Image: Position your news to maximize your exposure

Google loves news. Or more accurately, it loves new, unique content. It slurps it up and favors it over rehashed, buzzword laden, keyword optimized content. Given how much turmoil SEO has faced for unproven or unsavory practices, communications pros need to consider a fresh approach to building awareness and engagement online.

Every change to the Google Algorithm – from Panda to Penguin to Phantom – has brought more and more scrutiny on SEO practices that abused PR tactics from press release services to content farms. While some are arguing that tactical SEO is dead, we like to focus on the positive rise strategic communications that optimizes news for the best online and offline relationships. Simply put, if your PR is not directly tracked to new revenue you are wasting your money.

The reality is Google’s algorithm and the rest of web indexing and search systems have become increasingly semantic, focusing on natural language and “human” meaning over technical, literal keywords. The folks at Positionly have thought through the implications for what AirPR calls News Engine Optimization and revised the typical SEO approach and process to focus more on brand, content and relatable, content for sentient beings more than bots.

So, how does this differ from SEO?

Search engine optimization is the process of designing, writing, coding, programming and scripting your entire website so that there is a good chance your web pages will appear at the top of search engine queries for your selected keywords.

Optimizing your news involves positioning, messaging and writing your news so that unique terms and topics associated with your brand are picked up and repeated by third parties, your web pages are linked to by journalists and industry influencers, and direct connections can be made between your news and new customers.

The term “news engine optimization” was coined in 2006 by Barry Schwartz, founder of New York Web Development firm RustyBrick and an author at Search Engine Land. Since then, the term has come to represent communications strategies focused on sharing insights, illustrating stories and communicating information that is truly unique to a brand yet directly tied online branding and marketing efforts.

Nearly every innovation in search has been aimed at creating a better experience for the searcher, and news engine optimization takes it a step further. By initially sharing useful information and then ensuring it is shared again by third parties, you almost hand-deliver the info they’re seeking while also building your brand.

To appreciate just how important an NEO strategy is to your PR efforts, consider this: Google is now bigger than both the magazine and newspaper industries.

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Google will earn more than $20 billion in revenue this year from advertising taken from the print media pie, making it almost as big as the entire magazine industry was at its historic peak in 2007.

Why companies, brands and marketers need a news engine optimization strategy

To understand news engine optimization, it’s helpful to consider how brands launch from zero to (hopefully) hero. Take, for example, the startup Superpedestrian, which offers a unique power-assisted wheel that makes bicycling more enjoyable and accessible. They learned the hard way that being stealth is no longer a PR strategy.

Superpedestrian had exclusive press coverage of their launch from the New York Times, but had not made their website live, had no content on the web, no keywords indexed and no Google results for a search of their name. To make matters worse, they did not ask the writer to link to their website. Instead, he linked to the website of the university where the product was first invented.

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Fortunately, this was merely a PR stumble, not a front-endo fail. Superpedestrian began selling their new invention just after Thanksgiving in time for Cyber-Monday. But their experience provides key takeaways for other brands.

We’ve all heard that there’s no such thing as bad press — but wasted press is very real. Getting key pieces of the puzzle in place before sharing your story with the media can go a long way to maximizing your exposure.

Don’t be shy about promoting your online presence while also promoting your business or product. In today’s digital world, the odds are that others will be linking to you. Your strategic footwork ensures they link to the right place, so you can benefit in the long run.