Five years ago, SEO experts and Digital PR agencies would call you crazy if you didn't use press releases as part of your SEO strategy. But is the practice still relevant today?
It's only natural to wonder, “Do press releases work?” After all, you spend a lot of time writing content, doing keyword research, and submitting articles to news sites. You should know if these efforts are paying off (considering that each can cost anywhere from $400 to $2,000) — if not, you can turn your attention to more important parts of your SEO campaigns.
We're here to chime in on the “Do press releases help SEO?” debate. The short answer is, yes, they can. But you must follow certain practices to make the most of your efforts (and prevent them from hurting you rather than helping you). Read on to discover more about the relevancy of press releases in today's Digital PR and SEO world and how you can optimize your strategy.
Table of Contents
- What Is a Press Release?
- How Press Releases Are Supposed to Help SEO
- The Abuse of Press Releases
- Are Press Releases Dead?
- Are Press Releases Still Good for SEO?
- Are Press Releases Effective?
- The Bottom Line — Do Press Releases Help SEO?
What Is a Press Release?
Before we get into the theory behind press releases and SEO, let's define a press release.
A press release can be in the form of an audio or video file, but it's typically a written article. It comes from an organization that wants to announce news to the press. Ideally, the news should be interesting, relevant, and related to the organization's operations.
Once a company writes a press release, it submits it to online news platforms for publishing.
How Press Releases Are Supposed to Help SEO
The answer to the question “Do press releases help SEO?” is technically yes. However, you must examine the context of one's campaign.
In the past, having press releases on publishing sites had a big impact on a company's SEO. And it was largely thanks to the presence of outbound links throughout the content.
These outbound links not only drove new traffic to their sites but also showed Google that they were an authoritative figure in their industry. Thus, the search engine would reward them with higher rankings.
While there's debate surrounding “Do press releases help SEO?”, it's no secret that backlinks can help you boost your rankings. The search engine considers sites linking to your pages as votes of confidence.
To prove their worth, many websites undertake backlinking campaigns. That is, they'll use various techniques to get their links on authoritative sites.
One such method is guest posting, which involves writing content for a site in exchange for a backlink. This method is effective but requires a lot of effort. You not only have to write the content but also build relationships with target blogs (and potentially pay for a slot).
Another method is outright buying backlinks. While this method can produce short-term results, it is costly and technically against Google's policies. If you get involved with blackhat SEO techniques, your rankings may suffer accordingly.
Therefore, in lieu of guest posting and buying backlinks, many websites focus on press releases. This backlinking strategy is an honest way to improve your standing with Google. Plus, it's less costly as publishing platforms are often free (or at least more affordable than alternatives).
The Abuse of Press Releases
Back in the day, there was no debate about “Do press releases work?” Lots of sites saw impressive results through their campaigns.
Unfortunately, many people got greedy. They started abusing the system by writing thousands of press releases and stuffing them with keywords. Then, they would upload the subpar content to any publishing platform they could find.
Are Press Releases Dead?
Seeing how smart Google is, it's no surprise that the search engine caught on to these dishonest marketers.
Google Panda updates have changed how the algorithm responds to press release efforts. These updates have even more people wondering is press releases help SEO anymore.
Realize that the Google Panda update doesn't mean that press releases are dead. It just means that the old way of doing them is dead.
Below, we go over tactics that have worked in the past that won't cut it anymore:
Writing About Nothing
When marketers were publishing thousands of press releases, it's clear that there weren't that many news events to cover. They were just writing the content about whatever they could.
You can no longer get away with taking a not-newsworthy angle. Readers, publishers, and Google will deem the content as boring and invaluable.
In a frantic effort to pop up in search engines, sites would stuff their articles with what they declared to be relevant keywords.
Keywords are important as they tell Google what your content is about. However, overusing them serves as a flag to Google that you're trying to cheat the system.
Being Redundant With Anchor Texts
Part of the “Do press releases help SEO?” debate has to do with anchor texts. Google will catch on if you attach the same phrase to your links across all of your articles.
Think about it — if the algorithm sees that clicks to your site are coming from the same anchor text, it will question the validity of the traffic. It wants to see that your pages are valuable in different contexts.
Publishing to Spammy Sites
Having backlinks in every corner of the Internet seems like it'd be advantageous. However, getting links from spammy sites is worse than not getting them at all. Your rankings are bound to tank if you publish across spammy sites.
Are Press Releases Still Good for SEO?
Yes, press releases are still good for SEO. The caveat is that they need to be done properly.
Even though the old way of doing things is in the past, there are strategies you can implement to make your campaign effective. Here are some of the most important tips to keep in mind:
Writing About Something Newsworthy
All sides of the “Do press releases work?” debate can agree on one thing — no one is going to want to publish or read something about a website update or the ordinary Joe you just hired. Instead of writing about anything and everything, focus on publishing news.
News should be interesting and relevant to reporters and readers. The title alone should be enough to get people excited and eager to share your content. Examples of newsworthy topics include:
- Your company released a revolutionary product.
- You won a prestigious award.
- You made an important discovery in your industry.
To ensure that your press release is worth the time and cost to produce, you need to provide value.
Instead of keyword stuffing and forcing anchor texts, write your content as naturally as possible. It should focus on matching the user intent rather than copying their search inquiry word for word.
Working With High-Quality Sites
Many people often fail to recognize the impact reputable publishing sites can have.
Of course, if you work with spammy websites, Google will deem you guilty by association. But as long as you publish your content to authoritative platforms, you'll benefit from their credibility.
Are Press Releases Effective?
Press releases can be effective, but not in the way many of us are accustomed to.
Their value comes in more indirect forms rather than their backlinks. Most notably, your rankings are bound to improve because of the increased exposure that comes from real stories being written by real journalists.
The Bottom Line — Do Press Releases Help SEO?
While the “Do press releases work?” debate is bound to continue, we like to think we've offered some clarity. Backlinks on publishing sites don't provide the “link juice” they once did, but writing valuable content and putting yourself out there is never bad for SEO. Make interesting stories accessible and make connections with journalists. This will increase the likelihood of your press release getting picked up and covered, so you can get a high ROI on the time to produce it.