While some experts question the value of optimized press releases in 2013, we stand behind them as a viable tactic to strengthen brands through publicity and traffic for newsworthy updates.
When I graduated from journalism school and landed my first job as a public relations assistant, I stood in front of a fax machine to send out press releases and media advisories. While it wasn’t that long ago, it seems like a world away. We knew nothing about how to write optimized press releases to boost website traffic and online brand visibility.
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Press Release Exploitation
Like most things on the Internet, tactics can be overused and exploited … and that’s exactly what happened to press releases. SEO experts had a new “toy” that could quickly help build valuable links to their clients’ websites. Traffic was flowing and all was great until people took advantage of this tactic, leaving online browsers with thousands of worthless press releases.
Announcement from Google’s Matt Cutts
At the end of 2012, the SEO press release reign underwent further scrutiny when PRWeb distributed an inaccurate release stating that Google was acquiring WiFi provider ICOA for $400 million. Of course, Google was pissed off about the false statement and responded by devaluing the importance of links in a press release. Now, when Google speaks, everyone listens. SEO gurus were forced to pick a side and either defend or deny the importance of optimized press releases.
Prior to the December 2012 announcement from Google’s Matt Cutts that press release links won’t “benefit your rankings,” this traditional PR strategy was commonly suggested as a fast and effective way to boost inbound links and spike website traffic.
Press Release Benefits
While some SEO specialists are still debating about the true value of press releases, we stand behind the use of optimized press releases and view them as a viable tactic to grow brands through publicity and traffic for newsworthy updates.
Why? Because we’ve seen it build traffic and online visibility for our clients and other businesses. However, we would never recommend it as the marketing plan, but rather one component of your overall small business marketing plan. Read how Pillar Consulting Corp. in New York raised $20,000 in new business from its first release on PRWeb.
From an SEO perspective, three core benefits of online press releases include:
- Link building. While targeted links from optimized press releases will not significantly influence keyword rankings, they will typically pass link value tests when other news sites pick up the story and link back to the domain.
- Optimized content. Including focused keywords in the headline, sub-headline and body copy of the news release helps to increase SEO value, which increases your chances of reaching interested browsers.
- Opportunity to gain more traffic and profits. The more folks in your target audience who hear about your products and services, the more likely you are to generate hot leads and boost sales.
You’ll realize these three benefits naturally if you focus on sharing newsworthy releases.
Although I and other PR professionals are no longer standing in front of the fax machine, the same rules apply to a well-written news release. Whether shared via email, snail mail or online, a strong press release is timely, relevant and has purpose.
What’s the Word: For a small business just starting out, optimized press releases releases can be helpful in building a positive Internet presence and reaching a broader audience. The key is to ensure you share a well-researched and compelling story.