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Guide to Writing Great Web Copy

Nov 23, 2011   //   by John Britsios   //   Copywriting, Press Releases, SEO Blog  //  9 Comments

Writing great web copy is no less a skill than an art form.  The main theme to keep in mind is “write with the reader in mind first.”  People online are looking for information, and they want it yesterday.

If your document is even just a little too complex, your readers have one more reason to visit another site.  Therefore, writing with the idea of keeping things simple is important as well.

Aside from those two general guidelines, there are a few more specific rules to closely follow.  Following these rules will maximize the appeal of your content to your readers:

1. Ensure your articles are easy to read.

Web readers have short attention spans and little patience.  If your article is too complex or dense, they’ll quickly move on to another site.  On the web, “easy to read” generally means the following:

  1. Headlines are 45-64 characters and contain one of your keywords;
  2. Your keywords seamlessly blend in with the surrounding text;
  3. Sentences are 60-70 characters each;
  4. Paragraphs are 135-210 characters (including spaces), but ideally are 180-210 characters;
  5. Paragraphs are a maximum of three sentences long.

Effective online writing is all about making your idea as simple to understand as is possible for your readers.  Also, be sure to always avoid fancy words and unnecessary adjectives and phrases.

2.  Use headlines with a logical flow to keep your reader’s attention.

The title of your article should be attention grabbing and unique.  “How To” and “Top Ten” type titles are currently popular, but don’t be afraid to experiment.

Additionally, most online readers do not read every word of an article.  The reader should be able to understand your entire article by only reading its’ sub-headings.

By answering the question, “What’s in it for me?” for your reader, you are making your article appealing to your audience.

3.  Ensure your content contains calls to action.

All online content is ultimately about selling.  The content may not be selling a product or service, but every site wants visitors to return.

In order to grow your traffic, place a call to action on every page.  Here are a few quick tips for effective calls to action:

  • Place them on the front and center of your page if possible;
  • If not, make them very noticeable;
  • Develop an emotional connection with your visitors;
  • Make sure to use urgent language;
  • Make them easy, requiring as few steps as is possible;
  • Add in a free offer;
  • Use statistics to increase your authority.

4.  Ensure your content is completely error-free.

If you’re not a great proofreader, find someone who is.  Readers may forgive one or two mistakes, but even these can distract attention from your primary message.

Google’s algorithm is also becoming increasingly sensitive to spelling and grammar errors.  This trend will probably only increase in the future.  Therefore, it’s important to start following this rule now.

5.  Always answer the visitor’s main question:  “What’s in it for me?”

If you don’t make the answer to this question obvious, your readers will leave in a hurry.  The first few words of your web copy must engage your readers.

A great way to scare away readers is by saying, “Hello and welcome to Company X!”  Does this introduction capture your attention?  Instead, try,“What if you could lose weight and eat any food you want?”

By answering, “What’s in it for me?” as quickly and simply as possible, you’ll catch your readers’ attention.  Once you’ve gained their attention, then you can start telling them information about your company.

By Following These Tips, You’re on Your way to Copywriting Success! 

The preceding tips were not all of the tips required to write great copy.  But, they are a great starting point.

By following these basic starting points, you’re well on your way to successfully writing copy that stands out on the web.

John Britsios

John S. Britsios (aka Webnauts), founder and CEO of SEO Workers and Webnauts Net, is an Information Retrieval & Social Semantic Web Consultant, specializing in oblique search engine optimization, social media marketing, conversion rate optimization, web content accessibility and usability testing.Feel free to follow him on Twitter.

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How to Write Better Press Release Headlines

Mar 9, 2010   //   by Mickie Kennedy   //   Press Releases, SEO Blog  //  34 Comments

What’s the most important factor that determines whether your press release gets read by an editor or thrown away? It’s the headline. With editors and journalists receiving hundreds of press releases each day, they typically scan over the headlines to determine which ones seem interesting enough to read fully.

With that in mind, your goal is to write a powerful headline that sucks cynical editors and journalists in, making them want to learn more about your story. This gives your press release the best chance of getting picked up, earning your company valuable coverage.

Here are some tips to write better press release headlines.

  • Strive for being clear rather than clever—Don’t write your headline to impress other writers by showing how “clever” you are. Editors are only concerned with trying to figure out what your story is about. Your press release headline should clearly reflect what’s covered in the body of your press release. Focus on answering as many of the who, what, when, where, why, and how questions in your headline as possible.

    Here’s a little test you can run to determine if your headline is clear enough or not. Send just the headline to several friends. Ask them to describe what they think the rest of the story is about. If they can’t make a decent guess, it’s probably time to rewrite your headline.

  • Make sure the headline is accurate—Don’t try to trick editors into reading your press release by misleading them in your headline. A misleading headline might grab their attention for a moment, but it will lead to them getting upset when they find out you’ve duped them. This will cause you to lose all credibility, and it will burn any potential relationships you have with the media.
  • Ditch the hype—Sure, the goal of press release distribution is to build brand awareness and to create a buzz around your brand. However, that doesn’t mean you should treat your press release like an advertisement for your products and services. It’s not. So, your headline shouldn’t sound like Billy Mays (RIP) wrote it. By all means, be interesting, but above all else, be factual and straightforward.
  • Lists work—There’s no denying it: List headlines just work. You see them on blogs, magazine covers, and in newspapers. The reasons lists work are because they clearly describe what the story is about, are easy to scan through quickly, and can create controversy and debate.

    So, when you’re thinking of an angle for your press release, try to find a way to structure it in list form. I think you’ll find it gets a lot more attention than most other headline formats.

  • Keep it short—If you can’t get the main idea across in about 10 words or less, you don’t have a good enough grasp on what your message really is. Remember, the reporters and editors you’re sending your press release to are in a hurry. They’ll likely only give you a few seconds of their attention, so you need to get your message across quickly. Focus on creating concise headlines that clearly deliver your message. Write several different versions of your headline to find the perfect combination of brevity and clarity.
  • Include the targeted keyword—Never forget the importance of optimizing your press release. The search engines tend to favor press releases, giving them high rankings for the targeted keywords. Always try to get your main keyword in the headline, and whenever possible, place it toward the front of the headline.

Do you use press releases to spread the word about your business? How have your press release marketing efforts helped your business? Share your thoughts by leaving a comment.

This article is written by Mickie Kennedy, founder of eReleases, the online leader in affordable press release distribution. Grab your free copy of the Big Press Release Book – Press Releases for Every Occasion and Industry here: press release samples

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5 Ways to Get Your Press Release Picked Up By The Media

Dec 1, 2008   //   by Dana Willhoit   //   Press Releases, SEO Blog, Social Media  //  2 Comments

In my 17 years as a newspaper reporter, I can not even count how many times an editor had me go through stacks of press releases that were faxed to us, to see if there was anything worth printing. Usually the answer was no.

Obviously every single person who sends a press release hopes their press release is worth running in the newspaper.

Most of them get it dead wrong. And 99 percent of them end up in what we call “The Round File” – otherwise known as the garbage can. Which means the press release writer wasted their time and money faxing their press release to us.

Here are some ways to make your press release newsworthy and figure out if a particular media outlet would be interested in your story:

  1. If it’s a small local paper, radio station, or TV station, they are looking for local news. If you self-published a book or just created a new product that you want to market…you need to find a local angle or the media will not be interested. If you live in town, that can be a local angle. If there is no local angle you are likely wasting your time and paper sending the press release to them. Blasting your press release to every media outlet in the country isn’t going to increase the chances that it will get published.
  2. Come up with a charitable angle – donate 20 percent of your sales to a particular charity in your town, or some variation of this. Let all of the local media in your town know.
  3.