Category Archives: Search Engine Marketing

Ways to fulfill the 1-to-1 Future’s ideal, where customers “advertise” their interest for products and services precisely when they’re ready to consider a purchase

Make your press releases behave more like blog posts

Reading my headline, you may be thinking, “Why would I even want the press releases on my corporate site to be more blog-like? Aren’t blogs kind of, well, flaky?” The answer has to do with three dimensions of a sound digital communication strategy:

  1. Improved engagement
  2. Improved compliance
  3. Improved search engine presence

Improved Engagement

Here’s what I mean by improved engagement. It has to do with engaging (involving, informing) web visitors. If your site provides more information about a newsworthy product or service, the chances are better that a web visitor will want one. There’s an old salesmanship saying: “Telling is selling.”

Of course, engagement isn’t the same thing as boring someone to death. That’s why the web is such a great way to deliver content. When content is served up properly, there are ample spaces for long copy to breathe. This copy can be broken up between several pages, headings or hidden div layers. When a visitor wants more information, he or she simply has to click, or to scan headlines and sub-headings.

Some think you can’t pack much selling information into a stodgy old press release. They’re quite mistaken. Press releases that are loaded into a web site can describe features and benefits. Because of the journalistic style of them, these descriptions are usually short — or at least written in an easy-to-digest inverted pyramid style.

To keep these online press releases relatively short, yet packed with selling power, writers should link often to more detailed information elsewhere within the site. Just as I have with my link to a definition of the inverted pyramid style of journalism (earlier in this paragraph), a single link can speak volumes for those curious enough to click.

Improved Compliance

Just as you can (and should!) link off of the press release to other source information, you should consider linking to a given press release from blog posts on that topic. This allows you to speak more loosely in your blog posts without running afoul of the legal team in your company who want to ensure the company won’t lose credibility or get sued.

Below is an example, from the press release section and blog section of the Tripit.com site:


Look at the headline for the blog post: “Tripit Joins Concur to Become Bigger, Better and Stronger.” It’s a lot easier, from a compliance perspective, to say this in a blog post. Journalists and the financial industry — the two groups most likely to be interested in this story — would both regard a press release using this language with some skepticism.

However, by linking to the press release talking about the same event, this level of hyperbole is understandable … even expected. Blogs are about opinion. Press releases are about cold facts.

So how is the press release in this example behaving more like a blog post? You really can’t tell unless you look at the source code, but this press release was posted using the WordPress blogging system. Which leads to better search engine performance …

Improved Search Engine Presence

Here are four ways that serving up your press releases the way Tripit.com has is smart from a search engine marketing perspective:

1. More press releases = more search engine optimization

This technique gets your public relations or marketing teams out of the mindset that press releases should be rationed out carefully. Just as blog posts go up often, so should your press releases. Mind you, this does not mean more spending with services such as PRWeb or PRNewswire. That’s what got your PR team into the mindset in the first place!

Instead, continue to use those far-reaching press release distribution services for the big announcements. When you do, replicate the press releases on your site. Then post others that aren’t earth-shattering news, but can support other product or service launches or upgrades.

Most corporate site web visitors don’t seek out press releases. But if you link to specific releases from blog posts, the content will reinforce what’s in that post. The intra-site links will also slightly boost the rankings of both pages in the eyes of many search engines.

2. Double the odds of getting into top search engine results pages

With the one-two punch of a blog post and a press release, you double your chances of ranking high. That assumes that none of the content between the two items is shared. Search engines frown on identical copy one pages that it is indexing. True, you can excerpt the press release in your blog, but don’t get carried away.

3. Provide search engines with a second RSS feed

One of the reasons that search engines love to rank blog posts high in results pages is they timely and are easily accessible through RSS feeds. When a blog post goes live, a search engine that has access to its RSS feed has the inside scoop, so to speak. The same can be said for your press releases when you use a blogging platform such as WordPress to publish them.

4. Benefit from search-engine-friendly page URLs, categories and much more

Here is the full URL of the press release example shown about:
http://www.tripit.com/press/2011/01/concur-to-acquire-tripit-the-leading-provider-of-mobile-services-for-the-business-traveler/

This is exactly the sort of URL that search engine spiders can sink their teeth into!

Finally, a press release can be given a “category,” such as Tripit’s “Company Announcements” (the full length is truncated and you can see the left edge in the upper right corner, below. This allows that category page to be indexed by search engines as well. Here’s an example from the Tripit.com Press Release section:

I could add one more reason to use this technique: It’s extremely easy to install and test. Try it with your corporate site. If you already have, let me know what you think of it.

Have you noticed, by the way, that I haven’t mentioned press releases in PDF format once? It’s only because I trust you, dear reader, to not even dream of using this unwise tactic with your company. But if you have no choice, please share this posts with the powers that be and beg them to reconsider their folly.

The marketing power of a press release is a terrible thing to waste!

Use your smallness to out-maneuver competitors in search engines

King George II never knew what hit him. Your business can enjoy the same sneak attack advantage on search engines.

Many say our Founding Fathers won independence simply due to effective military strategy. They exploited their smallness — seemingly appearing out of nowhere and just as easily melting back into their surroundings. In this way the greatly out-gunned militia of George Washington prevailed over King George II and his army. This same approach helped the Viet Cong, keeping the Vietnam War in a stalemate until the U.S. withdrew. If you’re a small business, or a small competitor in a tough business segment, you can tear a page from these playbooks to win dominance on search engines.

But first, you need to understand which battles are worth winning. With modern search engines, the most important area to focus your efforts is backlinks. I’ve blogged before about their importance, offering seven types of backlinks to pursue.

Here are three ways to use smallness to your advantage in finding and exploiting search engine opportunities:

  1. Remind yourself that being great isn’t enough. You may build the best mousetrap ever. That doesn’t count. You have to also be strategic. In his book The Sirens Titan, Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. writes, “There is no reason why good cannot triumph as often as evil. The triumph of anything is a matter of organization. If there are such things as angels, I hope that they are organized along the lines of the Mafia.” Organize your search engine strategy “along the lines of the Mafia.”
  2. In keeping with Rule #1, look for vulnerabilities. Find the unique qualities of your product or service that cannot be reproduced by your competitors. Specifically, find how these unique characteristics can induce popular sites to link to you and no one else in your industry. As an example: Your company generates electricity, and does so in a way that is unmatched, in that it leaves a significantly smaller carbon footprint. That opens the door for backlinks from “green” directories and blog sites that your competitors cannot follow you onto. Each of these placements can be a huge win for your site.
  3. Be ready to turn on a dime. It’s something that smaller, more guerrilla-style fighters can do that their slower enemies cannot. Don’t look at your larger peers and mimic the pace with which they adapt to new market conditions. Instead, push your limits, and discover just how fast you can react. Then watch them struggle to keep up.

If you apply these three rules you’ll be well on your way to search engine victory. Often, your competitors won’t even know what hit them until it’s too late!

Search conversion lift seen from social media

On Friday I gave a presentation in Chicago, at Loyola University, on social media and compliance. We covered many topics dear to the hearts of those who participate in social media and would prefer not to go to jail due to SEC or HIIPA violations. Left to other presenters was the topic of social media’s importance in today’s marketplace.

It’s just as well that I left the topic out. Since most of the attendees were bloggers themselves (yes, more than half of them — I counted hands!), covering the importance of social media would have been preaching to the converted. But recent research, by GroupM and comScore, helps remind us all that some of the strongest reasons to engage in social media aren’t readily apparent.

The study showed that people using search engines who also use social media are “more engaged consumers” and “more likely to be looking for places to buy and brands to consider.”

The research found that consumers using social media are “1.7 times more likely to search with the intention of making a list of brands or products to consider purchasing compared to the average internet user.”
Here are more findings from the study:

  • Consumers exposed to influenced social and paid search exhibit 223% heavier search behavior than consumers exposed to paid alone
  • Fifty percent of social media-exposed searchers search daily for product terms, compared to 33% of non-exposed searchers

And finally, this is the finding that I thought was most revealing: “In organic search, consumers searching on brand product terms who have been exposed to a brand’s social marketing campaign are 24 times more likely to click on organic links leading to the advertiser’s site than the average user seeing a brand’s paid search ad alone.”

How much do you spend on paid search ads? This finding suggests to me that whatever you invest in pay-per-click advertising, you can reduce that cost or improve its reach by combining it with a well-planned social media engagement.

Great post-presentation feedback

After the presentation I met a ton of the audience members through Twitter. This is a group who really understands how social media can extend the value of a presentation! One participant, David Kamerer, had a great suggestion for a way to improve my compliance presentation. He suggested I add some content on the CANN-SPAM email marketing law. Thanks, @DavidKamerer, and the other folks attending the talk. I had a blast!

Employers of marketing and PR pros are undervaluing a key skill

Online newsroom specialists iPressroom recently surveyed businesses to see what sorts of skills they are looking for in their marketing and PR pros. The survey had a small sample size, as many of these do, and this report’s many charts read far more into the results than can be reliably concluded. But I credit its authors for noting something that jumped out at me as well:

Rather than focus on attracting or pulling visitors to their website by publishing high quality content and researching popular language, organizations appear to be more interested with pushing out messages to “friends” through social media, even though, in many cases, those messages include hyperlinks back to their own websites. Until these organizations learn to develop a more sophisticated approach to building and managing landing pages and web content management on their websites, they will have difficulty evaluating their return on investment for these emerging channels.

(Emphasis mine.)

I found this report by reading a trendy headline somewhere. It proclaimed that marketing and especially PR executives are expected to possess skills that most are still scrambling to master. Here is a sample chart showing the data behind this assertion:

The digital skills expected of marketing and PR executives

The employers surveyed should be commended for understanding the pressing demands of social media. However, they’re overlooking an equally important skill in their communications hiring checklist. They must hire people who understand the importance of good site content and how to measure its value. This is essential to making long-term gains from social media and search engine efforts.

It’s not enough to know how to attract eyeballs. The owners of those eyeballs had better find something on a site that’s worth experiencing and sharing.

PPC landing pages start talking at the 200th click

There’s a trick to conducting pay-per-click (PPC) campaigns on a shoestring. Larger campaigns buy popular keyword phrases. They consequently generate a torrent of clicks. Smaller campaigns, on the other hand, must make similar decisions success using a comparative trickle of data. So how do small-time marketers know when they have enough information to make reliable decisions?

A good rule of thumb is to start trusting the results of a PPC landing page at about 200 clicks. That’s according to Tony Brewin, of SuperEvent in the U.K. His advice was part of a Wordtracker post on optimizing Google Adwords campaigns.

This is coincidentally similar to the rule of thumb I’ve used in direct mail campaigns. For smaller mailings, direct mail veterans have known that you could start to be confident about results once you’ve received roughly 20 of them.

A statistician friend once described these critical mass numbers as the thresholds where there is enough information to get simple yes / no answers about whether a campaign is succeeding. He compared them to when you watch a dot of light coming at you from a distance during an evening drive. This threshold is the point where you can first tell whether you’re seeing a single headline, from an approaching motorcycle, or from a car’s pair of headlights.

It’s still a limited amount of information, but knowing what’s coming at you quickly and definitively can be useful both in driving and in direct response.