10 August 2009
By Steve Momorella
 
The management team at TEKgroup has been working together on websites since before 1996. We’re well aware of the importance of search engine optimization (SEO) for all types of sites – online newsrooms, consumer sites and e-commerce sites. Depending upon client needs, we advise appropriately, and develop software features to enhance SEO.
 
As TEKgroup has a Top 20 Elements to Have in an Online Newsroom and Top 5 Functions to Have in an Online Newsroom, so there exists a Top 10 Tactics to Improve Content Search Performance written by Lee Odden, CEO of TopRank Online Marketing, an Internet marketing agency that specializes in search engine marketing. Interestingly, Lee addressed online newsroom optimization in the seventh position of his list, stating how the categorization of press releases is useful to search engines. This is true, as is the case that journalists prefer that releases be organized by type of news within an online newsroom. A fact recorded by results of the annual TEKgroup Online Newsroom Survey.
 
Other SEO-friendly features and checklist items mentioned by Odden include RSS feed subscriptions, share/save bookmarks, cross-links, optimized title tags and more. As web content management software developers, we know the effect this type of functionality has on optimization; therefore, we provide all of these features as standard ingredients of the TEKgroup Online Newsroom.
 
We thought it would be helpful to delve a little deeper into some of the points we’ve learned over the past 10 years in relation to online newsroom search engine optimization.
 
Leverage current URL
Use a URL such as news.companyname.com, newsroom.companyname.com, or media.companyname.com. This structure is accepted by 81 percent of journalists who believe it is important. This type of URL will also enable you to take advantage of the optimization that has already been established – paid and earned – by your organization’s consumer site. Visitors can visually digest a branded online newsroom as the “official” online newsroom for your organization.
 
Common mistakes have been to use a URL that contains the vendor’s name, to create a new URL that has not achieved any traction and worse yet, to create a mirror site. A mirror site is a URL set up for the sole purpose of pointing to the main site. Not only does it not help SEO, it can actually harm your endeavor since Google and Yahoo many penalize your ranking because of it.
 
Update content frequently
Granted, the reverse chronological listing of press releases will be refreshed when you distribute a new release, but it is beneficial to also update your online newsroom on a daily or weekly basis. Promoting different sections within the online newsrooms such as photographs, video, or special events is a good way to keep the momentum going.
 
We often see company’s providing PDF and Word documents for their press releases. While search engines are improving at parsing these documents, you will see better results if you supply your press releases in an HTML text format, first and foremost. You can always append the text release with a PDF and Word document, if preferred. Several comments submitted by journalists in the 2009 TEKgroup Online Newsroom Survey have demonstrated their dislike for press releases in a PDF format. One journalist stated “No press releases in PDF-only form. Those are irritating.”
 
Optimize individual releases
Create a subject-specific URL, title, meta keyword and meta description for each press release within your online newsroom. If the content of your release deals with a particular matter, make sure the URL reflects those keywords instead of showing a long URL with several unrelated characters and numbers. A good example can be found in the Curves Online Newsroom at http://news.curves.com/press+releases/fit+mom+of+4.htm. And of course, use keywords within the body of the press release for higher keyword density.
 
Although the TEKgroup Online Newsroom provides features that make it easy to create an optimized social media release, we sometimes see clients not utilizing links to or integration with Twitter, Digg, Facebook, LinkedIn, and other networks. Enhance the popularity of your content by linking to your external environments, and more importantly, linking back to your organization’s official online newsroom from those external environments.
 
Go beyond Google
Google is certainly the most popular search engine; however, if you want better results, make sure your content is also available on other engines such as Yahoo and MSN Bing. Your online newsroom will achieve higher search engine visibility with greater relevance if more external links are directed to its content. Don’t forget additional news-related link directories as well.
 
There a many other details to consider when optimizing an online newsroom, but most them are automatically handled within the TEKgroup Online Newsroom, including a site map with automatic updates and a properly set robots.txt page that will ensure the automatic retrieval of your web pages by search engines, also known as “spidering.”
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