerful content by merely submitting it to press release sites. You can also submit it to blogs or you can create blogs at WEB 2.0 websites that provide free blogging platforms and publish your press release there. The only difference is that you control the back linking and you then back link to your blog from these WEB 2.0 blogs. Does this mean tons of search engine traffic overnight? No. Just like SEO efforts for your blog posts, back link building using WEB 2.0 blogs is a marathon and not a sprint. It takes time. Make sure that you ping your WEB 2.0 blogs and keep at it. Do not just publish one press release. Publish it weekly, publish it periodically–the key here is consistency. The same with a slow tortoise who crawls in a slow but methodical way will beat the tortoise who is very erratic consistent back linking using WEB 2.0 blogs is a long-term strategy and can definitely boost their chances in the future.

The Bottom Line: Press Release as a Marketing Model

Press releases are powerful tools to get much needed attention and traffic to your blog. Take the time to craft a well-written and attention-grabbing press release. Always keep in mind that an editor will be looking at this material. In that regard, always put yourself in the shoes of that editor. What would you want to publish? What would you want to read? Write your blog post and then your press release accordingly. Simply put, ignoring the power of press releases means rejecting free traffic. You want free traffic as more traffic means more ad clicks and means more money. More traffic means more branding and means more credibility. Whatever your motivation is, the name of the game is to get as many eyeballs to your blog posts and have them build loyalty to your blog.

Part 7: Using Forums, Blog Comments and 3-way Exchanges for Blog Backlinks

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