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As we discussed in our post on using PR for SEO, press releases can be something of a hidden weapon in your college marketing department’s SEO arsenal. If used properly, SEO press releases can:

  • Provide backlinks from credible sites – increasing the rank of your program pages for relevant keywords
  • Boost your college’s online presence by increasing visibility on search engines and Google and Yahoo News
  • Provide thousands of headline impressions on RSS feeds (from blogs, relevant websites, news outlets, etc.)
  • Generate potential media coverage for your college

To get these benefits, you have to make sure your press release follows both PR and SEO best practices.

Here are some tips on optimizing your press releases:

Be News-y
This probably sounds silly, but it needs emphasizing: your press release has to have a news-y angle to it. Before you start panicking, however, take a moment to think about how much “news” a career college or university generates over the course of the year. From open houses, seminars, workshops to new programs, courses and faculty, there are countless PR opportunities. Make sure you take advantage of them.

Follow Typical PR Formatting
Press releases generally follow the same format, involving: a title, summary (usually in the form of a 1-2 line sub-headline), body, a paragraph or two about the college or university, and then the contact information. Don’t try to re-invent the wheel. Follow the standard format.

Titles and summaries should be keyword rich, and the body should include 1-2 quotes and be roughly 300 words in length. The “about us” paragraph, meanwhile, should be a sort of “elevator pitch” about your college.

Here is a typical PR template (which you can download online) that provides a visual cue to what we’ve just outlined:

PR Template










Click here for more tips on press release formatting.

Front Load Your Title
Put the focus on important keywords right from the start by stuff the most informative and eye-catching words at the front of the title.  We’d recommend, however, to keep titles under 100 characters in length.

Use Keywords
Like any other content optimization, press releases need to be keyword-rich. Ideally, you should try to use 3-4 keywords or keyword phrases in the body of your press release. The title and sub-title, however, should also be keyword rich.

Use Links Effectively
Add links back to your program pages. This way, not only will your release rank for those keywords, it will also drive traffic back to your college website. Also, make sure to use relevant, keyword-rich anchor text. For example:

  • Do not use “click here” as an anchor text
  • Do use something with more SEO impact, like:
    “Click here for to request a free website audit.”

Format for the short attention span
Try to bold or italicize keywords, and add bullet lists where possible. This makes your press release easier and less intimidating to read and can also enhance SEO (by showing search engine crawlers what your keywords are).

Incorporate Multimedia and Logos
Many people still have a view of press releases as being something old or traditional. Well, there’s nothing old about an online press release incorporating videos, audio, photos and links to podcasts. Don’t be afraid to jazz up your PR. Inserting school and department logos, meanwhile, can be a great branding tool.

Use Online News release Distributors
Online news distributor sites like PRWeb, Marketwire and CNW are an essential component of an SEO press release. These sites can:

  • Get your PR indexed by top news search engines
  • Deliver your release to subscribers via RSS feeds
  • Increase exposure
  • Track and measure the performance of your release

These sites may be costly, but they absolutely worth the expense. If you’re still not convinced, here is a handy video explaining “PRWeb in Plain English”:

YouTube video

Tie the release to your site
Don’t just send your press release out into the ether. Create a news section, or “newsroom” on your college website. This way you can post press releases – or a post on your blog linking to the press release – and tie it into your program pages.

What other suggestions do you have for optimizing press releases?