In days of old (pre-Al Gore and the Internet) when a media outlet ran a press release or did an article or story based on a release, consumers interested in that product or service called or visited the location for more information. Post Al Gore, those readers visit the Web site instead of picking up the phone or making the trip.
Now, the media outlet running the release or doing the story may never mention your Web address in the piece. Still, it’s become habit for most people to look up a company’s Web site as the first point of inquiry and a Google search for a specific site prompted by media coverage is a pretty common occurrence. That segues nicely into the next way PR generates traffic for your Web site: free press release distribution sites.
Any pr agency worth their salt will also send out press releases via free distribution sites like Prfree.com, Sanepr.com and others. These sites post thousands of releases on thousands of topics on one single Web site. These releases are filled with even more links to additional Web sites. For those of you unfamiliar with search engine optimization, the number of links pointing towards your site can dramatically improve your search engine rankings. So, if one site with literally thousands of links runs your release, you stand a better chance of getting a higher ranking. For example:
You send out a release on Widgets. Your release emphasizes how your widgets are less expensive than others. Several times during the release you mention “cheap widgets.” You post the release on Prfree.com. A consumer looking for widgets does a search on “cheap widgets.” Because you’ve used that term several times in your release and because it’s on a site with thousands of links to other Web sites that receive traffic, your widget release will probably rank fairly high on the consumer’s search. And by clicking on that release, the consumer sees a link to your site and goes to check out those cheap widgets as well as, hopefully, your other products and services.
Having a pressroom on your site to house your releases provides another nice source of traffic. Since press releases are generally about specific topics, you can incorporate search engine-friendly keywords in the release. By posting it on your site, you also have the benefit of using those same keywords in your title and meta tags as well. The title tag is the description of the page that you see at the top of the browser (e.g. the blue bar in your Internet Explorer). The meta tag is the description of the page. If you are not familiar with these terms, please ask your Web master.
By employing the above tact, it’s not uncommon for a press release to draw a higher ranking and the traffic ahead of the Home, About Us or Services page. As long as you have a menu on the press release page so the reader can get to the other pages of your site, you’re in good shape.
Yet for all the “high-tech” ways to drive traffic to your Web site, there’s an old school method that still does the trick. Using your press release as a collateral piece after it’s been released to the media. Whether it’s as a handout at a speaking engagement or networking meeting or sitting on display in your waiting area, a press release provides insight into a specific part of your company and the information—namely the Web address—to find out more. And that’s the true mission of any press release or ensuing coverage, to entice the reader/viewer to want to find out more.
Next up, pointers on having a Web site that seals the deal.