How to improve your online news page
Online press rooms and news pages have been a feature of company websites for a good few years now. Journalists use them to check their facts and access resources such as photos, but they are also used by your customers, suppliers and clients.
A healthy up to date press room also suggests a healthy up to date company. Therefore your press room could be saying a lot more about you than you realise.
The importance of the news page is often overlooked by web managers focusing on how they believe customers should flow through a site. But the truth is that the news page is often the first place customers, suppliers and potential partners head. After all, it is the one place you can find out what is really going on in a company.
But if the main reason for maintaining your news page is to communicate with journalists and other users of your site, the secondary benefit has to be in improving your search engine optimisation (SEO).
Search engines like Google love online news pages, they eat them for breakfast! They are rich in wholesome content and as a result, the search engine thinks that all of that goodness is exactly what searchers must be looking for. You’ll be amazed at what keyword searches root you out once you have a healthy news page.
It is logical if you think about – the average press release is around 500 words long. An article could typically be around a thousand words (this one is just over 900!). For most companies, that’s likely to create more content than on the rest of your website put together. If you are looking to boost your SEO ratings, it could be that you already have an awful lot of content in the shape of past press releases and articles that could help enormously.
Setting up an online press room is pretty straightforward. Especially if you follow our eight point plan:
Sounds simple but if no one can find your news page then it probably isn’t working hard enough for you. News pages often get hidden away in the rush to get customers through the online sales process. If at all possible, make sure there is a link on every page and certainly flag it up from the home page.
Up to date
Nothing speaks louder than an out of date news page. It tells the customer that nothing is happening or worse still, the company can’t be bothered to keep things up to date. If that is how you treat your own website, then what does it say about how you treat your customers?
Find out if it is possible to content manage your news page yourself so that you don’t have to wait for the IT guys to “schedule a Systems Release”. Content management systems are very straightforward to use.
The main currency of the news page and therefore it should be easy for people to view, scroll through and research your press releases. List them in chronological order with the latest release at the top of the list. You should then be able to click on the headline to reach the actual press releases. Each release should be held as a separate file on the site, for maximum SEO Brownie points!
Don’t assume everyone knows your company’s life history. Even if there is an “About us” section elsewhere on the site, it can be good to boil it down on a news page. A brief timeline is a good way to project a strong growth story for small rapidly expanding organisations.
Equally, a chronological summary can help put things into context if you have a long history and a number of corporate changes such as mergers.
Pictures and logos to download
Journalists do download pictures. Make sure your company logo is there, pictures of your spokespeople and the top brass and perhaps pictures of your head office or screen grabs of your website if you are an online business. If relevant, you may want to add other resources such as market reports or expert analysis.
If you’ve won awards it can be good to show them off. Potential customers and journalists will both be impressed by seeing independent endorsements of your good work.
There is a trend towards email only contact details, but for many online users (and especially journalists) this can be as frustrating as dealing with a call centre automated call handling system. It could also be sending out the wrong message. It says that you don’t want to talk to journalists. If your web designers advise you to keep phone numbers off the site, you need to think seriously about what that could be saying to your key audience and weigh up the benefits of accessibility versus the downside of a few customer calls coming into the press office by mistake.
If you are running a TV campaign it is well worth putting a version of the advert on the news page. It can help customers relate what they’ve seen on TV, to the actually company. Plus if you use a piece of music, it is always a good idea to detail what it is and who the artist or composer is. Press offices have been known to get inundated by people being driven half crazy trying to recall the name of the track used in an advert!
For further information please contact Gordon or Liz on 01603 505 845 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org