How, When & Why to use
Press Releases were once among the top link building strategies you could utilize to build lots of highly optimized links to your website, and that is what many online companies used them for. However, in 2013 Google changed the rules and it is now against Google’s guidelines to include “transactional” links that point back to your site within Press Releases. “Transactional” means that the anchor text used for the link is optimized to match the term that the page is trying to rank for. While this makes sense because Press Releases were clearly being used for link building to manipulate Google rankings, it was a real bummer for SEO. Many companies have stopped using online Press Releases because of this change. However, that is a mistake and here’s why:
Get in front of Journalists
Press Releases can be a very effective way to spread the word about an important development that has to do with your company. Most journalists and every editor for any major publication read press releases that pertain to whatever niche they cover. Press Release wire services are often where news people get their news (aside from Twitter).
Press Releases are still great for link building! While including “transactional” (anchor text optimized) links is now against Google guidelines, “navigational” links (that is links that say generic things like “click here” or that just use the URL of the page) are still perfectly acceptable. Navigational links still pass link juice that adds to the overall authority of the site.
Also, the best types of links that you can get are links from stories that other people write, if they decide to include a link back to your site as a resource. Press Releases get you in front of journalists and if they decide to go with your story, then you can get those links.
Aside from links, co-citation, that is when your website or brand is consistently mentioned in articles that discuss the same keywords you are trying to rank for, is a signal to Google that your website/brand is strongly associate with the topic in the eyes of people who are talking about that topic. If this type of co-citation happens consistently it can have a very positive effect on your ability to rank for keywords related to that topic.
Features and Functions
Follow these guidelines for creating great press releases:
- Strong and compelling headline. Remember, the headline doesn’t have to tell the whole story. Headlines just have to be relevant and factual and make someone want to click to read more.
- Strictly informational and factual, no opinion.
- Typically about an upcoming or recent event.
- A 600+ word version should be posted to your website, and a shortened 400 word version should be used for syndication.
- What & Who: What is happening? Explain what it is and why it matters. Who is involved? Explain who they are. What is their role? Remember to use the main keyword and 1 or 2 supporting terms in this opening paragraph. Also, the closing of this paragraph should allude to an interesting deeper story here. Why should journalists care to read on and possibly write their own story? What is the angle?
- How & Why: How did this or will this happen and why?
- What is the deeper story? This has to hook any editor and journalist. This part of the PR must convince them that there is something deeper here that no one knows about yet, but soon everyone will know about it and they should get in and put their name on it early! What is the target market? Why is the target market taking notice? How big is that market?
- Provide follow up contact information.
- The greatest hope for your press release is that journalists would find it interesting and compelling enough to follow up and write their own story about it.
In addition to the proper site architecture and technical optimization best practices, make sure that you optimize Press Releases in the following ways:
- Create a 3 work keyword assignment. Utilize one main general phrase, one to two slightly more specific phrases that are thematic variations of the main phrase, and one to two long-tail, very specific keyword phrases such as questions or statements that you want the PR optimized for.
- Utilize the main keyword to a 3-4% keyword density and the rest of the terms to a 1-3% keyword densities.
- At the end of the press release indicate that the full press release can be read at your site and link back to the page on your site where the PR can be found.
- Include any images, video, block quotes or any other additional information allowed by the syndication provider.
- Include your first link back to the homepage of your website within the summary paragraph of the Press Release.
- Include one additional link back to the internal page of your website where the full version of the PR has been published at the end of the body of the PR.
- Do not use optimized anchor text for any links within the press release.
- Create two different versions of your press release, a long one for your website and a shortened version for syndication. The syndication version should be 400 words, the long version for your site should be 600+ words.
Marketing, Syndication, Distribution, Social Engagement
- Write several versions of the same press release and syndicate your Press Releases through more than one PR syndication channel. For instance, PR Web and BusinessWire. When journalists notice the same story coming through different News Wires, they tend to take more notice.
- Once the PR has been syndicated through 1-2 paid syndication channels, syndicate it through several free PR news wires as well.
- Once the Press Release is syndicated, check where it is picked up and then build links to a couple of the pages where it was picked up if they have included links back to your site. These should include social links, bookmarks and comment links. This will make a significant difference in the power of each link and the overall effectiveness of the press release.
- See here for a list of paid and free PR syndication services.