They’re not something a lot of people associate with the web, but the old publicity tool which is the press release has become one of the most effective ways to drive traffic, increase sales and generally raise the profile of your business online. A well written, search engine optimized press release created with the online world in mind can do wonders for your business.

Not only does a press release stand on its own as a piece of SEO web content which links to your site and may be found by prospective customers, a good press release may be picked up and used by any number of websites or even print and broadcast media. This is the kind of exposure any business could use – and once you know how to write an effective online press release, your business can start reaping the benefits.

Start by identifying your story; every press release needs to have a strong, coherent narrative which tells the reader about something which is genuinely newsworthy. What’s newsworthy, you ask? This is one of the hardest things about press releases for newcomers – keep in mind that just because you’re excited about something doesn’t make it news.

If your business is launching or re-launching its website, that’s newsworthy. If you’re introducing a new product or service (unless this is a frequent occurrence), it’s newsworthy. If your business has had changes in senior level personnel or earned an important certification, this is also news. Have a look at some of the press release websites to get an idea of what makes the cut.

As with any other writing, your headline has to be strong. The headline should tell the story in the fewest words possible. Keep it brief, keep it catchy but avoid hype.

While we’re on the topic of hype, it’s important to mention that it has no place in a press release – this is a news item, not a sales pitch. A press release which tries to make sales directly is one which has no future and more than likely no readers either.

A press release needs to tell its story in an objective way. There is one place for subjective statements in this format, which is in the form of attributions. These quotations from company insiders or spokespersons (in this case, you) can be used to make statements which wouldn’t otherwise be appropriate in a press release.

This doesn’t mean that you can copy and paste your sales pitch and surround it with quotation marks, however. A few well-chosen sentences which avoid going overboard yet still getting your own point of view across will do nicely. When you use them the right way, attributions add credibility to your press release and put a human face on your business, something which can be very effective. Remember that prospective customers may read this – the search engines are not your only, or even your primary audience here.

Follow the standard formatting for press releases when writing your online release. You can look at how other releases are put together and use them as a model. Keep your press release short and to the point – many press releases are as short as 200 words. You don’t have to make it quite this short, but don’t go over one page.

Include contact information in your press release. You’ll definitely want to include the URL of your site and your business email address and a phone or fax number and mailing address are always good to include as well. This gives the impression that you’re a well established business and if website or media outlet wants to cover your company based on your press release, they’ll be able to contact you easily.

Writing press releases for traffic generation doesn’t have to be difficult, but there are some important rules to follow and it can take some practice to get it right. By following the guidelines given here, you’ll be on your way to increasing traffic, driving sales and making a name for your business.

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