If you’re a bit sceptical about the whole idea of press releases when it comes to SEO, you’re not alone. Press releases have received quite a bit of unfair criticism in the SEO community over the past several years.
This largely stems from bad SEO’s using them as a spamming tool and stuffing them with tons of links with keyword-rich anchor texts. These strategies are bad and should be avoided.
But this does not mean press releases are bad.
Like many things in life, it all boils down to USE vs ABUSE.
The truth is that press releases are still a highly effective promotional strategy, but only when you use them correctly.
They might not be as effective as they used to be in terms of their direct SEO value, but they can still be very effective when you use them strategically.
The Smart Press Release SEO Approach
You can use press releases to compliment your existing SEO and content marketing strategy, but there’s a right way and a wrong way to go about it.
Your goal should be to distribute worthwhile news about your business to attract journalists and bloggers to write a story about it, as opposed to just using them to get links from news outlets.
In 2020, the biggest SEO benefit of press releases is not in their direct value, but in their indirect value.
The main direct benefits of press releases include:
- Backlinks From News Outlets: You can obtain links directly from high-authority news outlets. Many of these will be NoFollow, but they can still help as part of a larger SEO strategy.
- Search Engine Traffic: You can get direct traffic from the SERPS if your press release is able to work its way into the Google News feed. This isn’t easy, but it is not impossible.
The main indirect benefits of press releases include:
- Natural Backlinks From Bloggers: If you come up with an interesting and newsworthy story, journalists will be much more likely to cover it. This in turn often creates a secondary wave of links to your company website beyond the original news outlet backlinks.
- Brand Signals: When bloggers write content about your company, products, and services, this creates brand signals and gets your company name and products out there. You might not get backlinks every time, but mentions of our products and company name on relevant industry sites is the next best thing and is definitely a search ranking signal. This can also have a ripple effect whereby more bloggers or content creators might want to review your products too.
- Social Media Buzz: Press releases can also start a chain reaction on social media with likes, shares, and comments about your business.
- Referral Traffic: This secondary wave of buzz can also bring buyer traffic to your business website.
- Local Business Citations: You can also snag local business citations when bloggers or journalists talk about your business and then cite its physical location and telephone number alongside your business name.
Here’s the thing though; it’s hard to get the media’s attention because editors are constantly being bombarded by new topics from all different directions on a daily basis. As such, they will only focus their attention on the most interesting news.
Press releases are one of the very few opportunities to get your company name and products in front of the eyes of a journalist, so you should make the most of it in order to reap the rewards. If you fail to catch the journalist’s attention it will largely be a complete waste of time.
Think of it like going to the gym and doing a workout…
If you enter the gym and walk over to the dumbbell rack and start pumping the first pair of light dumbbells you can get your hands on because they are the closest to you, and then put them down on the floor after 10 reps when really you’re capable of squeezing out 20 reps, are you really going to see results from this workout or are you just ‘going through the motions’?
The same applies to press releases.
If you don’t prepare an interesting story with a great headline to grab the reader’s attention, and just start hashing out some half-written piece of boring, generic SEO content, you might as well not bother at all.
How To Come Up With A Newsworthy Event
If you want to get the attention of journalists, you need to come up with a newsworthy topic. You need to think about why a journalist would want to write about your business and link to your website.
Give them the fuel they need to light the fire.
Your press release should be clear and concise – simply describe the event and don’t try to be too wordy. As long as your story is engaging, you’ll eventually get those relevant and high-authority links you’re looking for.
Here are the things you should focus on when writing your press release:
Creating An Engaging Headline
Journalists view hundreds of emails and press releases a day, so you need to make yours stand out from the rest.
Take the time to come up with an engaging headline which grabs the readers attention. Imagine that you’re a journalist scrolling through 100 headlines in their inbox. You want yours to be the one that is so attention-grabbing that seems like it’s written in red, when all the others are written in black.
Don’t try and get too clever with your headline though, you still want it to state exactly what your story is about. If the journalist doesn’t understand what it is about within the first few seconds of glancing at it, they’ll skip right past it.
Distributing To The Right People
You should distribute your press release to the most relevant news outlets for your business. The location and target audience matters.
You also want your release to reach journalists who report on your trade, industry sector and products on a regular basis. You can achieve this by using a distribution service that can target specific outlets or has contacts with journalists in your industry.
Our Linkredible Press Releases are distributed to over 500+ high-quality news outlets with over 300,000 subscribed journalists, so you can be sure to get your release in front of the right eyes.
Keeping It Concise
Your press release should be short and to the point. That way, journalists will cover the story comprehensively. You should aim to write between 400-600 words.
Don’t be tempted to write too much background detail about your company at the top of the press release. Focus on the attention-grabbing nature of the story before you get to the company jargon. You can go into more detail about your company towards the end of the release once you have their attention.
You should also use things like subheadings and bullet points to make the information easier to read and digest. Big blocks of text are much harder to read and therefore probably won’t get read at all.
Don’t Spam Publications
Always focus on building relationships with media outlets and editors. If the press release piques the interest of journalists, they will get back to you.
Instead of focusing on getting backlinks, you should focus on the value you give to the readers and the quality of the story you are putting out there.
Once again, your content should be newsworthy.
Newsworthiness is key to the success of any press release. If you are just looking to spam news publications with content written for search bots then there is a very good chance you could put your website in jeopardy.
Which brings me onto my next point.
Links and anchor texts are also attributes which are open to abuse by spammers.
When it comes to links and anchor texts in press releases you should take a ‘less is more’ approach.
As I mentioned above, your press release should be around the 400-600 word mark.
As such, you should include no more than 3 links within the entire body of your press release. Any more can look spammy to the search engines.
You should also seriously consider adding the “NoFollow” tag to all of the links within your press release to avoid algorithmic penalties. This requires adding the rel=”nofollow” attribute to each links <a> tags, for example:
<a href=”https://linkredible.com” rel=”nofollow”>Linkredible</a>
Google will then treat the link as a promotional link and not pass any link juice. If NoFollowing your links bothers you, then you are probably sending the press release for the wrong reasons.
Avoid using sneaky tactics to get more links.
Like I said above, the value of a press release is in its indirect value, not the direct value. You’re looking for that second wave of backlinks from journalists and bloggers, which will typically be a mix of DoFollow and NoFollow links.
It is worth noting that you shouldn’t just treat NoFollow links as worthless links. They still have some value and play their part in the bigger picture of your overall SEO campaign.
The same ‘less is more’ approach applies to anchor texts too. It’s important not to over-optimize your anchor texts as doing so can once again look spammy to the search engines.
As a general rule of thumb, we recommend our clients use brand anchor texts or naked URLs for the links within their press releases. There’s no such thing as having to many brand or naked links pointing at your site. The more the better.
Using too many “money keyword” anchor texts, however, can seriously damage your rankings and result in a penalty.
Remember that the same press release is going to be syndicated to hundreds of media outlets, meaning the links will have the exact same anchor texts across all of these platforms.
It is not wise to use your primary keywords as anchors here. You’ll likely do more harm than good.
Wrapping It Up
When there’s a major event or change happening within your business, a quality press release will help to draw the media’s attention quickly.
While press releases still may look like an ‘old age’ tactic for your business, they should still be an important part of your overall SEO strategy. They can still bring huge results when you use them in the correct manner, and they shouldn’t be underestimated.
The problems come when companies don’t focus their efforts on getting their story covered by journalists. They only focus on distributing spammy content in order to get quick backlinks.
If you focus on the story first, the backlinks and traffic will come. If you focus only on backlinks, then you’ll likely get nothing at all. Just a small hole in your marketing budget.
It’s the same ideology as content marketing. Don’t focus on putting content out there just to attract search engines. Focus on writing content for people.
Also, a press release is only as good as the outlets it is distributed to. You should use a respectable press release distribution service to ensure that your release reaches quality news outlets and real journalists. If you would like to chat with our team about sending a press release then feel free to drop us an email.