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Are Press Releases Still Good For SEO?

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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 have any other notable information you want to share, the press release is a great way to distribute that information. 

But does it have any impact on your SEO efforts?

If you’ve been around long enough, you may remember when search engine optimizers used them as a way to pack keywords into their sites. Does that still work? 

And what’s more – if there is a link between search rankings and quality press releases, how do you walk that line between optimizing them for search engines while still adhering to journalistic guidelines?

Obviously, these are not simple questions to answer, but have no fear; we’re here to guide you.

Read on for more information about press releases and how to employ them as part of your online strategy. 

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What Is A Press Release?

You probably already know that a press release is an official statement giving information to journalists about a noteworthy event.

It allows you to quickly distribute news (and help shape the narrative around it) to a network of journalists, with the ultimate goal of having it featured on a reputable news platform. 

Here’s an example of a press release from Google Cloud:

Screenshot from googlecloudpresscorner.com, August 2022

As you can see, this press release gives readers a quick overview of the news in a headline, fleshes out that information in the subhead, and then dives deeper into the details as the piece continues. 

Students and fledgling journalists are often instructed to write these in what is known as an “inverted pyramid,” where the most important information is given upfront. 

In case you hadn’t figured it out by now (and we’re sure you did), organizations send press releases for several reasons, including:

  • To build a reputation.
  • To gain media coverage.
  • To control a crisis – publishing your side of the story first is beneficial when things go wrong.

As media technology improved and we moved to a shorter news cycle, companies gained a new reason to send press releases: to gain links from reputable news sites.

And, therefore, boost SEO.

A (Brief) History Of Press Releases For SEO

While press releases have been around since 1906, when Ivy Lee released the first one to cover a railroad accident, they took on new importance in the digital age. 

And like everything that boosted SEO success, press release links started out well.

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And then came the abuse. (Shocking, right?)

Once people figured out links from top-notch new sites could help with rankings, they began writing all kinds of press releases for all sorts of things – even on non-relevant events like hiring new employees (unfortunately, still common) or changing the color of their carpet. (True story. I seriously saw this one!)

All the spam led Google to notice and penalize sites that carried these links.

The result?

“Newswire” sites have added the nofollow attribute to links.

So yes, you can still get links from press releases.

But since they’ll be nofollow links, they may not help your SEO.

Here’s what Google’s John Mueller said about it in 2018:

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“(W)e try to ignore links from things like press releases because we know, in general, companies put the press releases out themselves. So any links in there are essentially placed by themselves.

But if these links happen and they’re out there, it’s not something you need to worry about, because you can’t really take them all back.

I just wouldn’t rely on kind of press releases as a strategy for building up links for a website, because, like I said, we do ignore most of those.”

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’s one important thing you absolutely have to keep in mind. That is why you’re sending a press release.

Is it to:

  • Inform people of a big event your company is hosting?
  • Announce the release of a new product or service?
  • Gain attention for your brand?
  • Prevent a crisis from exploding?

If you can answer “yes” to any of these, then go ahead and write that press release.

But if you’re doing it to gain links for your new site, stop immediately.

Even if the “newswire” does link to you, the link may not do anything to help you on Google’s SERPs.

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But here’s the thing: That last sentence isn’t strictly true. There is a way press releases can be used to boost SEO; it’s just not in the way you think. 

How To Optimize A Press Release To Benefit SEO

While press releases don’t directly impact search rankings, they can boost them indirectly.

For example, you could get featured on a news site and attract people’s interest.

Intrigued by your release, they flock to your site, thus boosting your traffic.

If they love your site, they’ll stay and click through to different pages.

And if your content is amazing, they’ll share it on social media or link to it on their own sites, gaining you (you guessed it!) quality links.

And these will boost your SEO.

So, spammy backlinks gained through low-quality news?

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No.

A ton of traffic and backlinks from new fans?

Yes.

That’s how you “optimize” a press release for SEO.

How To Create & Share A Press Release

Now that you’ve been sold on the importance of using press releases in your digital marketing efforts, it’s time to get down to the nitty-gritty of creating and sharing them. 

Writing them is a lot easier than you may think. To create your first one,  follow these three easy steps:

1. Do Something Newsworthy

No, changing the color of your carpet doesn’t count. Unless you work in the Oval Office – then it might be of some minor interest.

But “newsworthy” doesn’t necessarily have to mean “huge.”

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You can simply host an event.

Or you can do 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 to over-deliver.

Give it your all.

2. Write A Catchy Press Release

Start off with an attention-grabbing title your audience will care about.

Like this one from Starbucks.

Are Press Releases Still Good For SEO?Screenshot from stories.starbucks.com, August 2022

Make sure your press release is short and reads like a newspaper article.

Journalists love when they can copy and paste directly from it when writing their story.

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Make sure your press release is short and reads like a newspaper article.Screenshot from media.wholefoodsmarket.com, August 2022

Important tips to keep in mind when writing your press release:

  • Write in the third person.
  • Keep it brief (400-500 words is a great rule of thumb).
  • Add screenshots and other interesting media.
  • Get straight to the point (kill the fluff).
  • Speak straight to readers (cut the jargon).

3. Share Your Press Release With The Right Journalists

Whatever you do, don’t spam a hundred journalists, hoping that one of them will write about you.

Do your research first.

For instance, you just did a study that revealed that 56% of mothers are unhappy with their school’s lunch program.

Instead of distributing your press release to anyone whose email address you can dig up, find someone who writes in a related field.

Using a tool like BuzzSumo is a great way to get this information.

Using a tool like BuzzSumo is a great way to get this information.Screenshot from BuzzSumo, August 2022

3 Successful Press Release Examples To Emulate

Ready to write your own press releases?

Check out these three examples for inspiration.

Mars’ Pledge Press Release

Mars’ Pledge Press ReleaseScreenshot from mars.com, August 2022

This press release was so successful that several sites picked it up and wrote stories on it.

A number of sites picked it up and wrote stories on it.Screenshot from search for [Mars Zero Emissions], Google, August 2022

Boston Beer Company’s New Product Announcement

Boston Beer Company’s New Product AnnouncementScreenshot from bostonbeer.com, August 2022

This press release from the Sam Adams brewer was so successful that several large sites, including CNBC, picked it up.

This press release from the Sam Adams brewer was picked up CNBC.Screenshot from cnbc.com, August 2022

Vans’ “Stranger Things” Line

Vans' “Stranger Things” LineScreenshot from sneakernews.com, August 2022

Capitalizing on the Netflix hit show, Vans’ “Stranger Things” collection received a lot of coverage in sneaker trade publications, including Sneaker News. 

How To Use A Press Release For SEO

Hopefully, by this point, it’s been made clear: Press releases can be a useful tool for SEO, but only if they’re used correctly. 

Spamming media sites, journalists, and bloggers with releases for everything in the hope that you’ll receive some publicity aren’t going to help. 

On the other hand, if you’re contacting relevant (often niche) publications or other people who are likely to be interested in your newsworthy (never forget this point) event to attract traffic, fans, and following links, then they’re very useful.

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Just remember what you’ve learned in this piece: Keep your releases relevant (again, no carpet color changes) and distribute them to the right people; they can play an important factor in driving your site higher up the rankings. 

More Resources:


Featured Image: Pressmaster/Shutterstock

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B2B PPC Experts Give Their Take On Google Search On Announcements

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B2B PPC Experts Give Their Take On Google Search On Announcements

Google hosted its 3rd annual Search On event on September 28th.

The event announced numerous Search updates revolving around these key areas:

  • Visualization
  • Personalization
  • Sustainability

After the event, Google’s Ad Liason, Ginny Marvin, hosted a roundtable of PPC experts specifically in the B2B industry to give their thoughts on the announcements, as well as how they may affect B2B. I was able to participate in the roundtable and gained valuable feedback from the industry.

The roundtable of experts comprised of Brad Geddes, Melissa Mackey, Michelle Morgan, Greg Finn, Steph Bin, Michael Henderson, Andrea Cruz Lopez, and myself (Brooke Osmundson).

The Struggle With Images

Some of the updates in Search include browsable search results, larger image assets, and business messages for conversational search.

Brad Geddes, Co-Founder of Adalysis, mentioned “Desktop was never mentioned once.” Others echoed the same sentiment, that many of their B2B clients rely on desktop searches and traffic. With images showing mainly on mobile devices, their B2B clients won’t benefit as much.

Another great point came up about the context of images. While images are great for a user experience, the question reiterated by multiple roundtable members:

  • How is a B2B product or B2B service supposed to portray what they do in an image?

Images in search are certainly valuable for verticals such as apparel, automotive, and general eCommerce businesses. But for B2B, they may be left at a disadvantage.

More Uses Cases, Please

Ginny asked the group what they’d like to change or add to an event like Search On.

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The overall consensus: both Search On and Google Marketing Live (GML) have become more consumer-focused.

Greg Finn said that the Search On event was about what he expected, but Google Marketing Live feels too broad now and that Google isn’t speaking to advertisers anymore.

Marvin acknowledged and then revealed that Google received feedback that after this year’s GML, the vision felt like it was geared towards a high-level investor.

The group gave a few potential solutions to help fill the current gap of what was announced, and then later how advertisers can take action.

  • 30-minute follow-up session on how these relate to advertisers
  • Focus less on verticals
  • Provide more use cases

Michelle Morgan and Melissa Mackey said that “even just screenshots of a B2B SaaS example” would help them immensely. Providing tangible action items on how to bring this information to clients is key.

Google Product Managers Weigh In

The second half of the roundtable included input from multiple Google Search Product Managers. I started off with a more broad question to Google:

  • It seems that Google is becoming a one-stop shop for a user to gather information and make purchases. How should advertisers prepare for this? Will we expect to see lower traffic, higher CPCs to compete for that coveted space?

Cecilia Wong, Global Product Lead of Search Formats, Google, mentioned that while they can’t comment directly on the overall direction, they do focus on Search. Their recommendation:

  • Manage assets and images and optimize for best user experience
  • For B2B, align your images as a sneak peek of what users can expect on the landing page

However, image assets have tight restrictions on what’s allowed. I followed up by asking if they would be loosening asset restrictions for B2B to use creativity in its image assets.

Google could not comment directly but acknowledged that looser restrictions on image content is a need for B2B advertisers.

Is Value-Based Bidding Worth The Hassle?

The topic of value-based bidding came up after Carlo Buchmann, Product Manager of Smart Bidding, said that they want advertisers to embrace and move towards value-based bidding. While the feedback seemed grim, it opened up for candid conversation.

Melissa Mackey said that while she’s talked to her clients about values-based bidding, none of her clients want to pull the trigger. For B2B, it’s difficult to assess the value on different conversion points.

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Further, she stated that clients become fixated on their pipeline information and can end up making it too complicated. To sum up, they’re struggling to translate the value number input to what a sale is actually worth.

Geddes mentioned that some of his more sophisticated clients have moved back to manual bidding because Google doesn’t take all the values and signals to pass back and forth.

Finn closed the conversation with his experience. He emphasized that Google has not brought forth anything about best practices for value-based bidding. By having only one value, it seems like CPA bidding. And when a client has multiple value inputs, Google tends to optimize towards the lower-value conversions – ultimately affecting lead quality.

The Google Search Product Managers closed by providing additional resources to dig into overall best practices to leverage search in the world of automation.

Closing Thoughts

Google made it clear that the future of search is visual. For B2B companies, it may require extra creativity to succeed and compete with the visualization updates.

However, the PPC roundtable experts weighed in that if Google wants advertisers to adopt these features, they need to support advertisers more – especially B2B marketers. With limited time and resources, advertisers big and small are trying to do more with less.

Marketers are relying on Google to make these Search updates relevant to not only the user but the advertisers. Having clearer guides, use cases, and conversations is a great step to bringing back the Google and advertiser collaboration.

A special thank you to Ginny Marvin of Google for making space to hear B2B advertiser feedback, as well as all the PPC experts for weighing in.

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Featured image: Shutterstock/T-K-M

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