Words to Write By: SEO Tricks for Press Releases

I’m sure you all are using Google Ad Words and Word Tracker when drafting your press releases. (If you aren’t, you should, as these tools will help ensure solid SEO for your news).

In addition to those sites, I caught an interesting piece in The New York Times on words that sell to search engines.

According to the article the top words getting attention right now include: “money,” “fat,” “cancer,” “sex,” “safe,” “easy,” “secret,” “trick,” “breaking,” “toxic,” “green,” “environment,” and “foreclosure.”

In the article, David B. Armon, the president of PR Newswire, reminds PR Pros that every word we use in our releases has to do heavy lifting. “It’s a lot more scientific than it used to be,” Mr. Armon said, “because you’re not just trying to get media pickup, but to get search engine attention. We’ve done 412 press releases that incorporate the word ‘foreclosure’ so far in ’08, up from 261 last year.” He also added, the use of the word “toxic” in news releases is up 5 percent.

Of course, just as there are words that will help increase your visibility, there are also “empty” words that will fail you. The article mentions: “solutions,” “leading edge,” “cutting edge,” “state of the art,” “mission critical,” and “turnkey” as words you really should avoid. Calling your client “a leader” is also deemed a waste of space.

I remember when I first started in PR at the beginning of the dot-com boom, everything was “cutting edge” or “innovative.” We weren’t even concerned with SEO yet, and still those words were so over-used they quickly meant nothing. I will never forget my then-boss advising me to “make every word count” in my releases. She said, “avoid any word that can also be used to describe any other company.” Advice that has never been more important than it is today. (Thank you, Kellie Mullen!)

Another suggestion the New York Times gave is to pay attention to regionally-based words for regionally-based media attention.

The words that may help get a news release picked up vary from region to region. Brenda Baumgartner, the news director and anchor at KPVI, the NBC affiliate in Pocatello, Idaho, for example, looks for words like “fishing,” “hunting,” “Mormon” and “polygamy,” she said, “because they fit the culture we live around.”

Very interesting indeed. So, once again, get creative with your writing, folks! Think strategically and write well to ensure your news rises above all the clutter out there!

Some content pulled from the reporting of JOANNE KAUFMAN at The New York Times.

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