Understanding Google for Increasing Press Release ROI

16 Dec Understanding Google for Increasing Press Release ROI

When our clients issue press releases, specifically clients who haven’t engaged in a formal PR program before (but, even some who have), we often get the same questions:  Wow, why is this so expensive and is it worth the cost?  In other words, what is my return on investment?  Although there are best practices in place to help respond to these inquiries, keep costs as low as possible, and provide peace of mind, the real answers for these questions are certainly specific to each client and each news announcement.  Additionally, those best practices are ever evolving based on the functionality of search engines as well as how we measure and determine metrics and analyze them against the news goals, social media and more.

That’s why, as PR professionals, it is important for us to stay on top of the game.  We have to know how to achieve our clients’ goals and make sure stakeholders, customers, industry execs, and especially reporters are reading our news releases over our competitors.

A few weeks ago, I sat in on a webinar that BusinessWire held that provided some updated information on those evolving factors I mentioned earlier, and I felt like one, in particular, was too important not to share.  The truth is, Google is a huge SEO behemoth that can make or break the visibility of press releases we’re all distributing.  And, there are some things we all can start to better understand to help us leverage Google as best as possible.

In case you missed it (I haven’t yet found an archived replay to share), here’s a brief recap of Google’s recent changes and a few other tips about how you can work with the largest search engine out there to help maximize your ROI; some from BusinessWire guru Gabriel Chapman’s presentation mixed with my commentary.

Understand the Google Algorithm

For some background and for those who need a general understanding, Google defines algorithm as “computer programs that look for clues to give you back exactly what you want.”  So, basically, algorithms determine what you see and the order in which you see it when you conduct a basic search.  Google uses cute little animal names for their algorithms: Penguin, Pigeon, Panda and Hummingbird.  I’m not going to get into what they all do, but the bottom line is you want to make sure that these algorithms perceive your press release and content in a way that puts you on top of a search and makes sure your release gets the most visibility and ROI.

The main thing to know about Google’s algorithm, specifically, is that they’ve recently made a bunch of updates promoting high quality over low quality content.  This puts a higher value on original content with thoughtful analysis or new content, like valuable news.  According to Chapman, the goal “is to encourage webmasters to publish content that is the best of its kind for the best search results.”    

Write for Search

Before you even begin writing your press release, you’ll want to have “search” in mind.  In fact, you can even Google ahead of time to make sure you’re on track.  Chapman provides these tips for “Using Google to Research How People Search:” 

  • Use Google tools to research and learn “real time” user behavior- what people are searching for right now
  • Include what your target audience found interesting about your news BEFORE writing the press release
  • Write a press release that anticipates questions reporters, analysts, and other readers will ask


Also, before you get started, consider what other types of content you’ll want to use to accompany your release, i.e. links and video, infographics, images. In my last post, I commented on the importance of video for SEO:

“SEO, SEO, SEO.  Because videos are incredibly more likely to be shared than traditional content, this means the effect on your SEO could be immense.  And for mega search site Google, they are starting to care way more about quality than keywords. Meaning, the more validated the content is via sharing, the better SEO you’ll get.  In addition, search is also including social media. So all of those shares could be worth even more than you think for moving your content to the top of the results list.”

Use Google Tools

You’ll also want to check out two important tools provided by Google before you get your release out there:  Google Autocomplete and Google Trends.  These are both things I know you are familiar with, but maybe consider more for your everyday search than gaining intel for release writing.

Google Autocomplete is a tool that uses commonly searched words and phrases to literally autocomplete your search.  You know, when you start typing something into Google Search and it recommends a bunch of ways to finish what you’ve started typing?  That’s it.  Chapman and I agree that this is such a quick and easy way to check out what’s hot related to your release topic and make sure you’re not missing out on anything major.   A great tip from Chapman: For best results, use a clean browser to avoid biased results based on location and prior search history.

Google Trends is a tool that clues you in to popular and trending topics up to the minute.  You can even set up Google Trends like Google Alerts, customizing them to topics that matter most to you.  This gives you some insight to the bigger picture regarding your release topic and may help you determine a direction or attention grabber to expand your reach based on what people are already paying attention to.

Issuing an effective press release requires a different process every time. But, by taking a look at some of the tools provided by Google, we gain some insight on how to increase visibility of press releases even before we write them, ultimately achieving higher ROI.  Of course, individual release goals and measurement are important, too, but we’ll save that for another post!


Kate Nesbitt
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