This is a difficult question to answer with a simple “yes” or “no.” Pretty much any answer when it comes to SEO is situation-dependent, and, therefore, nuanced.
When questioning whether or not to use press releases as part of a greater SEO strategy for your business, it is important that you learn all about them first, and, as such, let’s take a deep dive into their history, use, and abuse when utilized exclusively for higher search rankings. Then, let’s look at a few methods for correctly employing press releases as part of your SEO plan.
What are Press Releases?
The long-standing definition of a press release has been that it is an official statement about an event or company that is given directly to the media about something that may be noteworthy.
The document is meant to inform the journalists about an event in the hopes of such a happening being featured on the news, in the local paper, or on the internet.
Why send Press Releases?
This really cannot be narrowed down to one reason why. For one, companies may have to put their own spin on a disaster that sparked a media backlash. After all, getting out the other side of a story can repair damage to a business’s reputation.
Press releases also allow a newer company to build a positive reputation through extensive mass media coverage that it may not otherwise have received.
However, as technology became more prevalent, businesses found a new and innovative reason to write and send press releases to the media. Of course, that was gaining in-bound links from highly-reputable websites, usually affiliated with news outlets.
That means a turbo boost to an ailing company website’s SEO.
What is the History of SEO and Press Releases?
Let’s focus on this concept for a bit. After all, using press releases to bolster SEO was a genius concept, and these initial moves made by businesses started out well. Unfortunately, like many good ideas, the idea was run into the ground by overuse and abuse.
Since the return on investment became clear, businesses began writing all sorts of press releases about all types of nonsense that was unimportant. You may have been privy to a few of these in your LinkedIn feed. Swapping out office furniture or hiring a new employee, unknown to the area or niche, would be released as late-breaking news.
The result was the exact opposite of what these companies desired. Google started penalizing any sites that carried these spammy links, and the so-called “newswire” sites that crept up during this period were added to those ranks. The press release URLs were also blacklisted as “no follow” links.
That means that while you can still receive links from press releases, they would be “no follow”-branded and would not boost SEO rankings in the least.
Google’s own John Mueller explains, “… we try to ignore links from things like press releases because we know in general companies put the press releases out themselves. But, if these links are out there… you can’t really take them all back.”
Are Press Releases still relevant?
Believe it or not, they are still very relevant. As a matter of fact, there have been many go-to press release examples that smaller businesses should use as inspiration.
The key to writing and sending a successful press release can be summed up easily. Know the reason why you are doing so and run with it. Are you announcing a grand opening? Are you hosting a charity event? Do you have a new product line? Keep your focus on your purpose. As long as it isn’t to gain links for your site. Because that simply no longer works.
What's the easiest way to boost SEO with a Press Release
Simply draft the best press release possible, be sure it is informative and relevant, and ask a legitimate source to post it. You will be sure to capture the attention of your targeted audience, and they will seek out your website, increasing traffic without trickery.
This is why great written content, photos, videos, and niche-related articles are crucial. Hopefully, your site visitors will stay awhile, click different pages, and even share your content on their own websites or social media accounts.
These shares mean loads of quality links leading up to a significant increase in your SEO!
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How do you Create a Valid Press Release?
Try these three simple steps to crafting a masterpiece of a press release:
1. Accomplish Something Newsworthy
It doesn’t have to life-changing, but it should have some meaning or relevance in the grand scheme of things for your business.
You can easily just host an event or conduct some research on a topic that matters to your customers. Even a marked improvement on an existing product is a great opportunity for sending a press release.
2. Write your Press Release
If you channel all your enthusiasm into your draft, you are sure to knock it out of the park!
Invoke a title that is eye-catching and attention-grabbing that really zeroes in on your demographic. Then, detail what you need to say in a manner that is similar to an article from an old-fashioned newspaper. Be sure to check grammar, punctuation, and spelling so the recipient can simply copy and paste the article without editing it first.
Keep it succinct and to the point. Write in the third person, as well, so your press release will have an all-inclusive feel.
You can add screenshots, photographs, and links, as well, to illustrate important points.
3. Send your Press Release to Journalists
Do your research. Send your press release to media journalists that are highly likely to publish it. Don’t spam scores of media personalities looking for a sympathetic ear. Look for a reporter that already covers your field on a daily basis.
Press releases and SEO can go hand-in-hand. But, the truth is that spamming reporters with press releases to get coverage and backlinks from a reputable news site is a deceitful practice, and Google is on to the ruse, so it will never work again.
However, if you want to increase SEO with press releases that are published by interested parties and read by your target audience, consisting of your most likely potential customers, you will naturally gain website traffic, new clients, fans, and social media followers.
So, yes, off page SEO can be boosted this way, and the benefits of press releases only come to fruition when they are used in a professional and tasteful manner.