Professional development and training blog of the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA)
August 31, 2009

Writing Online Releases: Five Tips to Help Google Find Your Web Site

These days, news releases can do more than just get your story reported in news outlets. Online releases can get posted on news portals and other Web sites; be seen directly by customers, clients and other stakeholders; and even boost your search engine rankings.

In fact, the number of times the release gets published on portals and other Web sites is the No. 1 measure of success for today’s communicators, according to “ROI of Online Press Releases” (PDF), a study of professional communicators who use press releases by the Society for New Communications Research.

  1. Place anchor text next to important URLs. Anchor text (it looks like this: one-on-one writing coaching) is important because it tells Google and other search engines what your link is about. That increases your inbound link “credit” for search engine optimization (SEO).However, according to HubSpot, the inbound marketing experts, many portals don’t publish anchor text. So add a URL next to your anchor text, like this: one-on-one writing coaching ( if the portal doesn’t publish live URLs, the portal’s readers will see your link: “one-on-one writing coaching (”
  2. Don’t embed multimedia.  Many portals don’t support embedded media. Instead, post audio and video files to your company Web site and include links to the media in your release.
  3. Write a descriptive headline. Your headline gets a header (<h1>) tag on the portal, which means it can deliver huge SEO benefits. To take advantage of this opportunity, use a keyword in your headline. And limit your headline to eight words or less — longer, and it might not fit into the portal’s space for story listings. Besides, short headlines are easier for real readers to grasp at a glance.
  4. Drop the gobbledygook. Nobody searches for words like “world-class,” “cutting-edge” and “next-generation.” Gobbledygook and hype not only clutter up your copy for real readers, they also reduce your chances to use traffic-driving keywords for the search engines, as well. Instead of piling on the jargon and adjectives, describe your product, service or idea and what it will do for your clients and customers. That’s better for search engines — and for human readers.
  5. Keep it short.Limit the body of your release to 250 words. Make it much longer, and portals may cut your release off in the middle. Besides, reading online is onerous. Releases of 250 words or so are easier on the eyes.

Write for Both Audiences

Today’s releases actually serve two audiences — search engines and readers. In the rush to optimize releases for the former, we sometimes forget the latter. Use these techniques to write online releases that serve both.

Learn more

Would you like to learn more techniques for writing online releases? If so, please join me at PRSA’s Sept. 10 teleseminar, “How to Write a Social Media Release: Write Releases That Get Posted on Portals, Help Google Find Your Site, Reach Readers Online and More.” You’ll learn how to write releases that get posted on portals, help Google find your site and reach readers online.


Mihaela Vorvoreanu, “ROI of Online Press Releases” (PDF), Journal of New Communication Research, Society for New Communications Research, 2008.

Rebecca Corliss and Mike Volpe, “How to Be Smarter Than Your PR Agency: New Research on News Release Best Practices,” HubSpot, May 20, 2009.

Ann Wylie, 'president, Wylie CommunicationsBy Ann Wylie, president, Wylie Communications. Ann works with communicators who want to reach more readers and with organizations that want to get the word out. She travels from Hollywood to Helsinki, presenting writing workshops that help communicators at such organizations as NASA, AT&T and H&R Block polish their skills and find new inspiration for their work. For PRSA, she presents programs like “Writing That Sells — Products, Services and Ideas” in on-site sessions across the country. Ann is the author of more than a dozen learning tools, including, a toolbox for writers. In addition to writing and editing, Ann helps organizations launch or revitalize their Web sites and publications. She has served as a public relations professional in an agency, corporate communicator for Hallmark Cards, editor of an executive magazine and consultant in her own firm. Her work has earned more than 60 communication awards, including two IABC Gold Quills. Get a free subscription to her Writing Tips e-zine.

Join Ann for her teleseminars, “Anatomy of a News Release, Pitch and E-Mailed Release: Write Releases That Get Posted on Portals, Help Google Find Your Site, Reach Readers Online and More” and “How to Write a Social Media Release: Write Releases That Get Posted on Portals, Help Google Find Your Site, Reach Readers Online and More.” 

Also, check out  Ann’s new seminar “Get the Word Out Online: How to Write Blog Postings, Tweets and Web Pages That Engage” on Friday, June 18 in San Francisco, CA!

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