by John Eberhard

Search engine optimization (SEO) today typically consists of two components:

1. “On-page optimization,” which means doing keyword research and then writing titles and descriptions using the keywords and inputting that data onto the pages of a web site.

2. “Off-page optimization,” which means link building. This is the process where you create links on other web sites that link to your web site. This improves your ranking on search engines and leads to more traffic.

It is possible to just do the “on-page optimization,” but it is much more effective if you also do a link building program for a period of time, usually 6-12 months or more. And by more effective, I mean you will get much more increased traffic to the site from search engines.

One action my company has done as part of link building campaigns, for the last 6 years, is online PR. So what exactly is online PR?

Online PR is where you write a press release about the activities of your company, and then this gets posted in various places online. The press release is written in journalistic style, usually at least 300 words. We have found that some of the topics that can be used for a press release are:

1. Some actual event that occurred with the company, such as a new web site, new product or service released, new person hired or promoted, company receives award or certification, company exhibiting at trade show, company holding seminar, etc.

2. The company just completed some service with one of their clients to a good result.

3. Company releases some list of useful information or recommendations to the public, related to the company’s activity. Or company warns public of some danger.

4. You can write a release about one of the company’s services. It does not have to be a newly released service. You do not state it’s a new service but sort of imply it.

Once written, then the idea is to get the press out where it will create links back to your web site. Depending on how aggressive you want to get, here are some places where you can post a press release online:

a. Free online PR sites. There are a variety of these. My company typically posts client press releases on five of them, each selected because if accepted the press release will also be posted on Google News. These sites tend to be rather arbitrary in their rules of what they will accept, hence our practice of posting to five of them. Also when they do accept the releases these sites tend to rank very highly on search engines, thus giving what I call a high quality link.

b. Blogs. We maintain blogs for client news, and we have also put up client news blogs on a number of free blogging sites. We also often set up blogs for each client on the free blogging sites. We post the release to all these, including 3 keywords in the release linked back to the client web site.

c. Paid PR sites. I typically have not used these in the past but just starting using a paid PR site last month and my client’s release ran on 105 sites, including a number of sites for major daily newspapers. So I am starting to implement that for a number of press release clients.

The main purpose of press releases and online PR for me up until now has been part of search engine optimization and building up links. But with paid PR sites we can add getting the release to run in a lot of media web sites to the equation. And each of those counts as links too.

Online PR is a powerful way to create high quality links to your web site, as part of SEO.