Wrong Ways to Use Press Releases for Your SEO Campaign
The landscape of the SEO industry has changed considerably over the last couple years. Many backlinking strategies that worked well in 2011 do not work since Penguin, Panda and Hummingbird were rolled out. Many marketers wonder if press releases still offer any SEO benefit. Research has shown that they are still great for SEO, but you need to use them effectively. Here are some things that you need to do before writing press releases.
Understanding How Google Treats Press Releases
Google has changed its position on press releases over the last year or so. However, evidence suggests that there statement may not 100% forthcoming. They have also contradicted themselves.
In December 2012, Matt Cutts said that press release sites donâ€™t pass pagerank. However, about six months later, Cutts gave a very different statement. He said that press release links should always be nofollowed. Cutts also said that some sites are being manually penalized for using press releases for blatant linkbuilding tactics.
Why would Google insist on using nofollow links in press releases or manually penalize press releases if they already werenâ€™t counted? That didnâ€™t really make a lot of sense.
Also, many experts have conducted research showing that press releases do in fact offer some SEO value. One marketer recently sent out a press release using a random string of characters for the anchor text in his backlink. The link was directed to Matt Cuttâ€™s personal blog. Cuttsâ€™ website was ranking for that keyword shortly after, even though it wasnâ€™t used with any of his onsite content. Cuttâ€™s ranking for this keyword in the SERP index increased from 7 to 3 since then. This clearly seems to show that this wasnâ€™t a temporary fluke that slipped through Googleâ€™s system.
Right and Wrong Ways to Use Press Releases
Evidence shows that press releases are still an effective way to boost your SEO, but you need to be careful to use them properly. Keep in mind that in the example cited above, the marketer only used one link to Matt Cuttâ€™s site.
As the head of the chief engineer at Google, it is unlikely that Cuttâ€™s would be the target of a manual review (although he certainly wouldnâ€™t be immune since Google has penalized its own site numerous times). You may not be as lucky, so you will need to make sure that you use press releases very carefully. Here are some things that you will want to keep in mind when you are using press releases to get more traffic from Google.
Make Sure Your Links Can Stand Up on Manual Review
Google is manually penalizing some companies that use press releases. Of course, any backlinking strategy can be penalized by a manual review, so this shouldnâ€™t deter you from using them to boost your rankings. However, you need to make sure that you donâ€™t do anything that would look like an obvious red flag under a manual review.
First of all, you want to be careful about which press release directories you use. Some PR directories are thinly disguised link networks. Google knows that many marketers use these networks to manipulate their rankings, so you will want to stay clear of them.
You also need to make sure that your press release offers real value to your readers. It should focus on newsworthy events such as new hires, product launches and upcoming events. You donâ€™t want to write a press release for inconsequential things like the new toaster oven in your break room. Googleâ€™s manual review team will probably see these as clear efforts to boost your pagerank.
You also need to be careful about choosing your anchor text. Using anchor texts with a lot of keywords has been a very bad idea since Penguin was implemented. Branded, long-tail and generic links work much better.
Go for Syndication
SEO should not be the primary focus of any press release. You want to have your news shared by high quality publishers. Try to write a story that will gain traction, because it will look more natural to Google if you are generating links from authority sites that found your story newsworthy.
Cocitations Help Too
Many people feel that press releases with nofollow links donâ€™t provide any SEO benefit at all. That isnâ€™t true at all. Google doesnâ€™t just take links into consideration when ranking content. They also look at cocitations, social signals and other offsite factors. Make sure that your companyâ€™s name, address and other key information is included, because that will boost your SEO value as well.