Are press releases still good for SEO?
Every PR professional knows the power of the press release.
Whether you’re launching a new product, announcing a merger, or sharing any other important information, the press release is a great way to spread the word.
But does it affect your SEO efforts?
If you’ve been around long enough, you might remember when search engine optimizers used them to put keywords into their websites. Does this still work?
What’s more, if there’s a connection between search rankings and high-quality press releases, how do you walk the line between optimizing for search engines and complying with journalistic guidelines?
Obviously, these questions aren’t easy to answer, but fear not; We are here to guide you.
Read on for more information about press releases and how to use them as part of your online strategy.
What is a press release?
You probably already know that a press release is an official statement informing journalists about a notable event.
It allows you to quickly distribute news to a network of journalists (and help shape the narrative around them), with the ultimate goal of getting them featured on a reputable news platform.
Here is an example press release from Google Cloud:
As you can see, this press release gives readers a quick overview of the news in a headline, fleshes out that information in the subheading, and then dives deeper into the details as the article progresses.
Students and young journalists are often instructed to write these in what is known as an “inverted pyramid” in which the most important information is given in advance.
In case you haven’t figured it out yet (and we’re sure you have), organizations send out press releases for a number of reasons, including:
- To build a good reputation.
- To gain media coverage.
- To control a crisis – it’s beneficial to publish your side of the story first if something goes wrong.
As media technology improved and we shifted to a shorter news cycle, companies got a new reason to send out press releases: to get links from reputable news sites.
And therefore increase SEO.
A (brief) history of press releases for SEO
While press releases have been around since 1906, when Ivy Lee issued the first one covering a railroad accident, they took on a new meaning in the digital age.
And like anything that boosted SEO success, press release links started off well.
And then came the abuse. (Shocking, right?)
When people found out that links from top-notch new sites could help rank, they started writing all sorts of press releases for all sorts of things — even non-relevant events like hiring new employees (still common unfortunately) or changing color her carpet. (True story. I seriously saw this one!)
All the spam resulted in Google noticing and penalizing sites containing these links.
“Newswire” sites added the nofollow attribute to links.
So yes, you can still get links from press releases.
However, since these are nofollow links, they may not help your SEO.
Here’s what Google’s John Mueller said in 2018:
“We try to ignore links from things like press releases because we know that companies generally publish the press releases themselves. So all the links in it will essentially be placed by themselves.
But when those links happen and they’re out there, you don’t have to worry because you can’t really undo them all.
I just wouldn’t rely on press releases as a link building strategy for a website because, like I said, we ignore most of them.”
Are press releases still relevant today?
So if you’re not getting the SEO credit for links from news sites, is it still worth including press releases in your digital strategy?
Short answer: yes.
However, there is one important thing that you absolutely must keep in mind. That is why You send out a press release.
- Telling people about a big event your company is hosting?
- Announcing the release of a new product or service?
- Gaining attention for your brand?
- Prevent a crisis from breaking out?
If you can answer “yes” to any of these questions, then write this press release.
But if you’re doing it to gain links for your new site, stop right now.
Even if the “Newswire” links to you, the link may not help you in Google’s SERPs.
But here’s the thing: the last sentence isn’t strict TRUE. There is a way to use press releases to boost SEO; it’s just not what you think it is.
How to optimize a press release for the benefit of SEO
While press releases don’t direct influence search rankings, you can improve them indirect.
For example, you could be featured on a news site and get people interested.
Fascinated by your publication, they will flock to your website, increasing your traffic.
If they love your site, they’ll stay and click through to other sites.
And if your content is amazing, they will share it on social media or link to it on their own websites, giving you (you guessed it!) quality links.
and these will boost your SEO.
So spammy backlinks gained from low-quality messages?
A lot of traffic and backlinks from new fans?
How to “optimize” a press release for SEO.
How to create and share a press release
Now that you’re convinced of the importance of using press releases in your digital marketing efforts, it’s time to get down to the basics of creating and sharing them.
Writing them is a lot easier than you might think. To create your first, Follow these three simple steps:
1. Do something newsworthy
No, changing the color of your rug does not count. Unless you work in the Oval Office, in which case it might be of secondary interest.
But “current” does not necessarily mean “huge”.
You can simply host an event.
Or you can conduct a study on something your audience cares about.
You can also tweak a product or service to make it better.
Once you’ve decided on your newsworthy event, make sure you deliver more.
2. Write a catchy press release
Start with an attention-grabbing title that your audience will care about.
Like this one from Starbucks.
Make sure your press release is short and reads like a newspaper article.
Journalists love being able to copy and paste directly from this when writing their story.
Important tips to keep in mind when writing your press release:
- Write in the third person.
- Be brief (400-500 words is a good rule of thumb).
- Add screenshots and other interesting media.
- Get straight to the point (kill the fluff).
- Address readers directly (shorten the jargon).
3. Share your press release with the right journalists
Whatever you do, don’t spam a hundred journalists hoping one of them will write about you.
Do your research first.
For example, you just did a study that found that 56% of mothers are dissatisfied with their school’s lunch program.
Instead of distributing your press release to anyone whose email address you can dig up, find someone writing in a related field.
Using a tool like BuzzSumo is a great way to get this information.
3 successful examples of press releases to copy
Ready to write your own press releases?
Check out these three examples for inspiration.
Press release on the promise of Mars
This press release was so successful that several websites picked it up and wrote stories about it.
New product announcement from the Boston Beer Company
Brewer Sam Adams’ press release was so successful that several major websites, including CNBC, picked it up.
The Vans Stranger Things line
The Vans Stranger Things collection capitalized on the Netflix hit show and received extensive coverage in sneaker trade publications, including Sneaker News.
How to use a press release for SEO
Hopefully it’s clear at this point: press releases can be a useful tool for SEO, but only if used properly.
Spamming media sites, journalists, and bloggers with posts for anything hoping you’ll get some publicity isn’t going to help.
On the other hand, if you are contacting relevant (often niche) publications or other people likely interested in your newsworthy (never forget this point) event to gain traffic, fans and link following, then they are very helpful.
Just remember what you learned in this article: keep your posts relevant (again, no color changes) and get them out to the right people; They can play an important factor in pushing your website up in the rankings.
Featured image: Pressmaster/Shutterstock