When building a house, a small error in construction can produce dismal, even devastating, results. The same is true when writing and publishing online press releases. Numerous details demand attention. Neglecting one – or worse, several – can limit your exposure, and prevent your PRs from being read by your intended audience.
With this in mind, we'll take a closer look at five common mistakes made by those who publish press releases online. They often go unnoticed, and thus are repeated over and over. Unfortunately, like a house built with a mistake in the foundation, the following blunders can doom your press releases.
#1 – Using Keywords Improperly (Or Failing To Use Them At All)
Until the search engines design radically new algorithms based on an entirely different method of searching for content, keywords will remain a critical driver of rankings. Your customers and prospects use particular phrases to find information relevant to their needs. The purpose of keyword research is to identify the phrases that are most likely to bring targeted traffic that converts into sales, leads, or opt-ins. Neglecting this step is akin to building a house without a blueprint.
Every press release you publish should include two or three of your target keywords. One of them should be given a higher priority than the others; place it in your title and intro. Your PRs should also contain links that point to your site. Use your keywords as anchor text.
#2 – Talking Directly To Your Readers
If you're writing a blog post, article, or sales letter, it may be appropriate to speak directly to your audience. Doing so builds a connection with them. It encourages readers to be more receptive to your message, which is perceived in a more personal way. However, this approach is unsuitable for a press release.
Credibility in PRs is achieved with an objective voice. You are conveying noteworthy information, rather than trying to directly persuade readers to buy your products. The approach is much different than that taken in a sales letter.
#3 – Lacking A Newsworthy Angle
It's pretty simple. If you want your press releases to be picked up by the high-profile news sites, you must have something newsworthy to share. For example, does a holiday coincide with a holiday-themed charity event organized by your company? Does your story contain an emotional appeal that connects with a large audience?
Publishing an occasional PR that offers little newsworthy material is unlikely to get you placed onto editors' “ignore” lists. However, doing so consistently will.
#4 – Writing Solely For SEO Benefits
The SEO benefits of online press release distribution are powerful. A cursory look through dozens of niches in Google reveals highly-ranked PRs for specific keyword phrases. The exposure and traffic that result from a series of well-positioned press releases can change a business's fortunes. But there are other reasons to publish PRs that extend beyond search rankings.
The goal of press release distribution is not high rankings in the search engines. That is merely a means to an end. Instead, you want to engage readers, and draw them to your site. Once visitors arrive, you can persuade them to buy your products and services, sign up for your mailing list, or subscribe to your blog and social media accounts.
Search rankings ensure exposure. But high rankings cannot take the place of a well-written press release that compels readers to visit your site for more information.
#5 – Neglecting To Edit And Proof Your PRs
This is one of the most common mistakes made by those who publish online press releases. Worse, given our tendency to rush through familiar processes, it will continue to plague PR writers. Edit every piece you write. Remove words, phrases, and even paragraphs that add nothing to your PRs. Then, proof the piece for errors.
It's tempting to think your readers will forgive a simple spelling mistake. In fact, a single blunder related to spelling or grammar can distract them from your message and even turn potential customers away!
Edit. Then, proof.
Bonus Blunder: Forgetting To Include A Call To Action
We noted earlier that your press releases should present an objective voice that conveys information about your company. But you should also include a call to action at the end of each piece. Unless you instruct them to do so, the majority of your audience will fail to take the action you want from them.
The call to action can be as simple as, “Visit now for more information.” The key is to include a clear, concise instruction. Don't assume your reader will act on his or her own.
If you recognized any of the above mistakes in your own press releases, now is the time to resolve them. Focus on one at a time. Make small, consistent improvements in your process, and you'll enjoy impressive results over the long run.