Every business is looking to get its name out into the marketplace to advertise its products and services and to attract clients. To get the right exposure can be a very expensive exercise, so businesses are always on the lookout for way of reaching the widest possible audience in the shortest possible time for the least possible outlay. Online press releases offer a cost-effective alternative to traditional advertising.

A well-produced press release can result in massive media publicity for your company. Properly done, your press release will help you get to the top of search engine ratings and will be seen everywhere people search online so generating more traffic for your website.

There are, however, a few simple guidelines that you should follow if your online press release is to achieve the results you want:

• It should have a succinct, compelling title (search engines will truncate titles that are too long resulting in a poor look).

• There should be an introductory paragraph that outlines the basics of the story and encourage readers to read on.

• The body of your online press release should expand on the introductory paragraph and complete the story.

• The final paragraph should tell readers a little about your company and should include contact details.

• Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is vital. All this effectively means is that key words and phrases that people would use to look for you or your product should be included naturally at intervals throughout the piece.

• Audience attention can be held better if your release has a multimedia aspect. Embedded videos, photographs and graphics will make it stand out and will also help with search engine rankings.

• Ideally your releases should be kept at around 500 words. This length is enough to give readers the information you want to put across without intimidating them by a huge block of script that will take an age to read.

To get published, you will need to use an online press release distribution service. The surge in popularity of this media form means that there are a large number of distribution services to choose from; some are free while most charge a fee.

Most reputable distribution services will take you through the whole process of preparing and releasing your news item. They offer advice on writing style and content and will edit your material to ensure that it meets their criteria and stands the best chance of success. Many will even write your online press release for you.

These services have an extensive online distribution network and you should see your release on sites like Google News, Yahoo! News, MSN News and Excite News not too long after distribution. After that, all you have to do is sit back and wait for the inquiries to start rolling in. There are no guarantees, of course, but online press releases are proving to be paramount in generating business. They are the way of the future and are already upon us today.

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