Online press releases were, in the recent past, a popular tactic that SEO’s used for building links fast. And let me tell you, it worked! However, since Google’s assault on manipulative links beginning with the Penguin update, press releases no longer accomplish this aim.
I am not here to dismiss their value entirely. There are some very valid benefits that online press releases provide. Let’s look at a couple of the things that press releases can help you accomplish, and then turn to their limitations.
What benefits do press releases provide?
1. The ability to gain exposure for particular keywords immediately
If you put out a press release which is optimized for one of your target keywords, using one of the popular online press release syndication sites, Google just may rank it on page one for your keyword. One of our friends in the local SEO industry, Andrew Shotland, pointed this out with a recent tweet:
However, consider a couple of things: First, the traffic won’t go to your website, it’ll go to the syndication site. Now, it is certainly possible that you’re site will get clicked through to if you have good calls to action in the release, but it’s obviously not as ideal as getting the traffic directly. Second, it won’t last long. In my experience, press releases tend to enter the first page quickly, and leave just as fast.
2. Help with Reputation Management
We already established that online press releases can gain high rankings in Google for your competitive keywords. Accordingly, they can also hold high rankings in Google for searches that include your brand name. This provides you with another way to control the online sentiment surrounding your brand, which may prove beneficial for some firms.
What are the limitations?
1. Press releases don’t provide beneficial links
The backlinks you’ll get if you purchase a press release aren’t going to carry any legitimate ranking value. In fact, if you use obvious commercial anchor text you could actually end up with a Google penalty.
2. You won’t generate any interest from members of the media
Before the internet, companies used press releases in order to attract the attention of members of the media. The goal was to provide newsworthy information, which a journalist would want to write about, thus garnering publicity for your company.
I have a strong suspicion that, in 2014, journalists don’t much care about press releases, particularly press releases issued by mid-sized law firms discussing their awesome new website design. In 2014 journalists don’t need press releases to get the skinny on a breaking story. In fact, with social media, consumers don’t really need journalists to get the news either. In this hyper-competitive environment, I would suspect that any journalist who is checking online press releases from PRweb.com will soon find themselves looking for a new profession.
For some great ideas on more effective ways to garner media attention, give this awesome article on PR hacking and ditching the press release a read.
Too Long, Didn’t Read
Press releases are not entirely useless, but their efficacy has limits. If you are interested in gaining temporary search engine visibility for a specific keyword, a press release might work. Also, a press release can help you manage your firm’s online reputation. However, a press release won’t help you build any meaningful links. It also will most likely do little in the way of attracting legitimate media attention.