Does your company website have a press section? If so, this post is for you!
UpBuild has been privileged to work with scores of organizations that are doing exciting and impactful work. As wonderful as it is to see recognition of that work bear fruit (e.g., high-value natural links and improved EAT signals), that same press attention is often underutilized for SEO.
This post will explore concrete ways to boost your press section SEO. What follows are my best tips to optimize your press section to get the maximum SEO benefit and return on your investment of time and effort.
Press Sections, Defined
Before going further, I should clarify what I mean by “press section” so that we’re all on the same page.
Press Section (of a website): a parent category and child posts, in which each post corresponds to a piece of press coverage about the company.
Below are a handful of examples of press sections that are not yet living up to their SEO potential. Check back soon (I’ll update this post in the future) to see how they’ve fared.
I’m sure you know what I’m talking about now. The organizations in my examples above are doing a fine job at highlighting the coverage they’ve earned in the press; they’re just not realizing the SEO benefit from that coverage that they could.
Before getting into the SEO maximization strategy, let me enumerate some of the top SEO mistakes that websites run into with their Press Sections.
Top Press Section SEO Mistakes
- Not having a press section at all: While it may seem obvious to tout your glowing press coverage (when you’re fortunate enough to get it), there are plenty of great companies out there doing newsworthy things that have never thought to spin up a press section. A press section is relatively easy to spin up (it’s functionally equivalent to having a secondary “blog”), and there’s no time like the present. If you want to get the maximum benefit from the press that you’re already getting, this is your opening ante; the table stakes. You can’t play the game without taking this vital first step.
- Linking directly to the source: When a website links directly from its press category to the original source, it forfeits any opportunity it had to be a part of the conversation. If all a Press Section is is a series of title + snippet + “Read More” for each piece of coverage, search engines are only “seeing” a single page with dozens of links out to other sites — a page with no inherent value of its own. This is a common mistake that typically results from simply not knowing any better.
- Using generic anchor link text: A general rule in SEO is the more context you provide, the better. “Read more,” “click here,” or — worst of all — “source,” “link,” or “website” don’t do a reader any good as link text. They don’t help search engines, and they’re certainly not helpful to your human readers. Get specific and write link anchor text that says exactly what it is you’re linking to.
Those are a few of the issues we see regularly. Once you’ve confirmed you’re not hamstrung by any of those, take advantage of the tactics below.
10 Tactics to Optimize Press Coverage for Search
- Use your words: I have mixed feelings about recommending specific word counts because it implies that achieving great SEO can be reduced to just hitting minimum thresholds. On the other hand, words matter. We all want to search engines to understand why our websites exist and why they deserve to rank, but even though improvements such as machine learning play a more significant role than ever before, we still have to give robots some raw material. For each child post within your Press Section, I’d recommend shooting for at least 150 words. I love to see as many as 300, but that’s not feasible as a blanket recommendation; it’s a lot to write.
- Toot your own horn and tell a story: If you try to write 150 words explaining that, “NBC wrote a piece about our company. Clark Kent wrote it. They published it on April 1st. You can read it on their website…” you’re going to bore yourself and your audience. You’re also giving search engines nothing to work with. Instead, I recommend this process:
- Read the original article a few times to get it in your head.
- Step away from your keyboard for five to ten minutes.
- Return and, starting from a blank sheet of digital paper, summarize the article based on what you remember (don’t leave the source publication open in a tab or otherwise revisit it). You’re leveraging your subjective memory to create an easy rewrite that’s going to be additive, not duplicative.
- With that as your raw material, add in the following WHYs:
- Why did they cover your organization? It’s OK to speculate.
- Why is this important to you? Why is this recognition important to your mission?
- Why is your organization excited about this? Alternatively, why aren’t you excited?
- Thank your journalists: This should manifest in two ways.
- Be sure to thank the author in your write-up!
- Find a way to get in touch with the author directly (via email, social media, etc.) to thank them personally. Pro Tip: Do this after you’ve posted your write-up to your Press Section and let them see it.
- Use context-rich anchor text: See the #3 pitfall above. In short, avoid “read more;” be specific with the words that make up your anchor text to provide context.
- Interlink with prior coverage and relevant pages: If the publication in question has covered you before, include that information in your current write-up and link back to that previous coverage. Along similar lines, be sure that your write-up also links to relevant pages on your site (internal linking FTW).
- Pique interest to entice the click: With press stories, it’s less about trying to rank a given URL for an “SEO keyword” and more about getting humans to want to check out the recognition you’ve received. Yes, this is SEO advice focused on machines, but thinking about people will generate success.
- Write a compelling page title: Use this tool to validate its length for search.
- Write a click-worthy meta decision (and og:description): Use this tool to test your meta description length.
- Set a featured image: If your CMS gives you the ability to set your featured image, take advantage of that and be sure it’s eye-catching.
- Use the <more> tag to tease the story from the parent Press category.
- Ensure it’s shareable: Back in 2012, I was really into adding social sharing buttons to websites. So much so that I coined the term FASS Buttons (Fast-Action Social Sharing), and, though it never caught on, I stand by my reasons for promoting it. It behooves the authors of quality web pages and content to make those assets as shareable as possible with the least friction. The recommendation to enable sharing doesn’t mean including all the social networks (no one Diggs anything anymore), nor does it mean adding a clunky plugin into your tech stack that adds five whole seconds to your page load time. I encourage folks to add a concise selection of the most impactful social media channel for your organization. That may be LinkedIn and Email; Pinterest, Instagram, and Facebook; Twitter and Pocket. Determine where your audience is and where you already have some traction, and then make it as easy as possible for readers to keep pushing that flywheel.
- Avoid technical SEO pitfalls: I’m opening a bottomless can of worms here, but pay attention to technical SEO. Technical SEO is a challenging topic to tackle concisely in a post focused on a single website feature like Press Sections because its implications are site-wide. Nonetheless, I’d be remiss if I didn’t at least mention it. Here are a few technical SEO issues I’d strongly recommend looking out for when it comes to your Press Section.
- Avoid using full-resolution, un-scaled imagery: This post from WPBeginner makes the case well and provides specific steps to optimize your images. You don’t have to be using WordPress to benefit from what it recommends.
- Be mindful of page speed: Test it here.
- Ask about links: This is a “Choose Your Own Adventure” that depends on the situation in which you find yourself.
- When coverage has no links: We’ll frequently see press hits come through for clients that, although they cover the organization favorably, lack any links to the organization in question. Occasionally, the outlet that wrote the coverage has editorial guidelines that encourage their authors to avoid including links to outside sources. In those cases, that’s not something you have control over. However, often it’s a simple oversight on their part. If a press mention doesn’t link to your company (or your client), attempt to contact the original author* and politely ask if they can link to the appropriate website. Don’t forget to thank them for their work, too! * Under no circumstances should you send an email that opens with “Dear website administrator.” Find out how to get in touch with the real author.
- When coverage has non-ideal links: This recommendation is getting into nitpicking territory, so use your discretion. Technical SEO teams have been aware of the dangers of redirect chains for years, but that doesn’t mean journalists have any idea that a redirected URL causes a site to hemorrhage SEO value over time. Check the press coverage to see if they’re linking to the non-WWW version of your site, which is immediately redirected to the WWW version. Check to see if they’re linking to your insecure HTTP version rather than HTTPS. Also, be on the lookout for links they’ve included that are outright broken (leading to 404 errors).
- Don’t write off bloggers and YouTubers: Would you like to know a surefire way to make bloggers and vloggers love your brand even more? Show them they’re just as valued by your organization as the “regular press.” Use this selectively and with caution, of course (not all vlogs or blogs are of the highest quality), but from time to time, you might want to broaden the lens of your press section and include coverage from non-journalistic bloggers and folks with YouTube channels. Also, keep in mind that a video feature from an online publication (Forbes, Entrepreneur, BusinessInsider) might only appear on YouTube.
Oh, and don’t forget podcasts! This type of interview coverage can often fall between journalistic publications and social media, and more often than not, makes it a perfect fit for a website’s Press Section.
There you have it. Implementing these ten tactics will ramp up the results and ROI of your press section SEO, more than you might expect. Run with them and let me know what kind of lift you see after a few weeks. I’ll be updating this post with my results as well.
Until next time, happy optimizing!